October 14, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Bridgeport Ala.

My dear brother,

[...] We have one of the Soldier’s California Fire-places and my colored man “Nash” came in and kindled a fire before I got up. So you see I am living quite luxuriously. The fire-place is Constructed by sinking a trench about a foot wide & deep and extending outside the tent. This is walled up with flat stones and in ours is covered inside the tent with a flat piece of cast-iron which our “Pioneers” had found somewhere and appropriated. Outside, and usually the whole length it is covered with flat stones – and at a distance of two or three feet from the tent a chimney of flat stones and mud rises to a height about equal to the top of the tent. In the scarcity of stones the chimney is heightened by the use of boards. The inner end of the Trench is left uncovered for a foot or little more and here is where the fire is kindled. Of course two of us have little room to spare in one of these “7 by 9” tents, so our table with writing desk is set over the fireplace and as I sit and write it is very convenient to warm my feet. In fact I am compelled to warm them whether they are cold or not. For our table we have four stakes driven firmly into the ground and the table made of two boards fastened together is laid upon the tops of these. Our little Pine desk which is loaded down like all desks serves to keep the table in place. Since I arrived we have had a floor made to our tent. It was well that it was completed before the rain – the fireplace ditto.

We are located upon a hill and in the enclosure of a Rebel Fort.

We have reason to be thankful that the Enemy did so much digging for our profit – yet we would have been better pleased had they not so unwisely left their rear entirely unprotected. For since it now becomes our front we must needs go to work fortifying. [...]

Charles Henry Howard to his brother, Rodelphus Gilmore [Charles Henry Howard Collection]

 


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