Note: The local historical society will likely be none too happy about the contants of this letter, but at least they’ll now have an idea of what happened to the courthouse records. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Bates that Maryland is officially loyal Union territory.

Port Tobacco Md.
February 9 1863

Dear Parents,

Another week has gone by towards the three year stone I see in the distance, and Sunday might find me at the dame desk and occupation of last Sabbath. I spent all last Friday afternoon in writing letters, but as there is but three mails a week leaving here, viz. – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This will go in the same mail; the only bit of news I have for you is that the Ninth Army Corps is going on bad of transports at Acquia Creek now. And we have captured two thousand dollars worth of contraband goods with two smuglers (sic); by “we,” I mean “us,” that is, the 4th U.S. Cavalry Esq. I spent the forenoon in exploring the garret of the courthouse, and truly it was “a pursuit of knowledge under difficulties,” for my head would afford a fine study for a phrenologist to feel the “bumps,” but I have my reward in about nine cartloads of old records and papers, a sample of which I will send you. Ask Johnson to read the writing on the old plan of the courthouse I enclosed. There is about two hundred and fifty large books, all written full in just about as legible a style as the sample and I mean to read them all.

You must remember me to all the folks and be satisfied with this short letter for this time. Give my love to all the family and I remain

Charles E. Bates