March 21, 1862: Newport News, VA
Camp near Newport News
March 31st 1862
I wrote you a few lines on board the State of Maine, which went back to Washington on the boat and will be mailed their. After getting the boat, we marched through the ruins of Hampton, and we are camped within about two miles of Newport News. This part of Virginia is very low and swampy, one has to be very careful how they walk or they will be very apt to stick in the mud.
While we were lying of Fortress Monroe waiting for our turn to be landed, Capt. Titus (Brigade Quarter Master) Capt. Fulwood wanted to go ashore for some business, they got four of us to pull the yawl, after they got through with their business we started off and Capt. Titus said that we might as well go out and see the gun-boat Monitor, the champion of the water, a person never had read anything about it would not know what it was or what it was intended for; the Merimac left some good sized dingges in her their are two on the “cheese box” (ie—the Tower) and some four or five on the main boat above the water line, one of which struck about four inches from the top, broke the outside sheeting slightly and glanced over her.
It is said they had a fight yesterday morning (we could hear the fireing here quite plainly) and that the Monitor battered the Merimac badly, and had to retreat in a hurry. I hear some heavy firing now down about Newport New. What it is for, I have no idea. It will be a week tomorrow since the regiment has received any mail. We received three recruits for our company last evening, they are stout hearty-looking fellows. We were provided with rubber blankets the day the we left Camp Tenally which they came in very good the second day after we got here, they have eyelets holes in them so that two or three put together over a stick a comfortable tent, it continued to rain until last evening when it cleared up, the sun is now shining very bright and strong. The peach trees are all in full blossom, and strawberry plants are showing themselves in large quantities, Oysters are also very plenty in the bay and creeks about, but it is almost impossible to get a pass, some of our men were down yesterday and got a half-bushel of very fine ones, All the houses about here that are occupied have white flags flying; their are some houses close by here on the bay have been partly destroyed and left, you can see (so I have been told) the remains some splendid furniture and pianos in almost all of them. The burning of Hampton by the rebels was as well done as it could possibly be, their is but one small frame house and part of another left, how it came that they were not taken off with the it almost is hard to tell, it has been a very pretty town in its day.
We have inspection twice a day to see that the men keep their guns in order. I think we are destined be at the taking of Norfolk, another division or Corps will take Yorktown at the same time. Our dinner is ready, boiled we will be served up in style with a few pieces of hard bread.
In haste, we are all well
Co. G. Rowley’s Reg.
Pecks Brigade, Couch’s Division
Old Point Comfort Va.