Folly Island S.C. Sept. 7 1863
Dear parents & friends
I will take my pen or pencil in hand to write you a few lines to let you know how I prosper. Monday Sept 7th finds your son on Folly Island & in good health & furthermore in good spirits. I recd a letter from you of the 23 last Friday & you may guess that it was with pleasure that I recd it. I also got one from C. Fenton. I was surprised to hear that Ben was drafted I supposed that he was …..I hope …. Clear for I don’t think he could endure a soldiers life we have good news this morning from the front: Forts Wagner & Gregg are ours so the rebs have no longer a foothold on Morris Island, these forts were charged on late last night. By the taking of Wagner we have got one of the strongest forts in the rebel possession. Where Wagner is, once was nothing but a great sandbank & in fact is nothing but that now, being dug out in the center (forming the fort) so that it is impossible to knock it to pieces. There has been some of the greatest engineering around this fort that has been during the war Gen Gilmore is said to be one of the greatest engineers we have in the service. Gregg is another sand fort at the extremity of the island & nearly on a line from Wagner to Sumpter. Now that we have Wagner the road to Charleston looks brighter Yesterday we was up to the front, got in last night about 11 o’clock Bird I wish you was here I would like to take you up to the front 24 hrs there is where you would learn to make polite bows & climb for your hole it is fun sometimes & sometimes it isn’t so funny. In the night it makes a splendid looking fireworks. The col. Commanding there tried to get our brigade to charge Wagner last night; but Col Drake had command of the brigade & he thought it not best as there is only one regt in the brigade that ever did such a thing. Our regt has been one of the lucky regts so far have not had a man killed here yet while most other regts have. Four men have died since we came on the island. We do not have much idle time here & that we do not want if we can end the rebellion soon. When we get Charleston (and surely we shall) I think the rebellion will be nearly used up; the each & every one are ready & anxious to bring the war to a speedy termination if possible. I hear it rumored the 49 N.Y.V. & 9 cav are coming to Charleston. I have not recd the letters you spoke about. I hope they may come yet especially Emmas for I want the picture.
There is something strange about Ros that the capt cannot learn anything about what become of him. I hope he will yet be heard from & alive. I have just recd a daily paper for the first time & it seems some like old times to be privileged to read a paper. it was of the 1st inst. When you write tell me where the boys drafted from our part are sent. I must bring this to a close. Write soon with all the news.
My love to all.
Robt L. Coe
Folly Island S.C. Sept 18th 1863
Once more I seat myself for the purpose of informing you of your sons condition. Sept 18th finds me well & all right & I do hope this will find you the same. The boys from our part are usually well. There is considerable sickness in camp but nothing that can be considered dangerous I have not recd but one letter from you since here & can not imagine the cause unless they are delayed at some place. Jim gets none from the Creek either; we have about made up our mind not to write any more until we get an answer but I thought I would write this & trust in good luck of having one in @ few day. To day is mail day & I may get one yet.
I have not much news to write you for you must hear by the papers the most that transpires around here. Of course before this time you have heard of the taking of forts Wagner & Gregg. Just one year from the day we was mustered into the service four co’s of our regt lay in Ft Wagner. It is one of the strongest built forts I ever saw & the only reason I can see that the rebs could have in leaving was that they was afraid of being undermined & being eat up by lice & fleas; it is the worst place for the fleas I ever saw the night we was in there I could no more sleep than I could on a bed of nettles.
Our brigade is having busy times now; we will go up to the front one day come back & get one nights rest & then one picket I think we do more than really belongs to us. For instance one week ago to day, four co’s (the only ones then in came) went to the front & got back Saturday night about 11 o’clock had the remainder of that night & the next to rest then 2 co’s H & A went on picket & the same day the brigade had to go to the front again. If we (H & A) had to stay on picket 2 days the last night was the worst night I ever was on picket. the rain poured right down We have had one night sleep & know not whether we shall get to-nights or not but probably shall. But this is the decree of a soldier he knows not one minute where he will be the next. I for one am willing to bear these hardships for the sake of putting this rebellion down in a reasonable time. You at home I presume think that the movements here are slow but I tell you it takes some time to take a place like this. I use to think (when at home) that things might be pushed ahead faster but I know now something about it. Time has got to be taken & if any one thinks different let him come & try it. I will admit that there is times & places where things might be pushed ahead more vigorously but not in sieges. There are 8 from the regt going home on furlough This does not include sick furloughs, one from this co is going. Sergt. Braistard of co. D is going, he will tell you all about affairs here. Father I wish you would trade my old watch, if you look for one that has cases & if you have not the old one get a cheap hunter cased watch worth about 10 dollars an old one will do as well as new if a good timer. I have been in want of a watch some time. Send it by Braistard if he will bring & if not you need not send one for probably it would never reach here. We have not been payed off yet but expect to soon
Tell Emma that I should think she might write her brother a letter once in a while. I must bring this to a close for I have got to wash a shirt & 2 pr of socks yet to night. When you write tell me all about your crops & the general news. Do not get discouraged about the war for I think we shall be at home to eat sugar next spring. Write often. My respects to all inquiring friends.
Robt L Coe
Block Island S.C. Sept 28 1863
Having one day to myself I thought that I would take a few moments in writing I should some days ago but we have been very busy & more than that I left my writing materials on Folly Island. I recd 2 letters from you the 19th one was of Aug 31st the other Sept 7 I was some surprised to hear that you had recd none of my letters for I have wrote one every week since here. Last night I recd a letter that Emma wrote to Wm Skellie it was of the 14 she said that you had not heard from me then I think it strange. Well now I will tell you where we are 9 co of the 112 is on Block Island almost 5 miles from Folly & 1 ½ from the rebel batteries on James Island in plain sight of all their works & with a glass can plainly see what they are at. We came here the 21 with orders to stay 10 days. Once in a while the rebs take to shelling us or as the boys say “sending over Beauregard dispatches” but one has been hurt yet. Last Saturday George Thompson of our co. had just come in from picket & was sitting on a box when a mortar shell was sent over bursting over head one of the pieces came down tearing his left arm to pieces & right leg just below the knee also causing a serious flesh wound in the left leg. Surgeon Mead dressed the wound as soon as possible & sent him to the Post Hospital on Morris I. His arm & leg were amputated but he died soon after the amputation he lived about 5 hours. He leaves a wife in Chautauqua. I understand that all amputation has to be done by the Medical Director by his orders at the Post Hospital on Morris. About Ben Fritts I had not heard any thing about his desertion until I read your letter. Probably the way the report started was this, when the right army of the regt left Portsmouth Ben & 2 others by some means got left & did not come tell the remainder of the regt did when they got here the other boys said they would have to go to the front 40 days & Ben joking I suppose said if he did get sent to the front U. Sam wouldn’t have to furnish any more rations for him. You wished to know about the Greek fire I will tell you. What is called the “Greek Fire” is principally a composition of phosphorous dissolved in bisulphide of carbon this is put in the shell (generally percussion shell) & when the shell explodes it ignites & throws the fire in every direction burning every thing combustible also it is impossible to extinguish the fire & more than this the bisulphide of carbon causes such a smell that it is almost impossible to get near the fire.
Ben Whitney has got back from the hospital he looks rugged again. There is not much going on now in the department but I think for the next 2 weeks there will be a great change. We get no papers here & therefore do not hear much news from abroad. We hear that Burnside & Rosencrans are or have been doing a good thing in taking Chattanoga Knoxville & Kingston.
Everything now looks as if the war would terminate by spring & some thinks much sooner but I don’t if we can bring it to an end by spring I will be satisfied. You did not say whether Ed was with his regt or in the hospital yet. I spoke my last about furloughs the boys have not got them yet & probably will not.
We expect our pay this week! When you write tell me all the news & every thing you can think of Hoping to hear from you soon I remain as ever your affectionate son.
Robt L. Coe
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