1863: George F. Pritchard to Ned

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Don Troiani’s Painting of Infantryman in 165th New York Volunteers (Duryee’s Zouaves)

This letter was written by George F. Prichard [or Pritchard] (1843-1874) who enlisted as a private at the age of 18 on 17 September 1862 in New York City to serve three years in Co. A, 165th New York Infantry. He was wounded in action on 27 May 1863 at Port Hudson but returned to the regiment and did not muster out of the service until May 1865 at Harewood Hospital in Washington D. C.

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp at Vermillion Bayou, La.
November 6th 1863

My dear Ned,

Your very acceptable letter of October 17th was received on the 4th inst.  My duties prevented me from answering before today. You are aware, I presume, that our army has been on the move since about the 1st of September. We are now on the back track for New Orleans or some point this side.

You wish to know who wrote that letter dated on board the “Pocahontas.” ¹ I answer, “yours respectfully.” From the peculiar postures I am compelled to adopt when I write, I sometimes write a very odd-looking hand. What do you think of lying on your bel—I mean stomach and writing, a chip serving as a desk? or a canteen answering the same purpose? But never mind—“it is all in the three years,” as the boys say when they submit to anything.

You inform me that you have “changed your base.” Take warning, Ned, of the Generals of the Potomac. How by “changing their base” at the wrong time have been thrown out of office. I am pleased, however, to learn that you are more comfortably situated than before. I only hope it is permanent.

In regard to the pipe, I am sorry to say that it has not reached me. I am very much inclined to think that it must have been appropriated by the Post Master at Port Hudson. You mention that you will send another if there is a certainty of my getting it. I will give you directions by which you can send it without a possibility of my losing it. Wrap it well in two or three papers, paying extra postage and direct [to] Co. A, 2nd Zouaves, 165th Regiment New York State Volunteers, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 19th Army Corps, Opelousas, La. or elsewhere. By following the above directions, you cannot fail. By the same mail you send the pipe, send me the bill for the pipe lost; also for the one which you will send—including postage, etc., and I will liquidate the debt by return mail. Now mind, Ned, I want a nice briarwood. I would like to have it in time to take my Christmas smoke from it.

This letter is dated the 6th, Ned, but I am finishing it on the 14th. On the 11th, we had a skirmish with the enemy about three miles from here. We routed them with the loss on our side of one killed and three wounded—not one of whom I am glad to say where from the Zouaves.

Col. [Governeur] Carr arrived about 3 weeks since and assumed command. Major [Felix] Agnus is going to New York in a few days.

I am taking lessons as a bugler. No more musket for me. There, Ned, I am almost ashamed to send such a scrawl. But if I could do better, you know I would. By the bye, have you no old novels to send a fellow? Never mind about the covers being torn off as long as the story is complete. Goodbye old boy and God bless you,

Truly your friend, — Geo. F. Prichard


¹ The 16th New York Volunteers were transported by the steamboat Pocahontas from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and then across the Gulf to Galveston, Texas, during the first week of September 1863.

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