Letter from George Turner to his Cousin, 15 Dec 1861
Fort Wells, Hilton Head, S.C.
Sunday Dec 15th 1861.
Yours of the 28th was received with great pleasure. And I will try to return one as good. The first word you say is that magic word to a hungry stomach "Thanksgiving." It makes a vision rise before my eyes of roast turkeys, pigs and cranberry sauce. You say that you think of me often and so do I think of the dear ones at home but not as a homesick person would for I am in to glorious a cause to be home sick no sir ree you don't find this child home sick if he does have to endure some hardships. That curly headed nigger is here he is in the dress of male and female old and young I can tell you honestly that if our army stays here much longer there will be more niggers than soldiers for they are coming into our camps every day. I will try to give you a representation of a crowd of contrabands coming into our camps. [sketch of a group of contrabands] Now what do you think of that picture. Is not that some pumpkins. It was drawn by our special artist right on the spot. Now us soldier boys have a great deal of sport out of these contrabands. Most every night every after supper we get a crowd of them together and they sing and dance until they get us to laughing so that we are liable to split and the to draw the exercise to a good close an empty barrel is brought before the audience. We then offer one of the niggers of five cent piece to butt the head in with his wolley head it is no sooner said than done up steps cuffy and lets fly his wolley pate for the barrel head and in goes the barrel head nigger head and half his body. And then goes up a shout of laughter and we close by singing the 459 hymn Long [?]. And then another thing is their prayer meeting which is equal to any nigger concert that ever I went to in Providence. I am very much obliged to you for your advice. And about the company I keep it is quite good. I do not associate with many but those that are in my own company and they are a bully set of fellows I can tell you and we have splendid officers to. I am weller than ever I was before in all my life and wiser to about some things. Our regiment is the crack regiment that is encamped here. We have the honor of guarding all the public property around here. And we also garrison the fort which was taken from the rebels. I wish you could have been with me when our bold little regiment took possession of it. It was then that I realized the honors of war for the first time. I will tell you what greeted our eyes when we first entered. Great large guns were dismounted and the carriages smashed to splinters. The banks and paraphets were knocked down and plowed up by the bomb shell an cannon ball. I can tell you it was a sight never to be forgotten by me. Soon after entering the Fort we were allowed to stroll around and look about. And during my stroll I cam across a gun carriage that was completely smashed up and while I was looking at it I picked up picked up part of a man's ear and some teeth and while looking at it come to conclusion that this man had changed his southern views and gone to another land. And now that I think of it of will give you another drawing [sketch of two figures in a tent with "Traveller's Rest" written on the side of the tent] The picture which I bring before your view this time represents your humble servant writing a letter to his Rhode Island friends while one of his mess mates lays on the ground smoking. The name which you see marked on the tent is marked with a led pencil. But I pity the poor fellow who comes there for rest if he does not belong there. Now I have lived in just such a house as you see just four months on the 20th this month, and during that that time I have not taken off my pants olny when I change my under clothes or to wash all over. And I am just as tuff as a birch I am fat rugged and saucy. I can swallow a roast turkey at one gullup. Yesterday we had the first white bread we have had since the 23 day of Oct and when we got our loaf we went about looking at it like so many boys with a new year's present. But after a while we came to the conclusion to eat it and the way it went down my illustrious gullet was a caution to lookers on. Bad luck to the man that ever asks me to eat a piece of boiled pork for I have had on an average at the least 21 times a week ever since the afore said date the 23 of Oct. Well I must bring this letter to a close give my respects to Heman Daniel and Mr Choey. And I send three pails full of love to Sophrony and the same number to your self.
Yours JC George
P.S. A large stone, wooden, brick building got on fire here the other day and a young man passing by at the time stepped down the chimney and was drowned.
P.S. Answer immediately.
[Sketch of Jefferson Davis] Yours JC JC JC JC JC JC Jeff Davis Pop
Turner, George M.
Turner gives his thoughts on contrabands, and his realization of the horrors of war.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Harris Collection on the Civil War and Slavery