11th Vermont Infantry (aka First Heavy Artillery, Vermont Volunteers)
Fort Massachusetts, D. C.,
Dec. 7, 1862
... Thanksgiving came and went. We had a turkey dinner. The men a holiday, and fortunately many boxes from Vermont reached us that day and the day before, so that almost everyone had a taste of a delicacy. The evening dress-parade came off, and I read the Gov.'s Proclamation and the President's Sabbath Order, which was our only formal service. I thought of home that day, and doubtless many in Vermont remembered friends in the army, as Gov. Holbrook suggested. Of course we should have all liked to spend the day with our friends. It strikes me as the first thanksgiving when I have been absent from you, but I may not remember....
Fort Stevens, D. C.
Nov. 29, 1863
... Thanksgiving Day I was rather lonely. It seemed as if I might be at home as well as not-and I might, if I had not been here. I went to the city in the morning-let the regiment go. Went to Dr. Sunderland's, but found another man there; a good sort of an old covey-don't know who it was. But ministers, and everyone else here, will persist in calling "psalm" "sam" and "calm" "cam", and very flat at that. A pretty good little choir sang old "Denmark" -. "Before Jehovah's awful throne"-very finely, and I wanted to join-did some. After meeting I found a brace of Middlebury friends, got half a dozen fried oysters, and went to hear the Italians sing; and I verily believe that the hearing of "The last Rose of Summer", "Home, Sweet Home," and "Kathleen Mavourneen" by these artists did me far more good than the meeting. I was much more impressed by it any way. There was a good deal of Italian singing too, which I relished probably more than you would. Then I got my Thanksgiving dinner at "Willards", with the turkey and plum pudding of course, and hurried home....
Head Quarters 1st Vermont Art.
Nov. 27th, 1864
... On Thanksgiving Day I got my allowance of turkey with potatoes and onions and jelly and peaches, &c. these last from the sutlers; but I could not eat much, and soon cast aside what I had eaten. Was quite bilious and down at the mouth. The next day ate nothing, and am about well now. Live on fresh oysters...
Source: Quite Ready to be Sent Somewhere, the Civil War Letters of Aldace Freeman Walker, edited by Tom Ledoux