4 February 1863: “The right snug hostelry of Mary Lee, a free colored woman and an excellent cook, was the centre of attraction, being thronged with officers, naval and military, all day.”

Item description: Published letter, dated 4 February 1863, written by Corporal Zenas T. Haines, Company D, 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. The letter is an excerpt from Haines’ account, Letters from the Forty-Fourth Regiment M.V.M.: A Record of the Experience of a Nine Months’ Regiment in the Department of North Carolina in 1862-3 (published in Boston in 1863).

[Transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From, Letters from the Forty-Fourth Regiment M.V.M.: A Record of the Experience of a Nine Months’ Regiment in the Department of North Carolina in 1862-3, by Zenas T. Haines, Boston: Printed at the Herald Job Office, 1863. Catalog Number: C970.742 H15, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

February 4, 1863

We remained at Plymouth yesterday. The right wing of the regiment was transferred from the steamer to a large storehouse on the wharf. It was a cold day and we had no fires in the building, so the boys wandered over the town, and made themselves comfortable in negro cabins, where they boiled their coffee and ate hoe-cake and other luxuries.

The right snug hostelry of Mary Lee, a free colored woman and an excellent cook, was the centre of attraction, being thronged with officers, naval and military, all day. Your correspondent and a friend or two were happy enough to sit at a Christian table for almost the first time since leaving Boston, and devour fried pork and eggs, white biscuits, etc. To make our happiness complete, our frames were last night pillowed upon a Northern feather bed. It was a terribly cold night for North Carolina, and we had reason to bless the fate which gave us a warm bed in place of the cold, cheerless old storehouse where most of the boys shivered the night through.

Last evening, after supper, we sat by the cheerful fireside of a North Carolina Unionist, and while we watched the blaze between the jams, listened with a charmed sense to the tinkle of the tea things as they were washed and set away. Our host, hostess, and two youngest occupied a bed in the warmest corner of the sitting room, “Goff, the Regicide,” John and your correspondent slept in the opposite corner. We retired first, but were not too sleepy to watch with thrilling interest the series of comforting preparations before a domestic couple with a baby can retire. The infant was in its happiest mood; and, while its little limbs were allowed to bask in the firelight, it held a crooning conversation with its father, who assured the offspring that it was a right smart baby and had slept a heap since morning.

It is now high noon of Wednesday. A facetious fellow, one of the heroes of Tarboro’, has just informed me that the “object of the expedition (to Plymouth) is accomplished,” and that “Plymouth” is to be put upon our banner.

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