This letter was written by Pvt. Frederic A. Nichols (1842-1864) of Co. F, 3rd New Hampshire Infantry. Frederic was mortally wounded (gunshot) near Bermuda Hundred on 16 June 1864 and died the next day at the regimental hospital.
Frederic was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, the son of a cordwainer named Harris Nichols (1801-1882) and his second wife, Emily Hawkins (1811-1859). Frederic was married to Ellen M. White (1844-1920) on 27 March 1864 at Claremont, New Hampshire, on 27 March 1864 but was dead within 3 months.
Frederic wrote this letter to his friend, Sarah Augusta Cowles (1836-1923) of Claremont, New Hampshire. She was the daughter of Levi Cowles (1799-1865) and Polly Hurd (1801-1873). Sarah married George H. Bartlett (1841-1913) on 9 March 1864 — less than three weeks before Frederic married.
This letter was penned a week before the Second Battle of Fort Sumter fought on 8 September 1863. The letter retains its original envelope with patriotic motif.
See also — 1863: Nathaniel L. Willard to Joseph Harvell
Addressed to Miss Sarah A. Cowles, Claremont, New Hampshire
Postmarked Port Royal, South Carolina
Morris Island, South Carolina
August 30th 1863
I guess that you are thinking that I am never going to write. I suppose that you are thinking that I am waiting for you to write first but it is not so for you wrote last for I got your letter after I got back from my furlough. It had been waiting for me some time. I should have wrote to you before now but I have been very busy since I got back so you must excuse me. I have wrote but a very few letters lately for about two months all the sleep that our regiment has had is about four hours out of every twenty-four. So you can see that I do not have much time myself.
We have done considerable hard work. We have built batteries within fifty yards of Ft. Wagner and it is very dangerous business. I suppose that you have heard all about the fights that we have had here so I will not write anything about it. We lost the first five days that we was on the island 90 men and what we have lost in the whole up to this time is from 150 to 200. Thus, out of our regiment, we have about two hundred now for duty. Our regiment goes on picket every third night and we lose some every time for the Rebels shell us night and day and our batteries do the same.
Old Fort Sumter has to take some. It is knocked all full of holes but they still hold out. There is not many guns on Sumter now. The Rebs have taken them on James Island so they can shell us here. Charleston is a hard place to take. It is stronger than any other place the Rebels have got but it has got to fall. But how soon, I do not know. As I am not allowed to write about what is a going on here, I cannot write anything more about it.
I understand that the Fifth Regiment [is] at home. Did George Putnam get there? If so, how is he? Just before I came away from Claremont, I sent you a picture. Did you get it? Please to write as soon as you get this. Excuse all mistakes — also the writing as it is wrote in a hurry. Give my love to all of the folks. Give my respects to all inquiring friends. Direct as you have. Yours with respects, — Frederic A. Nichols
30th of August — my birthday — 21 years and if the Lord is willing, I hope that I shall spend my next at home in Claremont.
[to] Sarah Augusta Cowles, Claremont