November 26, 1861 letter to Sarah Keith and Lois Clark from Hiram Crawford Jr.

November 26, 1861

To: Sarah Keith and Lois Clark, Galesburg, MI

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Fort Monroe, Old Point Comfort, Hampton, VA

Hiram is describing to his sister and niece a horrendous storm that he encountered at Fort Hatteras following his retreat from Chicamacomico on Pamlico Sound. Following the storm, his Regiment received orders to move to Fortress Monroe near Hampton Roads, which is where he is writing his letter. He is receiving regular correspondence from his Mother and brother, Henry, but hasn’t heard from his brother, David, and fears he is no longer “of this world.”

Old Point Comfort VA
Fortress Monroe/Nov 26/61

Dear Sister & Lois[1]

Have about come to the conclusion that either, my last letter must have been miss _____ or else you have forgotten that such A person as your humble servant was in existance. If it is the first this will repair the lost, if the latter it will merely jog your memory a little. I have seen some pretty hard times “sogering” [soldiering] after getting cleaned out by the Rebels at Chicomocomico,[2] on the northern end of Hatteras Island, and losing about everything we had and lying in the sand almost wholly exposed to the inclemencies of the weather for about five weeks at Fort Hatteras. The Old Atlantic burst its boundaries and flooded us[3] out sweeping every thing we had left away. I will give A brief description of the latter.

Nov 5th early in the morning I was awakened by the cry of turn out, turn out or you will be drowned. I hustled out lively and took A look at things. I found the wind blowing A gale and the Ocean lashed to A fury and every moment forming floods over the Island. By seven oclock it had increased to such an extent that it broke through the Breastwork ½ mile in lenght that we had thrown up, which was between us and the Ocean, and come down on us in such force that swept Tents, clothing and in fact every thing except ourselves and Arms[?]. In order to save ourselves we had to pick the highest ground and then stand in water up to our knees exposed to A severe and chilly rain also the uncertainty of being swept in to the Sound (Pamblico) for four long hours. Not very pleasant feeling. I had to swim in order to save myself several times, and to cap the climax the day before we received some new clothes which we very much needed and about half of them were lost.

When I received orders to report ourselves to this place, embarked the same day and arrived here the next morning. The orders were received by A general feeling of joy by the whole Regmt which was not to be wondered at, for I think it is the most dreary, desolate, cheerless and God forsaken country, that A human being ever placed foot on. Since our arrival here we have undergone A great change both in appearance and feelings. We have received one whole suit of clothes from overcoat down to shoe strings and part of another, new Tents with stoves in them, two Blankets in fact we have abundance of everything and I believe we make a good appearance and will do as much execution, given us A chance, as any other Regmt in the service.

Week before last I was over and visited the ruins of Hampton, a Village situated 1½ miles from here, and burned by the Rebels seven months ago. It was the summer residence of the wealth and aristocracy of this part of Old Virginia, amongst which was Ex President John Tyler whose house was spared. I was all through it. It was splendidly furnished which is fast going to ruin under the rough treatment of the “Sogers” boys. The government is concentrating A large amount of troops at this point probably either to go down the coast or else to advance into centre of the state. I expect to see lot work before long. Well the sooner the better it will suit me. The Drum is beating the signal Lights out so I will close by sending my love to both of you, also to Luke[4] and Byron.[5] I wish [you would] write what has become of the Seely boys.[6] Have received letters regularly from Mother[7] & Henry.[8] Poor David[9] I feel very much worried about him. I am afraid we must count him amongst those that have passed the troubles of this world. My mind is on him A great deal, for he was my pet[?] Brother. If you should hear anything from him I wish you would let me know. Hoping you will answer on Receipt.

I remain
Ever your Brother
& Friend
H Crawford
2nd Sergt
Fortress Monroe
Co E
20 Regmt Ind Vol


[1] Lois (Keith) Clark was Sarah’s step-daughter

[2] In October 1861, Union forces established an outpost 40 miles north of Hatteras Inlet at Chicamacomico. When the Confederates discovered the Union presence in the village, they launched an attack on the troops there. When the Federal commander saw Confederate ships crossing Pamlico Sound, he ordered his men to flee south to Fort Hatteras

[3] The final storm of the 1861 hurricane season made landfall in eastern North Carolina and is believed to have attained hurricane intensity based on observations from Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, and observations from the ship Honduras

[4] Luke Keith, Sarah’s husband

[5] Byron Clark, Lois’ husband

[6] See December 14, 1861 letter

[7] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[8] Henry Clay Crawford, his older brother

[9] David Caleb (D. C.) Crawford, his older brother

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Updates & Corrections | Crawford/Comfort Family Letters
  2. Trackback: November 26, 1861 letter to Sarah Keith and Lois Clark from Hiram Crawford Jr. – Letters & Diary Entries From the 1860s

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