Folly Island, S. C.
April 16th 1864
My dear Kate,
Orders have come to embark as soon as the vessels are here and as they may arrive tonight and we go on board tomorrow morning, I am very busy. You see the breaking up a camp where one has been for nearly ten months is quite an event and more comes on my shoulders than would otherwise so. Still I must not fail in my first pleasant duty but post you at once of my movements.
We are destined for Fortress Monroe probably, though we may land at Newport News or some other near point and if we get away as promptly as we should, I shall be there before this reaches you. General [Quincy] Gillmore goes in command of the 10th Army Corps. General Terry commands a Division and my battery is attached to his Division. He has some of the best troops of the Corps and I am glad to be under him.
Where we shall rendezvous and how soon we may be in active service I cannot say but imagine it will be before many weeks. How delightful it would be if it were possible and easy for you to come within my reach before I go where balls fly thick but I cannot now ask or advise anything of the kind till I know more. I may be able to say when we reach Fortress Monroe. You see I have no idea I can get leave of absence as I at one time thought.
I am happy at the change to active service, though well aware of the dangers and hardships which are inevitable but I beg you will not allow anticipations of evil to distress you. Look upon the bright side and remember my dearest Kate, that the same kind Father who has protected me thus far can just as easily ward off far greater dangers.
I wrote you from the Head this week by the Fulton. I returned the next day and found the valuable box that Mrs. Hawley had brought. It gave me very great pleasure as anything from you gives me, and the contents was equally pleasureable to my physical senses. Allow me to assure you that money cannot buy such luxuries even on Folly Island and “pampered Minion” though I am & can still enjoy the delicate aroma of really good tea and such delicious pickles, jelly, figs, and cake &c. I held council of war and had them discussed and all the officers coincided in my views of the subject.
The intellectual food I have not had the time to indulge in but shall try to hold on to it long enough to get it into my head before I am forced to leave behind all surplus baggage. Thank your Mama for the tea and book.
The three cornered note looked at first like a gigantic countersign and sure enough it does contain one name that will open my heart to anything.
I found also your nice long letter which had come while I was at the Head. I am sorry that you received no letter but I have already told you the reason that the Arago sailed a day too early.
Mrs. Hawley did tell me of her impertinent question and of your answer. Of course I knew my Kate too well to regard it as anything more than a passing joke. I shall go home to look after you though at the first opportunity [ ] that dangerous young Juniors are making their appearance. I think I should have enjoyed the concert & Junior Exhibition to remind me of younger days.
I fully appreciate how embarrassing it may have been for you in meeting my Mother and brothers but am very glad that an acquaintance has been commenced. My Mother will like you I am entirely sure when she knows you better and I don’t know but she does now, as I have not heard from her since the visit. She cannot help it of course.
Thank you my darling for your efforts to please her. Be your own self and she will soon learn to think as I do. It made me savage for awhile to think that I should be away here while such a family council was being held but I am calmer now.
I am very sorry to hear that your Mother’s health continues so delicate. Warm climates are very delightful in cold winter time but on general principles, I doubt if they are the thing to restore vigor and health—too debilitating, I think. A clear uniform temperature unless too cold would seem to be more invigorating. Of course I cannot advise but please don’t talk of Europe just yet. During the hot sultry days of the past two summers, how like a paradise the White Mountains seemed to my imagination. I had an intense longing for the pure exhilarating air and delicious water of the hills.
If this letter is disjointed it is not surprising for I have been interrupted every five minutes since I commenced and must cut it short now for the mail.
The paymaster has this morning paid us a visit and as one result, I send enclosed a draft of $24 for the present for Mrs. Newton, you know. By the way, I have just received a note from her thanking &c. So it is received all safely.
Don’t threaten to go into any convent. If you do, I’ll write you oftener and inflict that punishment on you. Goodbye, my dear Kate, for the present. Every yours, — Alfred
Sign your name on the back of the check and send it to any bank in New Haven.