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Letter from Andrew David Geddes to his father


This is written by Andrew Geddes. His father is Adam Gordon Geddes. This is a copy of a copy so the copyists may have made mistakes. Apologies for any of mine.

Chatham Barracks
Tuesday Novr 7th /54

My dear Father,

I received your welcome letter and also one from Maggy which I have anxiously expected for some time. My not writing to you soner was owing partly to my being very much engaged with duty and drill and partly because I wished to get myself settled here before I should give you any account of it. I am quite delighted with my life here, and have got into a nice little room on the terrace in front of the parade ground and overlooking it. The drill here is carried out on the strictest principle. I had to go into a marching squad again to learn some new twists and turns of marching peculiar to Chatham. We get three hours of it every day. A morning and afternoon parade, at the latter of which I have to command the company, which is only about 60 strong. The Captain and Mr. Gressom, who is married, are the only other officiers, Mr. Davies having gone on leave when I joined. The Provisional Battalion, otherwise known as the Pongo Batt. mess together, and a very nice Mess it is. It is not the fashion for the Subs. to take wine at dinner except on rxtraordinary occasions. I took wine the first day, but have taken none since, so that I think I shall live very cheaply. The town is such a dirty place that we seldom ever quit Barracks, unless to take a turn about the lines and military roads. The works are very extensive, I have seen very little of them yet.

I now see some great mistakes that I committed at Cork. All the furniture etc. I bought there comes into capital use here, and serves to make my room very confortable; but I gave away a livery suit there whichcost about 5 and would have been just the thing here. My present servant, Fitzsimmons by name a regular paddy and a very good servant, has a suit which he can wear. I suppose however he expects something for it. Do youthink he ought to? Please answer this. His wife washes for me and charges only 12 sillings - I breakfast in my room as all other Subds here do., and we have a cup of tea in each other's rooms occasionally after Mess; in short Chatham is much cheaper than Cork. I have still got 45 out of the 50 and expect to have 30 of it left at Christmas. There is no subscription to the Mess here - I believe the Agents deduct it in their account of pay.

My baggage was all safe, my servant having taken great care of it. He is a capital fellow. The new uniform is in full blow here, but even the wearers are disgusted with it, it is so poor looking. I am glad I have the old. My lace is not quite approved of, but I shall make it do for the time. We mess in full tog, and dare not appear in any public place in mufti. There was a large 90 gun ship the "Orion" launched here yesterday. We all got tickets but I could not go as I was on Battalion duty. I have just been writing mt report, which covers three sheets of foolscap. It is nearly 11 o'clock pm and conseq uently I am very sleepy. I shall write Maggy most likely tomorrow, in answer to hers of today - is that not business-like.

A.G.Geddes
7 Henderson Row
Edinburgh
Believe me
Your affecte. Son
A D Geddes
Letter from Andrew Geddes