13 January 2013

Palmer B. Holdridge Civil War Letter #10: Fortress Monroe Thursday Nov 14th, 1862

NOTE: Disclaimer and explanation of formatting included at the end of this post.

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        Fortress Monroe Thursday Nov 14th 1862
When I last wrote you we had embarked on board
the steamer Atlantic and were aground in the
bay below Baltimore As I may not have another
oportunity to write you very soon I thought I would
send you a fiew lines from here I will now tell you
what has transpired since we left the city
We left camp Belger as I told you Wednesday the 5th
Wednesday and Thursday nights we slept on the deck of a
couple of small steamboats the second night about three
miles down the bay on the ho? deck of the Robert
Morris where we came so near freezeing Friday started
down the bay and had got about 15 miles when the
Atlantic ran upon a sand bar Five days were spent in
unloading and getting her off from the bar Tuesday there
were six steamers and tugs were hitched to her but did not
succeed in getting her off Yesterday the wind having changed
to the South the water rose and she finally started She
ran about 15 miles farther down the bay ?ock on her freight
and about 6 oclock ?? started on her way We arrived
here about noon to day But I must tell you of an
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occurance that happened on the way if you wont allow
it to make you nervous It was about 9 oclock we were
running at pretty high speed it was very dark and
the wind blew strong from the south Suddenly
there was a loud crash near the wheel house I happened
to be standing close by it I looked up and saw the
masts of a schooner or bark bending over me The next
moment she was sent adrift by the force of the
concussion Then some one on the bark bullowed for  a
man with a life boat A dozen saylors jumped into
one of the boats ready to be lowered when they were hailed
by one of the ? and answered that they were all right
During the excitement it was reported that the Atlantic
was sinking but it was not credited by any but the simple
and consequently produced no special harm The riging of
the bark was torn to pieces but she was not much injured
otherwise All I have seen of Fortress Monroe is what we
can see from a distance We are anchored near the middle
of James river about half way between the Fortress and
Siwells point There are ten or a dozen steamers anchored
here all loaded with soldiers We dont know where we are
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going and probably shall not know untill we arrive
at our destination but if we remain here long I will
write you again and tell you all I can learn about it
We expected to be paid before we left Baltimore but
have received none yet and may not in six months Most of
the boys have no money and are troubled to get stamps to send
their letters        Friday the 15
    I had written thus far yesterday when we received
orders to sling knapsacks to go ashore We were taken on
board a light steamer and in a fiew moments landed at
Fortress Monroe The Fortress is a grand sight It is surrounded
by a heavy stone wall 25 feet in hight upon which the big
guns are mounted Outside of the embankment is a
wide channel filled with water There is 75 acres within
the enclosure Outside of the enclosure and near the
water edge stand the two largest guns in the
United States the Union and the Lincon guns A ball from
either of them I should think would destroy the largest
vessel in the world Another of the sights was several acres
of canon balls of all sizes piled four or five feet high
The next thing we did was to go into the water
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bathing It was something of a novelty to most of
us to bathe in the ocean it was not cold enough to
be uncomfortable as the weather is about the same here
now as it is in York State in September We remained
on shore about two hours and then returned to the
    Williams has been quite sick for more
than a week with a feaver He was sent to one of
the hospitals near the Fortress yesterday I think he was
a little better when he left and am in hops he will
be well in a fiew days He wanted me to write to his
wife and I shall write to day if I get time though
it is the worst place to write here I ever saw Caleb
Hamblin has been sick but is getting better Most of
the sick have been removed to the hospital where
they will probably receive better care than they could
have on the vessel I received a letter from Hira
yesterday dated November 1st one day later than the last
one I had from you I cannot imagine why I do not
get a letter from you unless they are miscarried
    Williams received one yesterday but I dont know
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what was in it as he had gone to the hospital when
it came You must write often and direct to
P B Holdridge Co D 114 reg NYSI Baltimore MD
in care of Col. C.B. Smith and they will probably reach
me in time As soon as we reach our destination
I will write and tell you when to change the addres
    Now dont fail to write so soon as you get this
for I begin to have some anxiety about you Norm
wrote home once and told his folks not to write
untill they had found out where he had gone
for fear he should not get their letters and perhaps
that is the reason you have not written before but
that was his mistake as we should get them if
they are directed as heretofore or as I have told
you above I have no news because I get no papers
to read When you write tell me whether the draft
took place or not the 10th in York State
I have heard that it has been postponed again But
I believe Pa was going to write about that I should
think it was time he or Mary Jane one of them had
written You said you had hops of my returning
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by Spring It is of course impossible to tell whether
I shall return then or ever but I think if the war
ever closes it will be within the next six months
and if it is my fortune to be spared I think
I shall be with you again by next May or June
unless we are retained in the Southern States for
a guard But I think the regular army is being so
largely incriased at present that if the war closes
most of the volenteer regiment will be discharged
You must tell my friends if I have any that I
cannot write to them at present as it is almost
impossible to write on board a vessel where there is so
many I have been obliged to change to more than a
dozen different places to write this We are huddled
together like sheep in a barn yard
    So good bye for this time I will write again
soon if we remain here long

    Yours ever
        Palmer B Holdridge
Explanation of formatting:
Effort is made to keep much of the spelling, line breaks, and page breaks preserved as shown in the original letter book on file with the William L. Clements Library. Some names of third parties and other select data sets are considered, with footnotes added. A question mark (?) will often indicate a word or letter that was not clear. It may be used to replace the word or letter. Other times it may show on the end of a word, if the transcriber was unclear about that specific word, but chose to transcribe it. While commas or periods were sometimes added in letters 1-8 to increase readability, in letters 9-end effort was made to leave the original lack of punctuation. Question marks (?) will be replaced if the word can later be determined. Family and friends offered help in some transcriptions or proofreading. The primary contributor, Michael W. McCormick, takes full responsibility for any mistakes in this work, with no guarantee of accuracy.

This copy originally authorized to be kept in “family genealogy holdings”
as per permission from Janet Bloom, Research Specialist
William L. Clements Library - 19 February 2009.
In August 2011 permission to publish "a typed transcript... to my publicly accessible ... family tree websites" and "Provide copies of my photocopy to any interested relatives" was granted.


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