These eighteen letters were written by Thomas Horsefield Wentworth (1837-1917), the son of Sina Wentworth (1799-1873) and Sarah Ann Horsefield (1808-1886) of Orneville, Maine. Thomas was educated at East Corinth Academy. He helped his father with the farming, hired out as a house carpenter, and taught school during the winter months. When he was 24, he enlisted as a sergeant in Company H, 15th Maine Infantry, in December 1861. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in November 1863 and was discharged in March 1865. He was with his regiment through all their campaigns in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, Texas, and finally in Virginia. He was remembered by his fellow soldiers as “a fine looking officer — as straight as an arrow.” Following the war, he studied law and was admitted to the Maine bar in Penobscot County. He later moved to Bradford and got into state politics.
Thomas wrote all of these letters to his future wife, Abigail (“Abbie”) Elizabeth Wheeler (1840-1939), the daughter of Nelson Wheeler (1807-1890) and Abigail B. Hill (1815-1868). They were married on 30 January 1865 while Lt. Wentworth was home on furlough.
Before enlisting, Thomas wrote three letters to Abbie that are posted at — 1860-1: Thomas Horsefield Wentworth to Abigail Elizabeth Wheeler.
April 16, 1862
My dear Abbie,
It is with pleasure that I remember friends and loved ones and first of all those is my Abbie. It seems a long time since I heard from you and in fact it is for I have not heard from you since I left Augusta, but how cheering is hope. How it tells me that thou art well and content and how I desire that this may be so. Do not despond “Abbie” for all is well with your constant friend “Thomas.” I am well as usual. I wrote you a line the day we arrived that I was well &c. which was the 4th of April. We landed on Ship Island the 5th after a passage of 28 days.
We sailed from Portland [on the Great Republic] the 7th of March. We had a fair wind that day which gave us a good start towards our place of destination. All hands were cheerful and delighted with the prospects of the voyage which to many was the first time they ever exchanged “terra firma” for a home on shipboard and did not realize what might befall them. But their reverses in this direction was not very secure. The next day out was Sunday. The wind was still fair and with all the sails spread, we marched on through the path on ocean. At 4 o’clock we entered the Gulf Stream. The wind rose and the seas became rough — or at least it was so to those who had just embarked on their first voyage. However, it was not very bad — what the sailors call a good breeze — but the consequences were these. Some were seen looking over the side rail, some hanging over the edge of their berth, and some looking into tubs or buckets, and they all seemed to look very serious about something while others were complaining of being dizzy or an unspeakable gonness about the stomach. I think you might reckon me with the second class but I got along finely on my own hook of course for everyone had to look out for themselves just at that time. It did not appear much like Sabbath. There was no services on board by the chaplain. I should have said, Divine Service, for there was every other kind of services — especially to powers that were not divine in the direction of profanity. They were very rude and irreverent which is very jarring and unpleasant to the ear of the more moral class and surrounds them with rather unpleasant influences.
It was very pleasant on Monday morning and we had got so far from home that it began to grow more moderate and we were all glad to see such an artificial sprind [?]. We had recovered from our seasickness and were feeling rather blue this [day], however more off, as we sailed on, nothing of any importance but the regular routine of duty for some time. The weather was very pleasant but the wind rather unfavorable. We were interested occasionally by the sight of a school of porpoises, flying fish, or some other inhabitants of the waters, yet still passed on, each day coming and passing away again without any special occurrences.
We arrived at the Island of Abaco — one of the Bahama Islands — the 20th of March where we landed for 7 days with headwind playing off and on and laying too anxiously, hoping that every day would bring a fair wind and on the 27th our ____ were swallowed up in victory and we passed on and the next morning we made the Big Island and light house of the same name. But here we were detained for 24 hours on account of head wind but soon we were on our way again down the channel.
You will direct to Ship Island. Please write soon. I must go on duty now so good morning. Affectionately yours, — T. H. Wentworth
July 6th 1862
My Dear Abbie,
Yours of the 8th of June came direct to hand and I was very glad to hear from you again but was sorry that they sent for you before you had time to finish your letter. A letter from your mother enclosed was very gratefully received and all was cherished and appreciated.
Your friend “T” [Thomas] is well and in excellent spirits. I never enjoyed better [health] than at the present time or since I came here. I have a plenty of company and my work is merely exercise so you see that I am getting along well and am quite contented and yet there are some things that make me feel sorrowful at times — not so much on my own account as on the account of my friends at home perhaps, for no man can take the stand that I have taken without feeling that he not only hazards a good deal on his own part, but also imposes a good deal of anxiety on those of his friends who are not with him or are not able to know in the evening what the result of the day has been. But as this is only the result of refined natures, and as those thoughts and feelings are common to absent friends (and especially to those close relations of friendship are such as ours have been and still are), and so long as we are preserved and blessed in our course and deeds, let us believe that those privations and sacrifices are unavoidable when we consider the circumstances that surrounds the pathways of our duty. Let us, therefore, as far as possible, be content with our present lot, Abbie, and hope for the better day that’s coming. But I’ll not philosophize farther for perhaps it is uncalled for.
I should like to see Abbie today and have a sociable chat about matters and things in general. Well perhaps I will soon, as Harry Cane says, “You can’t always tell.” I am inclined to think that’s so, but moral and political elements as well as those of the mind and matter must have their time and course.
The 4th of July has just passed. The day was celebrated in this division of the Army by an omission of the common duties, the firing of salutes, the trimming of our ships, the display of the Star Spangled Banner, the playing of National aires by the bands &c. The day was quite wet and to me passed off more like Sunday than anything else. Everything is quiet here at present. We shall probably remain here this summer unless something special occurs.
I must close soon. We received a mail last night but I did not get anything from Abbie. The mail left New Orleans yesterday. It had 2 letters for you.
Don’t worry yourself about that school of yours. Remember your absent friend in the war and at the Throne of Grace. Respects to all. Good day.
From your affectionate friend, — Thos. H. Wentworth
[to] Abbie E. Wheeler
July 8th 
I received a letter from you last night about 10 o’clock. Lieut. [John B.] Nickels handed it into the tent after I had laid myself away for the night but I got up and lit the candle and read it. I was glad to hear from you again that you are still enjoying the blessing of health and are still trying to be what the Ruler of our Destinies would have you. Oh! do not be discouraged while Jesus is your friend for truly you shall reap in due time if you faint not. I am to hear from your folks and from my friends at Corinth [Maine]. Hope that they will continue to enjoy life with all its blessings.
We are still in camp at Carrollton and expect to be for some time yet. There is no prospect that shall have to fight this year. I hope that you will not give yourself any trouble about my fighting right away.
[Charles W.] Greeley is sick now. He went to the hospital the other day. He is threatened with the fever but is not dangerous. P___ly is quite sick yet but on the whole, our company is on the gaining kind. I have not received a letter from home since the 1st of May. I have written quite often and have got about tired of doing it all. Capt. [John B.] Wilson is better. He will be with his company in a few days. Mr. [Harrison G.] Prescott is sick now or rather he is having an ill turn. His resignation was not accepted but he is bound to get out of the show (as he calls it) at all hazard, not because he is homesick or wants to get out of the war, but because he don’t like the regiment and especially the colonel. Please don’t say anything about this for perhaps he will not do anything about it. If he does, I shall try for his position and think that I can get it.
I am acting orderly now as Mr. [Giles] Straw is unwell. There has got to be a change of things in our regiment and some of the sergeants will stand a good chance for promotion. I must close now. Good morning.
Yours, ever true, — Thos. H. Wentworth
A kiss for Abbie
July 21st 1862
My dear Abbie,
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines which I trust shall bear nothing but the marks love and friendship to let you know that I still live and [am] enjoying that inestimable blessing — good health. I am still acting orderly as our sergeant 1st is no better than when I wrote before. He thinks of coming home & his discharge is made out and signed by the sergeant. I shall have to continue to act at present at least. Several of the boys are getting their discharge now. I think that John Sweet will get his soon. He is in quarters but not able to do much. [Horace S.] Neal is gaining but is pretty slim yet.
We are still at Carrollton. There is no change in affairs and no signs of fighting. Gen. [John Wolcott] Phelps is getting up a regiment of Negroes here. They have just commenced to drill. There is about 1 negro to 3 white men. We have one in our tent to wash the dishes and keep the tent clean.
Mr. [Henry William] Gay had a letter from Ely Parkman the other day which I had the pleasure of reading. He is the same old sixpence and the more so because I learn that Orica is teaching school in their district in Charleston. Mr. Gay is well and contented. He showed me a letter tonight directed to Miss Greeley so I think they have not forgotten each other.
We hear good news from the northern army on the Potomac and in hopes that it is true.
I hope that you are getting along well with your school. Perhaps you are done. I hope so. I hear that it is very sickly in Maine and that the diphtheria is raging there very extensively. Be careful, Abbie, and do not expose yourself to disease. I should like very much to meet you tonight. I still cherish for you the kindest of feelings. I think that I can claim to be a true lover and altho we are far away, still I trust that the same chord of love binds us together that first found its way around our hearts and agreeable to each of us. May they never be severed until severed by death and then only to be united in our home above.
I must close soon hoping to hear from you soon. I will bid you good night? From your truest friend, — Thomas H. Wentworth
[to] Abbie E. Wheeler
December 28th 1862
My dear Abbie,
Perhaps you may think by the date of my letter that our regiment has left Pensacola but that is not so. It is only your friend T. I left one week ago today and went to New Orleans with a prisoner from Fort Pickens. I arrived there on Monday afternoon and delivered my prisoner over to the sheriff but not in time to take the boat back that trip so I had to stop over at New Orleans one trip. Friday afternoon I came to this place which is five miles from New Orleans. Here we take the boat for Pensacola. It will leave here tomorrow.
I had a fine time in New Orleans. Was there on Christmas. Stopped at the Banks House. I should rather have stopped at the next house beyond the school house in Exeter and I hope by the way that you had a good time. I am stopping here with a company of the Twelfth Maine Regt. There is some of them from Exeter.
I am well as usual with the exception of my cold which I have not got over yet but I am in hopes to soon. I shall not be able to write you a long letter tonight but thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and doing well. I am anxious to get back to Pensacola for I feel very much at home there as much as I ever did in my place south of Mason & Dixon’s line.
The boys were all well when I left them. I hope that I shall find them so. Gen. Banks has taken command of the Department of the Gulf and Butler has gone home. The change takes well, I think. We are told by the papers that Burnside has got badly beaten on the Potomac. We hope that it is not so. There was a mail come today and will probably give the particulars of the battle.
The Banks Expedition have all arrived safe. I have not seen any of the Maine regiments. The 28th Connecticut have been sent to Pensacola. The Ordinance Sergeant of that regiment is with me on his way to the regiment. His name is Whitney from Connecticut and is a fine appearing fellow and d____y sure.
I expect that the mail brought me a letter or two from A. There has two mails come since I left Pensacola. I hope that you will count this worthy of an answer. Please write all the news and tell me about [John B.] Nickels and whether he is coming back or not.
I hope that you are well and enjoying yourself first rate. This winter we miss the sleigh ride some but are willing to dispense with the snow. But I must close. Give my respects to all [and] accept my kindest regards. Good night.
From your friend as ever true — T. H. Wentworth
[to] Abbie E. Wheeler
April 3rd 1863
My Dear Abbie,
It is Tuesday eve about 9 o’clock. I have just returned from the chaplain’s quarters where the Christian members of our regiment have this evening organized a Regimental Church. As the mail goes tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, I thought that I must drop you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and am enjoying the best of health and hope that you are enjoying the same. I wrote you a few days ago. I do not think of much news at present to write. There was a mail yesterday but not a thing for me. I was very much disappointed not to receive a letter but hope that it will come the next time.
There was 18 Christian men present at the chaplain’s this evening — all of whom joined themselves together as a church as long as they remain in the regiment and covenanted together to labour for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom among their soldier brothers and watch over each other for good. The chaplain’s wife was admitted as a member of the church. She is a Lady and a Christian. ¹
Our division met at the same place last Tuesday evening, it being the last meeting of the Quarter and elected a new set of officers. Next Tuesday they will be installed and then I shall be P. W. P. The cause is yet thriving in the regiment and we look for its ultimate success.
The men are all well now. Lieut. [Harrison G.] Prescott is not very well at present and is stopping with the Capt. [John B. Wilson] at his office. I am in command of the company and getting along well. I suppose that I shall have some help soon however as Lieut. [John B.] Nickels is expected shortly.
I remember Abbie with the fondness as ever and am still trying to prove what I have so often told her — “that I love her.” I should be most happy to greet you this eve, Abbie, and again be assured by the grasp of that hand and a kiss from those lips that we are what we are — loving friends. But it needs no test and I feel this eve as though it was but yesterday that we parted and that our hearts remain unchangeably chained [?] to each other. But I must close. Love to all. Good night.
From your ever faithful friend, — Thos. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
¹ The regimental chaplain was at the time Rev. Josiah I. Brown. He resigned on 30 May 1863.
April 24th 1863
My Dear Allie,
It is now 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The mail goes at 5. It came in this forenoon. I received a letter from you and was much pleased to hear that you were well. I cannot write at length but will drop you a few lines only.
I am well as common and think that I am going to stand the summer well. I am as usual very well contented and hope for the best of the mine at the last of the feast.
I hear good news from the Mississippi that our army are advancing &c. Lieutenant [Harrison G.] Prescott is well or at least much better than when I wrote you last. [John B.] Nickels is here and in good plight.
I received the book which you set me by mail and am obliged to you for the favor. I hear by almost everybody that the pay master has arrived at the Navy Yard and has come to pay the troops here and we are prepared to appreciate this timely visit and bid him welcome to our command.
I remain the same old sixpence and I hope that it is not counterfeit yet. I will try and keep the currency legal and have confidence that it will pass without discount at Exeter. What say you?
But I have not time to write farther and will close. Please excuse all mistakes and take the will for the deed this time.. Respects to all and do not for[get] my love to “Abbie.”
From your ever true friend, — Thomas H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
July 3rd 1863
My dear Abbie,
I take the present opportunity of addressing you from our old camp — Parapet — where we arrived on the morning of the 30th of June about 10 o’clock. The 26th we were at New Orleans. I wrote you there and said that I expected we should spend a short time there but I had scarcely finished my letter when we had orders to embark on board the cars for Company Conell about 6 miles up the river from Algiers which place is opposite New Orleans. We arrived at our new camping ground that evening about dark and pitched our tents. In the morning we laid out our encampment and made preparations to stop awhile but on the night of the 29th about 12 o’clock the colonel came round and gave the order to strike tents saying that we were ordered to be at Carrollton by daylight — that the Rebels had crossed the river above and they were expecting an attack there in the morning. Consequently we are here but we have not seen nor heard of any Rebels and have come to the conclusion that they are shy of the 15th [Maine] and don’t care to give them battle. But we shall see by and by.
I am well and have been ever since we left Barrancas and I don’t know as I have any reason to complain of my fare altho we have had a pretty hard time for the last two weeks. But we have all stood it first rate. I do not know how long we shall stay here but we [are] very much at home here and had as leave stay here as anywhere on the river. We expect to hear every day that Port Hudson is taken. It is not possible for them to hold out much longer. There is about 3,000 Rebels in the fortifications now which extend about 7 miles along the river and reduced garrison is growing less every day by desertions and sickness. It is said that they are living on mule meat and other unpalatable rations which is about gone and then they must give up for they can’t skedaddle.
In regard to the Darkey Question, I have not fully decided to go into it yet. I have applied for a commission in this company and think that I shall not try anywhere else. If not, I shall go in for the next best. As to the discipline of the Negroes, they are the easiest to get along with of any troops in the service. As to obedience and attention to their business, they can’t be beat. And as for their fighting ability, let Port Hudson & South Carolina answer. They have fought with unparalleled bravery and valor and have shown themselves worth the name of soldiers. And I say emphatically that whatever may be the popular opinion or whatever censure I might incur, I have no scruples in regard to this matter and no objections in the least to commanding a company of Negroes if by so doing I add anything to the salvation of my country.
I was sorry to hear from your last letter that your health is poor but I hope that you will not be discouraged and that you will soon be better. Avoid all labor except a plenty of outdoor exercise. Don’t think of keeping school this summer. But you must consult your own interest for you know best that [which] is best for you.
I am in hopes to get home by and by. I do not know as it will be before my term of service is up but that will soon pass away and then I will be at liberty to come and see you again. I hope to find you well when I come and we will have a bit of a chat together. I have not forgotten some of those that we have already had. Neither have I forgotten my indebtedness to you and all your relatives and friends for their kindness to me during our association. And especially do I remember Abbie who has always treated me with the kindness and respect of a loving friend, and I hope that I may yet have an opportunity to return kindness for kindness and love for that love that is cherished for me.
Capt. [John B.] Wilson is at Barrancas yet. W. Pullen and Melvan Tibbetts was left there also but we expect them all here soon. I must close. Give my respects to all and accept my kindest regards to yourself. Good day.
Yours in the bonds of affection, — Thos. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
July 12th 1863
My dear Abbie,
It is late in the evening but I hear that the mail goes in the morning so I am going to write you a few lines that you may know that I am well and hope that you are well also.
It is Sunday eve and all is quiet. The day has been somewhat interrupted by the arrival of the pay master and the paying of our regiment. We were paid for 4 months & up to the last of June. At six o’clock, the regiment was formed and listened to a sermon from Chaplain H[orace] L. Bray of the 12th Maine. He has been sick but his health is improving.
The company is all well and enjoying themselves much at the old camp. Before this you will have heard of the capture of Vicksburg and soon of the surrender of Port Hudson. We hail these victories as the assurance of our final success and from the reports from the north, we learn that Lee’s army is being defeated and a dispatch from New Orleans tonight says that Rosecrans is pursuing Bragg who is running fast as possible. We are looking for the end soon and expect to be at home soon.
But I must hasten. I am in hopes to hear from you soon. I have not received a letter for some time now. The last three mails have not brought me anything but I expect something tomorrow. I suppose that Mr. [Harrison G.] Prescott has got home by this time. I am expecting to hear from him soon in regard to my commission but I do not have much hopes of getting one in this regiment. But I am going to wait a while longer and then I shall try somewhere else. Lt. [John B.] Nickels is acting adjutant so I am alone with the company. I think that by the time that I get a commission, I shall know something about the business for I have a good deal of it to do.
I notice now I must close for this time and hoping that you and friends are all well. I will bid you good night. Yours ever true, — Thomas H. Wentworth
[to] Abbie E. Wheeler
July 24th 1863
My dear Abbie,
I take the present opportunity of addressing you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I am still at Camp Parapet and enjoying myself pretty well. I received a letter from you the last mail and was as usual glad to hear that you are able to be about but I am sorry to hear that your health is not so good as usual. I am afraid that you are doing wrong in attempting to teach school this summer, If you cannot stand it, go home and take care of yourself, and if there is anything that is wanting, I will gladly and willingly meet it. Now please do Abbie, for I cannot bear the thought of your being sick and at the same time teaching where you cannot favor yourself as you could at almost anything else. But I suppose that you know just what is best for yourself and you must act your pleasure.
I understand that Mr. [Harrison G.] Prescott had arrived home and that he was sick. I suppose that you have seen him before now and have got the picture that I sent by him to you. I heard from home the other day. They are all well.
I have received the long looked for document — my commission as Lieutenant. I made application for muster the 21st and expect to be mustered tomorrow if nothing happens very uncommon. So I suppose that I shall remain in the regiment a while longer if they use me pretty well. If not, I will try the Darkies awhile. Two of our sergeants have made application for a commission in one of the Negro Regiments now being raised in this Department and I think that they will get a chance.
Joseph Boswell was at our camp today. He is onboard of the gunboat Alesana [Barataria?] now at New Orleans. His health is not very good. He has been sick with the chills and fever. He is the same old Joe Boswell as ever. Capt. [John B.] Wilson is at Pensacola yet. Melvan Tibbetts arrived here from there last night. He reports all right. Wm. [F.] Pullen is there yet but is pretty smart. All the boys there are well and contented. There is no news of any account to write about today so I must close. I hope that you will pardon me for my short and hasty letter for I am in a hurry today. Please write on the receipt of this.
Give my respects to all my friends. Accept my love to Abbey. Good day. From your ever true friend, — Thos. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
P. S. Please direct your letter to Lieut. T. H. Wentworth.
Camp Parapet, Louisiana
August 14, 1863
My dear Abbie,
I take this opportunity of again addressing you a few lines to let you know that I am well yet and tonight I indulge the fond hope that you are in the enjoyment of the same blessing. I have not received any letter from you for the last two mails but am looking for one or more the next one. I do not know hardly what to write about. When I wrote you last, I had not got mustered into the service as an officer but since that time have been mustered and now am in command of Co. H. — Lt. Nickels being detailed acting adjutant — so you see that I have enough to do as usual. But thanks to heaven I have health and a disposition to do what I can.
I have been on guard once since I was mustered. It came a little odd at first but I think that I can do it about as well as any of them by and by. Our regiment was inspected by the Inspector General today and gave perfect satisfaction. The General said that we were the nearest perfect soldiers of any he ever inspected. We have got several compliments of late like the one above and feeling that they are just, we feel proud of the 15th Maine.
Within 2 or 3 days there has been nearly 10 thousand troops landed here and just below. They are from Gen. Grant’s army and have probably come down to help Gen. Banks to take Mobile. I am in hopes that our regiment will have a chance to show themselves in that affair but you will say that you hope not. Well I am not very particular anyway so we won’t go until we are ordered and then we will lake our mark, I hope.
Our company are pretty well now. Some of the boys are sick with the chills and fever. Otherwise than that, we are all well. We have lost one man by disease since I wrote you. He died last week. His name was Henry Ramsdell of Garland. He was a fine fellow and a good soldier.
Horace Mayo has been promoted to sergeant and is now detailed as Ordinance Sergt. of the post. George H. Ferguson, our drummer, has been promoted to 1st Sergeant in a Negro Regiment [96th USCT]. Sgt. [Rinaldo] Butters is in the same regiment but has not got his commission yet. He probably will.
Three of our officers have been sent home after the conscripts. No more news to write now. I should like to be able to see “Abbie” tonight. What good time we would have, wouldn’t we “Abbie?” But never mind — that time will come by and by. I would like to know how you are and whether school is keeping or not. Be careful that you do not keep school too much. Take good care of Abbie and tell her that I love her still. Give my respects to all inquiring friends and tell them that I remember them. Good night.
From your ever true friend, — Thos. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
New Orleans [Louisiana]
August 25th 1863
My dear Abbie,
It was with much pleasure that I perused two letters from you which I received yesterday. One was mailed the 29th of June and the other August 11th so I got news old and new. I am glad to hear that you are well [and] that you have closed your school and are having a rest. I hope that you will not be too anxious about a school for the winter for I hardly think that it will be profitable to you.
I think that Mrs. Prescott’s report of myself is pretty flattering but I am not prepared to contradict or confirm just now.
Since I last wrote, our regiment has moved from Camp Parapet to New Orleans. We are stationed at the base levee Cotton Press which is the base end of the city. It is a fine place and we are well situated but I do not know how long we may stay here. I think, however, that we shall not spend a very long time for we have orders to be ready to march at a moment’s warning. The health of the regiment is pretty good now and improving. Lieut. [John B.] Nickels is acting adjutant. William [F.] Pullen arrived here from Barrancas. He is looking first rate. He says that Capt. [John B.] Wilson is coming over by and by. My health is pretty good today. I have had a cold about a week and have not done any duty but I am getting all right again and shall be at it in a few days.
I am greatly pleased to have you answer my request as regards the future. I am glad you speak so freely and to the point. I am greatly obliged to you and when I have other questions to ask, I shall not hesitate to ask them for I know your willingness to answer them and I should be happy to reply to anything that you have to ask me on any subject.
I do not know of much that is new to write this time. There is nothing doing now in this department but we [think] that some movements will be made as soon as the weather gets a little cooler and the conscripts get here so as to increase our force. Then Mobile must fall and then we shall have but little to do unless we have to go to Texas and clean them out there, and so on to Mexico and drive the French home where they belong. I think that there will be trouble in that quarter soon and we think that there are being preparations made to meet the emergency but time will tell the story.
Sgt. [Rinaldo] Butters has got a commission as 2d Lieutenant in a Colored Regiment. George T. Marsh is in the same regiment. He will be Sergeant Major if he gets anything. I must close now. There has another mail come and I must go and see if there is a letter from A, and then I will finish my letter. Well, Abbie, I have got the mail and there was a letter for me. It was from A. and dated July 26 to August 2d. It was not so late as the one I got the mail before but I was nevertheless glad to receive it for I am always pleased to get a letter from you. I think that some of your letters are coming along that have been on the road so long so I guess that I shall get them all by and by. I understand that there is another mail at the office and perhaps that I shall get another letter from some of my good friends at the North. I hope so at all events and that it will be my friend “Abbie.” I should like to be at home this fall and attend the camp meeting. I wonder if there will be one at Charleston? Would it not be fine to have the privilege of such an excursion after soldiering so long in the Sunny South and not only the opportunity but the privileges it would afford me of seeing my old friends and enjoy the old camp meeting and more. But you will say that I am homesick and want to come home but it is not so all together for I have duties to do here. These, however, become monotonous in time and we get tired of them once and while and then we think of home and think that we would like to be there and spend a few days or weeks among the associates of home. But we soon get over those feelings away to our work again. I must close now. Respects to all. Accept my love to yourself. From yours ever true, — Thos. H. Wentworth
[to] Abbie E. Wheeler, Exeter, Maine
Fort Banks, Louisiana
September 7th 1863
My dear Abbie,
Yours of the 15th of August is at hand. I received it a few days since and was very glad to hear from you that you were yet prospering and blessed with a good degree health. I should be very happy to see you this morning and enjoy a short chat with you once more. I hope that we may [do the] same and that before long. I am enjoying pretty good heath now altho I have had one of my ill turns of late. Now do not fear because I am not always well for people are sick at home sometimes. I might say that I am well but I tell you just as it is and hope that you will not be troubled about my health for I will try and take good care of myself.
I am at Fort Banks now with my company which has been detached from the regiment and stationed here. It is about nine miles above New Orleans on the right bank of the Mississippi a little above Camp Parapet on the opposite side of the river. It is a fine place and healthy. The garrison consists of Company H. There is in addition one company of engineers at work on the fortifications. I occupy a fine little house for my quarters and am in command of the post. I have been here about a week. I do not have much to do — only to keep things straight. Lieut. Nickels is acting adjutant of the regiment which is now at New Orleans. I do not know how long he will act in that capacity. We get along very well, however, without him. I suppose that he will be captain soon for I understand that Capt. Wilson has received a commission as surgeon of the 2d Louisiana Engineers, Corps de’ Afrique — or Colored Regiment. I shall not object to that as it will make me 1st Lieutenant and I do not think that Lieut. Nickels will stay longer than next spring so I shall stand a good chance to come home in command of the company. But perhaps that is building air castles and I will forbear.
We are looking for conscripts soon. I hope that Ora and Parkman will come into this regiment and Company H for I think that we can use them as well as anybody. I suppose that Elder Hunting will pay $300 and stay at home. You said that you was glad that I was not there to be drafted — and so am I for I should rather be a volunteer by far and then I think that I am in the way of my duty and shall try and attend to it at present. I hope that you will not take this as a rebuke for your wishes that I were at home for I don’t mean it as such. I have no doubt that you and all my friends would like to see me at home. No more, however, than I should like to be there. But my duty calls me to be here at present and I must stay. I am glad to know that you would be pleased to greet me but I hope that you will not be impatient till I can consistently come. But I must close. I hope to hear from you again soon. Respects to all. My love to Abbie &c.
From your affectionate friend, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
Fort Banks, Louisiana
September 27, 1863
My dear Abbie,
Your affectionate letter of the 5th of September came direct to hand and was perused with some degree of satisfaction—especially the account of the battle in which the 15th Regiment was engaged for it was the first that I had heard of it. But I will assure you of one thing and that is Lt. Wentworth is not missing and I guess will not be as long as the cook is faithful to his duties, and makes good pumpkin pies as he is wont to do.
I am very sorry to hear that your health is so poor. I fear that you will never be healthy again but I hope that it may not be so, If there is anything that I can do for you that will be of any benefit, please let me know. I have often cautioned you to take good care of that good health is (of temporal things) the one thing needful and I hope that you will adopt every means in your power to secure your health again.
My health is very poor now. I have had a slight cough for some time but it does not amount to much and is better. I am gaining flesh since the cool weather began to come on.
You wished me to tell you something about my quarters and how I live. My quarters consists of one room about 15 feet square—well furnished with a fireplace and all complete. On the north side there is a piazza with balustrade where I can sit in the heat of the day and look across the river to Parapet or see the boats as they pass up and down the river or look over some of my books of the different sciences. The furniture of my room consists of one table on which I do my writing, one bed—the principle part of which is a mattress which I borrowed of an old Secesh at Pensacola by the name of Blasenham and owing to his extreme Southern proclivities I have not returned it yet—and three chairs with other trinkets such as wash stand, book case, looking glass, &c.
As for my board, I have a cookhouse separate from my quarters and myself and 3 of the lieutenants board together. We have a cook and live as well as anyone could wish to do. James Noble cooks for us and he can’t be beat. He has cooked in the hospital about a year until lately he has been in the company. He can make a tip top pumpkin pie or a pudding or a custard and can cook a chicken after an an acceptable sort, all of which we deal in quite often. So you see that with these quarters and rations and all so comfortable, I am doing nicely and am quite contented. I expect that I shall be sorry when my time is up and reenlist for another 3 years.
I hear good news from the Maine election. I have a paper giving the most of the returns which gives [Samuel] Cony a large majority over the Copperhead Candidate. The news is welcomed by all the soldiers in this quarter and we as yet have no reason to be ashamed of our native state so long as she remains loyal. I shall be willing claim her as the place of my nativity. But be assured of one thing—that no Copperhead governor of any state will ever call me home from even the governor’s mouth if his object is to oppose the general government in its efforts to crush the rebellion for when Maine ceases to be loyal to the cause of freedom, I can no longer obey her calls or by obeying them, share her disgrace. But Maine is all right, thanks be to all powers but Copperheads and Devils. And the county is safe too or will be soon.
I do not see how the South can hold out much longer and bear such defeats as they have suffered of late. The cause for the Union is hopeful and we need not fear of the final result. But I must hasten for my time is about up. It is Sunday afternoon. I think that I should enjoy attending church this afternoon but cannot. We have no meetings at all now but I understand that we are going to have a chaplain soon. I think that I shall take him up to Fort Banks to live awhile and keep me company for I have not had any of that kind of company for a long time.
I received a letter from my sister Freelove [?] the last mail. She writes that they are all well and spoke of receiving a letter from you &c. I received some papers from your Uncle Joseph but did not get any from you. Co. H is about the same as when I last wrote. I must close. I hope to hear from you soon. Give my respects to all and accept my regards for yourself.
From your friend, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] H. E. Wheeler
Fort Banks, Louisiana
October 1st 1863
My dear Abbie,
Yours of the 12th of August is at hand and has been read with a good degree of satisfaction. I am always glad to get a letter from my friend “A” and know how she is getting along while I am at war and I am glad to know that it is as well with you as at present.
You need not expect to hear from me in any campaign for the Father has ordered it otherwise as our regiment is very lucky for nearly all of the troops have been ordered away and have gone to Texas but our brigade and it is stationed in and about New Orleans. The 12th of Maine is stationed at Camp Parapet just across the river from Fort Banks. We have a number of friends in that regiment and make some very pleasant calls on our state men. You think that we ought to have our captain in case we were going into active service but I think the boys would rather have a commander that was not quite so rusty in military evolutions and who had been with them ever since their organization as a company and with whose orders and customs they are familiar.
Then you have been up to see the Corin[th]villites and had a good time? I am glad that you have done so. I was afraid that you would not be very neighborly and I do not think that you are now and I guess they are not so much so as you are. But it is a talk for some folks to devote time [to] their friends. They said that they had not heard from me for some time. I do not know what I might say for I am sure that I write twice to their once. But then I don’t mind that so long as they are all well and I am so also. And then I have more time to devote to my more prompt correspondents such as A. But those are scattering & so I have the more time to think. Your friend, you say, is very ill and in connection you lament your weakness and sense of unfitness to go home to Heaven. But there can be nothing in a realization of our failures and short comings that can discourage or hinder us while we know that such feelings and impulses can frame no other but a divine source and are evidences of the presence of the Spirit of God and often of an advancement in practical piety. Then fear not but trust implicitly in Christ from whence cometh all our help.
As to the state of morality or religion in our regiment at the present time, it is at rather a low standard. Yet there are some who maintain their integrity. Our being separated by companies gives no chance for meeting and there is no one to look after such interests now since our chaplain went home. But I suppose that we shall have another soon & shall be glad when he comes.
I must close now for this time. I hope to hear from you soon. Give my respects to all, &. Good day. From your friend and lover, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler, Exeter, Maine
Matagorda Island, Texas
January 10th 1864
My dear Abbie,
I take the present opportunity to write you again from this place for we are still here awaiting reinforcements and supplies preparatory to a movement on the enemy at Houston. We are quite comfortably situated altho the weather for the last ten days has been exceedingly cold. It has been one continual norther until today. My health is quite good now and I am in hopes that I shall be all right for the future. If the chills will let me along, I have nothing to fear from ill health.
I have not heard from you for some time but home to soon. there has no mail left here this month and therefore I have not written. I expect it will go now in a few days so I will be ready for it. Lt. [John B.] Nickels has been to New Orleans for about three weeks and got back in the steamer last night but has not come ashore yet so I have not seen him yet. I think that he will be mustered as [captain] soon as possible and then I can get mustered as 1st Lieutenant. I suppose that you have seen the appointment of [Alonzo] Coan of your town as 2d Lieut. of Co. H. Altho he has not received his commission yet, we expect it every mail. He is a fine fellow and will make a good officer. I have been thinking that I would take a short trip to New Orleans but it depends upon the state of my health whether I do or not. I am almost a nine months man now Abbie, and shall soon be at home if nothing in Providence prevents. Some of the boys are talking about re-enlisting, induced by the bounty offered by the government. I think that if the thing is rightly conducted, that nearly half of our regiment will re-enlist. But as they offer no inducements to officers, I think that I shall not enlist at present at least.
I suppose that the snow is several feet deep in Maine and you are having some fine sleigh rides. I hope that you will enjoy yourself first rate this winter and until I come home.
I received a letter from home a short time since. They are all well and prosperous. I do not think of much to write that is news or would be interesting to you so I must close, being in a hurry. I shall endeavor to write every mail and hope to hear from you as often. Give my respects to all enquiring friends and especially to my friend A.
I remain as ever your true friend, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
Decrow’s Point, Texas
February 15th 1864
My dear Abbie,
I received your very affectionate letter of the 25th of January yesterday and take this earliest opportunity to answer it. I was pleased to hear from you and to know that your health is better than usual. I hope that it will continue to improve until you shall enjoy perfect health. I am pretty well this morning altho I have a chill once in awhile but that does not affect me much now. I received orders yesterday to move to Berwick’s City with the whole division to which we are attached. Berwick City is in western Louisiana and is on the opposite side of the Bay from Brashier City. I do not know whether we shall stop there or not. It is possible that we may take the cars there for New Orleans and so on to Mobile as there is an expedition moving against that place. Already 15 thousand troops are within two days march of there. I presume the intention is to take the place or draw the Rebel forces away from Chattanooga to defend it. And it is also possible and very probable that we — the 15th [Maine[ Regiment I mean — will go to New Orleans and take transportation for Maine for a short time and make a few calls on our old friends and neighbors before we go to Mobile.
The 15th [Maine] will be mustered today as “Veteran Volunteers.” Co. H have all re-enlisted that are present but five. All of the Exeter Boys have re-enlisted but Mayo. He is at New Orleans. I think that he would enlist if he was here. I did not think of George Marsh. He is in the Niggar Regiment yet and has not enlisted. He is well. So are all the boys. I never knew them so healthy since they have been in the service. I do not think of much news to write of news. The troops here are making no movements in Texas. There is not be much more done in Texas this season.
I am in hopes to get home before long and am anticipating a pretty good time for one month. If nothing in Providence prevents, we shall be there by the 1st of May and perhaps before. It is hard telling the exact time when but we shall surely come if we are spared so long. Then your request will be answered which you have urged so long and I hope that it will be a source of pleasure and happiness to us both. I am glad to know that I have friends in common with you who are anxious for my welfare and happiness, and truly I feel grateful to them for such manifestations of their friendship as I have already received.
I received a package of newspapers from your Uncle Joseph the last mail. Give my respects to all. Accept my kindest regards. Good day. Affectionately yours, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
Decrow’s Point, Texas
February 21st 1864
My Dear Abbie,
It is Sunday in the afternoon. There is no Divine Services until after dress parade this evening for the reason that it is too warm at two o’clock to sit out of doors in the sun an hour. This would appear queer to you — its being too warm to stay out of doors in the month of February — but it is not to us. Well, as it is Sunday and there is no service until late, I will write a few lines to you which I hope you will be pleased to call a letter for I have not much to write.
We have received no mail since I wrote before and there is nothing going on here at all. We are in the same place as when I last wrote altho we are expecting to move every day.
My health at present is as good as usual and all is going along tolerable well for the army. We have not been mustered yet as veterans although we are all ready and are waiting for the mustering officer. We may not get mustered before we get to New Orleans. I suppose that you are looking for us home pretty soon. Well I am in hopes we shall get started before long. I wish I could start today. The sooner the better if it was not for the cold weather when we get there but the idea of going from this climate into a snow drift is not so pleasant to think about and we feel quite willing to wait awhile and have a warmer month and a pleasanter time. I hope that we shall not have to come back again and if all we hear is true, the “war” is about at an end. The Spring Campaign must close it up and veterans or no veterans, we shall all be at home within one year from this time.
But I must close soon. We shall probably move in a day or two and after we get somewhere and get settled, I will write you a good long letter and perhaps I will come and bring it. So you will please excuse my briefness this time. The chaplain just came for me to go to his tent and sing so I suppose I must go. Give my respects to all &c. Accept my best love for A. Good day. From your affectionate friend, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler
March 10th 1864
My dear Abbie,
I received a letter from you last night bearing date of February 4th. I was glad to hear from you again and know that you are enjoying a usual degree of health altho you seem to be somewhat discontented and lonely. I do not blame you for seeking pleasant associations and cheerful employment for I think that they are indispensable to health and prosperity. You know your own business and circumstances best and I hope that you will please yourself for so you will make yourself happy.
Franklin is 30 miles from Brashier City and about 110 miles from New Orleans. We arrived here the 8th after a march of 24 hours from Brashier City. We came through Algiers on the cars to Brashier on the night of the 6th. We marched along the Bayou Teche on our way from Brashier and it is the most splendid country I ever saw. We are under marching orders and shall start for Alexandria day after tomorrow about 125 miles and then on to Shreveport about as much further. It is quite a march but we are all in good shape for it. My health is good. I am tough and hearty. I suppose that you [think] by this time that we are coming home this spring. We ascertained while at Algiers that we could have our furlough about the month of May. I hope that we shall be spared to accept it. The 29th & 30th Maine Regiments are here and are going with us on the expedition. There are none from our part of the state in them that I have found yet. The 13th Maine is also in our brigade.
You must not expect long letters or very interesting ones from me while I am on this expedition for my facilities will be very limited. I will try and keep you informed as to my whereabouts and how I am but you must not think strange if you do not get letters so often as usual for I do not what what facilities there will be for sending mail. I must close. Give my love to all. Good day.
Yours as ever, — T. H. Wentworth
[to] A. E. Wheeler