August 17, 1864

Chattanooga Tenn.
August 17, 1864

Dear Mother,

                As I have not yet written to you since I left home, I will do so this evening. This is an excessively hot night and as I write, I sit with my clothes half off and my shirt-collar unbuttoned. The full moon is just rising about the fortifications on the adjacent hill, and her silvery beams are reflecting from the rippling surface of the broad Tennessee. This is a rather pleasant place everything considered. Inumerable “Katydids” and fall-crickets are chirping from the tall weeds that line the banks of the river, and these make me think of my child-hood’s days, for there never was a time when the peculiar chip of a fall-cricket did not make me feel lonesome, thoughtful or sad.
                The rebel Cavalry being within three or four miles, too, perhaps has a tendency to make me think how much safer I would be were I at home with my Mother. But as we have a garrison of three or four thousand men, and good fortifications, I do not expect that I will lose any sleep tonight through fear of being captured by the enemy. An attack by [Confederate Major General Joseph] Wheeler’s Command was expected however, and the whole garrison was under arms an hour before sun set. In times of danger here they make all Citizen employees take their muskets and help defend the post.
                Our fine situation on the bank of the river that I have told you about, turns out to be quite unhealthy. Dense fogs rise from the river during the nights, and the air seems to be freighted with some kind of noxious malaria. A great many are about half sick and few feel perfectly well. This hot weather takes all ambition out of a fellow, and feels like lying down and doing nothing. This is decidedly the worst season of the year on that account. I think I have become so seasoned and acclimated to such a life that I can stand it quite well. I sleep in a Wall-tent—having for a tent-mate a son of Rev. Norton—a Presiding Elder in the Erie Conference. Everything sells at Richmond prices, and I pay a colored woman 25 cents a piece for washing and “doing-up” my shirts.
                Jno. Lusher and Henry Smith are well, as are all the rest of the Venango Co. boys here. Phelps, who was married to Hattie Bain a few weeks ago, in Franklin, is here trying to raise Negro substitutes for some County in Ohio. He has succeeded in procuring one for himself, but he does not meet with much success in his enterprise. Nashville is flooded with men from the North on the same business, and but few of them are doing much. (If either of the boys can hire Wash to go for 2, 3 or $500 they had better do it).
                Tell Pa to forward that letter to me, well done up and directed, and I will risk its being lost. Ask him if he paid Frank Adams the express charges on my badge—and how much it was.
                I enclose you my photograph—was in a good humor when it was taken. Have you heard anything from David Jolly since I left home? I wish I had a few pounds of your good butter down here. Peaches and apples are very plenty—whortle-berriers and black berries were plenty but they are all done now. I want you to write to me if you can see to do it. Tell Mary I am expecting that letter from her. I think of nothing more at present.
                Hoping for your safety until I return, I am,
                                                Your affectionate son

                                                                J. D. Chadwick

That plant or shrub coming up in the garden is an Althea. I will send you a specimen of the flower in a paper.

Next posting: August 24, 2010

Jonathan Helmreich
College Historian
Allegheny College
Meadville, PA 16335