October 21st, 1861.
My dear Mother:
We are sailing rapidly down the Chesapeake, still in doubt as to our ultimate destination, but expecting soon to reach Fortress Monroe ,where possibly there may be a chance of mailing a letter. We feel as though we were leaving the scene of old triumphs, and old disasters — of the latter we are mindful of many; so it was delicate sarcasm upon the part of our Bandmaster which induced him to strike up “Carry me back to old Virginny!” as we were crossing the Chain Bridge (which spans the Potomac), leaving the “sacred soil” behind us. And now we are embarked on the “Vanderbilt,” bound, this much we know, for “Dixie.” I am hoping to exchange salutations with some of my old friends in Charleston. What fun it would be to be playing the magnanimous to a captive Prince Hugo, or Whalley despising Yankees much, or any other of the royal youth who live in the Kingdom of South Carolina. It may be we are to visit Mobile. If so, tell Hunt I will try and collect his rents with interest. But why speculate?
Let us pray for laurels and victory! Much is expected of the 79th Regiment, I find. “My Highlanders!” as Gen. Stevens calls them. “They are equal to Regulars,” the General is reported to have said to Gen. Sherman1 commanding our expedition. “Send for them!” says Sherman. They are sent for, and arrive on shipboard in a horrible state of intoxication, with bloody faces and soiled clothes. The Chaplain of the 8th Michigan Regiment is horrified. He preaches to his men, and says: “I wish to make no invidious comparisons, but after what I’ve seen of late, I’m proud of you for your excellent conduct!” Well, we must hope that “My Highlanders” will silence invidious comparison when facing the foe. You tell me Ellis thinks I ought to boast of my Graham blood, and gently urge the same yourself, but the fact is, nothing has caused more amusement than Ellis’ own pretensions to his descent from the King of the Hebrides. Indeed, on one occasion, up at Sunbury — a country town of Pennsylvania — when he was introduced on a public occasion to the worthy citizens of the place as a lineal descendant of Donald, King of the Hebrides, a man in the audience forgot himself so far as to call out, “Damn Donald, King of the Hebrides!” which was highly improper, and wholly irrelevant, yet very entertaining to those who heard it. I am awaiting an official announcement of the birth of Walter’s boy, and mean to write congratulations as soon as I can find time. Hall will soon be married, he tells me. All my friends are getting settled, but I am a Nomad, fit, I fancy, for my present mode of life, which I find healthy and by no means disagreeable. Indeed, were my brother officers of a more agreeable character, I would take to soldiering with a relish, and with a reasonable amount of success might cry, “Vive la guerre!” However all dreams of the future terminate in dreams of peace, of home, and honorable repose in advancing years, all of which, dear mother, may we enjoy together, loving our country better for having proved that it was so dear that we were willing even to give up our life for its preservation.
Well, the blessings of peace be upon all at home. Kiss the little ones for me. Give love to all and
1 Thomas W. Sherman.