Fort Monroe

The next letter in the Museum collection that Charles Cock wrote is dated December 17, just a week before Christmas. Charles tells his brother that he had written the day before to his father, indicating he hoped to be released from the hospital soon. While he doesn’t indicate what illness troubled him, he now writes that he has fully recovered.

The 8th Michigan is stationed at Fort Monroe, a Union stronghold near Hampton Roads, Virginia. It commanded the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and the James River which led to the Confederate capital, Richmond. Charles describes the impressive fortress and mentions that Sewells Point is across the bay. Three months later, this crucial waterway would be the site of the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac, the first battle of iron-clad ships.

Charles offers a full description of the large cannon that guards the entrance to the bay. The gun was capable of hurling a 450 pound cannon ball 8 miles. He closes the letter promising to write again, hopefully when he has some idea of where his unit will be sent.


Camp Hamilton Dec 17th 1861


 Dear Brother

            I wrote to Father & George yesterday that I expected to leave the Hospital soon      I left yesterday noon & reached here this morning this camp is about a mile from Ft. Monroe  we landed at the Ft & came up here to stay until a boat comes to carry us on we came as far as here on The Steamer Adelaid   Fortress Monroe is a splendid Fort  there is about 60 acres enclosed by a wall 20 ft thick   I went down on the beach & saw the big union rifled Cannon  The largest gun in the United States  it takes 19 pounds of powder to fire it & the ball weighs 450 pounds the gun weighs fifty two thousand & five pounds (52005) & will Carry eight (8) miles  

Cannon at Fort Monroe

            Souls Point is just oposite here & the Rip Raps about half way between.  There are about 30 vessels of all kinds laying close in shore 3 or 4 man of war with a lot of Bull dogs pokeing their noses out of the port holes that look as though could do some mischief if they were used right   The country around here is flat I can see 10 miles in any direction is about 8 miles to newport news from here   I do not know how long we shall have to stay here but I will write again if we stay long   nothing more this time

                                                                        your brother Charles F. Cock

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