Vermont, Port Royal
June 7, 1863
My Dear Sister
I have been intending to write you ever since your were so prompt in sending me the slip from the Balt. American about Charleston, to thank you for that little attention, and to say that I was extremely gratified that the Fultonıs lying tirade had made you mad, as it should have done. But tho I have ever so many reasons which I might give for not fulfilling this intention, not one of them is good enough to excuse me entirely, and so I wonıt trouble you with this and will only say that I have been very much occupied, and that I must trust to your kindness to excuse the delay. Should you favor me again, I shall not so remiss I hope another time
I have had a letter from Rebecca dated on the 21st in which she tells me she has heard from Jno. Forney that Mr. Stanton that she could go in the Arago on her next trip (that is this one) and so she was in better spirits and expecting to come, in which expectation I trust she has not been disappointed. I am therefore making ready & will look for her in earnest on Tuesday or Wednesday when she will be more welcome than the flowers of May.
The weather is just growing warm enough for white clothes on Shipboard. Today we have had muster with all hands in their summer reg. I have had to have new unmentionables constructed, ad those which I have worn for six years, now begin to meet around me. While at Honolulu I judged pretty much of my condition by my weight, and was continually trying the scales as the test as they were convenient in Captain Jonaıs(?) home. I have had a pair put up in the cabin of the Hague (?) and I weight ourselves before & after meals, and our visitors at any time. You will all remember this when Harry & Kate came up to the Kensington Depot to meet us when we were home. They brought in the carriage the little camp stool to rest my leg when – which I afterwards used with so much comfort – and which forms a part of my coat of arms. Well that stool stands upon the platform of the scales and we sit on it and weight ourselves in the most convenient and luxurious manner possible – I am happy to say that after dinner, in my summer clothes, I weight 166 lbs!!! and in my ______ (this is a blank line) when I am going to bed 162! Not so bad for me considering the last 13 years.
Ele writes me from Balt. (16th) among other matters of Major Samuel M. Reynolds first experience on service, which I hope he enjoyed. Tho I very much doubt if he ever subsisted for four days consecutively on one meal a day & that of salt pork & beans as I fancy he has managed to live pretty well heretofore and that he & Jim donıt know what hard commons are. John and I do: it is late for them to be initiated into such a mode of life, and he must pay it, where everything else is to be tied to the door of Jeff Davis and his fellow rebels, who may the Lord confound.
I wish Rebecca could have made a visit to Lydia but I fear she had to give it up.
I suppose Mr. Hagen will return home next week and he may not come back so I will have to take a new clerk and Chester County will supply me I think with one, in the person of a certain Henry Kirks of that ilk who is on board here, as a shipped man among the crew – but who is a person of education who has been in Germany & speaks that language well & I believe French also.
What brought him into the Navy in his present capacity I canıt say – but I suppose the cause may reside with some one of your sex when the tendencies of which sex to drive men into the Army & Navy Thackeray wrote a ballad founded in the statistics of the U.S. Army showing how large a percentage of men had enlisted because of feminine griefıs & troubles. One verse of which I remember & shall quote here
Thus has it not proved:
And when a women smiled,
The strong man was a child,
The sage a noodle.
Alcides was befoolıd
And silly Samson shorn,
Long, longer you were born,
Poor Yankee Doodle!
Perhaps you may come to hear in some way of one Henry Kirke who has gone astray from Chester County. He writes in the Cabin News & I shall very gladly give him a chance to get out of his present position & to put him on the road to return his former sphere in life.
I hope you are all well at Kates. Much love to her & to all of you – Harry inclusive. More affairs I trust are prospering to his satisfaction.
Your brother, William
Miss H. S. Reynolds
1829 Spruce Street
[³The Yankee Volunteers² by William Makepease Thackeray]