This letter was written by John Christopher Newbert (1835-1901) of Co. C, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. The 3rd Regiment, Rhode Island Heavy Artillery was organized at Providence as 3rd Infantry in August 1861, but reorganized at Hilton Head, South Carolina, as Heavy Artillery on 19 December 1861. John mustered out of the service on 26 December 1864.
John was the son of Edward and Rosanna (Kenning) Newbert of Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote the letter from Fort Welles on Hilton Head Island. The fort was originally a Confederate fort named Fort Walker but after the Battle of Port Royal when the union forces took possession of the fort, it was renamed after Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.
Fort Well[e]s, Hilton Head, South Carolina
January 18, 1862
My dear sister,
I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines. I am well and I hope these few imperfect lines will find you enjoying the same blessing. I have been to a soldier’s ¹ funeral today about 3½ miles from our fort. We marched the dead march all the way to the burying ground and when we got there, they lowered him down in the grave and they fired three rounds of cartridges and then we heard a discourse from the minister and then marched back. The band struck up the State Spangled Banner coming home. When we got home, there was another one in Company D dead. ² He is [to be] buried tomorrow. There is about 65 buried in our burying ground. There is 2 or 3 funerals everyday but not in our regiment — all of them.
But I am mad at myself to think I did not send you some money in my first letter for there is the greatest gang of thieves in this camp that ever lived. Last night I lost my pocket book with 13 dollars in it. I have got 2 dollars owing me and that is all the money I have got in the world and I am glad of it. When I get my next pay, I will send it home and if we are here, I shall want you to send me some things then.
Write often. I have got no letter from home yet and I have wrote 6 or 7 letters.
All is quiet here at present. No news from the South.
I am looking for a letter from you everyday. Send me the Providence Journal. I want to hear the news. No more at present. Goodbye.
Here is a piece of a palmetto tree here enclosed. It grows up 30 or 40 feet high and not a leaf on it but clear up to the top, No more at present.
From your brother, — John C. Newbert, 3rd Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, Hilton Head, Fort Well[e]s, Company C, Capt. Day
Lt. A[sa] A. Ellis got drunk the other day and fell off of his horse. He drinks like the devil but he is clever so far to me. All the rest of the officers thy put a fellow on knapsack drill here to punish him. A knapsack with 32 pound balls in it — two of them,
Goodbye once more.
¹ The soldier was Edwin R. M. Horton of Co. A, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. He died at Hilton Head on 17 January 1862.
² John Bullock of Co. D, 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery died at Hilton Head on 18 January 1862. He and Edwin Horton were both buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery, “south of the entrenchments.”