26 June 1863

Magnolia Ridge near Vicksburg
June 26th 1863

My dear Mother,

I have been waiting for a mail ever since we have been in this state but as I wait in vain, I will write without expecting any answer. The weather is extremely hot and you have no idea of what we suffer. There are woods in abundance but our regiment is in rifle pits and consequently have no shelter from the heat.

We have never seen so much duty as here. One twenty-four hours we are on picket, the next on fatigue duty digging rifle pits, parapets, and chopping down trees to give the artillery a good range. We are now about ready for any force to undertake to assist Pemberton. If it should be done, there would be bloody work.

Bombarding is constantly going on at Vicksburg. The rebs have got so that they are afraid to show their heads, hands, or expose themselves in any manner for our sharpshooters are within thirty feet of them (concealed) and fire at anything in the shape of rebel flesh. Some of our men are so near the rebs that they toss notes into their fortifications and receive replies and yet they cannot see each other. The rebs have a quantity of hand grenades and these they toss over with the intention of hurting somebody but our fellows are wide-awake and when they see one coming, they catch it and toss it right back. Thus the rebs furnish their own destruction. Some of the fuses of these grenades are longer than others and some have been passed back and forth a number of times before they have exploded.

Yesterday the grand mine was completed. We had dug forty feet under their fortification and placed a ton of powder therein. This mine is under their principal fortification and on a piece of ground that commands all the rifle pits and the city. Last evening the fuse was lighted and the fort blown up and at the same time our men made a desperate charge through the breach and took the battery beyond by storm, thus gaining a position from which an enfilading fire can be had on all the rebel’s principal rifle pits in front. The cannonading was perfectly stunning and shook the windows of the houses near this camp distant eight miles from the fight.

Vicksburg is as good as ours and if it were not for the Union prisoners in the city, the place would be reduced in a short time.

I suppose you are anxious to know how I am getting along in the “culinary department.” Well, most of the time I am wet with sweat from working over a fire all the time. Yesterday I fried doughnuts, made a berry dumpling and some griddles, besides frying ham for breakfast and dinner. Today I baked some beans and baked a loaf of good bread in a mess pan. This is doing pretty well I think for out door cooking. Shall not need a wife when I get home. Shall do my own housework.

But I am sweating like a butcher and I guess it is about time to stop writing. I should really like to hear from you at home but as we receive no mails, I must live in hopes that you are enjoying good health. I am well but am bitten all up by fleas, mosquitoes, ants, &c. &c.

Give my love to all inquiring friends and retain a good share for yourself and the little fellows. Give each a kiss for me me and tell them I shall see them before long. Do you hear from father often?

Your affectionately, — Charley H. Howe

Co. G, 36th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, U. S. A.