Camp Wyatt near Ft. Fisher NC
June 17th 1862
Yours of the 9th inst came to hand a few days since which was gladly received and perused with much pleasure.
You asked me to send my type, that I would willingly do as the one you have is a poor specimen of the original, if I had an opportunity of getting one taken but I am twenty miles from Wilmington, the nearest place I could get one, and don’t know when I will get permission to go there. I’m not free as I was at home, have to have a pass to go any where and very seldom get that. I left your picure at home locked up if I had known I was going to stay I would have brought it along, but now I don’t know how I shall get it – wish you would have a good one taken and send to me. Will you? As for rain we have some occasionally no so much as you have had in Burke. We left camp Davis on last Friday, marched fifteen miles and bivouacked for the night at a beautiful spring and the next day we came on here with the intention of going into the barracks that the 2nd regiment had left, but when we arrived w e found that the whole place was covered with fleas and our Colonel said we should not take quarters there at all, but marched us to a grove and ordered out tents immediately from camp Davis which we got the next evening. I have done a good deal of marching since this war broke out but of all the heavy marches I ever tried this country beats them all. The sand that is loose is six inches deep and you can imagine how difficult it would be to walk in that.
We are stationed between the Atlantic and Cape Fear river three quarters of mile from the former and a quarter from the latter. I was over on the beach a day or two ago and could plainly see six blockading steamers, not more than five miles distant after looking at them awhile I walked down the beach to Fort Fisher, and by the way it is the most beautiful beach I ever saw, the sand where the tide has receded is as hard almost as a floor which makes it first rate walking. After viewing the fort I started back to camps and was hailed by the sentinel but after telling some stories we were allowed to pass we told the sentinel that we were in charge of a Lieut who we pointed out and he (Waddell_ said he was a commissioned officer, the sentinel remarked that he hadn’t on an officers uniform no said Waddell I don’t wear it on every occasion, the sentinel then asked him for his commission. Waddell replied that he had left it at the camps, after many questions asked by the sentinel he called the corporal and sergeant they let us through the lines after repeating to them what we had told the sentinel. We would not have gone without a pass, but it was the same day we moved to this place and there had been no guard, thrown out and we were at liberty to go where we pleased. I failed to tell you the way we got into the fort, we crawled in at a post hole and after we got in there we didn’t know that there would be any difficulty in getting out at the regular pass way or we would have gone back through the way we came. We lost two members last week of fever, David Keller ofCaldwelland Tolbert Harbison and I suppose by this time there is another dead a young man by the name of Morgan. He was left at Camp Davis and I heard this morning that he was dying and besides him we have one in Wilmington in the hospital, John Puett, who it is said is very ill and very doubtful of his recovery. We have bad luck with our sick and I don’t attribute it to any thing only a lack of surgeons who know something about medicine. I haven’t much faith in ours although they may understand the practice of medicine better that I think they do; our assistant surgeon can’t be a very skill physician as he is only about twenty one years of age.
I haven’t had a chill since I left home and don’t think I’ll have any more of the Yorktown chills but may take them in theNorthCarolinaswamps when August rolls around. It is said that this is a healthy place but I don’t think it can be as the water is remarkably bad. All the boys from our section are in good health I believe but Bob Carlton he is complaining of a severe cold. You wanted to know if I thought we would have any fight down here soon, well I don’t think we will unless we are whipped atRichmondand then I think it would be quite likely we would have a brush with the rascals. We have good news in camps but don’t know the certainty of it is this; there are seventeen English men-of-war lying in Hampton Roads and Lord Lyons has demanded his passport and has returned to England and furthermore that France has acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States; all of which is very good if true but will not vouch for the certainty of it. I will close for I know you will get tired of reading so much. Give my kindest regards to sister Puss. Write often to your devoted lover.
Note: I hope now soon the war may end and then I know there will be some happiness for me if I should be so fortunate as to see that end.
Sources: Mike and Carol Lawing, eds., My Dearest Friend: The Civil War Correspondence of Cornelia McGimsey and Lewis Warlick (Durham,NC:Carolina Academic Press, 2000). Original collections of the papers are in the Laura Cornelia McGimsey Papers and the George Phifer Erwin Papers in the Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.