Botany Bay Island, South Carolina
Friday afternoon, May 1st 1863
Dear Sister Lydia,
As I am at leisure, I will try and improve the time in penciling you a few lines to let you know that I am well and rugged.
Lydia, you see that we are on land once more. We disembarked the 28th. This is a very rough looking place. This island lays between Johns Island and Edisto. We do not expect to stay here but a short time. It is rumored in the camp that the 10th Army Corps is going north. Some say that we shall go to Tennessee. I hope that we shall for I am getting tired of this place but still we may get a worse place than this sand hole, but I do hope not.
Lydia, I cannot think of much news to write this time. I have sent home sixty-five dollars in your name. I want you to pay Millet and pay him good interest and then give the rest to Mother and tell her if she wants anything, to get it. Do not let Mother suffer for anything that can be bought with money for she is my all, as you might say. But still I have a good loving little sister and one that I feel proud of. Don’t worry about me for with the help of God, I shall come out all right as I trust. Our duty is not very hard. I think that I shan’t work so hard as I have. I mean to save my wages and if I do that, I shall be satisfied.
Try and coax Millet to stay on the place if you can for I fear that you and Mother will have to be exposed. Lydia, if you need anything, take some of my money and buy what you need for you are still my own sister. Lydia, I may never live to see you and Mother but I am a going to be saving of my money for I want to leave enough to carry Mother through and I want her to take comfort while she lives. Maker her dress well and live well. Let it cost what it may. Give Mother my love and take a share for yourself.
Now Lydia, write often. A letter from home does me good. Direct as usual Give my love to all of the neighbors and tell me how they all do, Tell me who Sarah Henderson’s man is and if she is married yet. Give her my respects.
As I can’t think of much more, I will close. Lydia, tell Millet to go and see Ezry Twombley and pay him what I owe him. I believe it is about one dollar and twenty-five cents. And tell him to pay Ezry the interest. Answer soon. From your own brother, — Stephen F. Downs