Sailor describes naval attack & death of his sister in a letter from New Orleans
June 22, 1862
Eugene Hartford was 21 years old when this was written.
It was written 158 years, 15 days ago.
It was a Sunday.
New Orleans, June 22, “62
I received your letter with pleasure, it was one of the best letters I have had since I have been away this time. I do not mean to say that there are any that are not good, but some are better than others. It was some gratification to me to have Mother write a few lines. It was, take it altogether, the best letter I have had from home, since I have been away, and it was the second one since our arrival at this city. I wrote to you just before we made the attack upon the Forts and after our arrival here. In the letter I merely informed you of my good fortune in escaping, being wounded, or killed. The latter, I expected would be my fate. I did not think it could be otherwise at the time we were under the fire of the forts, but there was a higher power that interfered in our behalf. It was a miraculous escape and cannot be called anything else according to my opinion of the matter. I hope it will never be my lot to undergo any similar fighting again. All the money there is in this place would not hire nor tempt me to go through the same again. And were it to be done over again under the same circumstances, I should not hesitate an instant about going. I do not think there will be any more such work to do during this war. It seems as though McClellan had made one more good move at “Richmond”. The papers seem to say here that it will terminate the war. We have not yet got a full account of the battle.
I have not had any liberty yet, but hope we shall soon go where we can have a run on shore. It is now thirteen months since the most of us had an hour's liberty and it is getting to be a tough one for us. But enough of this for the present. I hope you will make it convenient to write often for it seems to me as I had the worst of in writing letters. I know that since I have been in this ship, I have written two, and sometimes more, to every one that I have received from my friends at home. I must close this to you. I am going to write a few lines to Mother on the remainder of this sheet.
From your aff. Son,
It is very pleasing to me to have you write me a letter every time that you can make it convenient, and it could never be more gratifying to me than at the present time, having no Sister now to write letters to. It appears very strange and seems to me as though it was not the case. I very often think about getting a letter from her and then the second thought comes. It tells me I am never to receive any more kind letters from her. You cannot imagine my feelings on the night I received Father's letter containing the sad news of Hattie's death. It was in the evening that I got it. I went to the light to read it supposing that I should hear from Hattie in that letter, never for an instant dreaming that I should lose her by that spell of sickness. There were several standing around reading their letters. I opened mine and read but three lines. I could not read anymore at that time. I knew by the commencement of the letter the sad news it contained. But I earnestly hope that all of our afflictions are for our benefit. I am thankful to you for remembering my favorite name, when you were naming my little sister. You spoke of retaining Hattie's bible for me. I hope you will do so and it will be very gratifying to me and all that would be appropriate for me to keep. Give my love to Freddie and say to him that I should be very glad to see him but it will be doubtful I shall come to see him this year or not to next. You can give the baby an extra kiss from me. I must close for this time. I hope that I shall hear from you again soon.
From your aff. Son
S. E. Hartford