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Spinster
12-12-2006, 01:31 PM
26 December, 1861
Fort Gaines, Isle Dauphine

Dear Friends

Gracious a'me, what 'citment.

When I came down to work at Gaines in '59 to raise us a little cash money, leaving Sister to keep the house in Mobile, I figured to just work hard until we got ahead some, and I thought the island might be good for my lungs.

When the war broke out, and the Fort changed hands to the Republic of Alabama, I stayed. The Federals left owing me a month's pay, but when I told Capt Thomas about it, he paid me of his own pocket. His mama came from one of those fine old French families in Mobile, you know quality jess shines through in a man like that, yes it does.

Then, things got a bit more organized, more troops came, and my work got pretty heavy. Oh, they'd detail the men to help with the laundry pots and the wood and to keep the cook fires going, but still its a powerful amount of thinking to keep that many things going at oncet.

I thought about quitting, but Sister got married, and it didn't seem right for me to move back in up there, with her with a new Husband in the house, even if we have known him for years, and even if it is still half my house.

But Capt Thomas and Capt Wainwright found Mrs. Morgan and her boy Tiberius and hired them to come about two months ago, and that eased the work a good bit. There's plenty to go around, mind you, t'aint no one sitting idle. We are all earning our pay.

We were getting ready for a little Christmas, opening all sorts of cakes and such that came in on the boat, and cooking big joints for the men, and Capt brought in a new man to stay with us. Mr. Trent is to build quarters for all the new troops coming in, and he is to lodge with us, as all the barracks are full to bursting. He come from that cotton factory up on the Dog River that burned here awhile back--he was livin there and lost his room as well as his job. There ain't no sign of building back, so he came here.

Tiberius was beside himself opening all the crates and such, and talking about getting to serve the eggnog to all the young masters early in the morning. He planned to just sit up all night until peeking light and run over there so he could be certain to be the first to say "Christmas Gift" and get his reward from them.

We had all settled for the night, except Tiberius, when we heard a good bit of clatter. Mistah Landrum allowed that they were called out, Christmas Eve though it was, something about the gunboats off the coast. We heard the guns across the bay at Morgan begin to boom, and the men were gone.

Christmas morning dawned bright and cold, with a scant guard in the Fort and almost no one for Tiberius to call 'Christmas Gift' on. I had a package for him though--he is such a child and Mrs. Morgan's Papa gave him to her to play with when she was a child herself.

Not knowing when troops would arrive back, and still hearing guns from Morgan, we fixed a breakfast, and soon heard and saw the news----blockade runners, the like of which I have not seen before, come through with all sorts of things, past the gunboats, and hiding in the inlets around the island and up towards the Dog River. Gaudy men, and women of the sort not to be seen in the nice parts of town. Mrs. Morgan said they were brave and all, but told Tiberius he was not to go near them.

So we spread the Christmas feast, and made a fine day of it. Capt Thomas said we'd done aplenty, and gave leisure for the afternoon. Capt Wainwright got up a parade with all sorts of pans and plates and the men sang and marched around the Fort. Mrs. Morgan beat on the sock board with a stick and Tiberius and Mr. Trent got out the big copper pots. Later on we had a lot more music and frolic and I got out the snake jug. I didn't let Tiberius have none though, and Mr. Trent made a face when he smelled it. I think he is Temperance.

Those two hit right off together--kinda funny to see them, their heads so close and into something when they had just met. I think they are two of a kind though--Mrs. Morgan makes Tiberius wear shoes because she wants him to put on airs like she has money, and Tiberius shucks them as soon as he is out of her sight. Mr. Trent hung his shoes on a peg as soon as he came in. They took off with a crab net and headed for the jetty as soon as the Capt. gave leisure.

We held back some of the Christmas in case the rest of the troops got back in, but I served it up the next day, and Capt Thomas said he would get me some things to bake up for them special when they got back. Capt Wainwright held divine services, and we sang all the old songs.

Mr. Trent started drawing out a plan for the new quarters--he is a good hand at drawing. I figure the officers will diddle around making changes on those plans and it will take forever to get started. But Mr. Trent also put Tiberius to looking for wash lumber on the beach, to see if he could get me some shelves up in this kitchen instead of always stacking things here and there.

I finished the toe on a pair of stockings for Mrs. Morgan, put in a new heel for Private Thomas, finished up a flannel shirt and a lined blanket. January blows cold down here, and will be here soon enough.

Kind Regards,
Mrs. Lawson

hanktrent
12-13-2006, 01:11 AM
I'll just add (not in first person) that this was one of the most fun events I've been to in a long time. The quarters we were given in the fort were great--a period room that Terre and the Morgans had furnished wonderfully. I did my usual thing of trying to do my best effort at a portrayal throughout, and they turned our quarters into a wonderful "time travel" zone.

Most gratifying moment was when I was talking with Mr. Wainwright at the end of the event, and had to explain that I wasn't really hired by the modern fort to reconstruct the historic 21st Alabama's quarters. He said he'd heard someone was coming down from Ohio and would be in character throughout the event, but he hadn't realized it was me.

I was a little nervous about trying to portray a native Alabamian among Alabamians, when I'd never even visited that far south before, but I studied the best I could and listened to the local accents on the trip down. Everyone helped me fit right in, and we all hit it off the minute we met.

If everyone else had as much fun as I did, I'm sure looking forward with great anticipation to my next time reenacting with the same gang.


Later on we had a lot more music and frolic and I got out the snake jug. I didn't let Tiberius have none though, and Mr. Trent made a face when he smelled it. I think he is Temperance.

My 21st century reputation must precede me, but I didn't think anyone observing "Mr. Trent" in 1861 Alabama would have mistaken him for a temperance man. :) I never got to smell the snake jug, but if it had unwittingly been passed to me at the minstrel show, I was planning to fake taking a drink.

But all that eggnog I drank always had a shot of "whiskey" added from my flask, and I thought the effects were noticeable by late Sunday night. Mrs. Morgan was even kind enough to offer me some headache powders for my "hangover" Sunday morning. My drunk impression must be way too subtle compared to the usual. :) Now I'm curious whether the Morgans noticed it or thought I was a temperance man as well.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Spinster
12-13-2006, 09:29 AM
:D I just kept wonderng why you were pouring your drinking tea into the eggnog, ' cause I knew what it was.

I think Mrs. Morgan did 'get it' because she had no prior knowledge.

By the by, we are cooking up a possible springtime adventure for you and Tiberius --I'll be back to you as soon as I see if some rough spots can be mitigated.

Mrs. L
The snake jug will bite you

hanktrent
12-13-2006, 01:16 PM
:D I just kept wonderng why you were pouring your drinking tea into the eggnog, ' cause I knew what it was.

Ah, one of those cases when ignorance is bliss. :)


By the by, we are cooking up a possible springtime adventure for you and Tiberius --I'll be back to you as soon as I see if some rough spots can be mitigated.

Yes yes yes! Keep me updated.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

xamier
01-02-2007, 08:31 PM
:D
By the by, we are cooking up a possible springtime adventure for you and Tiberius --

Mrs. L
The snake jug will bite you

Adventure is what I live for. I suppose Hank and I will need to take the dark path and get into mischief.
Betty and I had the best time at Fort Gaines, what a learning experience. I am still amazed at how much more fun the experience was with a playmate like Hank. I guess Tiberius will never grow up.

Best regards,
David Morgan

xamier
01-03-2007, 09:18 PM
I'll just add (not in first person)
But all that eggnog I drank always had a shot of "whiskey" added from my flask, and I thought the effects were noticeable by late Sunday night. Mrs. Morgan was even kind enough to offer me some headache powders for my "hangover" Sunday morning. My drunk impression must be way too subtle compared to the usual. :) Now I'm curious whether the Morgans noticed it or thought I was a temperance man as well.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Mr. Trent:

Ms Terre and Mr. Morgan had prior knowledge of what was in the flask. I on the other hand did not and I was completely taken in. :rolleyes:

I was actually concerned that you were slipping drinks all day long but didn’t show any sign of being inebriated. I was worried that you might have a serious alcohol addiction to have built up such a tolerance and the headache powder I offered you was because I thought that you probably did have a hangover.

By the way, I might add that about ten years ago, I ran a branch office of the “Council of Substance Abuse Awareness” and worked as a drug/alcohol counselor. Good job, I think that you would have fooled anyone who didn’t have prior knowledge of the contents of your flask.

Respectfully,
Betty Morgan

hanktrent
01-04-2007, 12:11 AM
I was worried that you might have a serious alcohol addiction to have built up such a tolerance and the headache powder I offered you was because I thought that you probably did have a hangover.

Whew, that's good to hear. I was afraid I was slipping, in my portrayal of a hard-drinking crack--uh, southern working man. :p

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net