Dr. Mudd's Letter dated August 24, 1865

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Dr. Mudd's Letter dated August 24, 1865  (1865) 
by Samuel Alexander Mudd

Following is the first letter Mrs. Mudd received from her husband after his arrival at Fort Jefferson. He had apparently written earlier letters, but because of erratic mail service she had not yet received them. Friends and family usually addressed Mrs. Mudd by her nicknames of “Frank” or “Frankie.”

Source: The Life of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, by Nettie Mudd

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugus, Florida,
August 24, 1865

Dearest Frank:

To-day one month ago we arrived here. Time passes very slowly and seems longer than that period - years gone by, apparently no longer. What do you think? I have received no letter or news whatever from home since being here. One or two of those who came down with me have received letters, containing no news, and do not advert to the possibility or the subject of release.

You know, my dear Frank, that that subject is the all absorbing one of my mind. Frank must be sick - the little children are sick - some may be dead, or some other misfortune has happened, are questions frequently revolving in my mind and heart, and the dear ones at home are unwilling to break the cruel intelligence to me.

My dear Frank, were it not for you and those at home, I could pass the balance of my days here perfectly content or satisfied. Without you and the children, what is life for me - a blank, a void. Then, my dear Frank, if you have any regard for me, which you know I have never doubted, let me hear from you and often. I have written to you by every mail that has left this place, and surely some have been received. I wrote to you aboard the boat before arriving here. Mail, sometimes, arrives here in five days from New York.

This place continues to be unusually healthy, and the only fear manifested is that disease may be propagated by the arrival of vessels and steamers from infected ports. At this time there is a vessel lying at quarantine with all hands aboard sick with fever of some description, - several have died, and there is not one well enough to nurse the sick - no volunteers from among the prisoners going to them, so the chances of life are small. I am now in the hospital. I have little or no labor to perform, but my fare is not much improved. My principal diet is coffee, butter and bread three times a day. We have had a mess or two of Irish potatoes and onions, but as a general thing vegetables don't last many days in this climate before decomposition takes place. Pork and beef are poisonous to me; and molasses when I am able to buy it, and occasionally (fresh) fish, when Providence favored, are the only articles of diet used. I am enjoying very good health, considering the circumstances.

Sweet, dearest Frank, write to me soon on the receipt of my letter. I am afraid letters have been intercepted from either you or myself. If I don't hear from you soon, I am afraid I will become alike indifferent and careless. I have written to Jere, Ewing, Stone, Ma and Papa some several letters - others, one or two, and not one syllable have I received. I am afraid when the silence is broken, the news will be so great as to endanger the safety of the boat. My dear Frank, I have nothing to interest you - several hundred prisoners have been released and gone home recently to their families.

My anxiety increases upon the arrival of every boat and mail, and I envy the departing homeward bound. Give my love to all - kiss the children and believe me,

truly and sincerely,

Your husband, S.A. MUDD