Below is a letter written by Pvt. Henry A. Trowbridge to his nephew, William Earl Woodruff, son of Mary Trowbridge Woodruff and Francis Woodruff. It was written on March 7, 1863 while Henry was located at Camp Hooker near Frederick City, Maryland. At this point Company C, 14th Regiment was still inactive.
I received your Welcome letter of the 1st inst. [Note: the abbreviation “inst.” is short for instante mense (Latin for “this month”)] with one from Emma [Willy’s sister, Emma Woodruff]. I was very glad to here from you once more. It found me as well as ever and able to eat my pork and beans which I hope these few lines will find you all. I hardly know what to write to you because I wrote to you the other day with a sketch of our camp. The line of the Monocacy [Monacacy Junction near Frederick, MD; the Battle of Monocacy in which the 14th Regiment NJ participated and was honored with a monument, was fought here in July 1864] is all quiet at present and is like to be as long as the 44th is here. We have rain or snow about every other day and the mud is 4 feet deep or less and the river is raising very fast and they are afraid the Bridge will float away. They haf to watch it night and and day to keep the drifting trees from barring the bridge. I would like to be home to help you cetch muskrats and to try your gun. I suppose you are getting to be a good marksman by this time. I wish I could send you one of our rifles then you could plug them with an ounce ball. that is a good piece for them. I think it pays very well. you done very well in trading guns to get too $ to boot you must to have had quite a time on Washington’s birthday. they must be getting rich to waist so much powder as that don’t you think so. we have ben into having a 20 pounder fired twice a day by the baterry that has been here all winter with us but they have gone down in dixeys land to take there stand and before long we will follow them but it dose not matter much as long as we get out of this filthy place. it must be as warm there as it is here if the meadows is not froze yet so you can get your hay. is it [?] as good as it was last winter I am not offended of those valentines because you sent them but I thought Emma sent them because it was her directions. I thought they was rather hard for her to send. that song put me in mind of old times i tell you. I must close for this time hopeing to here from you soon again. it rains tonight and tomorrow is Sunday and I will be on guard in the rain as usual if it does not clear off to night who would not be a snoger & give me back my money. [ends here; could be a final page is missing]
I was amused to see mention made of Willy catching muskrats–hard to believe this was once possible given how urban Elizabeth, NJ’s environs are in this day and age. But the Woodruffs, descendants of Elizabeth’s founding families, were farmers with land, so it is not unlikely that they would have hunted muskrats and other critters on their property. Or maybe for hunting purposes, Willy went further afield to nearby Trowbridge Mountain in Morris Co., NJ, where his Trowbridge relatives resided.
I have a few more letters from Henry (sent after his regiment became active) which I will share in upcoming posts.