These letters were written by James Drolsbaugh (1832-1873) of Co. F, 171st Pennsylvania Infantry. James was from Honey Grove, Juniata County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Drolsbaugh (1806-1882) and Catharine McConnell (1809-1875). He was married to Elisa “Belle” Marshall (1837-1922) and they had a daughter named Effie (1861-1870) mentioned in this letter. Belle was the daughter of James and Isabelle (Campbell) Marshall. After James Drolsbaugh’s death, she remarried Jerome Thompson Shull (1854-1932).
James was mustered into Co. F., 171th Pennsylvania Infantry as the First Sergeant on 2 November 1862. He mustered out with company 8 August 1863 after 9 months service. Company F was raised in Juniata County, Pennsylvania. The 171st Pennsylvania were drafted militia. They were organized at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, in November 1862. They wintered at Newbern N.C. In April they were under fire at Blount’s Creek but suffered no losses. In June they were sent to White House Va. and were moved to Harper’s Ferry July 7 to assist in the pursuit of the Confederate army after the battle of Gettysburg.
See also — 1863: Paul George Smith to Solomon Manbeck
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
October 28th 1862
Dear Bell and Ephfenia,
I am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you the same. I will give you some account of my life since I left home. We are 1½ miles west of Harrisburg. We have our tent and new blankets and our cooking utensils. We have plenty of provisions of the best quality. The men that tents with me is as follows, the Reverend James Watt, Doctor [William] Carter, General E___can and Professor [Daniel] Fusselman and Jas. McLure. We elected H. McLellan [to be our] captain. Lieutenants [Frederick S.] Schwalm and E[lias] Crawford.
I will not write much now. Don’t think the time long & I will go home as soon as I can get away. I am just as contented as the day is long. I will give the full account of affairs in camp. Mr. Pattison preached to us in Mifflintown. His text was in Matthew, “Be ye also ready for in such an hour as you know not, the Son of God commeth.”
Tonight I was at Methodist Sermon in Samuel, 22nd Chapter and 2 verse. We can hear the sermon and the fiddle and the bugle and the cursing of the soldiers. As far as we can see, there is nothing but tents and soldiers. I will say to you again, don’t fret about me. Take good care of dear Ephfenia. Hurrah for Lincoln. Hurrah for Curtin.
I have beef, pork, beans, rice, potatoes, coffee, sugar, crackers. The first night got a weakness in my breast and was hardly able to sit up. The second night I got choked up in my throat. Today I am well and hope you are the same.
Direct to James Drolsbaugh in care of Captain McClellen, Juniata Militia, Camp Simmons.
Hurrah for Harrisburg
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
October 28th 1862
Dear Bell and Ephenia,
It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to inform you that I am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you and dear Ephenia the same. I intended to give you the full account of my experience in the present time. I have seen men from all parts of the state. Some of them are very friendly; others are worse than hogs. They get drunk, play cards, swear and steal. For my part, I am as happy as the day is long. I had made up my mind long ago that if I went to the army that I would go with all my heart and I have done it and I am proud of the privilege of being a soldier.
Sunday morning it began to rain and blow and you may guess how we got along. We thought if we [only] had some of our barns, we would be well off. The mud and rain was ankle deep and our tent was in a bad situation. About dark on Sunday evening I walked out through camp and I never heard such a prayer in all my life. They were singing and praying as far as I could see or hear. If there is any person wanting to know how we get along, they had better come and see for I can’t tell the particulars. The other night I was dreaming about nursing ___ Ephenia but it was all in vain in the morning. You and Ephenia are all that troubles me. I will get a furlough soon as I can.
[William] Carter is well and in good spirits. We don’t know how long we have to stay here. Write soon and let me know how Ephenia is and how you are getting along with the corn and how the hogs is thriving and let me know how you are getting along. I will wait now till the mail comes and see if you have wrote to me.
I want you to knit one pair of mittens with a finger in them and a good pair of stockings and get some money from Calvin Dobbs and Smith and Hetty Patterson and have them all ready when I send for them. I have just come from the office and James Watt is holding the candle and Carter is by my side. He is well. He wants you to let his mother know that he is well.
And now on the night of the 29th. I am disappointed by not getting any word from you. Dearherbaugh lost your letter and I am uneasy about you till you write. If you don’t write soon, I will break through the guards and go home to see how you are.
Last night there was 4 men poisoned in cakes and pies. There is several cases of small pox in camp. There is a certain [number] of ladies parading through camp all day and all night. If I get hime, I can tell you some things that you would hardly believe. I will send you a sample of our crackers and coffee and soap.
We don’t know when we will be sent away from this. It is no wonder the war is not over for every man is seeking his own interest and humbugging the government and every honest man that comes near camp. I will close now by sending my love to all, — Jas. Drolsbaugh
Direct to Camp Simmons, Harrisburg, in care of Captain [William H.] McClellen
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp Simmons ¹
October 30, 1862
Dear Bell and Ephffenia,
It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to inform you that I am not any worse than I have been. My old complaint is still troubling me. My feet are still sore.
Our company is not sworn in yet and we don’t know when we will be. I have learned that the people at home don’t know anything about the war or even the expense of war. The speculation and ambition of men are the ruin of our government. I have been at places where I thought was more than the devil would want but Harrisburg and Camp Simmons goes ahead of all. There is all manner of sin practiced here by men and women of the lowest grade. There is a great many prayer meetings. We have prayer meetings and preaching every night and we can hear the cursing and swearing and the fiddle, the bugle, and the patriotic songs as well as the songs of the lowest grade all at he same time at night. The men are all out for whiskey, chickens, or anything they can steal in the morning. They will laugh about what they have done. We have got nothing but one blanket to each man and that is all we will get till our company is full. Some of the men have acted very mean about our provisions. We cannot complain and the amount of dirt we get is very great when it rains here. We live as dirty as hogs.
I want you to write soon and let me how how you and Ephffenia is. I still dream about poor Eff and think that I am nursing her. I often think of her as she stands around the stove and sings her pretty little song da da da. As soon as I can get away, I will go to Lee, the little dear. The other night I dreamed that Jack was pulling at my leg.
I want you to get my mittens and one pair of stockings, one shirt and neck tie, and have them ready to send in Bell Beale’s carpet sack. Ask Joshua Beale when he is coming to camp and he will bring it without cost. Don’t send anything till i order it. I will stop writing till tomorrow. It is bedtime.
November the first 1862. It is very warm here. We have some prospects of going into a regiment today and Harvey Neely is here. I am going to send these few lines with him as I have wrote some everyday just as I have time.
The drafted men are still coming in yet and the law allowed all drafted men 10 days to come in so you can see how the commissioner of our county acted the rascal in bringing us away before the lawful time. If he had given us the lawful time, we might have done all our work first. It was the commissioner’s place to stay with us till we were organized. In place of that, he left us like a drove of sheep [with] no one to tell us how or what to do. Therefore, our men got into difficulties very great and they were all down as on [James] Banks Willson, the commissioner. ²
Our company is more settled now than it was but it is bad enough yet. I want you to write to me and let me know how you are getting along with the corn and how the hogs are getting along. You must be careful about killing the hogs this warm weather. Mind and salt the sheep well and let me know whether Roarer took the cow or not. When you write, give me all the news. Mind and write every week. I will write one or two letters every week. Take good care of Eff till I get home. I can’t half write here. Send them things that I ordered with some person that is coming down.
Yours with respect, — Jas. Drolsbaugh
¹ Camp Simmons was named for Colonel Seneca Simmons, 5th Regiment of Infantry of the Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps (34th P.V.), who was killed at the Battle of Glendale, Virginia, June 30, 1862. Located at the northwest corner of Camp Curtin. Used primarily by 9 month regiments raised during the late summer and fall of 1862.
² James Banks Wilson was born in McAllistersville, Pa., December 25, 1826. He entered his father’s store at the age of fourteen. In 1855, he and his brother Lucien bought a store, a mill, and a farm property at Oakland Mills, and continued in partnership until 1888, when they sold out to Samuel and James Wilson. Mr. J. B. Wilson was, in 1889, elected vice-president of the First National Bank at Mifflintown. In 1892, he was elected president, and still holds that office, making his home at Oakland Mills. In 1856 he was married to Catharine, daughter of Jacob and Margaret (McMeen) Adams. Their children are: Martha Banks, deceased; Mary Adams; Edmund Doty; Samuel and James, twins; Margaret McMeen; William, who died in infancy; and Catharine. Mr. Wilson is a Presbyterian. He is a staunch Republican, and has served as county
commissioner for two terms.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
November 3rd 1862
Dear Bell and Ephfenia,
It is with pleasure that I write you to inform that I am well and got in camp in good time. Our officers were all waiting for me for they had no one to draw rations and attend to the commissary as well as I did. And that was not all, the company was sworn into the service on yesterday—Sunday, as it was—and they were afraid that I would not come back. They said they did not care how many other men left but they could not do without me. This is the way our soldiers does their business. They lay back all week and work on Sunday. They are examining the men today again. I must go to the office to be sworn into the service this evening.
I stopped at Conns and got 3 large vols. of butter and I sold it as fast as I could hand it out. We don’t know where they will send us to yet. I suppose you are uneasy about me and you need not for I am enjoying myself very well, but I would enjoy myself a great deal better at home. Hurrah for Curtin.
November the 4th 1862
I was sworn in this morning. I send the coffee to you each package with the name of the owner. Send E. Duncan’s shoes and his paper of coffee to his mother and Carter’s and Fusselman, send to them as soon as you can. get 8 or 10 pounds of butter from Aunt Rachel and make it up in pints—as near one pint in each pint as you can and put plenty of clothes and paper around it. And get Carter’s carpet sack and put it in. Don’t get the butter till you find out someone that is coming down and fetch it to me. Divide the rice between myself and Carter, Fusselman, and Duncan and give each his share as soon as you can. Try and find out who is coming down and then get the butter and fix it as nice as you can [in] William Carter’s carpet sack.
— Jas. Drolsbaugh
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
November 5th 1862
Dear Bell and Ephfenia,
It is with respect that I write these few lines to inform you I am well and hoping that these few lines may find you all and all the rest enjoying the same blessing. I have been appointed Orderly Sergeant and I have another appointment tendered to me. I am sorry to leave my companions in my tent but I have to do it tomorrow. I have to go and tent with the captain. He is a fine man but I would rather stay where I have been as the officers are generally very high livers and they live on the best the market can afford. I want you to fix my fine shirt and send it to me the first chance you have as I am promoted to Orderly Sergeant. I will have to get boots and buckskin gloves to come halfway to my elbow. It will cost me something to get my fixing but I get a good pay and a grant of a higher office [if] I perform my duty well.
November the 6th.
It is not safe to go out here—the excitement is so great. There was a man shot in the leg last night while he was crossing the yard and today another had both legs broken. We don’t look for anything else than a riot every hour. The soldiers and drafted men are running off day and night. Curtin’s opinion of disposing of the drafted men has created a great excitement among the men [and] I am afraid there will be a rebellion among ourselves here. They have sent for the Zouaves to guard the camp. The drafted men are gnashing their teeth on Curtin and I think if he would hear the way they curse him, he would not sleep. Curtin wants to put us into old regiments and we are not willing to go if we can help it. Curtin says that all the men that was examined and sent home must be brought back again at the expense of Uncle Sam. I think our regiment will not be formed till Sunday. They don’t appear to do anything till Sunday comes.
Give my love to all inquiring friends and yourself. Take good care of Eff till I go home. I will go to see you as often as I can and I still live in hopes that I will live to join my well loved home and friends again and I ask God’s blessing to rest on you all.
5 o’clock. The whole camp is in an uproar. We are ordered to fill old regiments. The resist[ance] of these orders will prove fatal here. Rebellion against these orders are almost certain. Nothing more but remain your husband till death. May the Lord protect us all from these sore calamities that now surrounds us. With tears and sighs, I bid you all farewell. — Jas. Drolsbaugh
If we don’t go in the morning, I will write tomorrow night.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
[Camp Simmons near Harrisburg, Pa.]
November 7th 1862
Very cold. The excitement is getting higher. Men are making speeches all through camp and the cheers of the patriotic drafted men are so great that they can be heard all over camp. We are expecting the officers from headquarters again [at] 9 o’clock to take us into the old regiments. The entire camp is united and swears that they will die in Camp Simmons before they will go in old regiments. I am too cold to write. The whole camp is cheering the patriotic address of General McClellan. George B. McClellan has more honor in this camp than Lincoln and all of his friends. The whole blame lies in the men that are wanting office in the old regiments and they think they will do it at the cost of old Pennsylvania. I am too cold to write now.
10 o’clock. Our officers are in Harrisburg and 2 officers are here and gave us orders to march out of camp, get our guns, and go to the 49th regiment. We are determined not to go and we are waiting to see what the result will be.
12 o’clock. Not so cold but it’s snowing very fast. It is about 1 inch deep. Our captain has just came from headquarters. Says for us to stay in our tents when officers of the 49th come again. I have got orders to hide the muster roll. I expect they will arrest me if they don’t find the roll but I intend to stand the brunt. We are united and are determined to fulfill the laws of our state. We were drafted for to defend our border lines and now they want us to go in old regiments. I have one word to say to my friends and soldiers at home and that is to stay home as long as you can.
3 o’clock. It is snowing and blowing. We cannot see hardly. I have been away getting wood for the company. It was a hard task for me to stand out so long and then we had to carry the wood one fourth of a mile in the storm. The excitement is not so great now for the storm is so bad, the men has to stay in their tents but the men begins to hollow to one another till the noise is so great that it almost deafens one to hear them. There is plenty of music all around us. Some singing psalms, others hymns, and patriotic songs. Men who don’t know anything about was ought to come here in stormy weather. James Watt and Fusselman are reading the testament. I am writing and Carter is looking on.
November 8th. Some of our men has just come from Harrisburg and they say that the officers of the 49th are in town and are determined to force us into the old regiment. We are among the number that will have to go but we are determined to stand till we are forced to go. I don’t want you to lament about me. Take trouble as easy as you can and trust in God for His blessing. Take good care of poor Effinia. I still live in hopes that I will get home in next month. I will trust in God ad wait on His blessing. I must wait and call the roll. The time is now at hand and I must put my letter in the office. Don’t send anything down to me till I write again for we don’t know when we will have to leave this [place]. I will begin to write this morning and write all the news as it comes. Yours truly, — Jas. Drolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant
The snow is 3 inches and [it] is clear today.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
November 11th 1862
Dear Bell and Effie,
It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to inform you that I am well and hope these few lines may find you and all the rest the same. It has got warmer than it was and we are getting our clothing today. And we are not going in old regiments. They sent for us and we all rose up against it. There are all kinds of weapons in store for the attack but they found the ragged militia was all for fight [so] they left us stay. We don’t know where they will send us this winter. We will get furloughs very soon and then I will go home 2 or 3 days. You had better get the potatoes buried before the rain comes again or they will freeze. If you can send one shirt and stocking with anyone who is coming down, and if you can’t get a chance, keep them till I go home. If you get the butter and has a chance to send it, do so. If you have not got the butter, don’t get it till I go home.
Write soon. My ink is too cold to write with. The devils has got into some people here. Yesterday I was ordered to arrest a lawyer. He was getting paid for attending the examinations and getting good men exempted. We got his papers from him and stopped his career in that business. One of our men is in the guard house today. Fusselman thinks he will get fat here for we are greased in the inside and outside and then well smoked.
Your true friend, — James Dolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant
[Editor’s Note: This letter by Drolsbaugh dated 13 November 1862 was advertised for sale on the internet and partially transcribed by the seller as follows:]
Nov. 13, 1862,
…we have got our uniforms and we are in the first regiment. The name of our company is the Pennsylvania railroad guards…I have got my sash and colours and it took all my money. I must get large gloves. And I have got my cap and the cap that I got from the government I send it to brother John for tending to the sheep…[I] get up early as I have all the business to attend to…the lieutenant of our company is gone home and I will have to attend to the company…small pox is very bad here. Every day or two…some dies and others take it and their is men shot every knight…when they are breaking guard…we have sent our clothes in a box to Perrysville…look in my shoes and you will find some coffee for yourself…– Jas. Drolsbaugh Orderly Sergeant.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
On the Chesapeake Bay
December 2d, 1862
I am now sailing on the ocean and the boat is rolling from one side to the other. It is a great sight here when you can’t see any land — only one place. It looks like as if we were going straight uphill and the waves are rolling very high. Sometimes I can see 20 ships at one time. Other times we see nothing but swans, ducks, and other sea fowl.
Oh Bell, it would be pleasant to travel around here if we were not going to war. Oh, I can’t write all that I have seen but I would like to have you along to see this country and the ships and gunboats that are along here. Oh, I would rather than a 1000 dollars you and the rest could come to see us when we get to Fort Monroe. You could not imagine what the world and the ocean is like. It is a hard task to be a soldier but I am as contented as ever I was in the world. All that troubles me is to know whether you and all the rest are well and I live in hopes that I will get home to see you all again.
We left Washington on Monday, the first day of this month, and we expect to land this evening and then I will let you know what kind of a place it is. We left Harrisburg the next morning after I came down. The captain and lieutenant began to think I would not come. It was 8 o’clock when I got into camp and the officers all met me and said they would rather lost the half of the company than to lose me. James Watt and all the rest of the boys that went home are in a bad fix for they can’t get to us without trouble. We have just 65 men in our company and the officers [page missing?]
I will tell you what we get to eat on the steamboat. We get 8 crackers to each man and one flitch of old meat to each company and we have to eat the flitch raw. It would make you laugh to see the boys eating raw flitch. When we land, we can cook our meal and live better than we do on the boat. We are about 400 and 10 miles from home. Oh, I don’t want any of you to fret about me. I am in the cabin with the officers and I get along better than the privates do. Our officers think that our regiment will be left to guard the fort and we will not have to go so far as the rest. There is 300 hundred and 50,000 men ahead of us.
Oh, we are rolling over the mighty waves. It is just like as if we were on a large swing. I wrote to you when I was in Washington and I will write as much news as I can. Now I will stop until we get to land.
Tuesday night, the 2d of December. We are anchored now on the waters called the Hampton Roads. Oh, if you just seen what I can see now, it would be worth all you ever seen. I think without doubt that I can count 300 hundred blockading vessels lying in sight of us and the lamps on the mast of every one of them. We can see around for miles over the still water and the moon shines so bright. The masts of the ships are sailing high in the air. Fort Monroe is on the shore in sight of us. We are going to sleep in the boat tonight.
Thursday, the 4th. We did not stay at Fort Monroe. We went on the boat to Norfolk and took cars and went to Suffolk. We are encamped 14 miles from North Carolina. We are all well. Wallace and William Caster and [Daniel] Fusselman and [Ephraim] Duncan are all well. Oh, please write soon and direct in care of Colonel Bierer, 171 Regiment, Capt. [William H.] McClellen Company. Washington City, D.C. — Jas. Drolsbaugh
[Editor’s Note: Drolsbaugh letters written on 6, 10, and 22 December 1862 to his wife Belle Drolsbaugh in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, are owned by the Library of Virginia. In these letters, Drolsbaugh provides news of himself and his regiment, including camp life and health. Drolsbaugh states that the regiment has no doctor and has a poor preacher. He adds that some officers had been using the regiment’s rations to pay local African Americans for work. Drolsbaugh describes Suffolk and its African American population. He offers his wife advice about their farm and about vaccinations for her and their daughter.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
December 18th 1862
Dear Bell and Effie,
I am well and I hope you and all the rest are well. I have a very sore arm but I think it is at the worst. It is the vaccination that makes it so sore.
We built a shanty for ourselves and put a flue in it and I think we put the wrong end up for the smoke comes down in place of up. You said you were crying about me, There is no use in fretting. I can’t help it. I will go home as soon as I can, you may rest on that. You had better do like I do when you get the horrors or when I get discouraged, I get out and sing and hallow and rip around till I get better. You had better not cry more than one hour and then sing two hours and you will feel better. I wold go home every time if I could but I can’t and therefore, I take the trouble as well as I can. I hope and pray that the war will terminate.
Carter, Wise, and Fusselman, Wallace, and all the rest are well. I will write every week Hurrah for Curtin and Old Virginia. Your true husband, — Jas Drolsbaugh
The next letter I send I will send a ring for yourself. I am making it now and I soon will have it finished. When I get time, I will make you and when you write, let me know all about the neighbors. I would like to hear from them and let me know whether you have wood and got the thrashing done. If you think the price of oats and wheat will come down, you had better sell. Ask your father and Pap about selling the wheat but keep plenty for yourself.
The paper soon gets dirty. You will excuse the dirt. Write every week or two weeks at the farthest. We think we will stay here this winter but we will have to go to Black Water on picket every week. You said you would like to come and see me but you had better stay at home and sing Old Hundred. I think I will be spared to go home and that is all I want. I will wait God’s time and trust in Him. Take good care of yourself and Effie. Hurrah for Old Virginia.
[Editor’s Note: This letter by Drolsbaugh dated December 31, 1862 was advertised for sale on the internet and partially transcribed by the seller as follows:]
On the sail ship going down the Chesapeake,
Dec. 31, 1862
…we got marching orders…we did not get started from Camp Suffolk till Sunday…we got 4 days rations in our knapsacks. Our load that each man had to carry was from 45 to 50 pounds. We marched 19 miles the first day…we started to got to the river to get on a boat but the rebels got in the road before us and our cavalry and artillery was drawn up for fight. The rebels ran away and we started for Gatesville and got there at dark…the rebels ahead [of] us again and [could] not get to the river…it was dark and we were commanded to be quiet as we [could] be…we went on the double quick till 10 o’clock…we were d[rawn] up in line of battle, load[ed] our guns and waited some time. Then we got to lay down with our guns at our sides. At this command we all lay down in [the] woods without supper. We were so tired we did not care.
…Tuesday morning we got up and started at double quick […] through the swamp and sand. The men were laying all along the road […] out and could not travel. I had to throw away one of my blankets a[…] gave me provisions away to lighten my load. Then we got into North C[arolina] and the country got better and more settled…our men stole all their bread, meat, chickens, horses…took their beehives and eat their [?] and left them destitute of all they had. I have not stole anything yet and I wouldn’t unless I am like to starve. The inhabitants were rebels and the[ir men] were in the Secession army. The negroes and the white women screamed and […] when our men broke open their cellars and run all through their houses and too[k all] they had. I thought a pity of them for all they were robbers.
Sometimes we [took our] shoes off and rolled up our pants to the thigh and waded the creeks. [It] was so hot the sweat ran off as in streams. Monday night we seen the rebel cavalry riding through [an open] field [but they] did not fire on us. We are in General Spinola’s Empire Brigade of volunteers… We got in the ship at Plantation Landing. Our officers was drunk and when we would come to the creeks and get on the logs they would ride up and push us in the water. Our drafted men[pulled] out their revolvers and was agoing to shoot the general and he […] Our colonel said he was in the war 16 months and never seen the men marched as hard as we were. Our colonel is a very nice man, but the brigade officers are tyrants…th[ere are] 4 regiments of us in the brigade…
New Years morning. We are on the ship yet […] and in sight of New Bern, North Carolina. It is a very nice town. We are to stay here for some time. It is very windy and cold. The [ship] rolled from one side to the other last night. It almost upset Duncan and […] was thrown almost out of their beds…direct your letters to me Co. F, 171 reg. [Pennsylvania] Militia in care of Colonel Bierer… — James Drolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
Camp near New Bern, North Carolina
January 4th 1863
After my respects to all, I will inform you that I am well and I hope these few lines may find you all the same. I suppose some of the friends thing I ought to write to them but if they were here in my place, they would not wonder why I did not write. Them that are home ought to write every week to the soldiers. It is so pleasant to hear from home. When the mail comes, all the men run to get some news from home and strange but true, they seldom get any letter outside of their own family.
I got your letter of the 22nd and was glad to hear from you. I wrote to you in New Years Day and I sent my finger ring to you. We were mustered in for pay yesterday and I think in 2 weeks we will get the money.
We got to the place of encampment New Year’s evening. We got orders yesterday to build shanties for ourselves. The colonel thinks we will stay 1 month here. There is supposed to be 75,000 soldiers here. When we got off the ship, we run through the town and bought scotch h___, cheese, cabbage, apples, and everything we could get to eat. We were like hungry dogs [after] living on crackers 5 days and 3 of them on a double quick march is not so desirable. Our men are all well but one. We sent him to Fortress Monroe Hospital.
When you write, William Caster wants to know whether you have wood cut and thrashing done and how the sheep and everything is getting along. Get S. Crouse to cut your wood and give my respects to him. If I had time, I would write to him but I can’t get time. Take good care of poor Effie till I get home. Write 2 or 3 sheets of paper and let me know all the news. You don’t write half enough in your letters. Write a whole day for I like to hear all I can. Don’t cry all the time and you will have more time to write and sing songs. I am as contented as if I was at home. All that troubles me is to know if you are all well.
Tell the friends [William] Carter, [Daniel] Fusselman, [Ephram] Duncan, [James] Watt, [Emanuel] Wise, [Benjamin] Wallace, [David] Peck, [William] Collins, [George W.] Fulton, J[ohn] Woodward, Alex. Anderson, and all is well. Don’t send any money to me till I order it. I have $1.00 yet. It ain’t safe to send money here. If you sell the grain, you had better give all the money you have to spare to F. Snyder or someone else on interest for fear the Banks break and you lose it. I wrote to you to pay M. Peck and Snyder. Keep enough for yourself.
There is a great Union feeling in North Carolina. They — the citizens — have large hand bills up for recruits and large numbers of North Carolina men are [en]listing. We got word this morning that they were going [to] make peace. I don’t know whether it is true.
We are about 10 miles from the Rebel’s encampment. They are all along between this place and Goldsboro. We ain’t afraid of them here.
Let me know whether Beale has got the assessing done yet.
It is so warm here in day time, we take our coats off and then we can hardly stand it at night. It freezes hard. I am better contented here than I was any other place we encamped. This Sunday morning I was reading in the 8th Chapter of Acts and there was a great joy in that city and he went on his way rejoicing and many other nice and comfortable warnings and lessons to his followers. And I am determined to not fret myself about home for I live [with] hopes that I will get home again.
Tell Tade Teadwig that if he send me an order, I will try and get his money from Walker on payday if I can.
We are living in dog tents open at each end.
Give my respects to all enquiring friends. Let me know if you get any word from Philadelphia or Lancaster. Please write to them and give my respects to them. Mind poor Effie till I get home. Nothing more but remain your true friend till death, — James Drolsbaugh, orderly sergeant.
Direct your letter to Newbern, North Carolina in care of Colonel Bierer, 171st Reg. P. M.
[Editor’s Note: This letter by Drolsbaugh dated 25 January 1863 was advertised for sale on the internet and partially transcribed by the seller as follows:]
Camp near Newbern, North Carolina
January 25, 1863
Dear Bell and Effie,
After my respects to you, I will inform you that I am well and I hope you and all the rest are the same. I suppose you thought I was lost or had forgotten to write to you. I wrote every week and sometimes 2 letters per week. Owing to the fitting out of a fleet here, there was no letters permitted to pass out of this place. Mail only comes and goes one time per week so if you don’t get a letter regular, you must be contented. When you do get them, you will get them all together. I got your letter that you wrote on the 22nd of December. That is the last word I got from you. Oh Bel, I would like to hear from you all but I trust you are all well. That is my only hope for I don’t get any letters and it seems the mail won’t be regular.
We have not been in any battle yet but have made some narrow escapes. If you got the 5 letters I wrote to you and ___, you will see how we got along. We got to camp near Newbern and put up shanties and carried brick 2 miles and had a nice chimney. We were comfortably fixed. But at 9 o’clock at night the 22d, we got marching orders to leave at 7 o’clock the next morning and so we took our march and went about 2½ miles east of our old camp and [re]located on the shore of Neuce River below Newbern city on the railroad leading from Newbern to Beaufort and then found out what was to be done. Jackson sent word for the citizens to leave town for he was going to burn it and our colonel told us he expected the rebels here before night. So we got to work and dug rifle pits and fortified ourselves but no rebels came here yet and I think they had better stay away.
We are on the ground that Burnside fought when he took Newbern City and this morning I was out looking at the graves of our brave soldiers who fell in the battle. It is a heart-rending sight to walk over a battlefield and see the remains of equipage of all sorts and cannon balls laying around. I sent a memoradum of our travels to you and my finger ring and my likeness. Let me know whether you got them. Now I send a ring for Mother. Give it to her after while. I will send one for Brother John in the next letter. I whittle them out with the bayonet and my knife.
We are all well and are getting more provision than we did. I think we will get along better now. I wrote for some money. Please send me $1.00. We will get our pay soon but I have just 8 cents now. I think the paymaster will be here next week and then I will send my money home.
Take good care of Effie and when you write, let me know how you are getting along. Let me know whether they have prayer meeting at Meallock’s schoolhouse yet. I got a letter from Tade. He said there was meeting at Waterford. There is just 2 of our company sick. This is the nicest land I ever saw. If it was in Juniata, it would be worth $1,000 dollars per acre.
The first day we worked on our breastworks, we cut a ditch 8 feet wide, 8 feet deep and 185 yds long. Just 200 men done this piece of work so you ,ay think it is nice land. The same day these same 200 men dug a ditch 8 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and 63 yards long all in one day. Look at the map and you can see where we are…
…We are well under the command of Major General Foster. He was in our camp yesterday and today. We are the left wing of his army…We hardly have any preaching. Our chaplain don’t take notice of private soldiers and he preaches short sermons. Our men get corn and apple whiskey two times per day when they are working on the breastworks and they are crazy for it. They would rather have their whiskey than their dinner. I have not tasted it but…by the way it operates on some of them…it is very strong…
Nothing more but remain your true friend till death, — James Drolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant, Company F, 171 Reg. P. M.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN
New Bern, North Carolina
February 15th 1863
Dear Belle and Effie,
I am well and hoping these few lines may find you all the same. I got your letters yesterday and was glad to hear from you all. I got one letter from Beall with one dollar in and your letter had one dollar. That will do me now. If you can get a good price for your cow, you may sell her. Get as much as you can. Sell the grain whenever you think it is as high as it will get. Keep enough of all kinds of grain for yourself and to feed the sheep. They ought to have feed every day. When you get the money, pay Morrison Yeck and get his note and if you can lend the balance of the money to F. Snyder on interest, keep 4 bushels of potatoes and I will get Crouse to plant them.
I was nearly dead after our march. I was all overheated and broke out and the blood run out of my nose for several days. I was so weak for 2 weeks I could hardly walk but I attended to my business all the time. I am well now. Day before yesterday I was weighed and my weight was 180 ¾ pounds (2 pounds more than Harrisburg) and ¾ of the fat is coming out between my ribs as big as ears of corn. I don’t shave. We don’t darn our stockings much. We buy corn meal and mix it up with water and put some fat in and bake it about one inch and a half thick. Try it and you will find it a good mess. Turn it when it is half done so you get both sides baked. We can buy sweet potatoes now for 75 cents and we have them everyday.
Don’t send any more letters to Washington. Always send to the place of our last encampment. It has got warm. The plum trees are out in blossom and the frogs are singing. I am going to send my overcoat home when it gets warmer. I wrote to Harrisburg to see what they had done with my box. If I can get a overcoat for Pap, I will send it along with mine. We are all together yet. Take good care of Sall and the sheep. Report says that we will go home in May. Hurrah for Juniata. Carter got his money. You can’t send any provision here. I will write to Professor Dean soon and give him my mind in full. Give this ring to Manda. I am making one for you and Rachel. The Captain made a present of a shoe brush and a box of blacking to me. We don’t like [1st Lt.] Schwalm. He is so mean.
I got a letter from Wm. Neely yesterday, Nothing more but remain yours with respect, — James Drolsbough
If you sell any grain, pay F. Snyder 5.00 dollars for what I owe him, and pay M. Peck off and give what you don’t need to Snyder on interest. I will write to Fade next and I will send you a line in his letter. I sent a ring in a few lines to Hutchison. The ring was for John. We do our own washing and mending, sell whatever meat we don’t need, and sew cloth around the rest. Did Barkley divide the bees? Don’t let the sheep get Laurel.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE
Headquarters 171st Regt. Co. F
Camp near Newbern, North Carolina
February 22, 1863
Dear Bell and Effie,
After my love to you, I will inform you that I am well and hoping these few lines may find you and dear Effie the same. I would just like to see Effie and kiss her. I suppose she has grown some and can talk some but if I could see her as often as I think about the last time I lifted her from behind the stove and kissed her dear cheeks the last time. I often dream of her but I trust in God and hope to kiss her again. It is hard to leave home and friends, but I am going to serve my country. I hope the day will soon come when this war will come to an end. If I had no family, I would devote my time in the military service of our country. A soldier’s life is one of hardship—full of trials and troubles. But if I could leave home as many do, I would certainly bear the toils and trials with more pleasure and pride than I do.
We are now well quartered and I think in a healthy country. If the war was over, I would rather live here in North Carolina than go West.
February 24th 1863.
It is with pleasure that I write now as the mail is going to leave tomorrow. I got your letter dated the 14th and was glad to hear that S. Kennedy had got home. Oh I would like to see him. Give my respects to him. We have prayer meetings every week.
Here is a ring for you. I have not time to give you the accounts of the 22nd. You will see it in my notes. I will send them to you every six or eight weeks. The next time you go t oPeru, ask Morrows of they got the vests. I give the vests to Jacob T Smith of Willow Run. He said if he did not find the boys, he would take the vests home. I sent a letter to Hutchinson for Watt and I sent a line to you with a ring for John. I wrote to Crouse.
Headquarters First Regiment, First Brigade, Fifth Division, 18th ARmy Corps. Corps commander General Prince.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THIRTEEN
Camp near Newbern, North Carolina
February 25th 1863
Dear Bell & Effie,
It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to inform you that I am well and hoping that this may find [you] and Effie and all the rest enjoying the same blessing.
We are now in comfortable quarters and I hope we will get leave to stay. The weather is getting quite warm. Some days it is cold. The blossoms are out on plum trees and the leaves on the willows quite green.
We have finished the chopping at last but we are not quite done with the fort. Last Saturday we raised the flag staff on the fort and called it Fort Spinola. On Sunday, our brigade was reviewed and 3 guns fired off our fort and the flag hoisted. It commenced to rain in the morning and the wind blowed so hard we could hardly stand. All the business of importance is done here on Sunday. Oh, such a storm and rain I never was out in before. It seemed as if darkness was agoing to cover the whole earth. After standing out till 12 o’clock, we came in as wet as if we had swum the river. The rain was quite warm. If it had been cold, we would have almost froze.
There was 4 regiments in our brigade today. There was a Grand Review of the troops here. There was one howitzer battery, one regiment of cavalry, and six batteries of heavy cannon — it took 8 horses to haul some of them — and six brigades of infantry. In all, about 16,000 troops, all in one large field with 3 brass bands. Oh, if you had been here you could have seen something worth seeing. Major General Foster was commander in chief. He is a fine-looking man — about as large as Mr. Hamilton — and his head as white as snow.
I got your letter that told me about your going [to] have a wood frolic and about S. Kennedy being there. I would like to see him. I think the friends are all coming to see me when I am away.
for J. Watt
I wrote a letter to Hutchison and I sent you a few [lines] in it with a ring for brother John. I made a ring for Amanda and sent it some time ago. I sent one for mother and Rachel was to get the one mother had first. Now I send one for yourself.
We are living fat on sweet potatoes and oysters but we have to pay for them. [Absolom] Wise, [William] Collins, [George W.] Fulton, [William] Caster, [Daniel] Fusselman and all are well. Old Margret Beale wrote a letter to Wm. Wharton and told him to remember her to James Drolsbaugh. Today I got a letter from D. C___. I will write to Tade but I don’t know how soon. Some of our men wanted me to write a publick letter to Waterford. I told them how Kitner and Laird’s letters were read in church, Sunday School, and prayer meeting. That ain’t my profession. I suppose they would not cry as much about my letters as rightness. Anyhow, I don’t believe much in crying in church like they used to do. I don’t want to keep spite but at the same time, I ain’t a going to meddle with some of the folks I have here in our company. The captain and second lieutenant treats me well and gives me great praise for attending to the sick and all my other duties.
I don’t want you to let this get out what I am going to tell you now. [1st Lt. Frederick S] Schwalm and [Sergt.] S[amuel] Walker have used me very mean. If it had not been for captain and Lieutenant [David] Geib, they are my best friends, and they told me not to mind them or say anything. The whole company is down on Schwalm and Walker. Schwalm got Mr. Geib to write a letter to Bell printed. I suppose you seen it in the papers. I will write you a line again when I write J. Watts letter to Hutchison.
Let me know how many lambs you have and if you sold the cow and all about your stock. Nothing more but remain your true friend till death, — James Dolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant, Company F, 171st Regiment. P. M.
Henry F. Smith owes me about 5o or 60 cents. I don’t know which. You may get it for yourself. Try him soon.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOURTEEN
Camp near Newbern, North Carolina
March 28th 1863
Dear Bell & Effie,
It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to let you know that I am well and hoping these few lines may find you all the same. I have been looking for a letter for 3 weeks and got none yet and I am very uneasy for fear some of you are sick. I did not like to write again till I would hear whether you got my last two letters. One of them had my commission in.
I want you to let me know the date of the last letter you got and then I will know whether you got all I sent. The last letter I got from you was dated March the 6th. I wrote to Pap and one to Beale and one to Carter’s and I said I would send my overcoat but now I will not send it for some time for it is wet and cold at nights.
We have been out on 2 expeditions and now we have orders to go out again. We have not been in any fights yet. We are to start this evening at 4 o’clock. We have 3 days rations so we aint going very far, I sat up till 12 o’clock last night writing a letter to Wm. Beale, J. Neely, and J. Peullock as I had not time to write much now. I close my letter and I will write to you as soon as I get a letter from you. I will write i the first week of April. That will be soon. Carter, Wise, Wallace, Collens, Fulton, and all are well. Nothing more but remain your true husband till death.
Orderly Sergeant Company F, 171st Regiment P. V.
E[verard] Bierer, Commanding
[Editor’s Note: This letter by Drolsbaugh dated 7 April 1863 was advertised for sale on the internet and partially transcribed by the seller as follows:]
New Bern, N. C.
April 7, 1863,
…I will give you some account of our expedition. Saturday March the 28th…ordered to cook 3 days rations and hold ourselves in readiness…March the 29th…in line at daylight…the 158th [New York] regiment got on board the steamer Tom Collyer…March the 30th. some of the artillery went on board the sailship Water Witch….our officers held a Union meeting…March 31st got orders…to go on board the steamer Emily…we entered the Pamlico Sound and found the Tom Colyer aground with the 158th regiment on board…[she] had got out of the channel and the sea was so high [that] the boat and crew was in great danger. The[y] through their ammunition and provisions over board. In the afternoon we found that we were going to Washington, N. C. We met [the] steamer North Star on rout to Newberne with dispatches. They told us that the rebels had some batteries 12 miles up the river…April the first started again…our gunboats 2 in number went up to the batteries and shelled them all day without getting any answer from the fort…the 2nd another gunboat came up and the 3 gunboats engaged the fort again. The rebels returned the fire and crippled one of the gunboats. In the afternoon another gunboat came up to our assistance. It was so smokey we could not see the firing today. The North Star had came from New Bern this morning and had General Prince on board. General Spinola had ordered us to go on shore and engage the batteries…the enemy could have killed or captured every man of us, but General Prince countermanded the orders…the 3rd last night the gunboat Allison came up with 3 more guns. They seen [a] small boat and hailed it…it would not stop so the Allison fired 2 large guns…then it came in t give some account of its cargo…at 11 o’clock 3 more gunboats came up to our assistance. They silenced the fort at 4…there was heavy cannonading all day…[in] the evening our gunboat raised anchor an run up near the fort…the 4th…the gunboats went up to engage the [enemy] up the river. We did change our position. This day our gunboats shelled the upper [positions] all day but did not affect them much…the 5th the fort we had […] before commenced firing on us agin. 2 small row boats were coming down […] from Washington to us. The fort fired on them so our gunboats went to their [assistance.] The rebels then directed their fire to our gunboats and almost hit them. At 9 o’clock the steamer Northerner came up from Newberne and we got on boat…the 101st regiment Pa. and the 5th Massachusetts was on her. They are fine looking men. The boat we got off started for home. When she was almost out of sight the General fired a cannon after her and it came back and we went on board her again. At 3 clock the Gunboat Hunch Back came up to our assistance towing a schooner so we had 8 gunboats near us. Cannonading was kept up all day but did not effect anything…we got orders to move the freight out of out boat to the deck and piled it around the engine and along the outside of the boat…to protect us from the rebel’s guns…we got orders to run the blockade…when all was ready the orders was countermanded…the 6th…we got orders to return to New Bern and got in camp half past 2 o’clock in the morning…orderly Sergeant, Company F, 171st regiment Penn…we did not take the fort that we were trying to take. We were ordered away…it was the hardest trip on me that we have had. The sea was so ruff and the boat rocked from one side to the other and I got very sick…I have worked 3 hours on the boat to get them to make coffee for our men. I have done more for the company than any other officer in the company…[April 7th at 10 o’clock]…we got home at half past 2…this morning. I did not go to bed but wrote out my notes of our expedition. We were on the 7 days all…it was a great sight to see our gunboats storming the rebel’s forts. The rebels can direct their cannon balls very well. Some of them fell very close to us but did no harm. The number of [the] enemy’s force we estimated at 20,000. We could not get up the river so we came back…I am afraid some of our leading commanders are drinking too much whiskey to do any good. The rebels are always ready…if our commanders would manage affairs right we could soon clear North Carolina out. We are going by land this time…James Drolsbaugh Orderly Sergeant, Company F 171 reg. P. M…
[Editor’s Note: This letter by Drolsbaugh dated 17 April 1863 was advertised for sale on the internet and partially transcribed by the seller as follows:]
In the woods 4 miles north of New Bern, N. C.
Apr. 17, 1863
…we are out marching all the time…tomorrow we are going back to Swift Creek. This will be our third march to that place. We could have taken the the rebels the first time but old Spinola and more of the leading officers was drunk all the time…we had to obey all orders. Some officers came off the battle ground so drunk they could hardly ride. I hope they will keep sober this time…J. D…
[Editor’s Note: This letter by Drolsbaugh dated 1 May 1863 was advertised for sale on the internet and partially transcribed by the seller as follows:]
Washington, North Carolina
May 1, 1863
“…the steam boat Long Island burnt down yesterday…it run into the wharf. It had a large amount of Government stores on board and all the wagons of our brigade was burnt. I was on the boat when she was burning and helped to save it but it was all in vain. It was a fearful looking sight. We got the horses all of but the merchandise was nearly all lost. This is some of the paper that was on the boat and was thrown off…the gardens and yards are full of fig trees…we left New Bern April the 23d and landed here…the 24th…we have got some pleasant steam boat rides across the Pamlico Sound. It is a great sight to see the rolling waves and the ships pitching up and down…and to see the large porpoises jumping up out of the water …the Secesh [citizens] had to pull out of town last week and go over [to] the rebel’s line. They left some of the finest houses and furniture and all kinds of books. The soldiers has sofas and mahogany tables and cain bottom chairs in camp. If we could just get the property that is going to loss here home. We could make money on it…today we got flour. S. Efe and myself loaded a barrel of flour on a cart. Hauled it into town…so tomorrow…there will be a feast in camp. We are tired of crackers. Our teeth are nearly all worn out. I have broken 2 of mine out…Washington is a beautiful town. There are more white folks here than at Newberne. There is plenty of men here whose wives has went over the the rebels their men here. In other cases the men has gone to the rebels and left their families behind. The women and children are begging crackers from the soldiers…the women all us snuff very extensively…we are now in the extreme advance of the army…the rebels had us completely bagged but did not like to put their hands into the bag to fetch us out. We don’t regard the rebels anymore. We were out on picket at Whitaker’s Mills and I got lost from our company…in hunting for the company the heavy rains had raised the creek and took off some planks so I fall in, but did not get hurt…I hunted for our men for sometime but could not find them…I took a lonely seat in the woods to spend the night. It rained and blowed very hard. In the morning I soon found our company…our boys are out at Negro preaching. Our chaplain aint worth more than 99 cents…Husband — James Drolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant, Co. F 171st P. M.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTEEN
Washington, North Carolina
May 13th 1863
It is with pleasure that I write to you at this time to inform you that I am well at present, hoping that you are the same. But I am sorry to inform you that my friend, James Drolsbaugh is sick at present. He has not been well for some time but was able to go about until the 11th inst. He was taken to the hospital. He is better this morning and evening and well as long as he stays at the hospital. I cannot tell you what is the matter with him as the doctors will not tell us. Carter has been sick for a few days. He is better. He was able to go about a little all the time. It was James’ request that I should write to you and I will write to you as often as the mail leaves this place till he is able to write himself which I think will soon be as he is well cared for at the hospital as they have nurses out of our own regiment and they are very attentive.
Fusselman, Watt, and the boys generally are well at present. Please give my love to all inquiring friends. Yours with respect. — [Corp.] E[phraim] Duncan
Direct to Washington, North Carolina
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIXTEEN
Washington, North Carolina
May 27th 1863
Dear Bell and Effie,
I am glad to let you know that I am getting well again. I have had the swamp fever. I can walk about every day but I am so nervous I can’t write. Since I was sick, I [received] several of your letters but could not answer them.
Our colonel is at Harrisburg now and the doctor got orders to be ready to move the regiment in two weeks to Harrisburg so we are waiting patiently for the time to come. Carter, Fusselman, Duncan, and all are well. You wanted to know what to do with sheep and wool. I think you must keep all and we will make flannel if Sal has good luck with her colt. Tell Pap to try and get her to ___ another. Ask John Neely to ___ load of hay. Ask Pap if he will get hands and board them to cut the harvest.
Nothing more but remain your friend, — James Drolsbaugh
I will write soon. Don’t fret about me.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVENTEEN
Washington, North Carolina
June 22nd 1863
Bell and Effie,
It is with pleasure that I write these few lines to inform you that I am in camp but not doing any duty. I have a good appetite and can eat everything I want to but I have to pay high for it—10 cents a quart or 5 cents a pound for potatoes, 20 cents a pound for dried apples, and 50 cents per pound for butter. The medicine has settled in my legs and some days I can hardly walk.
Our company is out on picket. They can live fine. They get chickens, eggs, and kill fat sheep and hogs and they are living on the top of the pole. The Lieutenant Colonel have me his horse last Saturday and I took the pail out to our men. I could hardly get on the horse but when I was on once, I could ride very well. They had some eggs for me and they said they would have more for me again today. So I want to go out today and get some eggs and butter. I am staying in my tent by myself and I am as contented as the day is long. In all my sickness, I was contented. I was in the hospital 5 weeks—three weeks in bed—and I think that contentment is one of the greatest blessings God bestows on man.
Report says that we will leave for home next week. I wrote to you to not send any ore letters for I would not get them. I got your letter with the sage in and one from Peru but I am so nervous that I think I can’t answer any more letters. You never wrote to me whether you could get any hay or not. And about S. Peck’s and Wm. Carter’s money, you did not let me know whether it got home safe or not. And I am very uneasy about it.
Colonel M________ has tried to recruit men in our brigade to stay 3 years in the service. In our 3 regiments, he has got 4 men so he will put the notion right under his foot. They can’t get old Pennsylvania militia to eat rotten eggs every day. I like the service very well but I don’t like to be ruled by drunkards and fools. Nothing more but remain your husband till death, — Jas. Drolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant, Co. F, 171st Regiment P. V.
It is raining here every day. The corn is as high as my head and the wheat is dead ripe. Duncan, Carter, Peck, Wise, Collins, Fulton, Wallace, Defferbaugh, Anderson, Given, Showers and all are well. Fusselman is getting better.
Carter and Duncan killed a sheep they caught on picket last Saturday. If we go to leave this place for home next week, this will be my last letter till I land at Harrisburg.
Send that letter to Cate Fusselman immediately.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHTEEN
Camp Curtin, Harrisburg
July 18, 1863
After my respects to you, I will inform you that we left Fortress Monroe at 5 o’clock July the 16th and landed at Baltimore at 4 in the evening of the 17th and this morning at 8 o’clock we landed here. Our regiment is at South Mountain Gap and if they don’t come here again Wednesday, I am going out to them.
I am getting better—all but my legs. I have the charge of 74 men here. They are invalids—some sick, others playing off sick. I would of went home today but I could not get away. I made out 2 furloughs today for our boys and then it was too late for me to get on the cars. I think we will get home next week for certain. The mail is just going out so I must stop writing.
Your friend, — James Drolsbaugh, Orderly Sergeant”Company F, 171st
E. Bierer Commanding