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American Civil War Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Directions: Read the letter and answer the questions below. The words below are that of an actual letter from a solider to his brother.


Plymouth N.C.

Tuesday afternoon, March 8th. 1864.

Dear Brother,

In looking over my unanswered letters this afternoon I found a letter from you dated Feb. 9th. Whether I have answered it or not I am not certain & for fear that I have not I will write. I would sooner answer each letter that I get from home twice than miss answering one. Letters from home have been a very scarce article with me for a long time. I think that they now average about one a month & I am expecting for them to stop altogether. If such becomes the case I shall have to submit for I cannot make any of you write if you do not wish to do so.

I am enjoying very good health & this is a beautiful afternoon, warm & comfortable, but at present Plymouth is a very lonely place to me. The Regt left on last Friday morning for Newbern I believe, but what object they were they were ordered there for neither they nor anybody else here knows. Either the QM or I had to stay behind & he concluded to go so I had to stay. Two Regts went from here, the 101st P.V. & the 16th Conn Vols. It is said that newberne is threatened again by the rebels. But I know nothing positive, their going away has left this place in a rather defenseless condition. There are not over eight hundred troops here now, & a considerable part of them are North Carolinas, & how much they can be depended we do not yet know.

A deserter came in yesterday, says he came from Goldsborough & that there are but few rebel troops in the state. Don't believe him as all the news that we have had for the past month shows that the rebels have been concentrating a force in this state probably he was sent in to deceive us in hopes that we would relax our vigilance & become an easy prey to the rebels. If such was the object it won't work. We are prepared night & day to do all that our numbers will permit towards defending this place. If you have ever been left at home when all the rest have gone away, you can have an idea of how solitary this place is now that the Regt is absent.

If they do not come back I expect a large & troublesome job in moving all the baggage up to them. They went in light marching order, everything of the baggage kind was left behind. I expected to be at home long before this time & we had pretty good reasons for believing that we should start this week, but it is all knocked in the head now. In fact I have not the least idea when we shall go.

The gunboat Bombshell had a narrow escape last week. She went up the Chowan river & while she was gone the rebels got below her and planted a battery upon the river bank. The rebels thought that they had her safe enough. They sent a flag of truce & demanded her surrender, But Brinkerhoff her commander could not see the propriety of such a proceeding, he refused & kept up the river out of the reach of the rebel guns, The next day the gunboats Southfield & Whitehead went to his assistance, they arrived at the rebel battery just before dark & were warmly received. A few shots were exchanged, but night coming on both sides quieted down. In the morning the gunboats opened in earnest & the rebels left. The Southfield bursted her hundred pounder & its fragments wounded two men. No other damaged was received. The Bombshell is quite famous since her escape.

Harry Brinkerhoff her commander is considered a brave man. He is a German & is most terribly wicked. Wednesday morning March 9th A boat has arrived but has brought no letters for me. The Regt went to Newbern, got on to another boat & immediately came back to Roanoke Island, where they now are. Reports say that the rebels are threatening this part of the state & I suppose that is the reason that the Regt has been sent to Roanoke. What will turn up time alone can tell.

This is a beautiful morning. About like a May morning in Penna., But though it is so warm & pleasant I would be willing to exchange it for Pennes frozen hills for a little while anyway & I rather guess that I would be willing to let the exchange remain for good & all. We have been having quite a number of thunder storms lately. Last night when I went to bed it was lightning rapidly in the south.

There is considerable sickness here still. The fever & ague still continues in force. I had something of a chill last night. The first that I have had for five months, but I think that I have stopped it I took 10 grains of quinine before I went to bed. I feel pretty well this morning. We have 2 companies of the 2d Regt Mass heavy Artillery here now. They are a hard set. Nearly all foreigners. Came out for the large bounties. A great many of them have been sick since they came here. It is amusing to hear some of them that are Irish talk about their enlistment. They will say "Only sax wakes in this country & enlisted in the Massachusetts waty artillery" I must close for this time.

Give my love to all-- good by

Your brother etc.

E N Boots

Q. M. Dept. 101st Reg P. V.

Mr. Horace A Boots

I enclose you a rebel stamp. If I ever should be so unfortunate as to be taken prisoner you can send me a letter & this stamp will pay the rebel postage.

1. How often does the writer receive letters from home?



2. Where is this officer stationed, at the time this letter was written?



3. Who is Harry Brinkerhoff ?



4. Why did the officer enclose a rebel stamp with this letter?



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