Newport News VA Nov. 6th 1861

Dear Sister

I received a letter from you today and was glad to hear from you. I am well and enjoy a soldiers life first rate. We have changed our situation. We left the fort yesterday the 5th and we have got our tents all up and expect to stay here all winter. The reason that my company had to leave the fort was because we have been drilling our large 10-inch guns and we are here to work the guns mounted on the breast works around this camp. If they make any movement from this place we will go back to the fort. They have been expecting an attack on this place for some time. Scarcely a day but some of the men are taken prisoners.

Yesterday the general sent a squad of men, N.Y. Dutchmen, out after wood and they lost 2 men, 4 mules and a large army wagon. The N.Y. men don't show any fight, but run as quick as they fire once. The company that I belong to don't have any guard duty to do, only take care of the big guns. I was in the fort when that expedition failed it was a splendid sight to see them all go. There is no N.H. regiments down this way but one or two went with that fleet, there was a good many men went with it. I couldn't get on board the steam to see the men; they layed off in the stream within 1/2 mile of the fort.

Here come a letter now..... it is from Charles. I will send it to you. I get a letter quite often from him. He is about 200 miles from me. If you write to him direct to Washington.

I wish you would send me some Manchester weekly papers. Tomorrow there is a regiment going out scouting and I am going with them. We have got large tents, 20 men in each one. There is about 8000 men here, mostly N.Y. and Penn. men and mostly Germans and Dutchmen. General Phelps the commander of the Post is an Old Vermonter. He likes the N.E. Boys the best. He says he can put more dependence on them than any others. He puts these N.Y. Dutchmen in all exposed places where the pickets have been shot.

We can look across James River and see the camp of the Rebels and hear their band play Dixie when it is clear. They are poorly clad. We often catch some of their men without shoes. I haven't been near a N.H. regiment but just once since I came to the war. That was the 2nd in Washington after the Bull Run Fight.

I can't think of any more to write. Tell Willis to write me a letter. Write soon as you get this. Give my love to all. Be sure and send me a paper.

From your brother Wm

November 18th 1861
Camp Butler Newport News VA

Dear Sister

I received some papers from you today. I was quite a treat to read a Manchester paper. It is seldom that anybody sends me letter or paper. I have wrote more than a dozen letters to Harriet and Carl and have only received one letter in return. I always make it a turn to answer all letters or papers for I consider them as good as a letter. We continue to have good news from the south; in fact from all quarters it comes all in a heap. Well it is time that we should have some such news to encourage the men and I hope we shall continue to have just such news.

Last night we expected an attack on this camp. Gun boats were stationed all along in the river front of our camp. In case they should try us we can retreat into Fort Monroe and these gun boats can cover our retreat by throwing shells over our heads. Besides we loaded and laid on our arms--had everything ready to go into action. But nothing was seen of the rebels excepting a few horsemen by our outer pickets. They didn't venture close enough to get a shot at them, although they have lately shot and captured quite a number of our men. Charly wrote home that he was having a hard time of it and I think he is by the accounts that I hear of his regiment marching about all the time.

I see a New Hampshire man yesterday in Fort Monroe that started with that expedition and was obliged to come back on account of the rough weather. There was quite a number of New England troop on with them. There is a fellow on board the Cumberland that lives in Manchester. I have had a long talk with him. His name is Robinson. He lived on Concord St.

I wish they would make a move from here so I could see some fighting. I have been in service about 7 months adn all the fighting that I have seen was in Baltimore 19th of last April. That was sort of a running fight and I didn't have a chance to do anything.

I will draw to a close. Write soon. You must excuse his bad writing. I write it in great haste. More soon, from your brother.
Wm E. Short

My respects to all, tell Willis to write me a letter or anybody else
Do you ever hear from Carl

Camp Butler Newport News Virginia
Sunday Morning February 2nd 1862

Dear Sister,

Having some spare time today I will pen you a few lines.

I received two papers that you sent me. I received them last week but have been so busy that I couldn't answer. My whole company have been working on the breast works. And building barracks for 3 companys of cavalry that is coming this week. I understand they are from N.H. and VT. Perhaps I will know some of them. We have been expecting an attack here on this place.

Rebel General Magruder sent down about a dozen of his officers to General Wool and told Wool to leave this place within 24 hours or else he would come down and drive us out. General Wool sent word back that he would welcome him and give him a good reception. So we have been on the alert. Wools says if he does come he won't catch us asleep. We have mounted one large seige piece this last week and dug the ditch deeper around the breast work.

We are looking anxiously for some news from Bursides expedition. It seems that he has met with considerable loss. I wish this rebellion would come to a close, but I am afraid we shant. I think it will last more than 6 months more.

I haven't heard from Charles for sometime. He was well the last time I heard from him.

George is going to school in Dracut. Pa bought him a sheik set of clothing of my money.

.....?..... nor  .....?..... haven't wrote to me any letters yet. Has .....?..... been up to see you this winter. She wrote she was going when she got a chance.

We are beginning to have the raining season which come off every winter out here. Instead of snow it rains.

I can't think of any more to write this time but if anything transpires worthy of note I will write.

I will draw to a close
write soon
My love to all
From your brother
William E. Short

Camp Butler Newport News Virginia
Thursday afternoon Feb 13th 1861 [1862]

Dear Sister Ann,

I received your kind letter of the 8th was very glad to hear from you. I am here yet in the same old place. And am well, never was better in my life. It is strange that you have not received a letter from me before. I have wrote to you every week and I calculate to do so for weeks to come.

Everything is quiet here as usual. A terrible accident happened here last Tuesday the 11th. And one of my mess was killed and another man that belonged in Co. D. Last Tuesday they was trying to throw a shot over to Pigs Point across the river, firing with an 8 inch Sawyer rifled gun. They fired once and the shot dident go over. The next time they say they over charged the gun and it burst, killing 2 men instantly and wounding several others. James Shepard was one, he came out with me and was in my mess all the time. I was eating supper with him 10 minutes before he was killed. We was both eating supper when they fired the first time. Shepard says to me lets go out and see them fire. We both started, I went most out there when I turned back and says to Shepard, if I don't take care of my coffee some of the boys will drink it. I went back and put my coffee in my box and started to go out to the gun. I got just out of the door when the gun bursted. The boys came running down to the Captain saying Shepard was a dead man and sure enough he was. He had just got there when the gun bursted. I think if it hadn't been for the coffee I should have got hurt. Most likely I should have moved close by him as he asked me to go and see them fire. A piece of cannon struck him and killed instantly. The other man was one of the men that was drilling on the gun. It was a horrible sight. Yesterday we sent the body home. I went down to the fort with the body. The whole regiment turned out and the 1st New York regiment band played music. It was a solemn affair. I don't want to see another such, not for anything but I probably shall if I ever get into battle.

I received a letter from Charles at the same time I received yours. He says he has wrote to you often. Sure is something wrong about it, for sure is as many as three letters that I have sent that you haven't got, and it is nothing strange if his letters should get lost. He writes he is well as usual and says he has good time. As you say I guess he has extra good times. I have got the same chance to spend my money. I could spend every cent of my wages for extras if I was a mind to.

I haven't heard from any of the folks except you, for a great while.

About papers Ann, anything in the shape of reading, no matter what, will be thankfully received and all expenses paid, and especially a paper from Manchester.

The late victories have almost started a new life into the men. We have laid still so long without any such good news; We are receiving good news from Burnside today, stating that he has taken Roanoke Island and destroyed the Rebel's gun boats. And that the people of Norfolk are in a great excitement---fearing the safety of that city. Burnside is now in the rear of the city and nothing to hinder him from marching on to the city except the swamps and the bad state of roads. It has rained almost every day for a month. Today is as pleasant and warm, we was out drilling in our shirt sleeves. Perhaps tomorrow it will rain. I will draw to a close---write soon. Give my love to all that inquires for me.

From your brother
William E. Short
Newport News, VA

Co. B. 29th Mass. Regt.
Care of Capt. I. N. Wilson

Tell Willis to write me a letter
You must excuse these turkey tracks and a poor pen.

Tell .....?..... to write if you write to her.

Camp Butler, Newport News Virginia
Sunday Evening Feb 23rd [1862]

Dear Sister Ann,

I received a letter from you today and hasten to answer it. We have been very busy this last week, 4000 troops arrived here. We are to have 30,000 here as soon as they can transport them. We are going to attack Yorktown. That is the next place that will be attacked. It will be a terrible battle, a second Donelson battle. Seige mortar boats are coming here this week. We heard it said to us the other day on dress parade by the chaplain that we would soon see another surrender of Yorktown and hoped we would behave like soldiers. In all probability this regiment will have a hand in it. Well we all think an equal chance of escaping the bullets. I have no more idea of being shot than I would at home. I want to be in one good battle so I can have something to talk about. These last victories are all that is wanted to make the men ache to get a chance at them. Yesterday, Washington's birthday, we had a lively time! Troop arriving and to make it more so, the George Washington went up the river and brought down a load of our released prisoners. We cheered and cheered them. The sailors on the ships went in the rigging and cheered the poor fellows; cheered all they knew how.

I had a letter from Cad .....?..... today. She wrote she had had a bad cold and Bertie had been unwell. Both were better. The fellow that went home with the body of Shepard came back today. He went to see Pa, but he had gone up to Weare N.H. on a visit.

We are crowded all up now. These new men have come without tents and we accomodate all we can. The troops are all western men, large and stout. The regiments are the 4th Wisconsin, 6th Michigan, 21st Indiana. The best men to fight in battle there is. Poor fellows, there will be a great many go to their long home before they get away from here. But a soldier seldom thinks of Death. I seldom hear them speak of such a thing.

I will get my picture taken and send it to you if I can get to Baltimore pay day. It will be sometime before they can get ready for an attack 3 or 4 weeks at the least. I think I will send you a small box 3 or 4 inches square pay day.

There is such a noise I can't write. It is getting late so I will draw to a close. You must excuse this short letter and bad writing. My love to all and best wishes from your brother.

Wm E. Short

Hurrah for Norfolk
Norfolk City - May 12, 1862

Dear Sister

I suppose you have been looking for a letter from me. I should have written before but we had been under marching orders for so long I thought I wouldn't write until we moved. We were on a forced march 2 days in the hot sun. I tell you we are pretty tired out. We marched Saturday down to the fort 10 miles, took the boat and landed at Ocean View at 12-1/2 at mid night. Then we march 8 miles to a Rebel camp. We stopped there 2-1/1 hours then marched 17 miles to Norfolk. The Rebels retreated just ahead of us all the time. They left an entrenched camp that extended 5 miles. They had all along on the breast works 89 cannons mounted.

They destroyed about all the shipping besides their monster Merrimac; they blowed her up early Sunday morning. It was an awful report.

We now occupy the whole country for miles around here. The 16th Mass. was the first to enter the city, 20th N.Y. next. Then we marched in colors flying. It made the inhabitants stare to see us flock in so fast. There is a small union feeling here about all secesh. It is a beautiful city and so is Portsmouth and the navy yard. They burnt all they could. They would burnt the Custom House but we pressed them to hand... [a piece is missing]

The sun was terrible hot. The soldiers throwed away everything coats, blankets. It was so hot and they put us through in haste. We expected to have one brush with them but the cowards don't like the bristling steel we carry.

The field around their camp is covered with shot, shell and canister all destroyed. They left Gruney Island and all their batteries covered with guns, most of which is spiked. All the money they have had is shin plasters. The city is flooded with it. I will send you a sample of one. We are going to stop here I think; at least for a week. I will write often as I can. I am short of paper. This is all I have got and no ink. But read what you can of it.

Most of the stores are shut up. There is not much in them. Linen cloth. Cotton cloth sells for a great prices. I suppose we will have to be put through now we have started.

Direct your letter to Fort Monroe (W.E.S. Co. B 29th Mass. Regt. Fort Monroe Va, Care of I. N. Wilson.

I haven't received any letter from you since I wrote last about 2 or weeks ago

My love to all
From your brother William

Fair Oaks Station, Advance Guard
6 miles from Richmond

[approx. June 6, 1862]

Dear Sister,

Having got a few leisure moments to spare, I will pen you a few lines. We arrived here last week after a hard journey. I am well as usual but feel pretty well played out. I tell you I have just begun my soldiering. We are on the very ground where the bloody battle was fought. I would like to give you all the particulars what I know but time and paper won't admit.

The ground is covered with clothing and equipment and at the right of us is an open field. The ground is completely covered with dead. I couldn't believe it could be as it is, but the dead lay in heaps. The Rebels are laying on top of the ground with just a little dirt over them, and some of them lay out on the ground. They stunk so, our men couldn't stand it to cover them and there they lay, and our own men are in a little better state, covered a little deeper and their name and regiment marked on a board at their head. There is10 Rebels to one of our men. There is an awful stench comes from the field. I could see what killed a good many of them. Some of their legs were shot off; others an arm. And some with their heads completely knocked off of their shoulders and I notice some of them had got their strops and tied it tight around their legs to stop the blood. There they lay just as they fell. The field looks like a new potatoe field. The graves are so thick. We are camped close beside the railroad. We are throwing up a breast work about a mile long. The Rebels have got a cannon on a platform car. They run down on the track within a mile, throw a few shells, then run back out of the way. When we go on guard now we have a picket, then a company, then a regiment with a battery then a brigade so the Rebels can't surprise us. Our artillery is constantly fighting with the Rebel artillery, and the sharp shooters are always at it.

We have a Salem Company with us. They stay in the woods so as to protect the pickets from the Rebel's sharp shooters, of which there is some good ones. There is a tree close by us. We can see the steeples in Richmond and a good many camps of the Rebels. We are in Meagher Brigade, Richardsons division, Sumners Corps. If there is another fight before Richmond I will be in it as we are in the fighting brigade; it was this brigade that turned the battle here. Meagher makes his men charge. He won't let them turn off and fire.

I have forgot whether I wrote you a letter when I was in Suffork or not. We marched there in one day 27 miles. Stayed there 3 days and left for this place. I will draw to a close, Direct to C. B 29 Mass, Meagher Brigade, Sumners Division Army of the Potomac. I will write as often as I can get time. Hoping to get out of this soon. I will bid you good bye.

In haste -- From your Brother
Excuse this Wm E. Short
bad writing

Tanellytown, Maryland
Sept. 4, 1861 [1862]

Dear Sister

Having at last got a chance to write to you I will improve it. I am well as usual after a long seige of marching and crowded on steam boats. I haven't wrote since you wrote when I was at Harrisons Landing. Well I didn't march with the army from there. I was unwell and the Lieutenant told me to go down on the boats. I did but instead of getting on the express, I got on the hospital boat and was carried to N.Y. While I was there 2-1/2 days I had a good time and I ain't sorry I got carried there. While I was there ...?... and Lib ...?... came out to see me. I went to Fort Hamilton, I would have wrote while I was there but I hadn't one cent. I got $2.00 of ...?... before I left then I hadn't time. Well I went back and met the army at Yorktown. We took a steamer and landed on Aquia Creek on the Potomac then marched to Fredericksburg, back again to the Creek Landing, took a steamer and landed at Alexandri. Marched out to Clouds Mills, back again to Fort Corcoran then down to Fairfax Court-house where our army was fighting, although we didn't have any fighting to do. And to make a long story short the whole U.S. Army have been whipped and now we are back again in sight of our own Capitol. Words can't begin to express the sight that we see. It seems that the whole army was panic stricken.

It will take 4 weeks to get the army settled down. Well I won't begin to tell all the particulars. We came back and crossed the Potomac this morning. Charlie's regiment is pretty badly cut up. Charles saw a fellow that belonged to this regiment. He said Charles was hunting after his regiment and going toward the battle field. He said Charles looked tough and hearty. The whole of Banks corps have passed us this day and I haven't seen the 12th. They must be in MacDowells Corps. Colonel Webster is killed and 11 Line Officers. That's what I hear when we were at Centreville.

I haven't time now to write a long letter but I will if ever I get a chance and every time I can. I guess the box is lost or at least I have given it up as lost. We will get paid within 8 days. We wooded before only for these moves. This is the first day that we have laid still since we left Harrisons Landing.

If you wish direct your L..?.... to Washington D.C.

I will write soon as I can
Good night

From your brother
Wm

Newport News Va.
Sunday March 1st 1863

Dear Sister Ann

I received yours last night. I had forgot whether I wrote last or not so I waited a few days. I am on guard today and it is nice and warm -- real spring weather.

That white bread was good only some dry of course. I haven't seen .....?..... yet. I am going Tuesday next. My pay goes in today.

I had a letter from Charles last week. He was well as usual. He said Gen. Hartsuff the military governor of Washington was trying to get his regiment there to do provost duty. The general commanded them at Antietam.

You ask me what I thought of making soldiers of the niggars. I don't care, so they don't have any fighting where I am. I should hate to be in some places where I have been and trust a niggar on guard beside me. I never want to do anything where the niggar will be in the field. If a victory was won it would be the gallant Blacks that done the best fighting. What I have seen of the niggers I wouldn't trust 1500 of them against 500 secesh. For my part I hate the very sight and name of the nigs. I should never be afraid of them taking away a white man's situation at the North for no Northern man would stomach one on his premises. And as a general thing they were better off before the war broke out than most of the poor people at the North, and in some places they dressed like gentlemen.

I want you to be sure and send me the paper you spoke of; I haven't heard from any of the family since only Charles.

I have wrote this on two sheets of paper by mistake. I can't think of any more to write so I will bid you good bye

From William

On the Kentucky Central Railroad in the
town of Parish, Kentucky Friday March 27, 1862[1863]

Dear Sister Ann

After 7 long days of riding on boats and cars we have at last arrived at out destination. We broke camp last Friday morning and took a steamer and landed in Baltimore Sunday noon, took the cars and rode 375 miles to the city of Parkersburg in the western part of Va. on the Ohio. We stopped, got some rations and then took a packet and rode down the Ohio to Cincinnati. We landed there. The citizens furnished us with a good dinner. We marched through the principle streets, then took a boat and crossed over in Covington, Kentucky. Took the cars and landed here last night about 12-1/2. We are where they expect the Rebel Morgan to make a raid. And we are guarding the R.R. Bridges and doing provost daily in the city. It is a regular secesh hole. The Rebels captured the place once since the war began. This is a hard country. We can hardly tell who are secesh soldiers. They all dress just alike, and big tall burley looking men. Where we will go next is more than we can tell. The people look at us as thought we was hyenas or some other monster.

It is a splendid scenery here. The fields are as green as mid summer at home.

Our Col. is acting brigadier and has command of the whole troops around the city. So you see we will stand a good chance to have some good times and the sights coming down the Ohio, it was splendid. We could see them getting coal out of the mountains and see all the cities on the way. It was the best time I ever see. We rode on the railroad in all 445 miles besides what we rode on the water. Covington is a very pretty place but Cincinnati is the prettiest place of all. Splendid buildings is there in in N.Y.

As I haven't time to write any more today I will postpone until I write again. I will write within a week and let you know where I am. I wish you would write to Pa and Charles and let them know where I am so they can write.

My love to all

From William

Direct to W. E. S. Co. B. 29th
Washington 9th Army Corps.

in haste

Somerset Kentucky
14th May 1863

Dear Sister Ann

I received your letter last night stating you had not received the money. I am very sorry. I sent it, I think, on the 18th of April. Anyway a fellow by the name of Little and Collins sent theirs the same day. Little sent $30.00, Collins 20 and their folks have got it. I paid $1.00 express to insure its safety rather than send it by mail. However I will make it all good pay day. I will send you 10.00 by mail, if you don't get that I will send 10 more. What under the sun made me forget the reciept I can't tell. I took a receipt for it. And had it when I wrote to you that I had sent it (the money). It may come to light yet before pay day. We will be paid so I understand within a week. However I will send it as soon as I do get paid.

I haven't got the other shirt yet, and I expect that is a dead loss. As there is no railroad that runs within 70 ...?... miles of us, and they can't find transportation for what grub we want, it has to be drawed by mules.

We are infested by guerillas. All the time Morgan is just outside of town with 8000 Cavalry and 2 batteries. We took 75 of his men last night and such looking mortals never was seen. Ragged, dirty and lousey, but they will fight just as well as we will in our blue blouses and blue pants. There is a number of Rebels in this town that was wounded at the Battle of Carpenters Creek. Their are Georgians and down on Mass. men. This is a very pleasant country but has been stripped of everything.

I will write to the expressman in Paris and see if he can give me any clue to the money. I never doubted but what the money would go safe. I paid enough for to have it.

I haven't heard from anyone since, only Mrs. O'Brien, mother of the fellow that got killed at Antietam. He was my mess mate and
I took particular pains in burying him, and I wrote to her. Ever since she has wrote and sent me papers.

We expect a battle every day now, but it won't be like a pitched battle. It will be bush whacking with infantry.

I will draw to a close. Don't be alarmed about the money. I will get $10.00 home to you if it costs me one hundred to do it. Write soon.
From you Brother

William Edward Short
Direct to Somerset, K.Y.
Christ's Brigade
9th Army Corps

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