1862-05-19Otter Island, S.C.
Otter Island

May 19th 1862

Dear Parents

Monday afternoon finds me again seated with paper before me for the purpose of writing to you. I should have written to you before the week was out, but being so busy and not enjoying very good health for the past week, but I am better again. This is rather a desolate looking place but by the officers thought to be very healthy, for we have a good fresh sea breeze. The island is surrounded by the ocean on two sides and St. Helenas Sound on another. There are but few of the boys in the hospital at present. There is some prospects of our getting marching orders. Soon, part of our reg't has to go to Edisto Island to guard the commissary stores while those that are there go on to help take Charleston. Thus they keep us back as reserves while others have the pleasure of winning laurels for themselves, if it is not pleasure it is a privilege, but probably it is all for the best for us to remain as reserves, and again it may all be rumor about an advance being made upon Charleston City. I have no important news to write at present. This is getting to be an old story. We do not get any news of late. We have not rec'd any news since last week Sunday. When I wrote you last, I intended to have written before this is no answer to one I rec'd just before leaving Hilton Head so you may consider this as an answer to that one. I have been out along the beach the forenoon gathering shells of the ocean. I wish I could send them home. If there is any chance to get some that suit me I shall send them home if there is any chance. And that box you spoke of starting the next week. It is but few extras we get here. We do not have as good a chance of getting little notions for we are not allowed to go to the head. Last Friday George Russell of Co F that I mentioned in my last letter was down here. George does not look at all natural. He looks a good deal older than when I saw him last in Addison. I always supposed that he went west but instead of going west he went to Wayne County, Pa. and has been in this reg't since it first started from Camp Curtin. It seems strange that I did not find him out before. I do not know that I should have found him out now if it had not been for Hat. George had written to Uncle Neil's folks and she found that he was in this reg't. I hardly know what to write that will interest you. I have written so many letters home that it is hard to work for me to get up a good letter. It seems that our long resting spell is over, for we probably will be moving more or less, and I hope every move will be made to the north toward a cooler climate for it is getting to be very warm weather down in Dixie. Uncle Sam is giving us some new clothes, that is those that wish new clothes. But I think I have enough now to carry on my back. I don't like this making a mule of oneself when there is plenty of other conveyances.

But I must finish this before drill for we have to go on drill at 4 p.m. and drill 2 hours, then we will have to go out on drill 3 hours each day and dress parade and guard mounting with our knapsacks. The knapsack drill and guard mounting comes off in the morning when it is cool. The Col. is quite easy on us on drilling to what he was at Fort Monroe. Then we used to drill 8 hours a day and here we only drill 3 hours beside dress parade and guard mounting.

I suppose you have most of your spring work done by this time. I would like to be up there to help you do the plowing and sowing. I would like to be at home harvest to cradle some of the wheat on the old hollow I helped log last fall. It hardly seems 8 months since I left Elk Run but such is the case. It will be 8 months the 23rd of this month. Time flies swiftly. A year will soon pass away and how many will have gone into eternity since the last fall commenced. How many homes have been made desolate and lonely. Many aching hearts will look in vain for some loved ones return when the soldiers are discharged, but the mail boat has arrived and I will wait until after drill and see if there is not perhaps a letter from home. There is already reports of good news but I hardly dare believe it.

Evening (in pencil)

Dear Parents

I am again writing to you. The mail came in and I rec'd a letter from home and one from Cousin Ella and one from Aunt Bet. They are not very well. Ella has the mumps. They have heard that Aunt Sally was married but I think it is not so for I had a letter from her a short time ago and she said not anything about it. I was glad to hear from home. I would like to be home to help you on your work. I fear you will be mistaken in regard to this war ending soon in three months to come. I fear that we shall not get home before fall or winter though we have good news in this mail. We are under marching orders now. We expect to leave in the morning or as soon as a steamer comes for us. Our orders are to be ready at a moments warning to leave. You must excuse me for not writing in ink, but I have none handy but I must bid you good night for I have to pack my things for the march. Write us often as you can. Direct as before as our mail is not changed yet. Give my respects to all enquiring friends and receive my love for yourself and mother so good by for the present.

This from your Affectionate Son.

J .D. Strait