1861-11-24Ethan Fortress Monroe
Ethan Fortress Monroe Sabbath

Nov. 24th, 1861

Dear Parents

It is with pleasure that I now try to write a few lines to inform you of my, whereabouts. We are now encamped in Camp Hamilton, about 3/4 of a mile from Fortress Monroe in Va. and but a short distance from the rebel force. On last Monday our Reg't moved their quarters about 2 miles toward Washington from where we were then encamped. I was sent out in the morning on picket guard and was not relieved until afternoon of the next day, when we should have been relieved at nine o'clock, consequently I did not have to help move, but got into camp the next day just in time to join the company to get onto the cars. The next morning after they had got moved the Col. rec'd orders to go to Fortress Monroe. This was welcome news to most of the boys especially those that were well and hearty. Though it was removing us farther from our friends, and we had to leave some of our comrades behind. This gave us feelings of regret but we contented ourselves with the thought that it was all for the best. We had to leave Marshall in the hospital in Washington. He was a very sick boy. I should have been glad to have stayed with him but could not. We have not heard from him and have no means of hearing from him until the Capt. that was left there to bring on the sick when they get able to come shall arrive.

But I purpose to give you a short description of our voyage, but you will excuse me if I do not give you a very perfect description, for I am in no mood for writing today.

We were all drawn up in line before the railroad track to get into the cars, but the train not arriving as soon as we expected we had to lay out on the ground from about 2 o'clock in the afternoon until about the same time the next morning before the train arrived to take us through to Baltimore where we were to take the water. We arrived at Baltimore about 12 o'clock, and were treated to a very good dinner of bread and cheese and warm coffee. This relished very well. After we had finished our diner we were marched down to the wharf and got on board the steamer Pocahontas, but she did not weigh anchor until about 4 o'clock. We left the harbor about 6 o'clock. The bay was very smooth and calm. The whole Reg't and her baggage made a very heavy load so the boat could not run very rapid down the bay. Three companies of us had to take a deck passage. This was not very pleasant having to lay out in the open air on the sea. I saw the moon rise out of the water for the first time. It was a splendid sight. We were not out of sight of land at dark. The next morning I saw the sun rise. This looked full as grand as the moon. I saw several porpoises or sea dogs. They were quite a curiosity to me. We were hailed by a Man of War and had to drop anchor and wait till they were satisfied what kind of craft we were.

I would write more but is most dress parade time and I shall have to stop writing. I should have written to you before but postage is so scarce that I could not get anything to pay postage with. You must write to me as often as you can, and not wait for me to write. I am well and hearty, but I should like to be at home to get a clean meal once in a while. I do not know how long we shall stay where we are. You can direct your letters to

Fortress Monroe, Va. Company I

45 Reg't, Col. Welsh P. V.

Be sure and write soon and send me papers. This from your son so good by for the present.

Monday evening and dear parents, I am again writing to you. I thought I would write a few more lines to you. I am well and hearty as ever. We are in a very healthy place down in old Va. We are in or near Hampton, a town that was burned by the rebels last spring. We are within about 10 miles from Yorktown where Washington took Cornwalis and the rebels have quite a large force and some think we shall be sent to dislodge them soon and some think we shall be sent to South Carolina but I do not know where we shall go but it is evident that there will be a blow struck somewhere soon that will tell in their campaign on one side or the other. There is a good many sick in our Reg't and there has been several deaths and one from our Company a Corporal named Andrews. Jehiel is sick and Henry is getting better and I think Jehiel will be better soon. I have seen Rit Wit tonight. His Reg't is encamped near us. We are under the protection of one of the largest forts in the United States. I have not had the pleasure that I would like to have of viewing the fort but it is something of a sight to see the gun yard and the shipping that surrounds the docks around the old point. There are piles of cannon balls without number and guns enough to go through them all. Just in front of the fort on the beach is planted the old union gun we read so much about but I have not time or space to write anymore this time. You must write as soon as you get this so good night and direct to Company I 45th Regt Col Welsh PA. V. Fortress Monroe, Va.

This from your Affectionate Son.

J.D. Strait