This letter was written by 17 year-old George W. Leavitt (1845-1900) of Hampton, New Hampshire. George enlisted on 16 September 1862 into Co. I, 15th New Hampshire Volunteers and mustered out with the regiment on 13 August 1863 after nine months service.
George was the son of master carpenter David Marston Leavitt (1810-1870) and his wife, Clarissa Towle (1812-1868), of Hampton, Rockingham county, New Hampshire.
Camp Parapet, 15th Reg. N. H. Vols.
[Saturday] February 7, 1863
As I am not on duty today, I thought that I would drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope that this will find you the same. There is quite an excitement here today. The rebels attacked a little force of our about five miles from here. ¹ We expect to be called for every minute. Our pickets shot one of the Rebel pickets last night. He tried to run our guard but he did not make out much.
We are encamped five miles above New Orleans on the bank of the Mississippi river. It is where Beauregard built a large fortification. It is a very low sunken hole. I hope we shall get out of this damned place pretty soon. The men are dying off at a fearful rate. John D. Lamprey is very sick. He has been in the hospital two weeks. If he don’t get help pretty quick, you never will see him again. ²
All of the boys are well. I have not been sick a day since I have been out here. We ain’t got only four months longer to stay and when we get home, we shall keep there. You won’t catch us out in this damn hole again.
God, John, you ought to see the damn niggers. There is three thousand of them Black devils here. We have to do all the work while they sit and look at us.
We are in Neal Dow’s Brigade. He is from Portland, Maine. This regiment is called the best that there is in this brigade. The boys have all gone out on picket duty today. I have to bring this to a close now for the bugle calls me away. Please answer this as soon as you get it. So goodbye.
From G. W. Leavitt
Direct your letters to Geo. W. Leavitt, Co. I, 15th N. H. Vols., Banks Expedition, New Orleans, La.
Don’t let John Lamprey’s folks know that [he] is sick.
¹ Charles McGregor’s regimental history describes this incident as a “skirmish with rebel guerrillas within six miles; could hear the firing.” [p. 230]
² 19 year-old John D. Lamrey recovered from his illness only to be killed in action in the fighting at Port Hudson on 27 May 1863. His body was buried on the battlefield but later removed to the Port Hudson National Military Cemetery.