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Eugene Sanger Transcript

Fort Jackson
Miss. River La.
Oct 22, 1862

Hon. I Washburn
Governor of Maine
Dear Sir,

I am very sorry your letter did not offer more encouragement of a transfer. I really ache to be with the fighting army.

I enlisted hoping to serve my country. I have served in the army 16 long months without having entered my own State since the gallant 6th Marched out of it. Every battle that occurs on the Potomac or in the West makes me all the more discontented with inaction & eager to be there. I want to cultivate my art, I want to put in use that knowledge and experience which I have studied and labored for since I left college, & for which there seems to be a great demand in the Eastern and Western armies.

To be sure, during the summer I was usefully employed and labored night and day after the Battle of Baton Rouge, but I see very slim prospects of any more fighting in this command, and much less of any preferment in case of an engagement and I don’t wish to pass the winter at an unimportant post, where hardly any service is required of me.

This post is garrisoned with a detachment of the 31st Mass., supplied with a surgeon.  The officers are refined and cultivated and if disposed to pass the winter pleasantly could not fail to find ample resources for enjoyment, but I am too strongly devoted to my profession and too eager to improve the opportunities for surgical experience which the armies at the North afford to feel willing to spend it in idleness.

When I wrote you I presumed you would be in Washington soon and could simply request the Surgeon General to order me North or in case you did not visit Washington, address him a note vouching for my industry & experience & fitness for duties of the camp & field.

I can’t make application with any prospects of success as my application must go through the Headquarters of this Department, and if my rank and qualifications are now being ignored I certainly could not expect a favorable endorsement & a paper bettering my condition, yet if I don’t succeed through my friends, I shall try it.

General Dow has been relieved of command at these forts & ordered to Pensacola. The 15th Maine are there also.  They were in an unhealthy and demoralized condition when they went. The 14th is at Carrollton improving in health. The 12th is in fine condition and has gone up the river. The 13th is doing garrison duty at the various forts and outposts, never having had an opportunity to drill as a Regiment or show their mettle since leaving Ship Island, Gen’l Dow being in disfavor, this Regiment has ever been doomed.

Sugar making has commenced and the boys and many of our soldiers are turning the spear into the pruning hook.

The sly allusions of speculations, the enticing of brothers & favorites and the turning of authority to the lining of the pocket are rife here but it does not become a soldier to tell what he knows.

Our rebel friends are beginning to droop again. The Proclamation is having a good effect. The South is coming to a realizing sense of the unity of the North and their determination to put down this rebellion at all hazards. They talk of Constitutionality.

I reply what have you to say about Constitutionality – you are beyond the pale and must submit to the dictates of the victors. The war of words has passed & the day for returning niggers or quieting your nerves with soothing syrups and placebos is at an end.

A poor forlorn Secesh who took the oath to save property said to me with a sigh, ‘well I presume when the war ceased all will wheel into line – the masses respect power and tamely submit.’

I have no fear of success if we pursue the matter with vigor.

Yours Respectfully,
Your Ob’t Servant
Eugene F. Sanger
Surgeon U. S. Vols.