Baxter of the 27th New Jersey Volunteers wrote this letter home to his sister on September 16, 1862, in which he discusses a comrade going "entirely crazy" from tobacco use. Hailing from Vernon Township, Baxter had enlisted in the 27th just eleven days earlier for a 9-month term and wrote the letter from their training camp-Camp Frelinghuysen in Newark. The boys have been quite excited for a few days back.
Henry has had a free use of tobacco since he has been here & become entirely crazy. We put him in the guard house on Saturday night for safe keeping & were ordered to let him out on Sunday morning & keep watch of him. He somehow or other eluded our care, passed the guard, & is gone. I do not know what will become of him. We are not allowed to go out of camp to look for him & are fully assured he is not inside of the guard.
The identity of William Henry is uncertain. Because he disappeared prior to being mustered into the United States service his name does not appear on the official rolls of the regiment. Baxter closes the letter hoping that he might meet with his father at Warwick that week, but cautions that nothing is certain here. I may be at home before Friday.
Our colonel's will seems to be the wind's will. Tomorrow we will be mustered into service by a United States officer.
During their service, the 27th New Jersey would man the defenses of Washington, witness the Battle of Fredericksburg, and in 1863 was sent to the Western Theater with General Ambrose Burnside's 9th Corps. Baxter would survive their ordeals and mustered out with the regiment in July 1863. The letter was written on two sides of a 5" x 8" letter sheet. Very good condition with light foxing and toning. Creased at the original folds.
The letter's full transcript follows. Camp Frelinghuysen Tuesday Sept 16th 1862. Dear Sister I have not much to write, but as I have a chance to send a letter directly home I will improve the opportunity if I can be excused from going out on squad drill.
Previous to writing my last letter I had been in first rate health & spirits, but having taken a run out from camp & indulged in luxuries I had to suffer the consequences. When Daniel rec'd a furlough to come home I got one to go to the city. I had a very pleasant visit-stayed at Uncle Chas's on Thursday night & at Coz.Grey's on Friday night. Daniel informs me that Pa will surely be at Warwick on Friday. If it is possible I will meet him there. I have time to write no more. Harrison has stood at the door (anxious to go) waiting for me to finish my letter. I write in such a hurry that I do not know whether I have written what I wanted to or not.
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