March 1864 Letters
The Regiment arrives at Jacksonville, Fla., and the soldiers are happy to be in a place that is healthier, and has good water. Robert tells of the Union Army treatment of Negro soldiers of the 54th or 55th Mass Colored Regiments.
Jacksonville Fla. Mar 2d 1864
After so long a time I will write you a few lines to let you know how & where I am. You probably have or will hear as this reaches you of our leaving Folly; we left there the 23d Feb reached here the 25th had a pleasant trip. Well here we are at Jacksonville doing nothing but picket fatigue & guard duty. Jacksonville is on the St. Johns river about 25 miles from its mouth it has the appearance of once being a very thriving & business town but the principle buildings have been burnt so that now it looks very dilapidated some citizens are in it. There has been no fighting here since we arrived & I donít think there is much show for it now. I think it will be another Suffolk affair, fortify &c.. I cannot tell how many troops there is here. Yesterday Gen Gilmore reviewed the troops here I never have seen the men in better spirits than since we started from Folly Island. they all feel tiptop. As for myself I like this place much better than Folly here we get excellent water & they say it is as healthy a place as there is in the union, it is warm but not much different from Folly. Peach & cherry trees are in blossom it seems queer to see tree in blossom the 25th Feb. Jim is all right he was detailed for provost guard this morning I guess he has got a good place. All of the boys from around our part are well. The negroes have to carry themselves straight here or stretch hemp a few days before we came here 3 were hung for meddling with a white woman day before yesterday one was shot for refusing to do duty & threats to kill they all belonged to the 55th (or 54) mass colored Col Drake is acting Brigadier he has command of our brigade, Gen Foster has command of a division. In all probability he will be promoted to Major & Drake to Brigadier general we all are sorry to lose Col Drake for he is a noble officer. Any amount of fish is caught out of the river here & large ones too. Oranges are quite plenty here they grow lime & whatever goods &c.. are as cheap here as at Folly Jim & I have not give up all hopes of the firkin yet we think the express will follow the regt. the mail will come here nearly as often as at Folly Island.
You will of course hear the details of the late fight near hear here by the way of the papers I guess it was a poorly managed fight. Gen Seymour probably was a little excited. Well I will bring this to a close as I am on guard & my relief goes on soon. I will write again in a few days & etc. Write often. My best respects to all. Good bye
A loving son
Robt L. Coe
Since writing the mail has come I got a letter & paper from you & a letter from Chas Fenton.
Jacksonville Fla Mar. 13th 1864
It is with pleasure that I seat myself again for the purpose of communicating with you by the way of pencil & paper. This Mar. day finds R L Coe all right. well & tough as a buck never enjoyed myself better. Your acquaintances here are all well. This is a very healthy climate I think it the healthiest of any I ever was in without any exception. The weather is some warm now but we do not notice it much. The sun has tanned the boys so that we might properly be termed species of the dark race the recruits when they first get here looked as though they had been caged but now there is is a vast difference in their complexions by the way our 25 recruits are getting along well they have commenced the drill which they learn exceedingly fast. To all appearances they will make good soldiers. About an hour ago an order came for 100 men of our regt to prepare with light marching orders for Ė well I donít know where but probably for a scout they are not going far as they took no rations.
We are having easy times here nothing to do except picket & guard which does not come often. Everything is quiet here & it looks to me that the commanding general simply means to hold the place for the present. Citizen families are coming inside our lines in large numbers; they say that if it hadnít been for the Negro troops that our forces would meet with but little resistance in marching to Lake City but the sight of the negro soldiers roused them and they fought desparately. The blacks make good soldiers they fight like demons Yesterday we had a skirmish drill, (the whole regt), in the woods we played Indian on the big plain. It would been fun for you to see us deploy through the woods & c. The last papers has churning news from the Potomac Army it appears that Richmond is likely to be sacked by Yankee soldiers. God grant that our army may be successful this time & the nest of treason be broken up. We have preaching here every sabath by the chaplain also at the church in town it is a large church & is crowded every time. There is a report again that we are going back to Folly but I hope not.
Well I have written all I know and will stop. The mail came last Friday but received none. My love to all. Write often
Robt L. Coe
Jacksonville Fla. Mar 20th 1864
Once more I seat myself pen in hand to address you a few brief lines to inform you of your sons whereabouts & c. To-day finds me in the very best of health, never better, & fat enough to kill The whole regt is in the best health they ever have been. This is most an excellent climate e puse athmosphere & good water I believe it the healthiest place I ever was in Jim & the other guards that I spoke in my last have come back to the regt. Yours of the 3d came to hand in due time I was much pleased to hear from you & to know that we can hear from one another as often. You spoke about writing in another letter that Dick had cut him I have never recd that letter. Where is Dick & O. Munger The weather is not very warm here the nights are very cold. There is not news of consequence to write. Yesterday I hear that our advance had a brush with some rebl scouts & drove them. Col Drake has command of the Division now (acting Major General) Gen Foster has been ordered to Hilton Head. Major Smith has command of the 112th we are going through a course of sprouts now, 3 hours skirmish drill in the woods every afternoon I believe that there would be just so much drilling if one was in the service 20 yrs for me it is the most disagreeable part of a soldiers life. We have had 33 recruits come to the regt already we are looking for Col Carpenter & I hear various rumors about Kilpatricks raid but have not read the official yet I suppose though that it was a successful thing. I guess the firkin has gone up or somewhere else I think we never will hear anything about it. Well it is dinner time & there is nothing to write & I will close. For dinner to day we have rice soup, coffee, bread butter & c. the butter we buy.
Give my love to all inquiring friends reserving a sufficient quantity for your humble selves. Write often.
Robt L. Coe
Jacksonville Fla Mar 27th 1864
This being Sunday morning & inspection through with I take the opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know how I am. Well this 27th day of March finds R.L. Coe in the best of health, never better & fleshier that ever before. All the boys are in the best of health & spirits it is a time of general good health among the troops here now. I heard from Geo Eddy the other day he was getting quite well so that he worked in the dining room some, the fellow that told me said Geo would be back to the regt soon. The weather remains cool with now & then a shower to cleanse the atmosphere & lay the dust. There is nothing going on here now, no advantage nor no signs of any though I hear that day before yesterday a scouting party went out & encountered a few guerillas killed 10 & lost 2. They are very strict in this department court martial a man for merely nothing one or two in our regt are waiting for trial one for refusing to obey orders & insulting language to the officer of the day. Another for going to sleep while on post, this not being the first offense of the kind it will go hard with him. You know the man though he did not live near there. I will not mention his name as I do not believe in tale telling & it will reach them soon enough. We are living well here have a plenty & good enough for soldiers. Oranges grow here in abundance they are not very good they are too sour they are very large. Plenty of fish are caught in the river by the boys weighing from Ĺ to 6 lbs. This is by all odds the best place that we have been in I would be willing to stay here the remainder of my time. I have not had a paper (late) for some time & consequently know but little what is going on abroad. The mail came yesterday but brought me nothing I think it not a regular mail & shall look for a letter from you in a few days. I write to often to you that I cannot write a very lengthly letter each time & hope you will excuse Write often.
Hoping these few lines will find you all in good health I close.
A loving son.
Robt L. Coe
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