13 January 2013

Palmer B. Holdridge Civil War Letter #8: Camp Belger November 3rd, 1862

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

Camp Belger November 3rd
Dear Kate,
     You see by this we are back to Camp
Belger again. We left here week ago Thursday for
Camden Street hospital where we stayed until
yesterday. Yesterday morning we received orders
to pack knapsacks and march back to camp.
All the other companies have come back and what
do you suppose it all means? It means that
our brigade has been detailed for distant service.
Every man is ordered to fit himself with an
extry suit of underclothing, a pair of pants,
[page break]
and an extry pair of shoes. Where we are going
no one knows though most of the officers think
we’ll go to Texas. And expedition is being fitted
out by General Banks bound for some point
on the southern coast. It may be somewhere
on the eastern cost. [Charlston or Savanah]
but if not probably New Orleans or Galveston.
Galveton is in Texas. We shall certainly have a
good General if we go under him. Some say the
expedition will consist of fifty thousand men
but of course bit little if anything is known
about it by any but the military authorities.
But one Regiment has passed through Baltimore
for several days. It is said that they are detained
in N.York as fast as they arrive there to be sent
with the expedition. If we go we shall probably
embark here and join them at Fortress Monroe.
IOf we are sent away I think we shall go soon
thought it is quite possible we might not go at
all. But when we are about to leave I will write
and let you know.
[page break]
We were at the Camden Street hospital one week
we had excellent quarters there and like it
rather better than Camp Belger. The hospital
consists of one whole block of buildings, a part of
them six stories high was formerly owned by
a rebel general but has been confiscated by
the government. The hospital has accommodations
for nearly two thousand invalids. There are twelve
or fifteen hundred there now. Our business was
to guard the hospital and keep the inmates
those who were able to be around from going
out without passes. There I saw some of the bad
effects of war nearly half of the wounded had
either arms or legs amputated. Four hundred were
brought in Saturday night. Our first Lieutenant
is there now and one other man from our company.
The Lieutenant is getting better but I think Drew
will have the consumption. The sick and wounded
have the best of care in Camden St hospital.
which can not be said of the hospital on Camp
Bleger. I will give you an instance of the kind
[page break]
of treatment our sick soldiers get here
Saturday morning a man in comp. I reported
sick at the hospital. He was sick with the
diphtheria and not able to speak a loud word.
The surgeon told him he ws not sick and
put him down for duty. He was not able to do
anything, however, and reported at the Hospital
again at night he was taken in but within twenty-
four hours he was a corpse. This morning his body
was sent home to his friends in ? . This is
the fourth man that has died in our Regiment.
It is 7 o’clock PM I sit in my tent writing with
my paper on my knee. Wedge, Norm, and Lassell
are in the same tent, all of them writing. Your
letter of the 31st has just come. I looked for it today.
Noon and should have felt considerable disappointed
if it had not come tonight. The mail comes to
our camp twice a day at noon and about 7 o’clock
PM I received one from you when we were
at the hospital and also the paper I should have
written before but have not had time.
[page break]
I saw the account of Barney Harp’s misfortune
in the paper. I think if I am ever shot I shall
wait for somebody else to shoot me. I saw Barney
when the 157th passed through Baltimore on its way
to Washington. I spent about an hour with him.
He agreed to write to me but I have received no
letter from him yet.
     Dr. Taylor came along the other day on his way to the 27th
regiment. He has got a ? assistant surgeon.
Otis Taylor has got his discharge I suppose through the
influence of the Dr.
I received a big letter the other day from Independence.
One from Aunt Mary, one from Dillazon, and one
from Lute?. The one Aunt Mary wrote did me five
dollars worth of good. I received one from John Maen’s
wife the same day in writing to John Holdrige
direct to Sparta Morrow Co. Ohio I have written to
Hira but have received no answer. Dillazon wrote that
he was well but getting tired of war. I may yet meet
him in the far South perhaps or the battlefield.
You need not send me anything yet in the way
[page break]
of food or clothing. Of course if we leave here it would
be of no use and if we do not I can live on
what have if I am well. You spoke of Williams
sending my picture home. A poor artist came
along I let him take mine for 25 cts. It was not
It was not worth the postage for sending it home.
Williams got hold of it and before I knew it he
had sent it home. I intended to have had an
ambrotype taken before this time for Mary Jane but
have not had an opportunity. We can seldom get a
pass to go off from the ground and then only
for a short time.
     Our Captain’s name is Rexford. His home is at
Norwhich. He was a member of the 43th Reg. [The Elsworth
Regiment] and has seen a great deal of hard fighting service.
He was in the great battle of Antitem and came
here shortly afterwards and took command of our company.
I think he is the best officer in the regiment and one shall
not be afraid to trust him when we go into battle.
He is young, not more than twenty-three or four.
So much for Captain Willis Rexford.
[page break]
We expect to get our last two months pay in a few
days. I shall try to send the most of it home. I have
been obliged to spend more money since we came
here than I supposed I should. My revolver cost
15 dollars and I was sick about ten days and had
to buy what I ate as I could not eat the rations.
But I don’t think my expenses will be much in the
I was startled to hear that Uncle Levi was dead. The
thought often occurs to me what would be my feelings
If I should hear of the death of the nearest and
dearest to me. But I have been favored in that
respect thus far one man in our company has lost
two children and several others have lost near friends
since we have been here.
     But I think I have written long enough for
once. I believe the Nelson boys in our company
are all well except Otis Snyder. He has been unwell
a day or two, but keeps around yet. The doctor
says he has the diphtheria. I presume he will not be
very sick. Avery has been unwell for a week or
[page break]
two. He looks poor and bad but is on duty all the
time. I am afraid he is going to have a fit of sickness
he does not report himself sick. I don’t know but
he would die before he would do it.
All the rest are well, it is Tuesday morning.
I am in hopes you will get this by Thursday
night but I presume you will not before Saturday.
Goodbye. Write often for if I go to Texas we shall
not hear from each other as often as now.
     P.B. Holdrige
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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