27 June 1863


Magnolia Ridge near Vicksburg, Mississippi
June 27 [1863]

My dear father,

Having given up all hopes of ever getting a mail in this deserted state, I write you this letter not expecting to get an answer.

We are now in rifle pits at the fork of the Benthan and Vicksburg and [the] Vicksburg and Bridgeport roads, all ready to repulse any attack that may be made in this direction upon Grant’s rear.

The weather is scorching hot and you have no idea of what we suffer—not from the heat alone, but from the gnats, fleas, mosquitoes, ants and all such cussed varmints. My body is all covered with bites and stings and I itch terribly. The sooner we leave this state, the better we shall like it. We have to work day and night digging pits, pitfalls, building parapets, and chopping down trees to give artillery a good range and when we are not at that, we are on picket duty so a man has to go on duty every other day. I have got a good job cooking for a mess of six officers. It’s hot work but I had as leave do it as to shovel and chop all day. They are a good set of fellows and I do and act just as I please. Of course you know this is a secesh state and consequently everything is liable to confiscation. I have confiscated a nice mule and saddle and the way I ride around when off duty is a caution to cavalrymen.

I rode past Col. Bowman’s quarters this morning and he came near splitting his old fat sides with laughter. I tell you what it is, I am bound to make the best of everything. It’s a great deal easier to ride a mule than to go afoot.

As for news, I can give but little. You know a great deal more about what’s going on at Vicksburg than I do. But we hear considerable cannonading and musketry all the time and I understand that Grant blew up one of their principal fortifications night before last and gained an advantageous position. I hope the place will be taken before long.

By gracious I am getting homesick and if we should go back to old Kentucky, I think I should apply for a furlough. That is, if I could scrape money enough together. I thought once I would stay till the fuss was settled, but it’s going to be too long and I can’t stand it. Guess things would look changed on both sides.

But as I can think of nothing more to write you, I will close hoping to soon receive a mail. Do you get all my letters?

Yours affectionately, — Charles H. Howe, Co. G, 36th Reg., Massachusetts Volunteers

Next Letter: 1 August 1863