16 June 1861

Camp Massachusetts
Alexandria, Virginia
June 16 [1861]

Dear friend,

Thinking you might still take a little interest in the welfare of an old friend, I thought I would take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope this will find you enjoying the same great blessing. We are encamped at the same place we was when I wrote to you last and I think it likely we shall stop here or near here for some time yet, and perhaps the next move we make will be homeward.

You wanted me to tell you when you wrote last if I was going to stop any longer than my three months. I will answer in plain words that I shall not. There is enough [soldiers] without me and more than is needed and I have left too many good friends at home to stop here when there is so many that is willing to and want to come. So you may expect to see me up to Milton [New Hampshire] about the middle of August, if not before. Some of the men think that our regiment will be discharged before our three months are out but I don’t think so.

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“Honest Old Abe”

We was visited day before yesterday by the president, honest Old Abe as he is called, and I should think he might be honest—at least he is homely enough to be honest. ¹

Lydia, since I commenced this letter the mail has come into camp and I have a letter in it from you and I was very glad to receive it. I expected one for the last two or three days but perhaps you write as often as you can get a chance to and I suppose time passes a great deal slower to me than it does to you for we don’t have our liberty to go where we please and when we please. We have about ten acres inside our encampment and we are not allowed outside of it. There is guards stationed around it and we can not pass with we out on duty.

You wanted to know what we had to do. We have to drill every day 4 or 5 hours without we are on guard. We have a great deal of guard duty to do. My turn comes about once in two or three days. I go on guard tomorrow on what is called picket guard. It is to guard the roads leading into Alexandria City. No person can pass the roads here without they have a pass from certain officers and if they have no pass, they are arrested.

Lydia, you wanted to know if we had any fighting here. The nearest this place that there has been any fighting is ten or fifteen miles for when we marched in here you could not call it any fighting. The Colonel of the First Regiment was killed but then it was nothing more or less than a cold blooded murder—I mean Colonel Ellsworth.

Lydia, I must close now for the mail goes in a few moments and I want to send this today. So goodbye for the present. I will write again in a few days. Write as often as you can as I am always glad to hear from you. Yours most truly, — S. M. Bragdon

Please to excuse the dirt and blots on this for it is the best I can do. I as ashamed to send it myself.

¹ Lincoln’s visit is described in the regimental history (p. 57): “Yesterday, President Lincoln and Secretaries Chase and Cameron honored Camp Massachusetts with their presence, and the President reviewed the regiment. He expressed himself as highly gratified at the splendid appearance and drill of the Fifth, and said that Massachusetts might well be proud of it and its efficient commander.”

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