This letter was written by Stephen Adams Dodge (1836-1862), the son of Sylvester Dodge (1798-1865) and Sarah Adams (1797-1875) of Woolwich, Sagadahoc county, Maine. Stephen enlisted in June 1861 in Co. D, 3rd Maine Infantry and served until September 1862 when he was killed in the Battle at Chantilly on 1 September 1862.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Mr. George S. Dodge, Woolwich, Maine
Camp Howard near Alexandria, Va.
January 4th 1862
Your letter of the 29th of December came to hand last Thursday. Was pleased to hear you were all well and hope a kind Providence will continue its [ ] upon you and for which we all should be ever mindful and revere our constant Preserver.
We are still on the old ground which we moved onto the 1st of October last. When we came here, it was pretty well covered with stumps but now there is not one to be found near the encampment. [We] have got the ground graded and lain out in streets which are built properly by digging the sides down and throwing the dirt into the centre so to turn the water off & they keep us fixing them over every once in awhile. Every company has set out a row of cedar trees on each side of their streets (only stick them unto the ground) and several have arches of various descriptions over them. On one end of one we have got an arch with the letter D and the stars and on the other we have the name of the street made out of cedar fastened onto a board. Brown — the fellow that went down from Hallowell with you and Banettall [?] — put them on. They call it Sampson Street. It makes the camp look pretty. Ed Hinson got your letter but I did not know it till you wrote me so I asked him. Getchell says he won’t read his letters before them but will stop till they all go to sleep. He still likes to sit up and sleep late but we have to turn out sometimes before daylight to answer to roll call.
Robert [J.] Morgan has been detailed for the Signal Corps. Two privates and a lieutenant from this regiment — they get extra pay. I think it will will be a good suit for Bob. They are to carry the signal lights or flags by night or day when the regiment goes out a reconnoitering or in battle to distinguish foes from friendly. Several mishaps have already occurred in the army by our troops firing at each other. One took place at Big Bethel last summer.
In the letter I wrote to Sarah, I stated that the pickets of Howard’s Brigade were attacked by the rebels but I learned that it was not so! The firing I guess was for the departing year and the advent of the new.
One of the recruits has ran off but if he gets clear, he’s a smart fellow. Corp. Shaw is trying to get the 2 Lieutenants birth. He got up a petition and tried to get the men to sign it or I would have said a recommendation. He asks several to sign it but they told him he had ought to get the Capt. to sign it first. Lately he has not shown it. Captain [William] Watson said he once thought Shaw was quite a chap but since he has made such a fool of himself, he thinks he is rather deft. He told me he got a lot of letters from the girls. I guess Nettie Shaw was the news of him getting them. A good many of the fellows call him [ ] and he grins and laughs George Shaw like.
I hope you will learn well this winter and you must write composition every day — a page or so. I heard you and David had to leave your old place on account of [ ]. Well I don’t know but it will be better for you as will not have as much to divest your [ ] from your [ ].
The Niggers had their frolics from Christmas till New Years. Some of the boys was to one of their shanties during the holidays. I was on guard when they got back. It was about one o’clock at night. When you write again, let me know if the [ ] will have their Betting Club this winter. I hear they have got one over to Murphie’s Corner. I hear that the Smellers are doing well this winter.
Sarah wrote that Alpheus was getting recruits for the 7th Regiment. Let me know how many he has got when you write again. Give my love to all.
From your brother, — Stephen A. Dodge
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Maine 3rd Regiment
Harrisons Landing, Virginia
July 20th 1862
Have just received your letter written the 13th and 14th inst. which I was very glad to receive [and] to learn you were all well and enjoying those blessings.
Since I last wrote which was the 14th, I have been well. We have had some hot weather you may believe. We had thunder showers several nights in succession. Since then it has been some cooler but it is pretty war, now. But there is a breeze which makes it comfortable. Now we are in camp drilling and the regular routine we had to go through up to Alexandria. But the drills are light this hot weather. Once in awhile we have some fatigue duty to do. I have been out twice last week. Was out in the afternoon felling trees in front of the breast works. Last Friday the whole regiment was out and it being good and cloudy and most all having new axes, the way the big pines came down was a caution.
We get very good rations now. Yesterday we drawed 6 days rations which comprise the following articles 5 days rations. Hard bread, 1 of flour, two rations apiece of dried apples, beef, rice, coffee, sugar, 1 gallon mollases, and smoked hog for sides. Also beans enough to make one batch after they are baked for the company and enough rice for one mess. Sutler’s goods are very high—ask 25 cents for a coconut. Forty cents for cheese.
I suppose we shall lose our band soon. [ ] Barney and R____ wants it to go into the brigade band. Lately they have been up to their quarters in the evening and discuss music and they get well treated on liquor—especially at Kearney’s, our Division General.
The boys are all smart. There is some growling among them about the war—the way it is kept along, for in fact they are getting tired of it and there is not many that are not except some who are getting big pay and have nothing to do hardly.
For dinner today we had some doughnuts made out of the flour and pork fat. They were first rate. Took about a bushel for the company. We had 7 apiece. Hard bread went a begging. It has been a good while since I have had any. This is the first we have had in the company. Last summer we used to have fritters made once in awhile when we could get the floor.
I think you and father did pretty well down fishing for the time you were out. They must have bit well. I should liked to have been with you, you may believe, but I should be thankful if I can have the chance to go down next summer. This rebellion ought to be crushed this fall and it will if the people and government work together and with energy, & through the blessing of God.
When you write again, mention how many herring you have got. I expect it is pretty still now around Nequostatt (and for that matter it always is) but so many of the boys are away but I don’t suppose the [ ] is very perceptible. Dan [ ] is gone. Wonder if they have heard yet from the Californians yet? Let me know in next letter.
That fellow you and Ben Hall carried down from Hallowell by the name of Brown we expect has ran off. The other day the Dr. returned him to duty but he said he was not able and would not drill. The Captain told Wood to take him to the Colonel. He did and they had him examined again. The Dr. let him off for that day which he improved and took friends [ ]. He tried to get discharged after Bull Run fight. Said he only would be in one battle. That makes two that have gone. The other one went to the Captain from Boston Station. He was wounded. Two fellows in this regiment shot themselves in their feet so as to get their discharge but the Brigade doctor said they should stay here.
Then you got the knife. It was a Lincoln Vit___handle. The blade about 7 inches long. I wish you would send me a lump of camphor. You can buy a lump over to Bath. Close up in tin foil. It will keep better than if loose. I should like to have a needle book, some black threadm and some other kinds, as it will be handy.
Col. Howard has gone home on a furlough. Ben Fog—that boy that used to live with Gil Hinton or stopped a week or so who came out as a recruit to Co. A, has ran off. Went when we first got here. Got aboard some vessel, I suppose. If they shoot all the deserters, there will be a host of them. Be like hanging all the traitors. If you work for Daniel Trot, look out for your pay. Make him fork right over or give you good security on the hay or see that you get your pay out of the hay.
Tell mother I am well and am enjoying myself trusting in God that He will in His own good time bring peace to our distracted country.
Give my love to all the folks and write often as you can all about what is going on.
From your brother, — S. A. Dodge
P. S. Tell Father to send me a few stamps when he writes again. Expect he had got the allotment money by this time. I sent 4 dollars by Woodbury home. Woodbury is well.
John Hobbs also is pretty smart. Think he gains quite fast in looks.
Write long letters for I am rather lonesome here. Reading matter is very scarce. Send me some papers that are interesting. Direct them plain. Send some by Sam. Send one of B____’s dime novels. One that is interesting.