According to "When This Cruel War is Over" a collection of letters by Brewster, edited by David L. Blight, he was a member of the Massachusetts 10th Regiment from Northampton, Ma. Brewster was sent to Camp Day, to recruit replacements for his regiment. He was no happy about this. Between his poor health, his poor opinion of the state of the camp during this period and his desire to return to his regiment Brewster's letters do not paint a happy picture. The first letter Blight used from this period ( 9/1/1862) opens with "I am still at this dismal camp". It also contains much of the strong anti-Irish feelings of the day. He talks about how he needs to speed up the farewells at the gate but "the Irishwomen make the most fuss bawling and yelling, +c". Another interesting incident in this letter relates how the Irish recruits from the 9th Reg. refused to proceed when ordered to the front until they received all their back pay and bounties but all the old "Yankee" recruits had no problem with this. This and the mention of how the Irish do nothing but fight (he never mentions who they are fighting) shows Brewsters' low opinion of the Irish. What he does not bring up and most likely did not know is the Irish background. Why would an Irishman of this period go of to his possible death without collecting all his pay for his family. The Irish were a subjugated people, dominated by the English. Nothing in there experience would ever have led them to believe that a government would keep a promise.
The second letter in Blight's book (9/19/1862) states in an early sentence, "This is the dullest of all mortal places.” This letter states that they had 116 recruits in camp for various regiments, bounty jumping is a problem (Skeedadling) and he is stuck working in the camp so he can not open a recruiting office elsewhere.
I received a third letter from Historic Northampton in Northampton, MA. Here is the transcript of that letter:
Camp Day No Cambridge
Saturday August 30th / 62
I received your note yesterday from Sing & Bliss(?). I should have written before and have felt bad that I could not, but of all my military experiences this camp rates the whole. there is no head nor tail to anything here. I reported here for duty the next morning after I left N. (Norhtampton?) and could get no information what was required of me nor any information about anything. I went back to Boston and went to see Lt. Col. Day, he sent me back here with instructions to report to Lt. Jordan the commander of the camp naming my duties to assist in preserving order, and especially to assist in keeping the recruits in camp, so I returned here again, and demanded quarters which Lt. Jordan said he would furnish me. I went to him four times that day, but could get nothing done, and so until Monday. I came back mornings and went back nights until I got sick of it. Monday I was taken down with my providential diarrhea and it has continued until this time but I came out again day before yesterday and told Jordan that if he had got any duty for me to do I wished he would set me about it he then told me he wanted me to take the whole charge of the camp as "Officer of the day", and I have acted in that capictity ever since. Though I am so sick that it does not seem as if I could stand up sometimes. I went to the Dr. of the Camp, for something to check the trouble, he said I must take some Brandy & Ginger, but he had none, nor anything else in the way of medical stores, but I asked if he could not reccommend something he had got, so he went out and got some powders and gave me, and told me to take one after every discharge, which would amount to about 20 times a day, but I can plainly see that the medical department is of a piece with everything else in this camp, without organization. I can not tell you half in a letter, but I have not had until last night any place to sleep here, nor any place where I could write a letter, nor any place to eat here. I write this short letter to day hoping it will get to you to night, tommorrow if I can get time I will try and write you a longer letter. But this must answer for this time frame.
Your off brother
P. S. love to Tom, Matthew & Mother.
The lack of both organization and medical supplies in the camp at this time is backed up by other sources. The Sep. 4, 1862 Boston Evening Transcript ran a article entitled "Affairs at Camp Cameron or Camp Day"
"We have just returned from Camp Cameron, and regret to say that the condition of affairs there calls loudly for some prompt and efficient action on the part of the officer who has the management of this encampment". "Desertions are frequent", "soldiers have an excellent opportunity, and many temptations, to desert".
The bluntest comments are saved for this...."There is a building called a Hospital at this camp, but they have no medicine for the sick." "When Gen. Butler worked his way to Washington, it was understood at the National Capital that there was a Massachusetts... We need and demand attention to the wants and necessities of our soldiers, both sick and well.”
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