THIS IS ONE OF TWO LETTERS FROM TOM'S BROTHER, WILLIAM H. BROWN. HE WAS 18 YEARS OLD WHEN HE WROTE THIS AND WAS KILLED AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH LESS THAN A YEAR LATER.
A 3 Butler Ave.
Camp Robinson 4
Miles S.W. Indp'lis, Ind.
Thursday, Aug. 23rd, 1861
Dear Brother Tom:
I received yours dated the 19th about 4 hours ago and hasten to reply for fear you may not get my letter before leaving home. I was glad to hear from you and to know something about what you are going to do. It did not please me much to hear that you had determined on going, but since it is so, I am glad you are in Charley Black's Co. But I had a little rather that you had got in the Eleventh along with me. I believe I would rather go under Charley Black's Co. I believe I would rather go under Charley as Capt. than any one else I know of, but your Co. cannot get in near as good as Regiment as the 11th. Our Reg. has got its name up now and we will be likely to be treated well wherever we go. Co. "A" is full and overflowing. There are a great many more who want to join our Co. I think if I could, all of us who came from Danville would go together. I mention this merely as a possibility. I do not say I will at all. I should rather be in some Reg. from Illinois than from Indiana. You need not say much about this, however, for there are ten chances to one I will stay here.
Tell Mother when she writes next to send me a recipe for making beef soup. Also for somebody to send me some stamps. Some of the new kind if you can get them there. I cannot get stamps at the camp and besides that, money is just now rather short with me.
I hope you will write to me often and let me know of your movements. For it is likely we shall both go to the West somewheres and we may get a sight at each other sometime. When we will leave here I cannot tell any thing about, but will let the folks know when the time comes. We will either go through Danville or by way of the Terre Haute and Alton R.R./ to St. Louis. All of the boys are well and hearty. Weather awful muddy.
Since you are bound to go I will say to you, obey your officers, try always to do your duty, try to gain all the knowledge in regard to military affairs you can, never break any rules laid down, and in this way you will gain the respect of your officers and of your fellow soldiers. I have seen how things work and I tell you especially to remember these things. For if you do not, you will soon not only lose the respect of those around you but you will lose all respect for yourself. And when you do that you will never make a soldier in the world, never. Pay attention when on drill and try to learn all you can.
Not only try to do your duty to your country but to your conscience. Do as you would as if you were at home. Guard especially against - card-playing. You at first may do it to pass away time but after a while it will grow on you and you can not quit. I have seen enough to satisfy me of that. Read your Testament, and practice its teachings. Remember this advice and if you carry it out I know you will never regret it.
Your True Friend and Brother,
P.S. Write and let me know who are in your Co. that I know of. You had better take with you 2 hickory shirts & 2 prs. yarn socks. Show this letter to Father.Wm.
Give my respects to Capt. Black and his Brother Will and Ed Kingsbury.
AUGUST 27th, 1861, TOM WROTE HOME FROM CAMP WEBB, FREMONT RIFLE REG., WRIGHTS GROVE, CHICAGO UPON ENLISTMENT WITH THE UNION ARMY. HE DRILLED AND TRAINED AT CAMP WEBB UNTIL MID-SEPTEMBER.
Camp Webb, Fremont Rifle Reg.
Wright's Grove near Chicago, Ill.
Aug. 27th, 1861
We arrived here this morning all safe and sound. And I am agoing to tell you a little how we arrived at Tolono about 12 o'clock and found a very good dinner awaiting us. After eating very heartily we waited until about 1/2 past 2 when we started for Chicago. At Kanpakee I saw several very nice sights. We passed on to Calumet where we stopped about 20 minutes and I went in and got a piece of huckleberry pie and a cup of coffee and paid a dime for, got aboard for the city again.
When we arrived here it was 9:00 o'clock. We were met by Col. White He welcomed us very kindly and marched us to the Richman house where we got supper and staid over night. This morning we were met by all of the whole Regiment and marched into camp. We have received nothing but our cooking utensils as yet. I can't write any more this time.
Your Affect. Son,
T. R. Brown
MILITARY LIFE CAUGHT UP WITH YOUNG TOM BROWN
AUG. 28, 1861
I would not have joined Captain Black's company if I had thought he was going to make me work as hard as I have to. I want you to write him at once and tell him that I am not used to getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning, and that I want better things to eat. and that I often have to stay up at night walking around with my gun and there is not any sense to it.
Aug. 30th, 1861
I am at present in dreadful poor spirits. Captain Black has arranged things by your order so that I cannot stand things much longer now.
For instance, at 5 o'clock in the morning I have to drill with the company, which is all right enough. Then at 9 I have to go out and practice drumming, then at 10 I have to quit drumming, against the wishes of the A Drum Major. And then I drill until noon and there is not another drummer on the grounds that drills at all.
I would like you, Mother, to tell Father to write and tell Charlie not to drill me so much at first or I will be laid up before long. The first drill at noon is enough.
I am well and in great spirits all except it's so much. Charley does it only by your own wishes. Now just think of me when its from 5 to 7, I drill. Then breakfast. And then I drill from 9 to 12. Then from 2 to 5 again and it is more than I have been used to and I cannot stand it. I am too tired now and I can hardly write.
T. R. Brown
P.S. Charlie says that he will excuse me by your consent.
Camp Webb, Sept. 15th, 1861
Father left here day before yesterday and since he left I have been more home sick than ever before. I am beginning to appreciate the value of home.
All of the boys are getting tired of this regiment. We have found out that we have to take up the mini musket and they don't like it at all.
If we ever get to go down where General Wallace and his men are I don't know but I think that I will try to get in his regiment.
We expect to start from here about next Tuesday for St. Louis but there is no telling what we will do yet.
The Major had a fine colts pistol stolen from the Captain's tent the other day. Ed Robinson received a letter and a watch by Major Black this morning. Milt Larwin is well and enjoying himself. I drew a pair of shoes this morning. I wish you would send me a few stamps. I would like to write to some of my friends and I don't like to have them pay for them.
Barney Harley was here in camp yesterday. He is going home tomorrow and perhaps will carry you this missive. Dan Kingsbury & Towny Palmer spent a couple of nights with us. I would like to come home on a furlough but it will be impossible at present. But just wait until we take Memphis and then I can come I expect.
Give my love to all of the family and the rest of the folks. Tell them to write often and in your prayers remember your son.
Thomas R. Brown
IT WAS IN SEPTEMBER 1861 THAT THE "37th ILLINOIS INFANTRY" WAS RECRUITED AND SUBSEQUENTLY COMMANDED BY MAJOR JOHN CHARLES BLACK. THEY WERE KNOWN AS "FREEMONT'S RIFLES". MAJOR BLACK'S BROTHER WILLIAM P. BLACK COMMANDED COMPANY "K" OF WHICH TOM BROWN WAS A MEMBER. BECAUSE THE SECT. OF WAR HAD ATTEMPTED TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF REGIMENTS OF VOLUNTEERS FROM EACH STATE MANY ILLINOIS UNITS WENT TO OTHER STATES. LATER THE SECT., OF WAR ALLOWED THAT ANY REGIMENTS COMPOSED OF COMPANIES FROM OTHER STATES WAS TO BELONG TO THE STATE FROM WHICH THE GREATEST NUMBER OF COMPANIES WAS FURNISHED.
BY OCTOBER THE YOUNG TOM BROWN WAS TRAMPING THROUGH MISSOURI AND ON THROUGH CAMPAIGN AFTER CAMPAIGN THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE CIVIL WAR. ON THE 13th OF OCTOBER THE 37th ILL. MARCHED FOR OTTERVILLE, ON THE 17th - CAMPED TWO MILES BEYOND. OCTOBER 20th, HEADED FOR WARSAW AND ON THE 23rd CAMPED A SHORT DISTANCE BEYOND WARSAW. OCTOBER 25th CROSSED THE OSAGE RIVER CONTINUING SOUTH TOWARD HUMANSVILLE, ARRIVING ON THE 30th. NOVEMBER 1st ON SOUTH THROUGH BOLIVAR CAMPING 2 MILES FROM SPRINGFIELD ON THE 3rd. THEN WITH 278 MOUNTED MEN OF FREMONT'S GUARDS STORMED
SPRINGFIELD ROUTING 2000 REBELS WITH 1/3 LOSSES.
Camp Otterville, Otterville, Mo.
Oct. 15th, 1861
Dear Father & Mother,
I received a letter from you both yesterday and also one from brother Willie by mail, (and if they didn't do me any good I don't know what did.)
We left Booneville last Monday morning for a little tramp through Mo. mud. We arrived here at Otterville after a three days march. I stood the march well, especially the last day. I had one of the ordinance guard that day and we took our own time to it. We got a knapsack of percimums in abundance all along the road and more apples than a horse could carry. I tell you that Mo. is the greatest Fruit growing country that I ever saw. It just suits me. I never saw a prettier country in my life. More greenery and more novelty than ever I heard tell of almost.
We are trying to hem in General Price. Our brigade at present consists of the 37th Ill., 9th Mo., 25th Iowa. We are under General Pope. He is a fine looking man.
I would like for you to send the next time - a big loaf of salt rising bread and a section or two of gingerbread, with perhaps a cold ham. That is what a soldier wants.
I took dinner yesterday with an old secesh lady. She says that her husband is with Price and that Price has got 140,000 men.
I believe that this tramp has cured me of the home sickness. I got to see Wesley Fairchild and Capt. Wate in Otterville yesterday. They are both pretty sick. Their regiment has gone on south. They are in Seigles Brigade just where I wanted to be or else under Lew Wallace.
Father, that little two dollars came in good play for certain. Lieut. Bandy is in town now buying me something to write home on. We will be paid off the first of next ,month and I think that I can let you take care of about $20 of it.
The Captain advices me to buy a pair of boots and I think that I will. We are not a going to have any sutler and I am glad of it. I have never told you yet what we were armed with. Well, I will tell you there is 210 of Colt's revolving rifles (7 shooters). Our company has 41 of them - the rest are all common English muskets. We expect though for all of us to get the Belgian musket, which is a rifled gun and a good gun.
Captain Black is up in town sick. He has the chills & fever. I can't think of any thing else to write hardly. Give my love to Sallie, Aunt Emma. To Lucretia, Mary, Miss Prince, John & Charlie and receive a good share for your self from your affectionate soger boy,
P.S. A good pocket knife would not come a miss.
NOVEMBER 9th ORDERS CAME TO BACK TRACK TOWARD ST. LOUIS. MARCHED THROUGH QUINCY BY THE 12th AND INTO ST. LOUIS BY THE 19th. IN EARLY DECEMBER MOVED TO LAMINE. ON THE 15th, MARCHED 25 MILES TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CAPTURE OF REBEL STORES AT SEDALIA. THEN STARTED BACK TOWARD SPRINGFIELD ON JAN. 25, 1862, ARRIVING LEBANON ON THE 9th OF FEB. MOVED FORWARD 18 MILES ON THE 10th AND PM THE 12th WERE IN A SKIRMISH WITH PRICE'S OUTPOST.
Syracuse, Mo., Nov. 29, 1861
Dear Father and Mother,
I received a letter yesterday from Father in which he said that you were both very uneasy about me. Well, it is true you have cause to be, but please do not be, for I am enjoying good health. I have gained near 20 pounds since I left.
We expect to go from here to St. Louis but we can't tell for certain. Yesterday we struck tents and started towards Warsaw but we only got about 6 miles when orders came to turn back. We keep very comfortable in our tents. We can build big fires in them and keep perfectly warm. The day before yesterday we drew new uniforms. They are very good, a great deal better than our old uniforms.
I have a chance of getting a discharge and come home if I want to, but I don't hardly think that I will come. Lieut. Bandy tells me that I can get a discharge at any moment on account of my arm, if I want it. But I like this life. It is true that I get a little home sick at times but I soon get over it.
On the march to Springfield I gave clear out the third day, but the Major had me get on his horse and ride a piece. Then I went it like a top although I did ride on a wagon for about 20 miles. But coming back I did not ride a step of the way, and more than that I carried my knapsack every day but one.
Mother, do not feel so bad if you do not hear from me so very often for I can not always write. The Capt. and 2nd Lieut. send their best respects. Give love to all, Miss Prince included, and remember your Affect. Son.
Thos. R. Brown
P.S. Mother, our privations and hardships are not near as hard as you heard that they are. Some boys I suppose do not like the life as well as I do and some others, as a matter of course, have a harder time. We have always had plenty to eat except when we were at Springfield and then we were a little short.
Syracuse, Mo., Dec. 6th, 1861
Dear Sister Sallie,
This pleasant afternoon just after a hearty dinner of beef soup and crackers, lets take another pleasant little chat. Well, I suppose that it is a settled fact that we take up winter quarters. "Companies B" and I went this morning to clear off the place. It is about 6 miles from here on the Lamine River, about 2 miles this side of Otterville. It is a very nice place and I like it very much. It is close to the Pacific railroad and close to the best water.
Tell Mother not to send a comfort until we get into winter quarters, as I can not carry it if we march, but when we get settled I want a good comfort and a small bed tick made without any feathers or straw in it; for I can fill it with hay or straw and it will be one of the institutions in the line of war. Also, I would like a pair of gentlemen's pocket scissors.
We expect to be paid off very soon. Every day you will hear the Mo. 9th or the Iowa 5th is being paid off.
Sallie, I guess that you will think that I have been sick ever since I left home when I tell you how much I have fell off. When I left home I weighed 115 pounds and I weighed myself day before yesterday and what do you think I weighed? It was just 133 1/2 pounds precisely. Some little loss isn't there?
Yesterday I took my first dose of medicine from the doctor. I went to him for some thing for the diarrhea. He gave me three powders. I took one and the other 2 went into the fire.
Tell Charlie Vance to write to me and not wait for me. Ask him if he can sell a stove yet?
We had a nice little ride on shanks horses down to Springfield some 2 or 3 weeks ago. Staid there 4 or 5 days. Got aboard of shanks ponys and had a very pleasant journey back over Mo. hills.
Ed Robinson and Fred send their best respects. Give my love to all.
Your Affectionate brother,