This letter was written by 25 year-old Corporal Charles Henry Beedle (1837-1909) of Company H, 10th Rhode Island Infantry. The 10th Rhode Island Infantry was organized quickly as a 3-Month Regiment in the spring of 1862 when Lee’s army threatened Washington D. C. Family records state that Charles entered his name the same evening that Gov. Sprague pleaded for volunteers to organize at once. The unit served three months in the fortifications around Washington D. C. and then were mustered out.
Charles was the son of Daniel Coffin Beedle (1793-1873) and Elizabeth Thurber (1799-1854) of Providence, Rhode Island. On 25 May 1864, Charles married Nellie S. Fenner (1839-1867), the daughter of Nicholas A. Fenner of Providence. They had two sons, both of who, and the mother died within one year of each other [one named Louis Trafton Beedle died on 21 July 1866]. Left a 29 year-old widower, Charles went to Beaufort, South Carolina, and carried on a general merchandise business on the island of St. Helena. In 1872, he returned to Providence and married on 25 July 1872 to Hannah G. Battell and became the step-father of her two children. Hannah was the widow of J. H. Battell, a manufacturer of jewelry in Providence. In the 1880 Census, Charles mother-in-law, Hannah Andrews (1795-Aft1880) also resided in the same household at 109 Broadway Street. At that time, Charles worked as a “Granite Contractor” in Providence. By 1890, his occupation had changed to “commission merchant.” Charles’ pension record indicates that he died in 1909.
It is conjectured that Charles wrote the letter to William E. Barton of Providence who enlisted in October 1862 in Company D, 12th Rhode Island Infantry for 9-Month’s Service. William may have been the son of the Barton who received the following letter from Chaplain John Binney Gould, a former pastor of the Chestnut Street Church in Providence. See 1862: John Binney Gould to Barton.
Camp Frieze, Tennallytown
June 18, 1862
Being off duty today and having a good opportunity to write a few lines, I have stretched myself full length upon the ground — it being the most comfortable position I can assume for that purpose. I have been excused from duty for two days owing to what the doctor calls the neuralgia in my left hand. it was so lame yesterday afternoon and last night that I could not bend my fingers, but the doctor gave me something to bathe it in and it is a great deal better now, so I shall be able to drill tomorrow.
I am sorry to say [Sgt.] George Winchester is laid up and I am afraid he is going to be worse before he is better. He took a very bad cold and neglected to do anything for it thinking it would work off, but it has grown worse and today he has not been out of his tent.
It is rather a bald country here owing to the sudden changes. Part of the time it is hot enough to roast you and before night an overcoat feels comfortable. There are a good many boys suffering from colds and coughs, but not more I suppose than might be expected among so many men. As for myself, I am enjoying first rate health but I am almost afraid to own it for fear I may be taken sick.
I think this kind of a life agrees with debut I don’t think I should like it more than three months unless I had a commission. How long we shall stay here I am unable to say but it seems to me to be a foolish and useless waste of money sending us here. But then we may have a chance before we come home to try our patriotism and spunk. I don’t know but I think I had rather die on the battlefield than to die of disease in the camp.
We have got about settled now having been sworn in and our uniform given us and our bounty, and now we have begun our regular routine of soldier life. We are turned out at sunrise and have the roll called and our quarters cleaned. Then squad drills until breakfast at 6½, sick call at 7 o’clock when all that are unwell have to report at the hospital. At 9 o’clock guard mounting, from 10 till 11½ company drill, at 1 o’clock roast beef if there is any to be had. Our mail arrives about dinner time so that helps us digest it if we are so fortunate as to get a letter.
This noon I received a letter from my brother and one from Dexter and a press from you which digested my dinner quite thoroughly. Please accept my thanks for your kindness in remembering me.
At 3 o’clock we commence again and drill till 5, at 6 supper, at 7 services, at 9 taps and at 9½ the glim is closed and all noise ceases. I have been corporal of the guard once since we have been here and have no desire to be again. The guard go on at 9 o’clock in the morning and are stationed at equal distances apart all the way around the camp. They have instructions not to let anyone pass by without a written order. And if anyone attempts to go by or anything happens, they call out for the cop of the guard, post 20 or 30 wherever they may be, and then the cop has to run and if he can’t settle the matter he calls for the Sergeant of the Guard. The guard may be half a mile off from the guard house but no matter, the cop has to run, and perhaps before he gets back, the call may come from another in the opposite direction. It keeps the corporals running all the time. They are on 24 hours and are relieved every two hours. I tell you, William, it is pleasant on a dark, stormy night, and as we have no gas lights, it is no easy matter to find the way round. It is nothing, however, after one gets used to it.
William, how are you getting along at Old Chestnut Street? How are all the sisters? I am anxious to hear how sister Snow and Bro. Metcalf are. Give my regards to Bro. Gould and your wife and siders and all enquiring friends. Excuse the looks of this as I find the position I took is becoming rather uncomfortable. I have just seen George and he says he feels better and wishes to be remembered. Please write and give us all the news and oblige.
Yours &c. — Charles H. Beedle