On board Schooner “Recruit”
Hatteras Inlet, Jan. 19th, 1862
We left Fortress Monroe yesterday and after a rough passage arrived here about noon today. The waves ran pretty high through the day and increased to a gale at night. At 12 o’clock the waves swept over the deck and carried away the ship’s boats, the vessel rocking at the same time so violently as to rock some out of their berths and send all the wood and boxes tumbling over the deck. The wind broke loose gaff (a piece of round timber 8 inches through and sent it flying over the deck. The boilers (large heavy copper which are kept on the stove continually) of coffee were overturned and the boiling liquid sent streaming over the deck. The confusion was general, many falling out of their berths, others falling flat upon the floor. One boiler fell down the hatchway making causalities too numerous to mention. I was fast asleep when I heard the racket and such laughing and enraging [?] I never heard before. One thing was falling here, another there – those that were in their berths rolling from one side to the other (that is those that were lucky enough to keep in) and those that were holding on to the sides. There was no danger, only a little rolling and a little fun. The fleet is nearly all in safe, only one schooner with part of the 27th Mass. And one with the Zouaves but what are heard from. The former are supposed to be lost but there is hopes that the latter may yet arrive. The steamer “Zouave” with two Mass. Companies ran upon a rock and foundered – all saved. A boat with some of the 11th Penn. [(sic) must mean either 11th Conn. or 51st Penn] was picked up – one man drowned – three died from exposure. One Colonel and two other staff officers lost together with a boat crew. Most of the casualties were occasioned by the storm while we were at the Fortress instead of the sea last night. There was but a little wind last night but the sea here is always rough, and the entrance to the inlet is very rocky and the channel crooked. There is a schooner sunk outside upon the shoals. I believe that there was one or two regulars lost from her. Of course, we have not been in long enough to get the particulars, but I think that this is as near correct as can be got at, the present time.
I have heard a rumor that the 8th Conn. was wrecked and part saved upon boats, but I can find no foundation for the rumor. The coast here is so low and sandy that it is difficult to distinguish a short distance off where it and the water meet. It is the most desolate looking place I ever saw. The Zouave drum major died night before last (sic?) and his body left at Annapolis. He was a commissioned officer and had no business to come with us on the hospital ship. The band to which he belonged was dissolved 2 weeks before he started but he was getting $60.00 a month which was too too good a berth [?] to give up without a struggle. He never was well enough to come aboard. He died of the rheumatic fever. I have been troubled with sea sickness for the last two or three days which is anything but pleasant.
Last night I could not set up but slept very soundly when in my berth while everyone else were rolling about the deck. I am well enough now that we are in port and have a good appetite and can bear salt pork without gagging. I presume that I can go to my regiment tomorrow if I wish. I would be very well contented here taking care of the sick if it were not for that horrid sea sickness, for I think that we have better accommodations here than with the regiment. Direct Fortress Monroe, Co. A, 8th Regt. Conn. Vol, Burnside’s Division. Write soon and often. I shall get your letters sometime. Is Mr. Stockwell [?] living? Is Scott Humphrey married? I have heard he was to a girl of W.H. Pallas [?] and L.[?] B. married I suppose. Are Cal[?] W. and Frank S[?] married or will her father not permit? Love to Father, Mother, Grandmother and all inquiring friends.