Note: I’m trying to get the last couple of 1862 letters out this month, so I can start 2008 with 1863 letters. In this installment, Bates goes fishing and makes some plans for settling down. His aversion for African-Americans continues, and remains unexplained.
Harrisons Landing Va,
July 24th 1862
I received a letter from Johnson last night and am glad to hear you are doing well. The Union will not find many fighting supporters among you, if they are all like the “blow-hards” Johnson writes about. I forget what your opinion of a nigger is, but suppose a white man is just as good in your eyes if he only behaves himself. I don’t know where my aversion to a nigger comes from, but its of no use for me to try to think of them with the “brotherly regard” H.Gy. recommends. I can’t do it. They don’t look right.
I have been speculating the past two weeks in good old fashioned style. I think the fashion is about as old as the world for Christ found the greater part of his Apostles following the same business big Fishing; I got a net in an old fish house on the bank of the river, and, with five other men, fixed a boat. And went to work. We make six hauls a day, each man having his haul and he whose haul it is has the choice of ground to haul over. You would hardly believe the quantity of fish we catch all of which we find a market for without leaving the river in this way. I have made $17 a day and generally average from $10 to $12. I was offered $100 for the whole fixins, and think I shall sell out, as my stay in the land is uncertain. I might be off for Richmond tomorrow, not very likely, though.
The Pay-master is around, and has humored us with a look at his Benevolent countenance, and the tender of certain paper acknowledgements of the pecuniary indebtedness of the U.S. called “green-backs” Union-plasters. Toad-skins Treasury-notes, which I need not say, were accepted. I have now on hand so much money that I think I shall send some by Adams Express, yes, I will tomorrow. I will sell my net and remit the proceeds to you to-morrow. I want you to look around and see if there is a good chance to invest a few hundred dollars in real estate, for the genius of speculation is on me, and I think I shall make $500 more before my time is up. If you know of a House and land, that is worth about $1000.00 let me know about it, and if you think it a good bargain, engage it I will try to pay for it. To-morrow I shall send by Adams Express Co to this Address
Mr Isaac Bates
the sum of ($335) three hundred and thirty five dollars. Two hundred and fifty you will please to invest or lay up for me, the rest you can appropriate. I am in good, or rather, in the very best of health and hope this finds you as well.
I remain affcty
Charles E. Bates