News from Fort Delaware, military draft at Carbondale, pass to go to Delaware City.
Delaware [City], Delaware
November 5, 1862
I am very happy to say that I have received your very kind and welcome letter. You see I hasten to reply so I can claim your forgiveness for my past sins. [I am] hoping you will be lenient. I throw myself at your mercy. I hope dear Annie that you are well, as healthy as I am, for I am as healthy as any being can wish. Plenty to eat, but rather rough. Enough (water) to drink. Abundance of exercise & enough sleep. No care & clean conscience. Who would not be healthy?
I have no news for you this time, nothing at all. I am sorry but can’t help it, but here again we have no great cause to be glad for there is no bad news, such as the death of one of our comrades.
You must have had an exciting time up there the day of drafting. ♠ I was very sorry to hear of Carbondale being subject to a draft. It was a heart rending scene to see your relatives and & acquaintance volunteer to fight, but I should think being forced to it must be awful to the family of the drafted man. They have gone but they have left behind their families which are entitled to your warmest sympathy and support, and we hope that the citizens of Carbondale will care for them.
Dear Annie, I had a pass ♣ last Monday to go across the river and spend a day in Delaware City. I felt glad of it, I can assure you, to be free for a day once more to roam at will, to run, jump, eat, and drink as you please without being restricted to the rigid rules of war. I can assure you that it is a “big thing” to be free without being subjected or dictated to by nobody but your own conscious and your God.
I returned to the fort in the eve to put myself under the obligations of eating so much, and such like drinking so much, work so much, go to sleep at such an hour, & get up at such a minute. But there’s the good time dawning in the future, when I shall be free and easy once more. I would not have referred to this if it was not for that day in Delaware City to see the young fellows free, roaming about in their civilian clothes while I was in my blue and brass and leather with my pass & authority to dare to appear there. I send it to you so you can see the autograph of the Sergeant, Captain, & Major of the 2nd Artillery, Regular Army & commander of the fort.
Dear Annie, I could write from this till “Retreat” but I am afraid I shall try your patience too much. I shall therefore conclude with respects to all the folks & accept dear Annie of the best wishes & love of yours ever – William B. Phillips
Write soon a b——i—–g, L—–o—-n—–g letter.
LETTER 5 NOTES
♠ The organized resistance to the draft in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill Counties of Pennsylvania was considered so formidable by Governor Curtin that he wrote a letter to the Secretary of War requesting that federal troops be sent into those counties to maintain law and order.
♣ William B. Phillips’ pass was signed by First Sergeant A. P. Barber, Capt. Schooley, and the fort’s commander. Also appearing is a sketch drawn by William Phillips which humorously depicts President Abraham Lincoln (“Old Abe”) personally granting Pvt. Phillips a furlough.
News from Fort Delaware, camp discipline and grub, state of inactivity, more on death of 1st Lt. Urbane S. Cook, excellent description of leisure activities. This letter was written by William Davis.
[Delaware City, Delaware]
November 7, 1862
Dear Friend [Mr.] Richards,
Your very welcome letter of the 4th instant came duly to hand. I was pleased to hear from you and hope for the future to keep you posted on matters and things at Ft. Delaware. I feel sorry for not writing to you before this from this place, but for some unaccountable reason I have neglected doing so. I wrote you a few lines from Harrisburg under minor difficulties which was rather a short scrawl of non-importance, save the list of officers in the renowned Schooley’s Battery, and felt sorry as it was not what it might have been of interest. The particulars of this noted place have been fully explained to you by friend [William] Phillips ‘ere this, so of course it is useless to dwell in past history.
Well we are here at Fort Delaware and so far as a general thing we all manage to dispose of our rations with good grace, consisting of pork, beans, rice, beef & bread. It goes a little tough sometimes, especially when we think of home. But there is one consolation – we hope it is all for the good of Uncle Sam and that we may soon return to the land of steady habits safe & sound to enjoy the benefits of peace. We have not seen the hardships of some of our fellow beings but I believe if we were brought into active service, we would prove worthy of our names and keep the honor of our native state.
There is one thing certain, we are at the disposal of [the] U.S. and if we are to be kept in a state of inactivity, it is not what we expected. I assure [you] there is nothing causes such uneasiness and dissatisfaction as confinement to one particular post. We have not yet been drilled in our branch of service such as artillery but I expect we will have a time of it this winter. Nevertheless, we have become accustomed to the heavy infantry drill and make exceedingly good progress in the Manual of Arms, which is essential to the branch of service.
We feel the loss of our First Lieutenant U. S. Cook – rather a severe blow in so short a time. I think he would have proven himself the man in the right place. Noted for his strict morals and the discipline of the men, he often warned them of the bad habits in camp and a strict observance of the Sabbath. Our Captain [Schooley] is rather behind the boys and it keeps him running to be in a common sharp with them. There is many laughable incidents from time to time and all the pranks under the sun is no doubt well represented in this company.
As I now write I can give you some idea of what’s going on in this room now. [It’s] 7:30 P.M. [and] there is about eighty in this room. By glancing over this tier of bunks, I see some reading, some singing songs – generally very comic and sometimes tough, some using up their leisure moments – as my humble self, others in groups of 8 to 10 are playing Old Sledge ♠ and Euchre, while our friends E. R. Ford ♣ and the right honorable Samuel C. Brobst ♥ have opened what they call “church” and have, I assure you, quite a audience. They are joining in very fast putting in long faces and Methodistik Airs, while in another part of the room I hear the violin playing the old tune of the “Girl I left Behind [Me].” ♦ And turning to the left, some are trying there physical [page 5 missing].
[Your friend, — William Davis]
LETTER 6 NOTES
♠ According to Wikipedia, Old Sledge, or Seven Up, is the American name of an old card game called “All-Fours” in England. It is usually played by four players, with the full pack of fifty-two cards.
♣ Sergeant Edward R. Ford drowned in the Potomac River on 27 May 1864.
♥ Private Samuel C. Brobst died at Fort Saratoga, Washington D. C., on 6 June 1863.
♦ Go to The Girl I left Behind Me for an audio recording of the tune.