10 April 1864

Washington, North Carolina
April 10, [1864]

My dear wife,

I thought I would commence a letter today so as to have it ready to send in Tuesday’s mail. I intended to have gone to church this forenoon but our inspection was not over until after meeting time so did not go.

The weather is pleasant today but we have been having a great deal of stormy weather lately, and last night there was a severe thundershower.

Afternoon. I have been to Sabbath School this afternoon with William, Charlie, and Brewster. The school was rather dry but in returning to camp we came along where the Darkies were having a singing school so we stopped and heard them. They were singing by rote and done it quite well. I wish you could have heard them. I was thinking while we were there that you would have enjoyed it.

I received two letters and a paper from you in Friday’s mail. Your letters always come two at a time since we have been here, so you may just as well put them both in one envelope or else write them so as to send at a different time from what you do now. If I knew what time the mail left Fortress Monroe, I could tell you when to send, but as I do not, cannot give you any information about it. I hope you will not think I am finding fault with you about writing for that is not my intention.

It is raining and I am on picket tonight but it may clear off before we go out, as it has been clear all day and this is only an April shower.

I sold those boots of mine to a nig the other day for $3. What do you think of me selling my wedding boots to the long heeled race? Well the boots were of no use to me and I wanted the money more than I did the boots, and if we should have to march much, I could not carry all of my things do thought I might as well sell them as give them away. Perhaps we may get rich now, as the rest of my wedding clothes are not worth much.

George Meech has just gone by. He said give them my best respects. He is looking well and so is all the boys from our place.

Monday morning. I was on picket last night. Got along without any difficulty except a shower of rain. There is now a chance for men to be transferred from the Army to the Navy if they can prove that they have been on the water two years. There is 10 or 12 going from our company. I would like to go if I can better myself but hardly know what to do. There has been an order read on dress parade saying that we can go and that our bounties will be taken from our prize money, if we get any. Some think it means the bounties which we have received and that all bounties will be stopped after our transfer into the Navy. Others think they cannot stop our bounties and State aid. The officers do not like to have the men go and so I think their word cannot be relied upon. I wish I knew what was best. There is some married men going and some of the best single men in the company have put their names down. There is nothing binding about the paper they sign as it is only an application for a chance in the Navy. Sometimes I am almost a mind to put mine down and then when we get to Baltimore or wherever they send us, back out if I find the bounties are to be stopped. I would not mind about any of the bounties except yours. I think I should like the Navy better than I do this kind of a life. At any rate, I should not have to carry a knapsack on a long march, sleep on the ground, &c.  The order says a man can be transferred to serve out the period of his enlistment so I do not think one would have any longer to stay if he went there. Perhaps Mr. Latimer could find out something about it from someone in New York. I wish you would speak to him about it and write me the result. I believe the application that our boys here signed is to go in tomorrow’s mail but I think there will be a chance afterwards if I make up my mind to go.

Jane& Julia ABailey
Thomas’ older sisters, Jane and Julia Bailey

I will write again tomorrow and perhaps I may find out something more by that time. I will try and send you a flower or something from this place in this. I wish I could have a good long talk with you about everything. My best love and a kiss from your husband, — Thomas L. Bailey

I received a letter from [my sister] Jane. ¹ She is getting along quite well but says she is weak yet. She says Frank is a terrible, mischievous boy up to everything. I answered the letter and told her I should think he must be a very smart boy and asked her if he would not be able to drop corn this spring. I gave her a good scolding for working as hard as she has, and told her now that I hoped that she would be more careful of herself. I have drawn me a pair of shoes but I do not like them very well so perhaps I may sell them to a Nig and draw another pair. I will write a little more tomorrow if I have time and anything to write about. Charlie [Gallup] has a sore finger. It is something come on it and is spreading. It is nothing very bad.

¹ Abby Jane (Bailey) Hurlbutt (1830-1906) was married to John Hurlbutt (1826-1894) in 1857. Her “mischievous boy” was Francis Edgar Hurlbutt (1860-1931).