This selection is from a collection of letters written by Louis James M. Boyd to his wife, Jannie, from April 23, 1862 to August 1871. The couple met in Cedar Key, Florida and later moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Boyd served as a 3rd Assistant Engineer aboard the U.S. gunboat Albatross during the Civil War. This letter describes the destruction of the rebel salt pans along the Florida coast.
Editor’s note: In cases where LJM Boyd’s spelling deviates from standard spelling, his original spelling has been left in place with the standard spelling in brackets.
My Dear Beloved Wife
It has bean [been] now two months and a half, since I have received a word from you – I must truly say, that I have not had anything in my life, to worry me as much as that has, during the time I have been waiting I cannot find words to Express my feelings, I never thought that I Should be Separated from you, that long without either Seeing or hearing, from you my Dearest Jannie, I always had the name when I was at home of being very impation [impatient], but Since I have bean (been] in the Navy I have learnt to be very pation [patient] and to wait the course of everything but this affair has nearly worn them out, I think if you were placed in my Situation you would Say the Same that I do, I can do nothing but hope and pray that you are all well and wait the comming [coming] of a letter from
you, Dear Jannie thinking you would like to know what we have bean [been] doing for the last two weeks I will now give you a detail of our proceedings, Well we left Pensacola on the 14th of this month, for this place, we arrived here on the 16th the object of this Expedition was to destroy Salt-Pans, which the Rebels have to make Salt in, Since we have bean [been] laying here we have fit out Some four or five Small Boat Expeditions, which has proven very successful, we have destroyed more Salt Pans than all the other Expeditions put together the Salt Pans that I Speak of are generally Situated in Small Creeks and Swamps, we cannot get to them in the Steamer, therefor we have to go in Small Boats, the Manner in which those Expeditions are arranged are that we would leave the Ship about four O’clock in the Morning, and proceed up the Bay until we would discover Smoke, for that is the only way that those pans can be found by a Stranger as soon as we could get near enough we would then fire at them
with a Small Cannon we have and such Skidaddeling you never seen in your life, they would leave everything behind them, we went in Several of their Camps and found there [their] Breakfast cooked and on the Table ready for eating which our Boys would soon demolish, after rowing So early in the Morning, we would then set about breaking up their pans and works we have taken a great many prisoners, who were all ancious [anxious] to take the oath of Allegiance, that they might get rid of the Southern Army, they all tell one tail [tale], they say that the Rebels cant hold out much longer if they are not recognised [recognized], we have on board Two Refugees and a Prisoner the Prisoner I judge we Shall let go in a few days, it is enough to make any person’s heart ache, to see what this Poor People has to suffer, Scarcely anything to eat or wear and they look Miserable, we have destroyed in the Neighborhood of Four hundred Pans in all, which will be a great pull back to them, as they cannot git [get] Iron for no price, those Pans are worth from one to three Hundred Dollars a peace [apiece], we have also destroyed
a number of Camp Waggons [Wagons] and a great Deal of Salt, which is only worth $30.00 a Bushel down here, that was when they had their pans to make it in, but now we have destroyed them all, they say it will be up as high as fifty Dollars, I do pitty [pity] the Poor People down here, you can tell Ma, that one of the Prisoners that we have taken is very well acquanted [acquainted] with Johns Thomas Segar; Cousin Josephine’s Brother had saw him not a great while ago, he was very well at that time, we expect to leave here within a few, days for Pensacola, which place I expect to find some letters for me, I feel very ancious [anxious] that we should go off soon, Dearest Jannie, we have one of the best of Capts he is the finest of men, and appears as one of us, you would scarcely know that he was Capt. if you would see him on board, he is very much beliked by the Officers and men, we have bean [been] blessed since we left Boston with good Captains, it is time that we should be, for we had enough to contend with when we had old Capt Prentice on board our Chief Engineer is a very fine man. I like him very much, and also our New Asst Engineer, we have now in all four Engineers, - Monday December 8th My Darling Wiffie – we left St Andrews yesterday, for Pensacola, well on our way down the coast we came across a great many salt pans which we had a fine time destroying them, it would make your heart ache to see the
poor people that were on the Beach at the time that we were Breaking the pans, after we had finished breaking the Pans, we came to anchor where we will lay until Tomorrow and then we will start for Pensacola which place I am very ancious [anxious] to see; that I may get some letters, for I have not heard from you for three Months within 3 or 4 days, so you may judge how ancious [anxious] I am to here from you The latest date of your letters was Oct 26th so you see that it has bean [been] now nearly two months since heard from you we all expecting a mail on board tonight which is due here, Tell Jerry I am going to write to him and I want him to answer it My dear Jannie write soon and often direct as I stated in Care Naval [?]
From your loving