|Unit History Project|
Joseph E. Shaw Collection
Head Quarters Birney’s Brigade
Dear Ed, Gus & George:
I have written three or four letters to you since I was home but as yet I have received no answer to any of them and I begin to think that something must be the matter at home and that you are afraid to tell me now if there is anything the matter let me know at once for these fears are more painful than the certainty might be. I have looked for letters every day but as yet none have come. Perhaps they have been mislaid or detained in Washington so I will not scold you for perhaps you can’t help it.
Since writing my last we have made another move of three miles. We passed through the town of Hampton, which was burned by the Rebels. It looks more like the “horrors of war” than anything I have ever seen. We are now encamped about 6 miles from Bethel. We are now so close to the enemy that their Cavalry Outpost Picket can be plainly seen from our camp. The other day three drummers from the Regiment went out foraging after chickens & etc., and when about a mile from Camp they were surrounded by cavalry and taken. The drum Major was with them but he escaped by running and brought in the news of their capture. We are expecting to move forward again, either on to Bethel or Norfolk or Richmond. I think it is the latter place. I am having very easy times now, as I don’t have to carry any gun, knapsack or anything else. I am to have a saber as soon as they can get one for me. I will not be in any battle, I think, unless something extraordinary happens. It is very pleasant weather here now. Enclosed you will find a rough sketch of our former camp near Hampton (?) on Hampton Creek. You must not think that because Servall’s Point is so plainly seen that we’re very near it, as we were about 5 or 6 miles from it. While we were camped there I saw them fire at 3 vessels at different times from the Battery, but they did no damage. Our present Camp is situated in a clump of pine trees in the on a large level plain. To the left of us is are the Rebel Pickets, where the drummer boys were captured.
I must close now as I have an order to issue tonight, and it is now 9 o’clock. Give my love to Mother and tell her I am well and getting along first rate – and that she must not feel worried if she should she hear of a battle in a week or so for I very don’t expect to be in one. Give my love to all and don’t forget to answer me soon. Enclosed you will find two sketches of our Camps.
I Remain Your Brother
Direct J. E. Shaw (Brig Clerk)
Sketches of Camp
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History