The following is from the defunct website "Letters of the Civil War" by Tom Hayes.
ROXBURY CITY GAZETTE
JULY 5, 1861, (p. 2, col. 5)
FORT INDEPENDENCE, BOSTON HARBOR,
Quarters 13th (Rifles) Regiment,
July 2d, 1861.
MR. EDITOR. – Knowing well the deep interest that is taken in the 13th Regiment, and the especial regard paid to the several companies of which it is composed, I am prompted by a sense of duty to inform its many friends, through the columns of your luminous sheet, of its present condition, location, and future prospects, so far as known to your humble servant.
For the past few weeks we have been favored with fair weather, so that we have rarely been interrupted in our daily exercises. There has been the appearance of a storm for the past few days, and we arose this morning to find the premonition true. It rained quite hard during the night, and still continues. This will test, to a certain degree, the utility of the Sibly tents, which are pitched outside the Fort, and we think they will prove their efficiency.
These tents are occupied by the five new companies which arrived here on Saturday last. By this arrangement the 4th Battalion and the Roxbury company are not disturbed. Four of the companies are on the southerly side of the Fort, and one is located just outside the sallie port. Of the new companies, two are from Marlborough, one from Westborough and Sudbury, and one from Natick. These companies are composed of fine looking men, and their very appearance does honor to the towns from whence they came.
The 4th Battalion is to do escort duty in Boston on the coming fourth, and it is understood that company E. of Roxbury will visit that city sometime during the day. The new additional forces will be left in command.
This regiment is to be uniformed alike throughout before leaving the State. The uniform is said to be somewhat of a Zouave style, with light blue overcoats. When fully equipped we flatter ourselves we shall confer honors upon the State from whence we hail, not only before our departure, but enroute for the seat of war, and on the battle field, if we are favored with such a privilege. It will not be on account of our appearance and efficiency alone, but those enobling qualities which in every respect characterizes true manhood.
The superiority of our officers throughout, in regard to military discipline, and as gentleman, is unquestionable. They are too well known to need comment. Major Leonard is a favorite of the regiment, and we think no one could fill his place satisfactorily.
The best of feeling exists between the different companies, and a happier lot of boys is seldom seen. Camp songs are all the rage, and musical instruments of every description are in abundance. At times our boys are very operatic, but oftentimes the banjo, tamborine and bones take the place, and a regular clog dance and other negro peculiarities come off much to the amusement of the immense audiences present. A little more practice and Morris Brothers and all other minstrelsy will be altogether in the shade. We are progressing rapidly, and it is expected we shall be prepared to leave sometime during the month.
Not wishing to occupy too much space in your paper, I will close without further remark.
Letter of John B. Noyes, Company B.
John Buttrick Noyes, (1838-1908) Civil War Letters; Houghton Library, Harvard College; used with permission.
Fort Independence, July 2d 1861
I received your note this P.M. immediately after our Battalion drill. I haven’t time to write you at any length, as I wish to have this note go by the 6 o clock boat. I wish to have my duds washed and sent back as soon as possible, together with my boots. The blue shirt is too large in every way & I intended to give some directions as to its alteration. Perhaps mother can alter it to suit herself and me. Make it so as to fit George. You ought to go to Boston to see us. I believe we parade at about 9 A.M., but am not certain. I will get a furlough and talk over matters after the 4th of July. Mother need not be depressed. I am not obliged to go; and if I were, for my own comfort to look no further, the position of private in our Regiment is much better than that of officer in most of our Regiments. In the First Regiment C. F. Walcott could find no decent society among the officers; the privates in our company are mostly sons of men in good circumstances thrown out of profitable employment by the crisis. The rest of our Reg’t. has now come to the Fort. The men are in every way superior to most volunteer soldiers. They are farmers, and sons of farmers, and of American parentage. The exclamations “by gosh,” “darn it” show their birth places. One of them dipped his hands into the harbor water, licked it, and wanted to know if he had got to drink that water! There is a rumor that Maj. Foster of Salem is to be our Colonel; if that be so, he will have no 4th Battalion as Major Leonard is our unanimous choice for that position. But I have no fear that Leonard will be rejected.
Good by for the present.
John B. Noyes
Letter of James Ramsey, Company E
Fort Independence July 2nd 1861
Dear Mother I am well and I like it here very much, now I am aquanted I think I will come home some day next week The company talks of going to Roxbury next Fourth of July if they do not get our new uniforms we will come to Boston with the fourth Batallion. We will most probably go to Roxbury. I will not have a chance to go out of the ranks. I went on guard this morning for 24 hours I will get releived to morrow morning at 8 O’clock. We commenced to draw pay Saturday we have our regular allowance of food we are to have no more butter and the like. Yesterday Col Lenard received a dispatch to be ready to move from the fort at 24 hours notice if we do we will go into camp before we go south. The whole regiment are to have a full zouave uniform.
Give my love to all
From your son
PS I have not received a letter yet.