Letter. Rufus A. Barrier, Camp near Charleston, South Carolina on James Island, to Mathias Barrier, Mt. Pleasant, North Carolina
Barrier continues to have bad things to say about the conditions in South Carolina: "We get nothing to eat but beef and corn bread. The beef is so poor that they have to kill it to save its life. Some of it actually stinks before it gets dry from the slaughter pen. We have to drink most miserable water full of myriad insects and vermin. When we boil it to make coffee we have to skim it or strain it before it is fit for use. The whole air is thickened with myraids of sand flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and various other insects that are entire strangers to anything I have ever seen. If ever you imagined yourself in the land of Egypt in the days of Pharo when the locusts were turned loose upon him then you can form a faint idea of what we have to suffer here on James Island in the mighty kingdom of South Carolina. If I were able I should cut a canal around the whole state and float it off to some unknown southern ocean." Disease is rampant throughout the brigade, particularly typhoid fever: "The hospitals of Charleston are perfect graveyards. The men of our Brigade are dying at a rapid rate." He expresses his wish to leave Charleston, but believes that, since the city is likely to be attacked on or around 1 April, they are likely to remain. Barrier has faith in the fortificatons and defenses of any approach by land, but is not so sure about approaches by sea: "I am fearful the water defenses are not sufficient if the enemy makes the attack with eight or ten Monitors, which they certainly will." He waxes poetic about the day that peace shall again reign over the land. He mentions that he's heard news of food riots among the poor of the South and wonders what will happen in the months to come if the war continues. He compares his lot to that of the bondsman: "We are certainly living worse by a long ways than any Negroes in the country." He closes by wishing his family well and is sad to add that, though he himself is fine, his command is in "very bad health": "I only report 52 for duty out of 88."