31 July 1863

Morris Island, South Carolina
July 31st 1863

Dear Brother,

As I am at leisure this afternoon, I will try and answer your very kind and welcome [letter]. The present finds me well and rugged, as usual. I cannot think of much news to write. I wrote to you the other day.

I asked the chaplain about our loss and he told me that the total loss was not far from two thousand. He says that we lost in our last charge fifteen hundred and seventeen. We have not lost many since but the Rebs shells us every day. We are very strongly fortified here and we are fortifying every day. Our night duty is very hard but I am in hopes that we shall get ready in the course of two or three weeks. Our batteries are very near Fort Wagner. Fort Sumter does us more damage than Fort Wagner does. Fort Johnson plays on us all she can.

You spoke of being drafted and also spoke of coming out as a substitute. I tell you, Millet, don’t let all of the money that there is in the world be any inducement to you. But if you are drafted, come out like a man and do all you can. You may think you know something about soldiering—perhaps you do, but I don’t see it in that light. Now here is my advice. Stay at home if you can. Perhaps you think I am sick of it but I say I am willing to serve my time if I should live so long and if it is required. I believe that some of us are a going to see Charleston within two months, and the most of it is going to be done by sieging.

I want you to tell me all about the draft. I have paid up the thirty dollars that I hired to go home with and I’ve sent home forty-five dollars. I mean to save every cent I possibly can.

There, I cannot think of much more to write this time. I don’t want you and Lydia to worry about me but write often and that will do me more good. Answer.

Yours with love and respect, — Stephen F. Downs

The chaplain says that our regiment lost not far from one hundred killed, wounded, and missing. Tell Lydia that I cannot write to her this time. — S. F. D.

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