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Near Portsmouth March 9/62
You will observe by the heading of this letter that we have moved our Camp and I assure you it meets its name altho the cabins are better than our last the ground is a perfect mud hold only half of the Regiment are here the other half being left at the old camp the reason of their directing the Regiment was that our old quarters were to small for the entire Reg being orginaly constructed for one Battalion our present camp is situated about two miles from Portsmouth back of the navy yard, the entire Regiment still continues in good health and spirits.
The Merimac or the Virginia as she is now called left Portsmouth yesterday about ½ after one oclock and steamed down the river to meet the Yankee blockading fleet assisted by two gun boats and has since been playing the very mischief with them. She has just returned to the city after sinking the steam Cumberland and Savannah likewise driving the Pawnee and Minnisota ashore the Congress blew up last night about one oclock with a terrific explosion it seams she had been set fire to by the Merrimac there is little loss on our side only four being killed on board the Merrimac the loss on the other side must have been very heavy it is said in camp that thay had sent four hundred prisoners up to Norfolk she like wise opened the way for several of our vessels that has been blockaded in James river for over six months It is said that the Cumberland hoisted a white flag in token of surrendering and that when our officer went on board that thay shot him dead then the Merrimac opened again on them and sank them.
I will try and give you a discription of her fancy a house sunk in the water up to the roof and plated with iron four inches think laid crossways and having almost eighteen inches of solid timber under that with port holes bristeling with cannon all round some of them one hundred and twelve pounders the iron protection extends under water about four feet with a nose as sharp as a knife, there is none of his crew exposed to the fire of the enemy all being under the iron roof, just before leaving yesterday thay put about two inches of solid grease on the roof to make the enemys balls glance the more readylie of his roof and it said by one that saw him engage the enemy that when thay shot him that glanced of high in the air it was said that M. Gander had engaged the enemy at Newports news and that the Merrimac was to engage the batteries in front The major in command of our battalion took the boys down to pigs point to let them see the fun and our Company being in town on guard and I left cook of the mess I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know what is going on in this part of the country I will send you tomorrows papers so that you ca get a full account of the engagement
I have been told that the Mobile papers had it published that the Regiment had been taken prisoners at fort Donalson when we were safe in camp near Portsmouth there was no grounds fro the rumour for other than we left our old camp some days before the battle came off and no one could tell where we were sent to, I hope you received the last letter I wrote you by a M. Nathan he left Norfolk about eight days ago, I have received no letters from Mobile for four weeks past and I am impatient to here from them as I heard that Mobile was to be attacked and that the people were preparing to move I hope that it is not so bad as all that, when you write let me know how things are in Mobile our term of enlistment is drawing to a close and you may expect to see me in Mobile as soon as I can get off, give my love to all the family and enquiring friends and accept the same from
Your loving son