[Anna appears to be making DPG a watch chain out of her hair, like one of the ones on this page about Victorian hair jewelry. Items made out of hair included “bracelets, brooches, earrings, rings, chains, necklaces, shawl pins, cravat pins, purses, bags, book markers, pencil cases, guards, studs, stud chains, scent bottles, walking sticks and even riding whips”.]
New Iberia La, Nov 18 1863
My Very Dear Wife
My usual time for writing you was last evening, but I neg-lected doing so, as I felt very unwell and concluded that I would do better by retiring early and write again. I am now afflicted severely. I caught a cold in my Head about a week ago and three or four days afterwards it settled in my Eyes and in my Throat, so that I do not feel very comfortable under the affiction. In addition to this a very severe boil has made its appearance, inside of my nose, and that member is now swollen to about double its usual size, and the pain is so intense that I do not get a great deal of Sleep at Night. But [p2] I think to day, that I am better than I have been and I hope in a day or two to be entirely well. Yesterday our Whole Army in front came back here and are now in camp on the other side of Town, leaving our Division in front. The Rebel Army followed up our Army close and are now in camp across the Prarie, three or four Miles and their Pickets and ours face each other. They have about Fifteen Thousand men, and we have enough to take good care of them if they conclude to give us Battle. There is quite a difference of opinion as to whether they will fight us or not, some think that we will have a Battle before many days, while others seem to think they dare not give us Battle. I am one, that thinks with the latter. I have no idea that the Rebs will attack us unless they know they have advantages over us that [p3] will ensure them victory, and this the Gentlemen at present have not got. I am at present in command of three Regiments of Infantry and a Battery of Artillery, all of which I am inclined to think will give a good account of themselves if called upon. Yesterday afternoon about a thousand Rebel Cavalry advanced over the Praire, towards our front and for a while came up very bravely. I could from my Tent see them very plainly. We immediately placed one of our ten pound Parrott Guns in positions, sent about a half a dozen Shell into their Ranks and for a short time about the biggest Skedadling was done, that I have ever seen, since that time the Gentlemen have Kept their distance and in the future doubtless will do so. Yesterday I made an application to be detailed to proceed to Illinois and recruit for my [p4] Regiment. I sent up the application to Gen Burbridge and he says he will do all he can to get me detailed. I do not know whether he will succeed or not, but strongly hope he may. If I should get this, I would very probably be in Peoria for some time maybe all Winter. Wont we have a nice time if this should come to pass. I am doing all I can to get this through and have strong hope of Succeeding, but I may be disappointed so do not expect me until you see me –
Every thing quiet to night on our lines, although all day our Cavalry and the Rebel Cavalry have been skirmishing out on the Praire, from our Camp we could get a good view of all that transpired. The Praire here is about ten miles [p5] wide, and we have a very fine view of every thing that transpires.
I have heard nothing lately about our going to the Rio Grande. Two Divisions of our Corps have gone, and the other two Divisions are here with the 19th Army Corps. This 19th Corps is composed entirely of Eastern Troops and our men and theirs fight like Cats and Dogs there is a most unnatural hatred existing between the Eastern + Western Troops, and the reasons for it, I do not Know. Of course all favors are bestowed on the Eastern Soldiers as the commanding Gen (Banks) is from there and brought these Troops here with him. I heard to day that Banks had Troops enough with him on the Rio Grande and that we would not be sent there, how true this is, I am unable to say but hope it may be the [p6] case, as I have no anxiety whatever to get so far from home. I am strongly in hopes that I will be sent home to recruit. Gen Burbridge told me this evening that he thought there would be no difficulty whatever about getting me detailed, but still I do not place entire confidence in it, as I have so often been disappointed in such things before. We will have a splendid time if I can get home wont we my darling?. But then the parting will come again and that will be hard very hard, but I think after I fill the Regiment I will come down and resign in the Spring. I am determined not again to be parted from my darling Wife. You remember I bought a new Silver Watch of Mr Morse. this same Watch has proved to be of no account. I have tried it over and over again to get it to run but it will not do it, so [p7] I have given it up in despair when I get to where there are any Watch Makers I shall try and get it fixed up. I think the troubles with it, is, that it is new and has never been fixed up to run. I hope you have not forgotten to save your hair for that Guard you are to get for me, you Know I wish a Guard from your Hair very much so do not forget. While I am now writing I can imagine I can see you in the Prayer Meeting. I remember I used to accompany you there, now I can not attend any meetings of that Kind as we are way out in this Country where there are no Preachers or Churches. Chaplains in the Army have about all played out, and it is now very seldom that we see any Gents of that Kind. I have heard nothing from Mr Pierce since I returned but I guess he does not intend returning. The Regiment [p8] miss him very much, more I think than any other officer in it. The Major is the most unpopular Officer I ever saw. Every one is down on him, there is something about him that makes him very unpopular. Col Webb is still in New Orleans at the Convalescent Camp. If I go north I shall try and send him out to take command during my absence, for the Major will demoralize the Regiment if left in command.
I feel to night very lonely and do most sincerely wish that I were with you, instead of sitting down here in my Tent. Maybe my next Letter to you will be myself in proper person, my ardent desire is that it may be so. You may be surprised early some morning, by me rushing in on you. I shall be very certain to put my arms around you, even if there is forty present, every person you Know has a right to hug their own Wife so [following writing is vertical on page] look out, for me when I do come. Be sure my dear Anna to write me very often, do not stop now expecting that I am coming home for I may not come, if I should all Letters will be saved for me by David until after I come back.
Your Devoted + Loving Husband
[postscript on p1] Remember me to all my sisters Fathers and Mothers if any of my new sisters would like to write to a forlorn Soldier way of from his home + wife all letters would be very acceptable – as the news Papers say best of references given, without requiring a Card De Visite. You can tell Maggie Simmons that I am looking her up a Husband.