This letter was written by Andrew Mussel (1846-Aft1892) who enlisted in Co. G, 5th US Artillery in 1862 at the age of 16 (though he claimed to be 18). Andrew was the son of Christian Mussel (1819-1878_ and Mary McAllister (1828-1902) of Preston, New London, Connecticut. He mentions his younger brother Ronald Mussel (1848-1909) in the letter.
Battery G remained at Fort Hamilton, N. Y., after its organization till December 18, 1862, when it proceeded south by sea under sealed orders, which being opened while off Mobile, disclosed its destination to be New Orleans, La. The officers were Captain Richard Arnold, 1st Lieut. J. B. Rawles and 2d Lieut. E. R. Craft. Captain Arnold was made Chief of Artillery, Department of the Gulf, upon reaching New Orleans, and soon after, received a commission as brigadier general of volunteers. He did not again serve with the regiment till some time in 1866, when he assumed command of this same battery at Little Rock, Ark.
In March 1863, Battery G moved to Baton Rouge and then participated in the campaign and siege of Port Hudson during the spring and summer of 1863, culminating in the surrender of that stronghold. After the first assault at Port Hudson a second was tried, both of which the artillery supported and in which our battery was hotly engaged. Regular approaches were then resorted to; Battery G moved up into an earthwork on the line of investment, where it was almost always under fire, and from which more or less firing continued till the surrender, July 8. It remained in camp at Port Hudson, assisting in rebuilding the fortifications and on other active duty, until the fall, when it returned to New Orleans and there wintered.
New Orleans [Louisiana]
February 3rd 1863
I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well, hoping this will find you the same.
We have easy times of it 3 hours a day and then clean our wet and muddy horses. Good soft baker’s bread, fresh meat and potatoes 3 times a week, coffee in the morning and tea at night, Tea is $4 a pound and meat 40 cents a pound. The cheapest kind of boots are $4 and $5 per pair. There are as many splendid buildings here as ever I saw. The people have a pale, sickly look. There are more flies here than in any place I ever was in.
The secesh set buildings afire every night. There was four persons burnt alive in one night.
Give my love to grandmother. Tell me what father and Ronald are a doing. Tell Anna and Lizzy to be good girls, Tell Albert Spencer and Tom Clark to write to me. There is lots of pretty girls here. Tell him I wished he was here. There is fun here. We have mounted posses and race all around the city.
My love to all the girls. No more at present. Your son, — Andrew Mussel