Friday, May 6th 1864
My dear Nellie,
I suppose you will want to hear from me again by this time as my last letter was rather short. Well, yesterday afternoon I got a pass and went to Norfolk and my first landmark was the office of the new regiment where Charles Rice is detailed. He was looking over a map and did not see me until I was close to him. He was very glad to see me and invited me to stay and take supper with him but I could not as my pass was only for two and a half hours. I inquired of him where Mr. L. worked and went to look him up, found the shop where he used to work, but the foreman told me that L. was working in a sawmill at Tanner’s Creek eight miles from the city, but I learned from Rice that Mrs. L. was in the place so I went in pursuit of her. I could not find anyone that knew where she stayed so I went direct to Mrs. Randall’s. Rachel came to the door and was surprised to see me. She looks just the same as she used to. Mrs. Randall was very glad to see me and inquired after Jennie. She was downtown but soon came in looking as pleasant as ever, inquired after you &c. She said her husband was in the same gunboat and near Yorktown. She was worrying about him as usual. Mrs. Randall and Jennie thought you would want to come out here again. I told them I knew you would and I should let you if we got in to the city again. They [said] you must come and see them and gave me a very polite invitation to call again. They did not know anything about Mrs. L. so I went to her old place and found her. She is looking the same as usual and full of talk as ever. She was very glad to see me and wanted to know if you would not come out here. She said she was rather lonesome as her husband did not come home but once a week now. But Mr. L. and the superintendent of the mill was going to build a house for themselves near their mill and take their wives out there. The super’s wife came on with her. I have forgotten her name.
I saw Mr. Whitehead, our merchant, standing in his store door and stopped and shook hands with him. I did not have half as much time as I wanted but it is hard work to get passes at all. They will only let two go from a company at once and they must be old guard. I did not stop in Portsmouth to see any of our friends for I could not make calls in both places so thought I would take the farthest place first. I shall call on the folks this side of the river the first opportunity.
Capt. Latham is still under arrest and Frank Brayton has been sent back since we have been here. He is reduced to the ranks and has come down a little. I am glad of it for he made a poor orderly. I guess his wife will not feel quite as smart as she used to.
We have nothing to do but stand guard around our camp but I think we will be sent somewhere or to do something soon for all the troops are astir now. But then we are the only regiment of infantry here now so they may keep us. There is a Virginia regiment doing duty in Norfolk. They are called the 1st Virginia. They were enlisted at Point Lookout from among the rebel prisoners. They are a slim-looking set.
I have not had a letter from you since we have been here. I do not know why it is unless our mail goes some other way. I hope we shall have one today. I hope the letter which I sent from here last Tuesday will reach you. I have got a long letter written to [my brother] Robert. I wrote it in Washington. I think it is much stiller here than it used to be but then there is no troops here now of any account which may account for it. I was about sick when we got here for we had been on the transport four days and had nothing but hard bread to eat. But I think we are lucky enough now to make it up and I hope we can stay here. If we can get in to the city, I shall want you to come. But as it is now, I should not want you.
There is some talk among the officers and men about our going into the city and most of them think we are going. Tell Aunt Mary and Jane where I am and remember me to all our friends. With much love & many kisses. I am your — Thomas
I have written this out in the wind so excuse the writing. It is hot days and cool nights now.