13 January 2013

Palmer B. Holdridge Civil War Letter #5: Camp Belger Baltimore, Wednesday Oct-8

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

Camp Belger Baltimore
Wednesday Oct-8
Dear Catharine,
     I have just finished
a letter to Dillazon. I will now answer
yours of the 3d, rec. night before last. I
had almost begun to despair of hearing
from you again as I had been looking
anxiously for more than a week for a letter from you.
But it came at last and relieved my anxiety.
I have been here over a month and have recd
but two letters from you. I am not going
to complain, but I believe it was weeklies
instead of monthlies that I subscribed
for. I was not a little surprised to hear
that you intend to go home to live this winter.
I supposed your home was where you are
or at our folkses until next spring.
At least I so understood it.
But of course I have no objection to your
going home if you wish. I want you to be at
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home at both places providing you are welcome
at both places and feel more at home than
anywhere else.
     I am glad Pa has hired Mr. Zane?
as he will probably be the best hand he could
hire. If you could feel as much at home there
as anywhere else and enjoy yourself as well I
should be glad to have you stay there. If not
do not stay by any means.
     Forget a I am glad our folks are going
to get a good price for cheese. I saw a N.Y.
Tribune a week or so ago and found cheese
was quoted as high as 10 cts. per pound. If our folks
get ? it will be a big price and a little more
encouraging than 8 cts. Who has sold around
there and for what price. Does butter bring a
good price this fall? I seldom see a New York
paper and there is nothing to be relied on
in the Baltimore papers.
     You asked me if we suffered any
from the cold. We sleep quite comfortably in
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our tents, but when we are on guard we have
to lie on the ground and sometimes it is
pretty cold as we have some very cold nights.
     I think the nights are a good deal colder
here than they are in York State at this time
of the year. But we shall be finished
with tents hereafter as a great many have
been vacated by them who have been sent to
the city. The days have been very warm ever
since we arrived here, as warm as they are at
home in August. There has not been more
rain here for the past month than usually ?
fall in one shower in York State. But I
suppose we shall get enough of it by and by.
     You want to know what I think of the war
now. You have better means of knowing this?
than I have here. I seldom see any papers except
the Baltimore dailies which are not of much
? account, yet from various sources we are
enabled to get an occasional glimpse of affairs.
I think there is no immediate prospects of
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peace although it has been reported that the
Rebels have sent peace commissioners to
Washington. The strongest indication of peace
that I have seen is the desponding tone of
the southern press. The ? condition of
a large part of the southern army and the
moral effects of the recent brilliant union
victories. What the effects of the President’s
proclamation will be, of course, we can only surmise
But I think it will be more likely
to bring them to ?time than the policy of
guarding and protesting their property which our
government has heretofore persued.
     You ask me if I thought Norman
would be sorry he enlisted if they do not
draft. I do not think he will, for I don’t
think he enlisted merely to ? being
drafted. He has enjoyed good health this?year
and seems to be in good spirits. This was not
the case with all of the boys ?. There is
one fellow from Lebanon named Lont?
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in the hospital and unable to do any duty
from mere homesickness. He will probably
die if he is not discharged. You wanted
to know if I felt any worse than usual
a week ago Sunday and Sunday night I
usually feel well and enjoy myself tip-top
But singular as it is, I was unable? at that
time and of course did not feel as cheerful as usual.
There was about a week that I did no duty
I am very week and have no appetite, but I am
alright now. Never felt better. Stand on
guard every second day and night and drill
the rest of the time. When we are on guard
we do not get more than two or three hours sleep
through the night. The reason we have to
stand on guard as much now is because most
of the men have been sent away on guard
duty. Four have died ? now to do all the
whole Regiment did at first. There are now only
four companies left here at BC and DBur?
Com. will probably go next. All that have left
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yet have been sent to Baltimore ? Washington
to guard prisoners and hospitals. One man
who was guarding prisoners at Fort
McHenry a few days since was caught asleep
on his post. You know the penalty, it was
reported here that he was to be shot Friday
noon, but we heard that he was subsequently
pardoned. I do not think we shall
be in any more danger in the city than
anywhere else as the Baltimore rebels? have not
? made much in meddling with our soldiers.
     They had their city election yesterday.
The Union men apprehended trouble, but
Gen. Wool? ashured them all would be well and
published an order to that affect. Our Regiment
received orders to be in readiness to march at
a moment’s warning, but our ? not sent for
There was one whole calvary Regiment in the city
how many more I do not know as not a
man was allowed to the city yesterday. I hear
this morning that the Union ticket was carried
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by several thousand majority I have not seen
the morning papers, but I presume there was no trouble
Our Regiment will probably not be prdered intp the field
very soon as we have not yet been brigaded?
? of 8 regiments until our ? brigaded. Until we are brigaded
we sall probably be used for a guard
and if we are needed for guard purpose we may possibly
? enter the field. Still we may be orderd away
at any time. Our Captain arrived about a week
ago. He is a fine fellow. He has been in several
battles, but has escaped all harm. He was in some
of the recent battles in Maryland. There is now
less than 300 of his regiment left. He
is from the Ellsworth reg. The 44th James Pengburn has
been pretty sick, but has got well. William Smith is
sick most of the time. He has not been well much
of the time since we came here. Last night he
had a slight attack of the cholera mos? Tuesday
night we had to carry him to the hospital on a
? He don’t seem to have any particular disease,
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but camp life don’t agree with him. He will
either have to be put on light duty or sent home
if he does not get better. Don’t say anything about
what I write to his folkes. For he may get better
and if he does not he can write what he chooses
about it. A man has just come out of the ground
and says there was a man killed in the city yesterday
by a brick bat? I and another soldier got a pass
the other day to go to the city. We ? a sail
boat and went down to Fort McHenry and spring
gardens. When we wanted to come back there was to
win? so we were ablidged to get a row boat. The two
men that ? us ? pretty strong ?
? and were not backward in expressing
them. The debate grew pretty warm. They were both
tough looking customers, but I placed considerable
confidence in my six-barrel revolver which I carried
in my belt. I took the precaution to load it before
I left the camp and was not sorry that I did.
Nothing serious happened however. We went and visited
the Washington monument. It is 180 feet in height
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From the top we had a fair view of the whole city
and bay and of the surrounding country as far
as the eye could reach. But I must close for it
is nearly time to drill. Oh yes, I do think Bower’s
folkes might have a better name for their baby.
I should be afraid lemmons? would not flourish
so far north. I am going to write to Dan.
Write often. P 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.

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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