This letter was written by a soldier named Joseph Washington Worden (1806-18xx) serving with the 8th Regiment under the consolidated command of Brigadier General William Jenkins Worth in Florida during the relatively peaceful period following the 2d Seminole War. He was a son of Joseph Worden (1773-1852) and Ruth Sweet of Scriba, New York.
Wordon wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, Joseph W. Heath (b. 1803) — the husband of Ruth (Worden) Heath. Their son Oscar Stewart Heath died in 1851.
Addressed to Mr. Joseph W. Heath, Scriba, Oswego County, New York
Tampa Bay [Florida]
April the 21st 1843
I again have a few leisure moments which I will try to improve by informing you that I am still in the land of the living and at present enjoying very good health. I received a letter from you last October. At that time I was driving a five mule team for which I got 15 cents extra pay per day. Soon after I was taken sick and had to leave my team and go to the hospital where I remained about two months in which time I had the ague and fever and then the brain fever which came very near giving me my discharge before my enlistment was out and sending me to Davy Joneses Locker.
Immediately after I got well, I was ordered to take my team again and go with General Worth which took me until three days ago. The company that I belong to are stationed at Tampa Bay with four other companies of the 8th Regiment where we expect to remain for several months.
The wild red men of the woods are now very tame since the treaty was formed. They now come in and trade with the troops and settlers. They fetch venison, turkeys, and a great number of buckskins in and trade them for powder, lead, knives, and whiskey which they are all very fond of though the head chief — which is Sam Jones — now never shows his face among the whites.
The government has sold off nearly all of their horses and mules as well wagons and harnesses so that I think that we shall have very little more traveling while we stay in Florida.
I am enjoying myself as well as can be expected in my circumstances. It is a general time of health here at present and I hope it is the same in Scriba. Give my respects to all the enquiring friends and tell them I wish to hear from them very much.
I wish that Oscar and Edwin would write to me and Ruth Ann, and all of my friends if I have any. I wish to hear of the sports of last fall, the weddings, balls, apple cuts, &c. as we have none here and it will do me some good to hear what was going on there. Write to me as soon as possible and tell Christiana and all the rest of them to do the same.
Your sincere friend and well wisher, — J. W. Worden
P. S. When you write, please to write how my Father and Mother is and how affairs stand at what was once my home.