Foraging expeditions

In his next letter to his brother, Charles Cock writes that the 8th Michigan has been sent to Beaufort, South Carolina. The new camp seems to be quite satisfactory in his opinion.

Charles uses much of the letter to report on the surroundings. The regiment is encamped near two plantations, one owned by William Wigg Barnwell and the other by Robert Barnwell Rhett. He describes the damage done to the plantations and to other homes as a result of the conflict and reports that he brought a nice comfortable chair back to camp for his own use.

His mother would be delighted if she could have some of the shrubs and flowers that are part of the landscaping at the plantations. Charles also notes that they can forage for food including cattle for beef and corn husks for bedding. He has become optimistic that the end of the war is near although he is not certain that he will be home in time for the wheat harvest.

Finally, he concludes with an appeal for letters from home. He explains that he is unable to get any postage stamps so he is “franking” his mail, i.e., sending it postage due.


Beaufort S. C. Jan 23rd  1862

Brother William

                        I wrote to father the next day or two after I got here & I have not got to drill to day for we wer out on Picket yesterday & last night   I like this place first rate the first thing I did after I got here I went out on a foraging expedition with our teamster Bob Gates   we went out on the Shell Road after a load of corn husks four our tents   We went out to Capt [ll] Barnswells plantation about 4 miles out of town the Barnswells & Rhetts own several plantations about here we got a lot of corn & husks & took a lot of sofa chairs one splendid sofa rocking chair & loaded it on top of the corn & coming in it fell off & smashed into kindling wood   I have seen thousands of dollars worth of furniture smashed   I have seen Pianoes worth $300.00 smashed into flinders there is a lot of them in a house in town that I believe they are going to sell off at auction   there was one sold the other day for $15  Tell mother if she was over on the Barnwell Plantation she could get all the shrubs & flowers she would want it is a splendid yard with all kinds of shrubs & flowers  I got a nice arm chair for my own use & it goes first rate after being on drill these hot days all of the houses had nice furniture in them & the wer so scared that they left it all behind them  There are a large lot of cattle in the woods that we are killing off as we want them they are going to kill 20 head today for this brigade now can scarcely go ten rods in the woods without seeing a beef hide  We killed a goat yesterday while we wer out on Picket yesterday there is considerable fun out on Picket but it was not very funny last night for it rained all night and was as dark as pitch & I had 4 posts to attend to about 80 rods apart through the thick pine woods & run over a thorn bush every 3 rods & had to go the length of the lines every two hours the whole Co goes out & no one is allowed to sleep there are three men on a post we heard a sharp firing on our posts about 12 o.clock last night but have not heard what is was yet

                        I have not seen Gen Stevans yet but the boys say he is a first rate Gen & likes the 8th first rate he sayes if all of his Brigade wer like the Michigan 8thhe could go through hell if he tried but I dont know as I want to fight the Devils in the lower Regions untill we get what there is here dressed out first & we are going to do that as fast as we can we have got the best of the state of South Carolina in our possession now (that is the best

Civil War General Isaac Stevens

Cotton portion) & Gen Stevans has made a bett with one of his Officers of $50 that Savanah will be in our possession but the middle of February I don’t know as I shall be home to help you harvest the wheat but would like to   there is no telling how long this will last but it seems to me not many months longer if they work it right at any rate the 8th Regt is redy to do their share now if they only have a chance there is a part of a Regt of Cavalry here & they report now is that Stoctons indipendent Mich Cavalry are coming here   The Shell road I spoke of is a road that runs across this Island it is graded & made of Oyster Shells the are any quantity of them here  It runs from here to the Ferry across the Island & from there on to the railroad.  

                        I believe this is all for this time & I have got to scour my gun for it got quite rusty in the rain last night The ink that I am writing with one of the boys made from the juice of the Prickley Pear the[y] grow large in this Country now write all news & write often & tell the rest to do the same

                                                            Your Brother


P.S. I have to Frank all my letters for there is not a Postage Stabe to be had.   

8th Regt Co F Mich Infantry, Port Royal, S.C.

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