Ltr #8 Sibley Tent, Playing Ball, by H. B. Talbert
[Otterville, Missouri is halfway between Tipton and Sedalia. The soldiers were stationed at Otterville to protect the new railroad and bridge.
Late in 1861, brother Alpheus and Eliza named their son Harrison Talbert.
Sibley tent - A conical shaped tent with a vent at the top.
Hominy - Dried corn broken and boiled for food.
Hardtack - Soldiers' hard biscuit/cracker.]
Camp Near Otterville Missouri
January the 22ond 1862
Dear Brothers, Sisters,
Father & Mother
and all who wish to read this scribbling letter. I seat myself in our tent by the stove with a bord across my knees to write you a few lines. We received your letter last night which we had anxiously looked for for several days. It found me well and hearty, in fine spirits, and as comfortably situated as could be expected. We have got our Sibley Tents, one to a squad and 2 wall tents to a squad, which makes plenty of room, and a stove to each one of these tents, which makes them very comfortable (but the goverment only furnished stoves with the Sibley tents). Alpheus: your letter gave me a great deal of satisfaction and I was truly glad to hear you was all well, and doing as well as could be expected. But you left out one or two things that I would been glad to heard. I would like to no what has become of Harris & family and where John Nigh and Ann Eliza is living. I havent heard a word from Harris since I left that I recollect of. I hardly no what to write as George has wrote his letter to you and has wrote pretty much all.
Fifthday [Thursday] Morning Jan 23rd / 62
I seat myself to try to finish my letter after exercising myself an hour or so playing ball. [In the 1840s and 1850s baseball grew in popularity.] [.....]. [Alpheus] in your letter you said that you weighed 155 lbs. Well I can beat that [by] 25 lbs [180lbs & 19 yrs old]. I dont feel like boasting on what I weigh or my health, but I feel thankful to God for his goodness towards me. By blessing me with life, good health, plenty to eat and wear. Me and George lives together like two brothers. What one has both has. I will try to tell you a little about the regulations of this company and what we have to do. In the morning at 8 o’clock roll call, 9 ½ o’clock guard mount, 3 o’clock dress parade, and at 9 o’clock at night the taps is heard (in our brigade at which time all lights has to be put out (unless in a case of necessity) and all hallowing [hollering] boisterous laughing has to be stopped. In the morning at about 6 o’clock the revelree [reveille - wake up call by drums] is beat in our brigade which is close to our company. But we dont get up till we get ready. Sometimes I get up when the revelree is beat, and sometimes not till daylight. And there is lots in this company that dont get up till the bugle is sounded for roll call. We come on guard every 5 or 6 days. But we come on oftener than this when several of the squad is sick. We have to go after forage [grass / hay] every 6 or 8 days. We get the most of our corn now at Otterville. Hay is scarce and hard to get. We have went as far as 15 or 20 miles after hay. And they expect to take all the wagons and go to Georgetown after hay which is about 30 miles from here. The teamsters [one who drives a team] has to take care of their horses extra more than the gunners has to do. We also have to haul our wood about a mile and do our own cooking etc. I will tell you what we draw from the commissary daily, beef or bacon, hominy, beans, rice, soap, and 1 candle to a squad, vinegar, [and] salt. We have the priviliege of drawing flour or crackers [hardtack] which [ever] we please. We draw enough of this to make plenty for us to eat and as long as we get plenty of this I’ll not grumble. I for got, we get plenty of sugar and coffee. Our squad has divided off into 3 messes, me George and 3 others is in our mess. Our cooking utensils, dishes, etc. consists of 2 camp kettles, 1 frying pan, 1 tin bucket, 2 big sheet iron dishes, a tin plate a peice, and some sort of a smashed up tin cup a peice. Some have spoons, and some having no k[n]ives or forks. I have a fork, knife, and spoon altogether which I paid 1.50 for. Enough of that. Alpheus you dient say a word about that money I sent home and I requested you to write whether that borrowed money had been payed back (that George borrowed). For $10.00 of that money that I sent home was Georges, but he was willing for it to go towards that debt if it wasent paid. And if it was paid, I wanted you to let me no it and I would pay it back to George when we drawed again. Alpheus; tell [brother] Hadley [age 16] not to become discouraged in writing to me because I do not answer his letters individually. Alpheus; it tic[k]led me right smart to hear I had a namesake. I would be glad to see him and if I live to see him I will get him a present of some kind. I would be glad to see all the children and all the rest. And I live in hopes of seeing you again in this world. But if I shouldent I hope we will all be prepared to meet death. Tell Uncle not [to] think hard of me for not answering his letter for we are very scarce of paper, and money is still scarce.
I will close in short so good bye H. T.
Tell Louisa I recvd her letter and will answer it as soon as I can.