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Holmes Brigade, USV, Inc.
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As I have written you several times when I have been Officer of the Day I will try to explain what the term means. In every Regiment on duty, or at a post (we are doing duty at a post,) there is detailed a certain number of men to do guard duty - with them is also detailed an officer of the guard who is generally a Lieutenant who has immediate charge of the guard and also an "Officer of the Day" who is generally a Captain and under whose instructions the Officer of the Guard acts. The Officer of the Day from our Regiment is obliged to come down into the village and remain on duty twenty four hours. He wears his sash. Instead of passing his sash twice around his body he passes it across the breast, over the right shoulder and once around his body. He also while on duty always his sword. My photograph I sent you was taken while on duty as officer of the day. While on duty he has general supervision of almost everything in the camp or post where he is on duty. Sis, the camp is kept clean, arrests all drunk or disorderly soldiers and in the village here also all drunk or disorderly citizens. In the morning he goes to headquarters and receives his instructions from the commanding officer and gives them to his guard. One day while on duty here I arrested and put in the guard house some twelve disorderly soldiers & citizens. Soldiers without passes are also liable to be arrested & sent to camp or guard house. It has been pretty quite to day. My guard have made but three or four arrests.
It is a pretty rough place here. There are some Kansas troops here and some of them are but little better than bushwhackers. Every few days somebody gets shot or shot at. Almost every one wears one or two revolvers and where some are accustomed to using them too frequently. It seemed a little odd at first to wear a sword and revolver but I soon got used to it. Fort Scott is rather a pleasant little village of about fifteen hundred or two thousand inhabitants. There are a few citizens here who do a legitimate business, a few officers who are permanently stationed here, the balance of the population is made up of soldiers, speculators, gamblers, thieves, prostitutes and rebel refugees all trying to rob the government and each other. Quite a number live in tents in the suburbs of the village. It is a great town for niggers and mules. They have the largest and finest mules here I ever saw. The niggers are as usual lazy and shiftless and dirty. I have got a nigger for a servant. He is the ugliest looking nigger I ever saw.
The Government is building quite extensive fortifications here. About two hundred of our Reg't work on them every forenoon; in the afternoon we drill. Years ago Gen'l Scott built a fort here and some dozen buildings for the use of troops; which are still here. It was here Gen'l Taylor fitted out his army and marched with it to Mexico at the time we had war with Mexico taking with him all his ammunition & supplies in wagons. They are having quite a dance in the dining room of the hotel here to night. As near as I can learn it is quite a select and aristocratic affair. I had an invitation to join the party but I thought I would rather sit down and write this poor gossipy letter. The leader of the band is a son of the Mr. Buttrick who played for us last winter. He belongs to the 3rd Cavalry & plays in the brass band here at the post. Those were pleasant parties last winter wer'nt they Sarah. How vividly the music to night recalls old scenes and recollections even back to the time when we went to dancing school together and first learned to love each other. I wonder darling when we shall dance together again.
Ah well, I must stop
writing in this strain or I shall feel blue, and I only intended to write you a sort of military
letter. Well Sis I have got along so far in
the army without drinking any whiskey and I think the most of our officers do not drink. I do not keep any in my tent so I am not troubled
with whiskey acquaintances. The health of our
Reg't is good. I think we have not more than
a dozen sick in the Reg't. I have not had any
more chills yet, and feel pretty well to day. I
have not received any letters yet since yours of April 9th and yet you must have written
since then. How is your health. Be sure and take good care of your health. How much it would grieve me to hear you were sick. Have you entirely recovered from your sickness of
last spring. I have just looked at my watch
and it is one minute after twelve. The
dancing party is breaking up and I must close. I
suppose you and Lill are sleeping quietly in our little bed room. I would like to just step in for one moment as you
lie quietly sleeping and kiss you both. I
well send you each a kiss in this letter and you may give Lill the kiss papa sent her and
I will kiss her mother as I have often done before in imagination hoping & waiting to
kiss her again in reality. Good night my
darling wife. Do not forget to write to