Item Description: Last part of a multi-day letter that started on 11 April 1864. In this letter, dated 19 April 1864, Jonathan L. Whitaker writes to his wife, Julia A. Wells Whitaker, about making it to camp in Beaufort, S.C., cost of rations, weather, and produce growing in the area. Jonathan L. Whitaker, from Orange County, N.Y., was a physician serving as a United States Army surgeon at a hospital at Chester, Pa., and with the 26th United States Colored Troops near Beaufort, S.C.Item Citation: Letter dated 19 April 1864, found in Folder 2 of the Jonathan Lewis Whitaker Papers, #3674-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Item Transcription:Camp near Beaufort, S.C. Apr, 19th 1864, I will now try, my dear, to finish and send off this paper. We have made out to get fixed up quite comfortable, although as usual I have had so much to do, that I have got considerable fixing to do in my tent before I consider myself settled. We are encamped in an open plain, behind fortification, in an old cotton field, and have a Fort and several Batteries to guard & command. Our position is considered by all to be a permanent one as they have sent all the white troops to Virginia & left us here to guard the place, so if the Rebels don’t attack us we will no doubt remain here undisturbed for a long time. Our great trouble here will be bad water, flies & insects. Flies now are much thicker than I ever saw them in New York. Prices of living here are but little if any greater than in New York. Eggs are 50 cents a dozen & butter 50 cts pr pound. I find I have here great need of a horse. I have all the work to do as we have no other assistant yet, & I have to walk about 6 miles every day, & often more. Today I have walked about ten miles. This comes from our Regiment being scattered at different points which I have to visit every day. But it is most impossible to buy a horse, as nothing can be has less than $200, and a decent horse will cost 250 or $300, So you see me going on foot for a long time yet. We have got rather ahead of you in gardening, I think. Our peaches are as large as your thumb, early peas are ready to blossom, corn, potatoes, beans etc. are up & growing, which things, you will have to be smarter than common if you beat. We have had a heavy rain here to day, but it is impossible to have mud here, it is so sandy the water runs through immediately & leaves the ground dry. When the wind blows hard it drives the sand, until it sounds against the tent like a heavy shower of fine hail. I send you enclosed some cotton seed which you may plant for curiosity as soon as it gets warm enough. I have again found old acquaintances. Drs. Van Etten, & Young Hardenburgh of Port Jervis are here. I met them the day I landed and was very glad to see them & they me. I walked down to the Village to meeting last night, but was so far I became very tired. It was the first sermon I had heard since the last day of January at Port Jervis. Write often dear wife. I dreamed of Frank the other night, but don’t you be jealous. God bless & keep you all. Louis Direct to 26th Regt. U.S.C.T. Department of the South, Beaufort, S.C.