December 13, 1863

December 13, 1863

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Letter No 21

Matagorda(?) Bay, Texas Dec 13th 1863

Sunday morning.

My Dearly Beloved Wife.

It is with the greatest pleasure I again sit down to write a few words to you. I don't know what I should do if I couldn't write and receive letters. If you look and long for letters from me as I do from you I know that I am paid for writing even if I did not like to write. I wish you were here to hear the breakers was on the beach. It sounds all the time as though a high wind was blowing and it has been so ever since we came here and probably ever since the world was made and will be as long as it stand which will be some time in my opinion. I was out yesterday along the beach to see the Porpuss (sic) (I don't know how to spell it) and Dolphins play. The bay was full of them. They are a very large fish and floundered(?) round in great style. I saw some as large as a horse and at least ten feet long. The bay was very smooth yesterday but today we are having a gale and it is awful rough. Out on the east side when the breakers clash against the shore the sight is grand. The waves roll(?) as high as the big church in town. I picked up some shells yesterday and when I came in I sorted out the best ones and put them in a box and shall send them to NO tomorrow by Capt Long of our corps and from there they will come by express. You will pay the charges if they ever come. They are marked Mrs. H B Follett, corner of Main & West streets Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois. So they will come direct to the house and you need have no trouble looking for them. If they never come it will be no loss only the shells, but I hope they will come for I got up several mornings before sunrise to hunt them In the box I send a sample of sea weed, a sea crab claw /the blue long one/ a lobster claw, some specimens of coral a specimen of oyster formation, very small, and several other shells. Also a sea bean which looks like a buck eye, and an old Vicksburg RR baggage check which I have carried for a long time. Enclosed in this you will find some sea grass. I have not had a letter from you since I read Nos. 13 & 14 but I guess they will come along after a while. I am very anxious to hear from Mell again for I am afraid he is dead by this time. Oh dear how much the poor fellow has suffered. I wish I could suffer part of the time for him, but I cant and I may be called on to suffer myself before the war is over. I am also very anxious to hear from Will for we hear that Burnside has been driven back to Knoxville with great loss. How true it is I don't know, but this do know (sic) he has got one foolish corps under him, viz the 9th. They were with us on the Jackson campaign They are eastern(?) kid gloves, white vests, and starched shirts, and run the first fire(?) soldiers. Our Capt says he saw Grants official report of the late battle between him and Bragg the other day and that Grant whipped Bragg and took 60 pieces of artilery (sic) and 7000 prisoners. The thing was confirmed here last night by the rebs. A flag of truce came in from Gen Magruder and one of my squad Amos Baier(?) helped row a boat out to meet them and he heard Capt Wilkens(?) of Gen Lawlers(?) staff ask the reb major what the latest news was from Tenn. and he said he heard by their own papers eight days ago that" Bragg was defeated with heavy loss" Afternoon, I have just been to dinner and what do you think I had to eat? I had some hard tack and coffee and that is all. That is all we have had for the last four or five days. We are in a land of plenty, there are lots of sheep, hogs, butter right around us and yet by orders of Gen Banks we are not allowed to kill them and Gen Lawler(?) is mean enough to put the order into effect. Gen Washburn who has command of the corps is on the other side of the bay and he allows the boys to forage all they please. I shall go to my regt if we don't get better grub soon and so will all my squad, We are going to have a debate to night and the question before the house is "Resolved that the hard tack which we last drawed (sic) from the commissary belong to the Salurian(?) deposit." There are strong arguments both for and against the question as it stands but I shall take the negative and try to prove that they belong to the last deposit. The glazed, flinty appearance of the specimens we have is against me, but the animals which we find are al in them are alive which goes to prove that they belong to the last Geological strata. Some of the boys who do not believe in geology say they are tack that was left when the Mexican war was finished. It is a hard question to decide. Well Hortense I wont grumble. I am willing to suffer for my country. I would be satisfied if it was necessary for I think our country is worth fighting and suffering for, and I want you to teach our dear children to love their country and the old flag above all things but their kind(?). I dont care how selfish others may be. I want them to be willing to give up all and every thing for their country is need be. We should be Patriots for we all came of patriotic stock. Our fathers fought bled and died for our freedom shall we do less for our children and shall they do less for posterity? Each one must act and do for himself in their times and if others refuse to sacrifice anything for their country, it only proves they do not love their country as we do and of course they will not receive the reward of a clear conscience for having done their duty when this war is ended. Give my love to all. I wrote to Mary(?) a few days ago. I shall not write to you again before Sunday for I am out of stamps and paper and our sutter has not come up yet. I am as ever your loving husband John M. Follett