Sailor writes from Steamer Isaac Smith about hunting down AWOL sailors


Date Written

Oct. 26, 1862

History Referenced

Whitman Chase was 31 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Mehitable Doane Kelley Chase, was 26 when it was received.

Whitman Chase died 47 years, 2 months, 27 days after writing this.
It was written 160 years, 11 months, 7 days ago.
It was a Sunday.

Stono Inlet
Steamer Isaac Smith
October 26, 1862

Dear Wife,

Again the mail bag is open and we shall have an opportunity to send letters. While I am writing, the steamer is going down the river where we went up this afternoon. A man ran away the other day & we came up to find him.

Yesterday I took a party of 7 men all armed & went in search of him, started at daylight & got back at 3 o’clock. Went about 10 miles. Had to ford a river, water up to my chin. Carried my clothes, cutlass, & pistol on my head. Went to one house where the Secesh had lived but they had gone & left home & all its comforts. The house was ransacked & looked desolate. Three or four old n----rs were left whose days of usefulness were past. They made us some dinner of boiled hominy & milk & we started to return.

You may rest assured these are not the pleasantest excursions in the world, what with trudging 10 or 12 miles through the sand, dodging through briars & brush, in some places being obliged to crawl on hands & knees through palmettos & thorns that pierce your flesh at every movement, to be bit by mosquitoes & sand flies till your skin is like a red striped stocking, with rattlesnakes coiled on boughs above your head with fangs exposed & forked tongue darting venom till every vibration springs a rattle in its tail, and last though not least, the comfortable reflection that some rebel rifle may be then aimed at your breast & I think it may be considered not altogether pleasant.

Sunday, October 26th, 5 o’clock. The mail steamer is in sight & so I will not finish this until the boat returns that has gone to her. How anxiously I look for a letter & how disappointed will I feel if there is none for me as before. I had the letters to read over to the ships company & how my heart throbbed as each & every letter was taken from the bag & none for me. I expect I shall have these to read as it will be my watch.

For several nights I have dreamed of you & once you were sick. I have belonged to the Navy two months yesterday & I like it all but being away from my family. We have every comfort we can ask, good fare & good servants and it’s gratifying to feel that we are doing our duty to our country. I have had no trouble with anyone but one officer & the Capt. says if anything of the kind occurs again, to report it to him. I think he is the best Capt. in the Navy & the best man I ever knew, faithful to his government & true to himself; treats all with courtesy but reprimands when he has cause. I feel satisfied to trust him with my life.

Monday. The mail steamer yesterday had no mail for us but the tender schooner lying here will go to Port Royal in a day or two & bring the mail for us & then I hope to have a letter. This morning it was very cold, wind N.W. & blowing fresh. Write about once a week & direct your letter:

W. Chase A.E.
Str. Isaac Smith
So. Atlantic Blockading Squadron

I have time to write but little. You know that advertisement in the paper about Naval Officers? I cut it out & left it in your wallet. Will you please send it to me in a letter the first opportunity? If you have not got it, you will find me in the papers of July or August.

Yours truly,
Whitman Chase

Scans of Letter