Item description: Letter, 28 January 1862, from Emmett Cole, a Union soldier in Company F, 8th Michigan Infantry Regiment, at Beaufort, S.C., to his friend Jo in Michigan. Cole’s letter comments on the noise of artillery firing; rumors of England declaring war on the Union; General Isaac Stevens’ appearance, demeanor, and leadership; soldiers returning home for cause of homesickness; the end of the small pox epidemic that had been so deadly at Hilton Head; and news of home.
Item citation: From folder 2 of the Emmett Cole Letters #5002-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Beaufort Jan. 28 1861 
Ah yes friend Jo. there is fun going on today. I have been sick for a week or two but today I feel better. for while my pen moves over the paper my blood rushes in my veins. for roar roar roar sonds on my ear and makes the very ground quiver and tremble where I sit. it is in the direction of Fort Pulaski. all the highest buildings in the town are covered with oficers with glasses watching in the direction of the fighting. let them rip I like to hear it our Boats will make her old walls crumble before she quits her. by gosh Jo I wish you was here a minute to hear Wm Boo it is one continual roar all the while it puts me in mind of Hilton Head, & Bay Point. and and New Year but then there was more fun for we had a finger in the Pie ourselves. the Rebels have collected themselves in a goodly number on the other side of the Ferry among the bushes & I suppose they think we will come over there in their trap and then they will come Bull Run on us but they cant come it. if they listen they can hear a tune in the direction of Savannah that will change their opinion as to our comeing prehaps. they are stubborn cusses down here. they told one of our Leieutenants that went over the other day with a Flag of Truce to exchange the dead. that we could not whip them they would all die first. well by hoky they can take their choise but there is a rumor in the camp that dont sond very good. and that is that England has declared war against us. we dont believe it yet but if it is so I am afraid it will go hard with us. but if it is so for God sake Jo dont let the Cursed Tories tread over our fields unmolested. Michigan is the most exposed but defend her to the last drop of blood. if the state cannot furnish you all with arms take your old Rifles and Shot Guns and pile the fields with their infernal carcasses, they will make good manure and now if the Almighty Arm of God is in our behalf as it was in the Revolution. we can whip the whole southern an English hosts combined. but I dont believe it is so yet it seems so unjust. but it is nothing more than I have expected of I thought if she could catch us in the tights she would pitch in but I will say no more about that now, and await the result. now prehaps you dont know exactly what part of the Army I belong to. and maybe you do but I will tell you at any rate I belong to Gen Shermans Division and second Brigade commanded by Gen Stephens & 8th Mich Reg. commanded by Col Fenton and now I must tell you about what sort of a man General Stephens is he is a short thick set man with black penetrating eyes. and hair which has been black once, is turning sight grey. he seldome smiles but seems to be in a sullen mood although it is not sullenness yet it is his way he is quick tempered and when he is mad there is no end to his profanity he will swear a string ten miles long and never miss a note. but he is a good and careful commander. he not only knows how to take men into battle but he knows how to bring them out also. he was Governor of Oregon once and then Col of the N.Y. 79. and then was promoted to Brigadier General. I suppose Leon Duffy will be home before this letter gets there pehaps he will tell some mighty stories about the war, but if he will tell some stories of Homesickness, it will be something that he knows a good deal more about. Leieut Mans went home also he said he had a lame leg. there was another fellow went back to Hastings by the name of Greenfield he is pretending to recruit. I dont want any of the boys out there to enlist under him for he is a lazy homesick Babyish Cuss. the Boys in the Reg. seem to be contented. and enjoy themselves very well the is but little sickness in the Camp now the Small Pox has nearly died out we left the most of it at Hilton Head. that was a bad place that Hilton. Head. there was more died there in one day than dies here in a week about all the PA Roundheads did over there was to march to and from the Burrying ground. but it is quite different here. we dont hear the slow death note half so often as we used to over there. I suppose Rowe had to make a real sacrifice on his property to pay up that debt. I was affraid it would be so for I knew that there was no money there and no matter how hard he worked he could not get money for it. tell Rowe if he will skin old Baker alive and dry his hide, and send it to me I will send him a $10 Treasury note for it I want it for shoe strings and whips for the goverment teamsters &c. tell Rowe I would like to see him and his folks and have an old fashioned chat and I think I will in the course of a year of so. I suppose you let dad have the colt and took the mule back. Well I guess that was the best thing but I am afraid if dad has to take care of it a great while it will turn out my colt and dads Horse. when you write again tell me how your Brick turned out and how the school house looks and all about things in general. it is now 28 days past pay day and have not got our money yet. I dont know what the reason is, but it will come around all right after a while I guess now Jo when you write send a long letter and tell me all the news. tell me what you think of the Warant there.I will put a note in here to Sarah An I wrote her a letter the other day and I did not answer one question she asked me. you must excuse bad writing for I am week and my hand trembles give my best wishes to all my friends and accept this from your Friend.
More about Emmett Cole (also, Emmet Cole):
Emmet Cole (Union)
- Residing in Barry County, MI at time of enlistment
- 21 years of age at time of enlistment
- Enlisted on Sep 14 1861 at Woodland, MI as Private
- POW on Jun 16 1862 at Secessionville, SC
Sources for the above information:
- Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers 1861-65, (1903)