11th Maine soldier writes about activity at Fort Strong, Morris Island in Charleston, 1864

The following letter was auctioned on eBay (Feb 2007). As listed, the seller did not know the identity of the soldier writing. I figured out it was Lewis W. Campbell of the 11th Maine Infantry. His identity was verified by comparing names of people mentioned in the letter with records on Civil War Data.

Campbell was 21 years old when he enlisted 8/11/62 as a private. His residence was listed as Machias, Maine. He mustered out 2/2/66. His record indicates he was sick and in a hospital in Yorktown, VA, sometime in 1862. He was wounded 8/16/64 in Deep Bottom Run, VA. Campbell was promoted to sergeant in 1863, which was his rank at the time of this letter (2/10/64). On 4/17/65 he was promoted to 2nd Lt. and transferred from Company B to Company A.

In February 1864, Campbell’s regiment (the 11th ME) was part of The Department of the South, Northern District (Corps), Morris Island Division, 1st Brigade.

In the letter he mentions his regiment has only had two men killed since engaging at Fort Morris. Indeed, my research shows they were Horace F. Albee from East Machias, Maine; and Bradley L. Kimball from Hermon, Maine. Albee was a member of Company C., and was killed 12/8/63. Kimball was a member of Company E.Captain Charles Pierce Baldwin

In the letter he mentions Captain Baldwin & Capt Mudgett. Baldwin is Charles Pierce Baldwin of New Sharon, ME; who was 26 years old when he enlisted on 9/8/62 as Captain. Baldwin went on to become a Briagdier-General and a Lt. Col. His brother was Brigadier-General William H. Baldwin of the 83rd Ohio. Baldwin’s picture is right.

Captain Madgett is most certainly Captain Albert G. Mudgett who was 34 years old when he enlisted as a Captain from Newburg, ME., in 1861.

Campbell refers to the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Infantry. The 3rd was part of the 3rd Battallion assigned to Morris Island from January to April 1864.

He mentions G. Strahan who “commanded the fort” [Fort Strong]. This is Charles G. Strahan who was from Providence, R.I., when he enlisted in August 1861 as a 2nd Lt. On November 15, 1863 he took command of the 3rd R.I. Heavy Artillery. He was made Captain 10/2/61.

The Official Records details the following of the 3rd R.I. Heavy Infantry and the engagement at Charleston the Winter of 1863/1864:

During the winter of 1863-4 a large part of the Regiment remained on Morris Island and was almost constantly, day and night, under fire.

SERVICE IN CHARLESTON HARBOR.-After the reduction of Sumter in October, 1863, even until the surrender of Charleston in February, 1865, several companies remained on Morris Island and manned the guns in Wagner, Chatfield, Gregg and the smaller batteries, which were equipped with 300, 200, 100 and 30 pounder Parrots and mortars, and were almost incessantly under fire in artillery contests with the forts in the harbor, Moultrie, Beauregard, Johnson and others, as also in shelling the city, firing sometimes 10,000 shot and shell a month. Men were lost, at times, almost daily. Even a synopsis of the varied and important services performed here by the Regiment, for a year and a half, would render this brief account of the history of the Regiment too extended. Such services require a separate book. During the spring and summer of 1864, the companies on Morris Island were E, F, H, I and DIP, under Lieut.-Col. Ames. Companies D, G, E and L were at Fort Pulaski, under Major Bailey. Battery A was in Florida and C in Virginia, and Co. B at Hilton Head, the headquarters of Col. Brayton, who was Chief of Artillery on the staff of Gen.Gillmore.

Source: Official Records
PAGE 320-65 S. C., FLA., AND ON THE GA. COAST. [CHAP. LIII.
[Series I. Vol. 35. Part I, Reports and Correspondence. Serial No. 65.]

Campbell also mentions Lt. L. Newcomb. This is Lemuel E. Newcomb who was 25 years old, hailing from East Machias, Maine, when he enlisted as a Sergeant into Company C, in early November 1861. Newcomb would later rise to Captain, and was wounded at Petersburg.

Cambell also mentions some men of the 11th Maine are relieving the 9th Maine as of February 1864. It appears that the 9th Maine had been at Morris Island since the previous July. Of the 9th Maine, the Union Army, Volume I, says the following about the 9th’s related activity to Charleston during this timeframe:

on June 24th went to St. Helena island as part of a force under Gen. Strong for the assault on Morris island, S. C. July 4 it went to Folly island, and on the 10th landed on Morris island, where it carried the enemy’s rifle pits in front of their works. The regiment formed a part of the assaulting forces in the attacks on Fort Wagner, July 11 and 18, and Sept. 6. Its casualties in the several assaults were over 300 men in killed, wounded and missing. The 9th continued at Black and Morris islands, S. C., until April 18, 1864.

Cambell also mentions a Major Wood. I have not been able to positively identify him in the Civil War Data records yet. My best estimate at this time is that he is referring to Charles I. Wood but that is uncertain.

Campbell refers to H. C. Adams who is identified as Henry C. Adams of Cherryfield, Maine, at the time of enlistment in 1861. Adams was a 1st Lt. in January 1864.

F. Mason (of Company B) is mentioned by Campbell. This is Fred T. Mason of Waterville, Maine. Mason was a 2nd Lt., at the time Campbell was writing.

Edward Smith of the 9th Maine is mentioned. It is uncertain who this is in the CWD database. It may be Edward M. Smith from Machias, Maine.

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Fort Strong
Morris Island
S.C.

Feb 10 1864

It has been a long time since I wrote you, for I have been so busy the most of the time that I have hardly had the time to devote to my own folks. That I wanted, for I want to write Mother as often as twice a week for I know that she worries more about me than there is any need of but I suppose that is natural. But this morning as I have a few hours that I can stop in my tent I shall try to give you some account of the 17th. Perhaps it will be interesting to you to know how the boys from down east are getting along.

We have moved quite a number of times since I joined the regiment. 13 different times I believe. So you see that we are used to moving. We left (somewhere), FLA the fifth day of Oct 1863. I landed here the 8th. The bombardment commenced the 26th of Oct & has been going on most all of the time since. Although for the last 2 or 3 weeks we have not fired a great deal.

Our Reg- has been very lucky since we came here for we have only had two men killed & 12 or 13 more wounded & have lost 7 or 8 by death. Our Reg- has numbered more for duty since we came here than for some time before. I think that it is very healthy here. But fear that it will not be this summer, for this island is something of a graveyard. After every rain storm we have a …. part out burying the bodys that wash out of the sand & in one place where we commence to dig a well we dug out a man’s boot with his foot in it.

You will see by the date of my letter that I am at Fort Strong [Formerly Fort Wagner] Companies of our Regiment came here the 23rd as Garrison … B. Captain Baldwin & Capt Madgett. There is also one co. of the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery here in the fort. Of course you have had a better description of the place than I can give you. I therefore shall only say that it is the strongest & best earth work I have ever seen & everything looks neat and clean. Capt. (?) …G. Strahan of the 3rd command the Fort. He is a fine officer & is liked very much by his men. Capt. Baldwin is second in command. Leut L. Newcomb of … is attached to our Co-. * Companies of our Reg- leave the island today to relieve the 9th Maine on Black Island, while they go home on furlough. I believe that nearly all of the 9th are veterans. About 125 of our Reg- have reenlisted & I suppose will soon be furlough home. They will not let our company reenlist but if they had the chance I think every man would have done so.

Well 1/2 our time has expired & if they do by us as they promised to we shall get out next November. For that was the inducement held out that if we went into an old Regiment we should not have so long to serve. If you know how that is I wish you would inform us. We were paid off yesterday by Major Wood for the months of Nov & Dec 1863 & $20 of my wages are allotted to H.C. Adams. I wish you would tell him that I would like to know wether he has ever gotten any money from me or not. I have never heard wether my money that I allotted goes or not- Col. (?) is still in command of the first brigade & F. Mason of our company is on his staff. Leut H.C. Adams is acting Regimental (?) Master.

By the way our Reg- has got some recruits … I believe & from that number we got one in our co. they have been here about a week. I hear this morning that… a number of our recruits have the measles & one in the hospital.

Well something about our duty in the Fort. We have no night duty at all except when we are fighting. We do the guard duty during the day & are relieved at night by the picketts. Drill 2 hours a day on Artillery. Something quite new to me but I like it much. Garrison inspection twice a week & yesterday as we were paraded for inspection a shell burst over the fort & the pieces came in amongst us but fortunately no one was hurt. & but a few moments after it struck before the boys had in there arms. That’s the first one that has been thrown in to the Fort for sometime. It came from Fort Moultrie {Reb}. We have a fine view of the City of Charleston and hear there fire bells ringing most all of the time for our folks keep throwing a few shots at them & set some of their buildings on fire. By the aid of a good glass we can tell the time of day there from their clock.

Fort Sumter is 2600 yards from here & it looks ragged enough. We knocked the flag staff down a few days ago & I see now they have put up another with a new flag on it. Well it won’t stand long when we get to firing at it.

As it is nearly Drill time I must close hoping soon to hear from you. Give my respects to all ….. Capt Longfellow Co Adams … and tell me who is the next President. The soldiers all say Uncle Abe is the man. I believe that Edward Smith is in the 9th with me but I have not seen him yet. I have seen James Hathaway several times since he came out.

Major General Gillmore was here a few days ago & Admiral Dahlgren was here the 8th. They are both fine looking men.

Yours truly
Your obedient Servant

L[ewis] W Campbell
Serg … ….
Morris Island

Written on the front page of the letter sideways is this last note:

What are the prospects before us? Is the war soon to be closed up or will it live many years longer. I would like to have your opinion on the subject. I suppose before this reaches you, that you will George W Schopper of Jonesboro at home on a furlough from our company.
LW Campbell

Source: eBay auction item (February 2007)

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