This letter was written by Thomas Rogers Higgins (1841-1922), the son of Solomon Higgins (1816-1883) and Olive L. Smith Sparrow (1819-1890) of Orleans, Barnstable county, Massachusetts. Thomas enlisted as a private in Co. E, 43rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in October 1862. He mustered out 9 months later on 30 July 1863 at Readville, Massachusetts.
Thomas wrote the letter to his sister, Lucinda Linnell (Higgins) Berry (1843-1929), the wife of Andrew Campbell Berry (1839-1925).
Thomas appears on the 1890 Veterans Census Schedule Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Civil War pension records show Thomas R. Higgins received an invalid’s pension (Application # 412616 & Certificate # 1089351) on November 16,1880 for his service as noted above. His wife Abbie Higgins received a widows pension May 1,1922. (Application # 1188789 & Certificate # 912312)
New Bern, North Carolina
Sunday evening, April 20, 1863
Dear Sister Lucinda,
I received yours of the 20th ult. afternoon, its being the second that I have received from you since I have written to you, but you must not blame me for not answering your other before, for after I had received it I had to go off before I could answer it and were gone between 7 & 8 days, and the same day that I arrived in camp I received the second letter from you but I must try and write considerable of a letter this time to pay for both. But I can only commence tonight for it is almost taps now and as soon as it is taps, we have to put out the lights so I shall have to hurry and write what little I can before taps.
Well, I will try and tell you a little of what has transpired since I wrote you last. I think that I was in the hospital when I wrote to you. Well I have got out of the hospital and have been knocking around a little. First I went on guard one day, then the Regiment had to go off. They started for Little Washington by land under General Spinola and he marched them about half to death for he gave them a forced march and used them up so that when they had to start off on another expedition, we had over 40 left in our company. Then after they had been gone from camp two days, they sent back to camp for all to come that could walk to Newbern so they got about 40 from the whole regiment, and they went on to Little Washington to join the regiment. But before they got where they were, the regiment turned back and come to camp where they remained 24 hours. Then we had to start off again. This time I started with them and went through. It is about time for taps so I must close for the night.
Monday morning, 27th. Well I shall have to tell you what little I can and let the rest go for this time for the orders came during the night for us to start off this morning with 3 days rations and 100 rounds of ammunition so I will try and go on with my story a little farther.
As I told you last night that I went with the regiment on the last tramp to Washington &c. We left Newbern or rather Camp Rogers about 3 in the afternoon and went over to Newbern and lay around there waiting for the steamer to get ready. At last we got on board and between the hours of 8 and 9, we left for Washington where we arrived the next day after getting on to the spiles that the rebels had driven in the river a number of times. The city has got breastworks all around it, excepting where the river runs by. These breastworks are bombproof. We lived in these breastworks six days and having nothing to do, we were the nearest to free men that we have ever been since we have belonged to the regiment but we enjoyed ourselves very well. The night before we left, we had a splendid sight. It was a large house on a hill about a mile distance. Someone set it on fire and it was a very still night and it burned very beautifully—going ahead of the fireworks on Boston Common on the Fourth of July, and that was scarcely burned before there was another set on fire and burned &c.
Well, as my time for writing is short this morning, I shall have to hurry away and start for home again. We went on board of the steamer Long Island and about 8 o’clock we left for Newbern where we arrived about 1 in the morning and arrived in camp about 3 in the morning where we have been for 48 hours and at 10 o’clock today we are to be at the depot in Newbern to take the cars for somewhere, I cannot tell where or for what. I thought that they would let us rest a little after having so long time for traveling, but it seems that we cannot have any rest, but must go along &c. Well, I must try and close for it is almost breakfast time and then I must get ready to start off. So I must close by wishing good day in the morning, hoping to hear from you, I remain your ever affectionate brother, — Thomas R. Higgins
To Lucinda L. Berry
P. S. Please write home that we are a going off again for a time. So good morning. — T. R. H.