Alonzo D. Davenport (1835-1906) was born in Chelsea, Orange county, Vermont. He died in Franklin, Merrimack county, New Hampshire. He married Emily Annett Davis (1839-1919) of Rutland, Vermont, on 16 March 1860. Their first two of at least eleven children were George S. Davenport (1861-1936) and Walter A. Davenport (b. late 1862), both of who are mentioned in these letters.
Alonzo was the son of Davis L. Davenport (1800-1877) and his first wife, Submit Corser (1810-1846) were married 13 April 1824. Davis remarried in the late 1840’s to the widow Joanna (Buzzell) Winter (1801-1886) who had a young daughter named Prudence S. Winter (b. 1841) with her first husband William Winter.
Alonzo’s older brother, Lorenzo “Dow” Davenport (1830-1888), was married to Miranda Mary Little (1836-1922) on 23 September 1855. Their children included Herbert Dayton Davenport (1856-1931), Alice M. Davenport (1858-1917), Edward Hamlin Davenport (1860-1878), Nathan Henry Davenport (1863-1864) and four others. In the 1860 U.S. Census, Lorenzo and his family were living in Salisbury, Merrimack county, New Hampshire, where Lorenzo was employed as a 27 year-old “harness maker.”
The 16th Regiment New Hampshire Infantry was organized at Concord and mustered in on October 24, 1862. The length of service was for nine months. They were mustered out at Concord on the 20th of August, 1863.
There are thirteen letters (or partial letters) in this collection, all of which were written by Alonzo Davenport except Letter No. Six which was written by “Mother Kimball” to Alonzo. It appears that after his mother died in 1846, Alonzo was placed in the household of farmer Stephen Moses Kimball (1803-1880) and Mary Little (1812-Aft1880) of Vershire, Orange county, Vermont, who married in 1839 and subsequently had three children of their own, twin boys Stephen and George Kimball (b. 1843), and Caroline (“Carrie”) Kimball (b. 1845). In the 1850 U. S. Census, Alonzo is enumerated in this household.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Salisbury, New Hampshire
November 9, 1862
According to promise, I will try and write you a few lines today to let you know that I am well and arrived home at camp Friday night. I went to Chelsea [Orange county, Vermont] and had a good time. The folks all well there. Mother Kimball was very glad to see me or at least acted as though she was and I think she was. Carrie [Kimball] has got to be a great girl. I should not have known her if anywhere else. Captain [Jonathan P.] S[anborn] gave us a furlough yesterday to go home and stop until Tuesday. All but one man in the company left camp last night for home or somewhere else. That accounts for my being in Salisbury today. I found the folks all well here as usual.
We had a snowstorm here last Friday night. Snow about four inches deep in Concord. But has rained here today all of the time and the snow has disappeared. Mr. Hall’s House and barn was burnt last Thursday night. ¹ They think it was set on fire. They saved furniture and things in the house. Horse, cow and hogs were burned. Mrs. Hall was sick and had not been able to sit up for a number of days. They are stopping at Mr. Beans.
The Methodist Institute ² at Sanbornton Bridge [Belknap county] was burnt last Friday night. It cost forty-three thousand dollars. It was set on fire by one of the soldiers of the 15th Regiment. ³
It is talked that our regiment will start next Friday, but I do not think they will get away so soon. We got our pay yesterday. I am going to have mine made over to Marson by someone. I want you to write me as soon as you get this. Put your letter into the return mail so as I can get it by Thursday for perhaps we may get off the last of the week. But I do not believe it yet. Write how you get along and the children. I want to hear from you as soon as I can, so write.
From your faithful man, — Lon
P.S. If we should go the last of the week. I will write you before we leave. — Lon
¹ The only “Mr. Hall” I could find as a resident of Salisbury, Merrimack county, New Hampshire, in the 1860 U.S. Census was Joseph O. Hall (b. 1827) and his wife Jennie A. Danforth (b. 1832). Joseph was a “farmer” in 1860 by 1863, he was employed as a tanner. Perhaps he gave up farming after the loss of his barn and livestock. By 1870, Joseph and his wife had relocated to Franklin, New Hampshire, where he worked in a “belt shop.”
² The “Methodist Institute” was the New Hampshire Conference Seminary and Female College at Sanbornton Bridge, Belknap county, New Hampshire. The original building was 70 by 40 feet brick facility that had two wings added in 1858, making it a large and imposing structure. It was burned on 7 November 1862 during a sleet storm. “It was doubtless the work of an incendiary. The blaze started in the southeast corner of the east wing, third story, and progressed very slowly in the face of a high gale. The wreckage burned until December 18.” It was never rebuilt at that location. Rather, the institute moved to Tilton. [History of Northfield…, by Mrs. Lucy Rogers Hill Cross, page 187]
³ Although the burning of the Institute was publicly pronounced to be the “work of an incendiary,” I could not find any corroboration printed that it was set by “one of the soldiers of the 15th New Hampshire” as emphatically asserted by Davenport. The 15th New Hampshire was not officially mustered into service until 12 November — five days after the building started to burn. It is presumed, however, that assembling (and perhaps mischievous) members of Company H were bivouacked in the area of Sanborton at the time of the fire prior to their being sent to Concord to be mustered into the 15th New Hampshire.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Parapet near Carrolton, Louisiana
December 21, 1862
After so long a time we are once more upon land and I am glad that we have got here for we have had a long and hard voyage. We arrived here yesterday noon, it being sixteen days since we went board of the boat [Eastern Queen]. From [the] Tortugas we had a rather of a dangerous time but did not know that it was as bad as it was until we got here. The boat hands say now that they did expect to go down but by cool management, they made out to keep her right side up. Last Wednesday night we were called up to be ready to jump from one side of the vessel to the other to keep her from swamping. I tell you there were some sorry-looking faces about that time. But we have got here all safe and sound — or all that came on our boat. Three of our companies that did not come with us — we have not heard from them yet. ¹
Gen. Banks has superseded Gen. Butler and I think that we shall stay here for some time. It is quite pleasant here and warm days but cool nights. The 1st Vermont Battery is here. ² I met one the boys that came from Rutland. He says he is well acquainted with George and three of the boys. His name is [Frank E.] Robinson. I cannot tell you much about this place this time but I will in my next.
I am well, all but I have a pretty hard cough which I hope that I shall get over with soon. I have not got any letters from the North yet but am expecting some now someday. I hope that this will find you well and the babies thriving well. Give my respects to all enquiring friends. Tell them that I am enjoying myself according to my strength. Tell me where the boys are and if they been in battle yet. Write all the news you can think of. Fill up your letter with something [even] if it is not quite so bright. Direct your letters in my name and put on Banks Expedition, Sherman’s Division, New Orleans, Co. E, 16th Regiment N. H. V. I hope that you will not have to change the direction so often after this.
You would think if you were here that it was spring by the birds singing in the morning. It does not seem that it was winter now. I think of your cold toes once in awhile and wish that I was with you but it will not do good to wish now. But must keep up good courage and if we have good luck, we shall get back in a short time. Time slips away fast. It does not seem but a little while since I enlisted but it has been five months. But the worst of it is we cannot find out when our time will be out. Some says it will be out the 15th of June and some say it will not be out as soon. But I guess that it will be out when it is. That is the most I can say about it.
I am going to send you quite a lot of scribbling that I wrote on the boat and if you can have patience to read it, you may & if not, burn it up if you are a mind to. You may put four or five postage stamps into my next letter for I have got most out. We do not have but two northern mails per month go from here. I do not know how many come here. I hope that they will come along soon.
Well, I guess that you will think that this is rather a shabby mess and I will stop for this time for I have got to write to [brother] Dow tonight. Perhaps that have wrote over some of this three or four times. I do not know what I have wrote and I cannot read it so you do not read it to anyone or let them see it and I will settle the bill sometime. Receive my love and kind wishes. Write as often as you can. Good night. From your Lon
Won’t you be kind enough to excuse [my] writing?
¹ Davenport is referring to the three-day storm that nearly swamped the Eastern Queen (a side wheel transport steamer) in the Gulf of Mexico while enroute between the Dry Tortugas and Ship Island. According to the regimental history, the captain of the boat used the men of the 16th New Hampshire to assist the crew in trimming the boat, ordering them from one side to the other to help stabilize her as she pitched and rolled on the rough seas. The men soon tired of this drudgery, however, and when they refused the captain’s orders to resume the chore, they were told, “Well go to hell, then, if you want to; I have as many friends there as you have.”
² The 1st Vermont Battery took its position at Camp Parapet one mile north of Carrolton, Louisiana, during the early summer of 1862 where they remained until January 1863. They were equipped with six brass field pieces with caissons, battery wagons, and forge, but without horses. The men were drilled daily in the manual of the piece, varied by heavy artillery practice on the siege guns. The battery was assigned to the charge of some heavy barbette guns, mounted by the men, which commanded the Mississippi river.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp Parapet, Carrollton, Louisiana
December 22, 1862
7 ½ o’clock P.M.
I am going to start you another letter tonight to let you know how I am doing from day to day and what I am about. Our mail started from here today and I have sent you a letter. Our first mail came from New York tonight [but] I did not get any letters from anyone. I do not hardly know why I did not.
We have news today from up the [Mississippi] river that they have been fighting. Some 1,000 wounded soldiers came down past here on one boat to the hospital in the City today.
Today we have been fixing up our camp ground. We are going to move about half a mile from here after we get the ground fixed about as we want it. It is quite warm tonight. It makes me sweat to sit here in the tent and write.
I think my cough is some better tonight. The 162nd New York Regiment arrived here today so I hear. I will bid you goodnight and write again tomorrow.
23rd. Well, Mother, it has got to be evening again and I am some tired. We have moved today and have had a hard job of it. Have had to move our transports by hand. You do not hardly know what a lot of trash a regiment has to move. We have got a very pleasant place now and when we get our ground fixed up, we shall have a nice place. The soil here is somewhat different from the soil out to Vermont. Here it is clay and when dry it is as hard as a brick. But when wet, you ought to see us walk in the mud. There is some very pretty Nigger women (Contrabands) here. They do not wear any hoops and do not dress in the best of clothes. Some have oranges to sell, some have corn cake or Johnny cake to sell. But men are around picking up hard tack that we throw away or anything that are eatables. It makes me mad to think that I am not as good as a Black man for here we have to do the work and they lie low and look at the goose.
I have heard that another mail goes from here tomorrow and as I have got this so near wrote, I will send it for it may be some days before the mail goes again. I want you to write how you are and how you get along and how much snow there is a write the news. Well, just write about things in general and then you will suit me no matter if you write a sheet and a half. I guess that I shall get time to read it.
I wish that you could have some of the oranges that are here. It is the season for them now and there is any quantity of them. I can buy good ones for a cent apiece or two for one Northern Potato. The half breeds think that our potatoes are very nice. Most everything is very high. Milk is 20 cents a quart. Cheese 45 cents per lb. Tobacco $1.50 per lb. A small pie as large a round as a saucer and as thick is 10 cents. And everything about the same [in] proportion.
Give my respects to all enquiring friends. Kiss the babies for me. Do not let Georgie forget that he has got a daddy.
24th. Good morning Marm. I will finish this now and start it a going for the North. I hardly know as I can think of much more to write this [morning] — only that the Boys are generally well. Ben is not able to do duty but will get out in a day or two. My cough is about the same as it has been for a few days. But cough is not as bad as some. If we had stayed in New York until now, half of our regiment would have been under the sod by this time. I have got no letters yet. Guess that I shall not write anymore until I hear from someone. I think you can find out by your Post Master when mail steamers leave New York for here and write as often as you can. Accept my love. From your affectionate husband, — Lon
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Camp Parapet, Carrollton, Louisiana
December 31, 1862
As it has been sometime since I have wrote you, I thought I would write you a few lines tonight to let you know that I am still alive and kicking. I hope that you will not receive all of my letters at one time for I think it would cause a fainting spell or discourage you of ever reading them. I hope that you will neither be ashamed of me or get tired of taking them out of the office for I have nothing else to do evenings but to write and I have wrote to most everyone that I ever see — only I have not wrote so often as I have to you. And I am going to keep writing until I hear from someone. That is, if my postage stamps hold out.
I guess you will laugh at me when I tell you that I went to the hospital this morning and the surgeon would not have me there and sent me back to camp and I have felt pretty smart today. Well to tell the truth, I have been some sick for four days back and this morning I went over to the hospital to get some medicine. The old doctor gave me three pills. I took one of them and put the other two in my vest pocket. But to make the story short, I have not felt so well for a week as I have tonight and which done me the most good — the one that I took or those that are in the pocket, I cannot tell. But I am going to ask Col. [James] Pike about it tomorrow. I wrote a letter to George last night and one to Mr. Person’s. Today, I have [wrote] to George Kimball and our Prudence. This letter will make fourteen or fifteen letters that I have wrote since I started from New York and have not received the first answer yet. Do you not think my courage is good? Well I think I shall get one afore soon from someone who will be kind enough to write and tell me that they will be much obliged if I will stop writing to them.
Henry [C.] George is still in the hospital about the same. Meshach [W.] Blaisdell from Salisbury was sick on the boat. When he got here he had his hair cut off short and did not put on his overcoat evenings. Day before yesterday he was taken down again and the doctor says he thinks he will never get home. I saw him this morning and he looks bad. ¹ Our Second Lieutenant [Prescott Jones] is in the hospital sick with the swamp fever. It is a hard fever for the kind. He says that he thinks if we have to stay here that [he] will not live long. There is one thing certain — the Boys have got to be careful of themselves here and it will take our nine months to learn how to live in such a country as this.
January 1st 1863 (I wish you a happy New Year)
I am going to close this and think I will not write any more until I hear from someone. Give my best respects to all. Kiss the babies for me and take good care of them.
It has been quite cool here for two days. I guess that you are having a cold time for New years. We shall get our first payment in a few days and you will get my allotment sometime this month.
I am feeling first rate this morning and think I shall be tough now. I weighed yesterday 143 lbs — pretty good for me. Well, keep up good courage and your nose clean for our time is slipping away fast. And if I have good luck, I shall be back to torment you. Write the news. Good morning.
Ever faithful, — Lon
¹ Both Henry C. George and Meshach W. Blaisdell of Salisbury survived the war and mustered out with their regiment on 20 August 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Camp Parapet, Carrolton, Louisiana
Monday, January 5, 1863
I intended writing you yesterday but did not get to it. I received a letter from you dated the 4th of December [and] also one from Father the 1st day of this month. That is all that I have got. I was very glad to [hear] from you and to hear that you and the children were as well as you wrote. It had been so long since I heard from you that sometimes I would think you or the children might be sick and I should know something about it. And it makes me feel bad to think that we are so far away that we cannot hear more often. But after your letters once get started regular, we shall hear sooner from each other if we do not go too far from here. Our orders this morning are that six regiments (our regiment included) out of those that are here are relieved from this command and are under the command of Brig. Gen. Emory so we expect to leave here soon. I do not know where we shall go — some think Texas and some up the river. But when we get there, we shall know all about it.
I am enjoying first rate health now and hope I shall continue so. Our 2d Lieutenant [Prescott Jones] is very sick with the Typhoid Fever. I hope he will get over with it for he is a first rate fellow. ¹ Henry [C.] George is getting better. [Meshac W.] Blaisdell is about the same. Our regiment has been very lucky. It has not lost a man and has not got but a very few that are much sick.
The folks here are plowing their gardens and some have planted them. The sugar planters have just commenced to grind their cane and making a good deal of sugar about here. I hear that there is from forty to fifty thousand contrabands in and around the City living on the government and most of them doing nothing but laying around and letting the soldiers wait upon them. I have changed my mind some in relation to this war since I have got out here and I am not the only one that has done it. When I look around and see these lazy cusses lounging here in the sun and we have to leave our homes to come here and protect them, it makes me mad. I am ready to fight for our Flag and Country and to put down treason and die in the cause if need be, but it seems hard to have so many men killed and so many maimed and ruined for life just for the sake of freeing a few niggers when they are better off where they are than they can possibly be if they are freed. I do not think this war will ever be settled by fighting. The best thing that can be done is to let us march to Washington and kill off about a hundred of those men that are fighting in Congress and then we could have peace. But I will let this go for this time and write something else.
We had one of the greatest thunder showers night before last that you ever heard of. It like to have drowned us out of our tents. Since then it’s been the nicest weather that ever was.
We have got some deceived in our captain [Jonathan P. Sanborn]. He is not such a man as I thought he was. I think he will not hold his office a great while if he does not alter his hand. He likes his whiskey better than he does his men. The Boys are all down on him to a man.
I went to a Negro funeral the other nights and they had a great time of it. The ground was half full of water and they had to sink the coffin and hold it down until they put dirt enough on to keep it down. Soldiers and Niggers lie side by side in the graveyard. There is no difference here between them — only the Nigger is the most respected. I see that there is a great many of the 7th New Hampshire Boys buried here.
Since writing the above we have been dwelling and when we get through, we had orders to pack up our things for a transport was expected here every hour to take us either up or down the river so our things are all ready — everything packed but our blankets — and we may have to wait two days before we go. I am going to try and send this before we leave but perhaps shall not get a chance. I would like to get some more letters before I go from here for it may be that we shall not get our mail for an month if we go from here.
Remember me to all the folks. Tell them my courage is still good. Look out for the babies and take good care of them. Keep up good courage and remember that you and the children are hardly ever out of mind when I am awake and when asleep, I often dream of home. Accept my love and remember your affectionate husband, — A. D. Davenport
¹ Lt. Prescott Jones did not survive his illness. This “brave-hearted and zealous soldier, greatly beloved in his company and by all in the regiment who made his acquaintance,” died on 11 January 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Vershire [Orange county, Vermont]
January 13th 1863
I have this evening received a letter from you. I hasten to reply. We were very glad to hear from you but was sorry to hear that you was not feeling well. Perhaps the climate does not agree with you. It don’t with some of our Northern boys. I do hope you will have good health. It is so hard to be sick — especially away from home. I expected that you was in New Orleans for I have seen in the paper that Banks Expedition was there. I also see that eight hundred had deserted & had been arrested & sent on to their place of destination. I do hope that the war will close soon & let the poor Boys go home. I am sorry that you are located so far from home. It takes so long a time to get a letter. I don’t wonder that you feel anxious to hear from your wife & little ones at home, and perhaps you have before now. I have felt anxious to hear from you for a long time. Do you fare well and have good rations and other comforts? Or is it pretty hard? It seems as if you was almost to the end of the world.
We frequently hear from Stephen. [He] is well & tough & ever has been. He has had some pretty hard marches. His rations while on the march were hard bread & raw pork. They have been moving about considerably of late. The last we heard from him they were in camp near Fairfax Court House. He has never been in battle yet but on guard & doing picket duty. He said he had received a letter from you. I presume the reason why he has not answered it was he did not know your address. I will tell him the next time I write to him.
I had a letter from George a few days ago. He was well and thought he should remain there for the present. The man that he lives with gave him a new coat for a Christmas present.
Carrie is teaching this winter. She prospers very well. She has four weeks after this to keep. Your Father & I live alone. We are well as usual. My health has been better than it has for a number of years past. We have had a very warm & pleasant winter so far with the exception of a few cold days & but very little snow. The first week in January was like September weather but it is colder now with a little sleighing.
I often think of the visit that you made us last fall. Many thanks for the same and if you ever come back again, I hope you will come and see us again & bring your wife & little ones.
It has been very sickly about here this fall & a good many deaths. There has been a funeral almost every Sunday since last July.
I must close by wishing you success, prosperity, & good health. Please accept much love. write soon & often. From your affectionate, Mother Kimball
I want to know if you are made comfortable &c. &c. I will send you The Mirror — a New Hampshire paper. I am afraid you are coming down with the measles. If you have them, be sure to take something to keep them from your stomach and keep them out. I wish I could send you some cakes & a pocket full of apples. — M. K.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
16th Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers
Camp Parapet, Carrollton, Louisiana
January 20th 1863
When you receive this package you will find that I have not forgotten you. Our allotment roll was not handed to our paymaster in time for our first payment and today we have been paid our full amount here so I am going to send you twenty-five dollars by Express. I think it will go safe. I can send it for seventy cents and think I will let you pay the Express for perhaps if I pay here, they will take pay twice. I have been paid up to the 1st day of January & had thirty-four dollars and sixty-five cents paid me. I thought I would keep the rest of it for we may not get paid off again until we get back to Concord.
I have not heard from you yet since the letter you wrote the 4th of December. I do not understand why I do not hear. The Salisbury Boys have wrote home and got answers back since we have been here [yet] I have not got a letter from anyone yet. I hope you will write as soon as you get this and let me know if there is anyone alive that ever knew me. I wrote to [brother] Dow this morning to write you and ask you if you had written me. I would like to hear very much from you and hope that I will hear that you and the children are well. I have wrote to you as many as eight or ten letters since I started from New York and it remains for me to hear whether you have got any of them.
We have changed division generals and I will give you a different direction.
A. D. Davenport, New Orleans, La.
Co. E, 16th N. H. Vols.
Put it on plain and there will be no trouble about its coming.
My cough is some better than it was when I last wrote. I think if I do not get any more cold, I shall get over with [it] in good shape. I am getting pretty well used to the country here and am liking [it] well but should rather go up the river for it is more healthy. Should not wonder if we are ordered up that way soon for it begins to look a little like fighting upstream. We have been ordered to march twice since we have been here but have not got started yet.
I have sent home to [brother] Dow by a man from Franklin to have Mother fix me up something for a cough. I think she will send me something that will be nice.
I must close this now hoping that this will go safe to you and hoping to hear from you soon. Give my love to all. Kiss the babes. Write as soon as you get this. Yours affectionately, — A. D. Davenport
I will write you again soon.
January 21st. As I forgot to hand this in before the package was sealed, I shall have to send this by mail. I think it (the package) will be more expense than I spoke of in the inside of but you pay it and let me know how much it was. And if you should get this and not the package, I will say that I have sent you twenty-five dollars by Adams Express and had it insured. I think you will get it safe. Write directly back.
— A. D. Davenport
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
February 12th 1863
My dear wife,
As we have had a shower here about noon and made it wet and bad drilling, I will write a few lines this afternoon as we are doing nothing. I am still in good health and feeling first rate.
I went to New Orleans last Monday and looked the city over some. It is a big institution. I wish you could see the City and the country around about it. The gardens that we can see between here and the City is worth coming out here to see, say nothing about anything else. They are the most beautiful of anything that I ever saw. I should like to own one of the nice mansions on the outskirts of the City. I think if I did, I never would rebel against my country. But they do it here and many splendid homes are left desolate or they are taken possession of by contrabands. The City is a terrible stinking place caused by its being so low that there is not much of a chance to drain it and the filthiness lays in the gutters beside the streets. I should not want to live in the City a great while at a time. The people are from all parts of the world but mostly French and German.
I was on guard night before last and had a great time. All I had to do was to put on my ______ and take them off once in four hours. I have not been out but three nights since I have been here — my turn not coming only once in twenty days thus far.
Em, we are living just like cotton hats. I wish you were here to see if we do not have things in good shape. Our living is tiptop and everything is going on well. You ought to see me eat butter toast. I tell you I am getting quite big and stick out large. But we are expecting our good times will not last long (though they may) for it will be nothing strange if called away at any time.
I see in the papers that Congress is trying to pass a Bill to raise more troops when our time is up and expect us to enlist once again. Do you think I had better or stay at home and let [brother] Dow try it once, supposing I should live to get home. Some of the officers here say that they [are] going to give Nine Months men an easy chance this time so that they will be inclined to enlist over again.
O, dear mother. I hardly know what to do this evening. I wish I was up with you tonight. These long evenings I do not like. If I only could run into your house and sit and chat until eight o’clock, I should like it much better than to be confined here. You know that I was not much of a hand to go out visiting much. Well, I am the same here. I hardly ever go in to any other company but my own and we have 13 tents in one company. But I have been in none but mine since we have been here. So you see that I am as steady and still as ever. O, I am getting to be a very nice young man in my own estimation. Perhaps you will not know me when I get home if I keep in my good ways. I will cry upon this sheet of paper. I shall have to write a few lines more tonight.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
February 24th 1863
My Dear Wife,
I received your letter of the 8th inst. yesterday and as the mail steamship Columbia starts for New York Friday morning, I will write you a few lines today for I shall have to put it into the office here tomorrow. Am very glad to hear that you all are still enjoying good health. As I had not heard for so long a time from you, I did not know but some of you were sick. But I am glad to hear to the contrary. If you wrote me between the 18th of January and the 8th of February, I think they are lost as one of our mail steamers was lost on the way here in that time. That will account for my thinking that you were out of writing funds. If you wrote anything that was lovely and of any importance, you must write it over and start it again.
I am very glad to hear so good report of the babies. I have not thought so much about the little one as I have of Georgie since I have been here but you write so flattering about him I begin to want to see him pretty bad. But after all, I do not believe he is as smart as Georgie. You must make him mind but not whip him much. I would give most anything to see him if it were but for a few minutes. I guess he will not know me when I get home. Do you think he will?
I am going to send you and Georgie a ring that have made of coconut shell with my jackknife. There is nothing nice about them but will do to look at for I want you to know how I pass my idle moments away. I am going to make some for the girls when I get time. Am glad to hear that you got the money I sent and that you get your State Aid every month. I think you are doing better than some widows are. What a blessed thing it is to be a widow once in awhile, don’t you think so?
Well keep your bills paid up in good shape. I think as things look now and [from] what I hear, that we shall be in Concord about the middle of June or soon after if we are prepared. Col. [James] Pike has not gone home as I wrote you but has been sick in the city five weeks. [He] is better now and came back to the regiment last night. He has had the swamp fever and is looking quite feeble. We have lost ten men out of the regiment since we have been here. Two died in the General Hospital in the City that I did not know of until a day or two ago. I think the health of the regiment is improving now as we have not more than three or four that are dangerously sick and not a great many in the hospital. My health was never better than now and a lazier fellow you never see. I am so large around the waist that I can not button wither pair of pants. Well, I look some as I have seen certain other folks look around the girting place.
Sunday afternoon, 3 o’clock
I am afraid that my pen will run out in writing before I get this sheet wrote and I think I shall have to tear it open and not send but half of it.
I am going to tell you something. I want you to pick up change enough to carry you over to Salisbury about the time that I get there if I am so lucky as to get there. What do you say to that? You can take one baby and leave the other over at home or take them both just as you like. I thought I would speak about it now as it takes so long for a letter to go and ever to get back that our time will be well nigh out by the time I get an answer to this.
I think we shall start for home about the first of June as our Quarter Master says he can [get] no rations for us after the 15th of June. By what he says, we think we shall be in Concord about that time — what there is left of us. We may have to stay in Concord sometime before we get discharged and I would like to have you go over and see the folks and make a visit.
We are having a thunder shower just about this time and it makes the [air] cool and nice. Well, Mother, I must close this letter for this time. I have wrote you most everything that I could think [of] and mixed it up so that it will take you sometime to read it. Take good care of yourself and the boys. Give my respects to all. Accept my love and remember that I am still your true Valentine.
— Lon Davenport
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
16th New Hampshire Volunteers
In Camp five miles south of Baton Rouge, La.
March 16th 1863
Monday, 4 P. M.
My Dear Wife,
Thinking that you will want to hear how I am getting along, I will write a few lines tonight. I intended to write a little everyday but have not had time.
We started from Baton Rouge Friday night for Port Hudson and got there Saturday noon — or we were about six miles from there — the First and Second Divisions being ahead of us and near the Rebel Batteries. We went there in the rear of Port Hudson to attract the attention of the Rebels so that our gunboats could pass by and they all went up except one. Sunday we started back and stopped here. The report is tonight that we are going out towards the Jackson Railroad the next move we make.
We had a terrible shower last night. Got a good ducking but did not hurt me a bit. Wish you could have some of the sugar and syrup that we have confiscated today. I have stood my march first rate — much better than I expected I should.
I received your letter that you wrote the 22nd of February last Wednesday. Was glad to hear from you but sorry to hear that you were so unwell. I hope you have got over with it before this time. I feel very anxious to hear from you again to hear how you are. I also at the same time got a letter from Charley and Hat, one from George, and one from [brother] Dow. He did not write me any news from Salisbury so if you hear of any, write it. Tell Hat I will answer her letter as soon as I can get time. I can not write you many particulars today for I have but little time. After we get settled down somewhere for a few days, I will try and write you a long letter. I do not want you to fret about me one bit for I never felt better and am bound to keep on my legs awhile longer. I hope this will find you well and smart and the children.
Give my respects to all enquirers. Keep up good courage yourself and the time will soon be out of my enlistment and then if I live, I will be with you and a joyful meeting it will be for your soldier Boy. Will it not be the same for you? Write as often as you can. Put in two or three postage stamps. Accept my best love. Ever your affectionate husband, — Lon
Direct the same as ever.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN
[Near Port Hudson, La.]
March 19th 1863
I have about two minutes to write you a few lines. Capt. [Jonathan P.] Sanborn is going to Baton Rouge [and] I can send it by him there. The other that I wrote [last] Monday I will send with this. I had no chance to send it since I wrote it.
I am well and in good spirits. I am just finding out what soldiering is. Went on a forced march Tuesday and got back yesterday. Had quite a hard time of it. Last Sun[day] morn we marched 18 miles in twelve hours in the mud up to our knees part of the way. You never see such a [sorry-] looking lot of men in your life. ¹ But our courage is still good. I would like to write some of the particulars but have not time. I guess you cannot read this but it will do for you to look at and to let you know I am alive.
I will write again soon. Love to all. Write often.
From your affectionate husband, — Lon Davenport
¹ From the regimental history by Townsend, we learn that this march “tested the metal of the Sixteenth more, perhaps, than any other” march they had made up to this time. “The mud was still sticky under our feet,” Townsend wrote, “and the sun was blazing hot over our heads. Our men, under the rapid advance, began to stagger…and the men began to lighten themselves of the loads they were carrying. First supplies of sugar were thrown away. For distance of a mile or more those in the rear hardly could step except on sugar mixed with mud… Next the men cast away their blankets, their shelter tents, and their knapsacks.” [pages 97-98]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE
Addressed to Mrs. A. D. Davenport, Rutland, VT.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
March 22, 1863
I am going to send you a few lines in Charlie’s letter to let you know that I have got back from our tramp to Port Hudson. I wrote you last Wednesday, I think. We got back here Friday night and was pretty much used up. I was taken that night with a sort of bowel complaint and it has used me pretty much up. I could hardly stir yesterday but today I am better and hope that I shall get over with it in a few days, If I could have something that I could relish to eat, I should like it. I have no appetite for anything that we have here. I would like a cup of porridge but cannot get any meal today.
Well you need not be worried about me for I am coming out bright soon. I received the letter that you wrote the 1st day of this month last night. You did not say whether you had got over with your cough and cold but suppose you have probably. By this time you get this, you [will] be back to the Brick House or somewhere else. I am glad to hear that you go to meeting so much. I think I would go if I were where I could go for you know I used to like to go first rate in the horn.
I have wrote to [brother] Dow today. We are going to move tomorrow about half a mile from here and to a better camp ground. I think our Headquarters will be here for the present but think we shall have to go on skirmishing expeditions once in awhile and then come back here again. I want you to write me if they are going to raise more men and all the news going. Keep on writing to me for perhaps that we may be sent out somewhere so that I cannot write as often. Give my love to all [and] keep a good share for yourself. And remember your soldier boy, — Lon
I will write again soon. Dow sent me this sheet of paper.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN
[Undated last sheet of partial letter; probably May 1863]
You must excuse this paper for it is dirty. I begged it of Ferda ¹ to finish my letter. I expect you will find some fault for my not writing last week but you will see how it is and you must not worry at all about me for I am well, tough and hearty about this time and can make as good a cup of coffee as the next gal. I know that you do not want to see me any worse than I do you and am longing for my enlistment to be out so that I can return to my family. I suppose I think too much of home to be a good soldier although I have tried to do my duty and have never had a cross word spoken to me by my officers. But still it is natural to think of you very often and wish I was with you. I hope this war will close up soon and the men sent home. But it will be some time before that will take place, I think. I think the Rebs will have to beg for peace.
My paper is getting short and I must close soon. Give my best respects to the folks and tell them I have found out how bullets sound whistling about my ears. I will try and write you next week if I have to write on a chip. Take good care of George and Walter. Give Georgie two soft slaps for me for his age. ² Remember me to all and I will remain your true and affectionate husband. — Lon
¹ “Ferda” was probably Ferdinand N. Daysbury of Salisbury, New Hampshire, who served in Co. E with Davenport.
² Alonzo Davenport’s oldest son, “Georgie” [George S. Davenport] was born on 5 May 1861 so this letter was probably written in early May 1863.
My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.