1863 May 16
May 16, 1863
Mrs. Nancy J. Harden
My dear companion!
I again seat myself to drop you a few lines which will inform you that I am well at this time, hoping these lines may reach and find you and Mollie both well, also all the rest of the family and connection.
I was discharged from the hospital day before yesterday, and yesterday I was sent with a detachment of five men 2 and a half miles out on the river to do picket duty, and I have just got back to camps.
It has been raining ever since I started yesterday morning. It is now raining, just right to wet good and to make grass grow. The rain is constant, slow, and steady.
Well, I have some more good news and that is this: yesterday, an order came granting furloughs for seven men at a time to start now and on the first of June. All those who have families dependent on them and have wheat to save are to come home then. So, I think I will get the chance to come then.
I tell them that I have an interest in three crops: old man Hilliard’s, old man Seab’s, and John Pats. The last named, you know, I contracted to save. Consequently I shall try to come home on or about the first of June, next.
I would like for you to send me that money as we have not drawn any yet and they say they do not know when we will, though if I get the chance, I am coming home, money or no money.
Mr. Williams, one of the men who got a furlough today, will leave this at Milner for you. I hope you will get it soon. I will…
Turn over now.
Well, now I will write some more. The cannon have been firing every half hour today in honor to the gallant, dead General “Stonewall” Jackson who died of wounds in Virginia.
It is now 2 o’clock. It is still raining yet.
I will now tell you what I saw yesterday at my post of duty. I had in my possession two long spyglasses with which I could see a great distance. There is a very tall pine standing out near the mouth of the Savannah River and I saw a man standing guard up near the top of the pine.
He has a platform up there about four feet wide and six feet long with banisters like some little porch. He also has a rope ladder by which he goes up. By the aid of those glasses, one may see his gun, his hat, his hair, beard, and everything just as plain as if it had been in fifty yards of me. And with the naked eye, you cannot see the pine unless the weather is very fair.
I could see the sentinels at Caustin’s Bluff and at Thunderbolt just as plain as if they had been right at me. We have houses all along here on the coast two, three, or four miles apart which we call signal towers. And we can give signs for anything we want from one to another, such as the approach of an enemy, the appearance of a boat, or anything else.
Our sentinels have to look through these telescopes every one or two minutes. In the daytime, we give signs by a white or red flag; in the night by two torches of fire. Besides this, there is a telegraph line all round on the coast from Genesis Point to Savannah. So we are well fixed to report if the enemy should come.
I will stop writing now until the mail comes and see if I don’t get a letter today.
It is now five o’clock and the mail has not got here yet and I hardly know how to finish my letter, but I will add a few more lines and close.
We have had a fine game of Town Ball which gave me good exercise, and I was on the side that beat.
There is two schooners here today. They say they are going to run the blockade, and they may stir up a little fight for what I know.
We have news here that our Army has been whipped at Vicksburg and I think it is so, though the papers do not say anything about it.
It has rained so today that I have not done any washing. So, my shirt is black. We do not have dirty clothes here: they are black.
It has stopped raining now though it is cloudy.
We are still looking for another fight at Charleston, South Carolina or at Savannah, one of the two places.
Tell the Doctor to send me something to think about or to laugh at.
Tell the girls to write to me.
Tell Aunt Varchus that I will write to her and to Pa next week.
Give my respects to Uncle John Smith and Aunt Betsy for they have been good friends to me.
Present my respects to the connection and friends and receive my undivided love to yourself.
Yours, etc. in absence.
W. H. Harden
Nancy J. Harden
This is now Sunday morning, seventeenth, before breakfast.
The mail came last night about dark and I did not get any letter so I will fix up my letter and start it off this morning as these men did not get off yesterday. They are going to start this morning.
I am still well today.
I want you to write me when you heard from all the boys, that is from Ikey and John Dawson, William and from Ed Harden, William Cook and Eliza, and Tandy Key, and all the rest and where they all are, etc.
Write whether Joe has come home or whether they have caught him. Write a great many things that I can’t think about now, and what you think of the wheat crop.
I have not seen John Pat in four or five weeks.
I believe I am out of sorts for this time.
Write soon, if not sooner.
So, farewell for this time.
W. H. Harden
P. S. I have got to clean my gun up to go on inspection today.
W. H. H.
Lieutenant Johnson will bring this instead of Mr. Williams.