Aug. 24th, 1863
It has been a long time since I have written home not since July 10th, I believe. But, Mother, you must excuse me for ever since we first got on the boat to go up to Yazoo City I have been under the weather. Yesterday and today I feel better than I have felt for many a day. Day before yesterday and the day before that I had a very shake of the ague but have got that broke on me. I think that I will get well now.
I have been detailed to write for the Adjt. in John Palmers place. Hohn has been detailed to write at Gen. Banks 2nd Div.
We are camped in the suburbs of New Orleans. Some of the boys go into the city every day. I was there this morning.
I want you never to forget Ed Robinson, Mother, for he has been just like a brother while I was sick. Some nights on the boat while I had such a high fever, he would sit and fan me till 11 o'clock at night, long after I went to sleep. And then when he got anything nice he would come right to me with it. Dock Bandy treated me so well, too. I have fever blisters on my lips and they pain me a great deal so please excuse this for the present.
I have received all of your letters. One had 20¢ and a postage stamp in it. Very much love to all.
Your Affectionate Son,
Co. "K" 37th Ills Vols
1st Brig., 2nd Division
13th Army Corps
ORDERED BACK TO VICKSBURG THENCE TO PORT HUDSON AND PROCEEDED ON TO NEW ORLEANS, LA. AUG. 13th, GOING INTO CAMP AT CARROLLTON.
ON SEPT. 4th THE REGIMENT WAS REVIEWED BY GENERAL GRANT. TRAMPING ON THE NEXT DAY TO MORGANZA, LA. AND SEPT. 8th, IN COMPANY WITH THE 20TH IOWA AND THE 26TH INDIANA, STARTED PURSUIT OF GENERAL DICK TAYLOR AND GENERAL GREEN'S REBEL FORCES WEST OF THE ATCHAFALAYA RIVER. BY SEPT. 29th, MET THE ENEMY NEAR MORGANS BEND. WITH 1,200 UNION MEN WHIPPED 3,000 REBS. ON OCT. 1st THE REGIMENT HAD ANOTHER ENCOUNTER WITH THE ENEMY AND TOOK 65 PRISONERS; RETURNED TO NEW ORLEANS ON THE 11th OF OCT.
New Orleans, La.
Aug. 30th, 1863
Dear Mother & Father,
I wrote you a letter a few days ago letting you know where we were and how I was. I don't know that I am any better than I was then. I have got the diarreah broken on me and now I think that I will pick up and get as fat as ever in a few days.
There is a probability of our staying at this place for some time yet. We belong to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 13th Army Corps. There was a grand review of the troops here yesterday by Gen. Banks. I and Will Boyce went out and saw it; it was a nice sight. When Banks passed our regiment he turned around to Gene Vandever and asked him what regiment that was. He made some other remark about our revolving rifles and passed on.
There has been one man buried on an average out of regt. since we have been here. I shall write oftener about this.
I received Mothers of the 19th yesterday. Tell all of my other correspondents that they will have to wait till I get well before I write to them.
Love to all. Remember your affectionate son
New Orleans, La.
Sept. 4th, 1863
I haven't received a letter from home for some time, but I suppose that it is because we have had no mails lately. I wrote you and mother a letter a few days ago. I am well again and will go to doing duty tomorrow morning.
New Orleans is a tolerably nice place but every thing is very dear. You have to pay 10 or 15¢ for an apple that looks any ways half decent, 5¢ each for eggs and everything else in proportion.
Father, I have been talking some of accepting a commission in a colored regiment but don't know whether to or not. What would be your advice to me on the subject? Please don't let any one know any thing about it for I wouldn't have it get over town.
We are under marching orders now. I don't know how soon we will leave. Neither do I know where we will go to. Anyway, direct your letters to the 13th Army Corps via Cairo to New Orleans.
With much love to all, I remain your affect. son. Write soon.
WITH COL. BLACK NOW IN COMMAND OF THE BRIGADE COMPOSED OF THE 26TH INDIANA, 20TH IOWA, AND THE 37TH ILL. THEY EMBARKED AND PROCEEDED FOR BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS OCT. 13th.
FROM THEN UNTIL FEB. 1864 THEY GUARDED THE RIO GRANDE RIVER AREA AS FAR NORTH AS RINGGOLD BARRACKS. IN FEB. THE REGIMENT RE-ENLISTED FOR THREE YEARS AND RE-MUSTERED IN FEB. 28th, 1864, AND GIVEN 30 DAY FURLOUGHS. AFTER HOME VISITS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS THE BOYS REPORTED BACK IN AT CHICAGO.
New Orleans, La.
Sept. 24th, 1863
Yesterday I received your kind letter of the 12th inst. Tomorrow I guess that we will go to the regiment with all of the baggage.
The weather is very cool here now, so cool that we have to keep on our thick jackets. I can't think of anything to write that would interest you. Every thing is going on as usual here.
I would like to be at home a while about this time, but I have almost come to the conclusion that I would stay the other year so that when I do come you will be all the gladder to see me.
I wish that Sallie & Lue could get right well and hearty again. I should hate for one of them to die before I could see them. Give them both my best love. Tell them that I think of them often. My love to Father and the boys and save a large share for yourself from your affect. son.
New Orleans, La.
Oct. 16th, 1863
I am in debt to you two letters. The latest was dated Sept. 20th which I received at Morganza, but I had no opportunity to answer it until we reached here and I have been so busy ever since. We did get here in the Q M'S department, but I could't write sooner.
There is no news with us - only that we are to take a salt water trip. We are going to Texas and some say we will land at Galveston and some say at Brownsville on the Rio Grande. The general impression is that we will go to Brownsville. I hope so, at least.
The boys are all well. Ed Robinson and I went to the city yesterday for a few hours. I went to John Palmers room and had a long talk with him. He is clerking for Gen. Banks and has a good place. I am in a hurry, Mother, and you must excuse a short letter. Much love to all.
Oct. 19th, 1863
Yours of the 5th inst. was received day before yesterday. And I was very glad to hear from you. I am well and in good spirits.
We are expecting to start for Texas any day. When we do go we will go by water and land at Brownsville. At least that is everybody's opinion. That will be quite a trip for us and will take us a good distance from home. Yet still I wouldn't miss the trip for a good deal for I want to see all of the country that I can.
I am staying with Quarter Master Peck at present. I do his writing and held draw & issue clothing & rations. It is a very good place but there is no telling how long he will need me. I will be satisfied to serve any place or any way for the next 11 months and then I won't have some body to tell me just what I shall do. I can work to suit myself.
There is nothing else of interest that I can think of to write so goodbye. Much love to all.
On Board Steamer Peabody
Off Matamoras, Mexico
November 3rd, 1863
I wrote you a letter just as we left New Orleans, but could not get a chance to send it. We left that place on the 25th of October and arrived here on the 1st and have been trying to land ever since. Our regiment is going on shore today. We had a tolerably rough trip of it. The Gulf was pretty rough. I was seasick for four or five days, but I have got over it now.
Five of our boats just got up this morning, the Zephyr, the Bagley, the Pocahontas and two men of war, the Virginia and the Monongahela. The Zephyr and Bagley were both disabled and the other three staid along as an escort.
As soon as we land, the force is going to Brownsville, that is some 30 miles from here. I expect that if we are successful in taking the place that we will go into winter quarters. The 2nd Division along with the 9th & 13th Maine Regts., some negro regiments and several men of war comprise the fleet. There are 18 vessels along with our regiment and 150 Texas cavalry is aboard the Peabody. The McClellan & Crescent are the Flag Ships.
I am still with Q.M. Peck in the Q.M. department and I have a very easy time, not much writing and guard duty of any kind at all.
I don't expect that you will get a letter very often now nor do I expect one very often. I will write every time I get a chance to send one. It will be near Christmas when you get this I expect.. There is nothing more of importance that I can think of. Very much love to all and write often to your affect. son.
P.S. Direct your letters to the 37th Ills., 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Genl. Dana commanding. Don't put it to the 13th Army Corps because the rest of the corps has gone by way of Brashear City and that is the way the letters will go. Send to Brownsville, Texas via New Orleans and Cairo.
On the Island of Santiago
7 miles from the main land,
over sand hills and salt
water sloughs, Texas. Off Matamoras, Mexico. Mouth of the Rio Grand.
November 6th, 1863
I would write you a short letter, I believe, if I thought that I could find any kind of heading. I really don't know where we are. I know that we are on the Island of Santiago and I know that we are close to Matamoras and I know, too, that we are only 12 miles from the mouth of the Rio Grand. We are just exactly where Genl. Taylor landed part of his troops in '46. The regiment went out to the main land seven miles from here today, but we had no teams so I staid back with Capt. Peck and the baggage. We will go to Brownsville in a few days. The weather is very warm here. I am now in my shirt sleeves and am sweating. I suppose that you (this Saturday Night) are sitting by a good coal fire in the sitting room probably talking about Tom and wondering where he is. He is down here in the Sunny South all right side up with care.
Three hundred rebel guerillas made an attack on Brownsville the other day and the citizens under the Mayor of the city armed themselves the best they could and fought them. But the rebs were too many for them and went in and burned a good portion of the place, but before they could accomplish much some Mexicans came over from Matamoras and cleaned the rebs out.
One hundred of the 20th Wisconsin, under Col. Bertram, went to the mouth of the river today and tried to land. They got into one of their little schooners that we brought along for the purpose of landing troops, but the breakers were too high and they were swamped. Four of the regiment were drowned and 2 sailors and they lost every gun, all of their water and provisions. And there they were with nothing but what they had on. They were there but a short time though till here comes Mr. Mexican with nice light bread and water to them. So much for Mexico and its kind and loyal inhabitants.
I haven't told you anything about my trip here. We were on the Steamer Peabody, a very good craft and a bully good crew. Our Capt. and 1st Mate were regular old sea dogs. While we were on the Gulf a big storm came up and the fleet of 18 vessels all got scattered in every direction. And just as the storm was at its highest, our rudder chain broke and there we were out of sight of every other vessel. Nobody knew how far from land we were in a very heavy storm with our rudder completely disabled. Some of the boys over heard the Capt. of the boat say the next morning that he wouldn't give the snap of his finger for any of us for about 20 minutes. He said if the boat had happened to drift around broad side in the wind that the boat wouldn't have stood it for five minutes. And as quick as the chain broke the 1st Mate jumped right over board and clung to the rudder and worked there for over an hour trying to mend it, but he couldn't do it. It so happened that the thing worked around all right and so did we.
The Steamer Union sank and Steamer Nassau and two schooners were driven ashore after we got here. That is all that was lost.
Much love to Mother, Brothers, Sisters and all.
Your Affectionate Boy,
P.S. If you ever get this letter you will do better than I think. You tell Sallie to write me a good long letter. Don't answer this until you have received it.
Write soon, sooner, soonest.
Nov. 13th, 1863
Having nothing to do and knowing that a letter would be acceptable I thought that I would write you a few lines. I wrote to you on the 3rd inst. and to Father on the 6th.
We are camped about a mile out from Brownsville in an open field on the banks of the Rio Grande. We can stand and look over into Mexico, but we can't go over. Some of the boys have been over though. Matamoras is just across the river from here. We hear their bugles and their brass bands every morning and evening.
Yesterday Gen'l. N.P. Banks and staff went over. The Mexicans fired a salute of 15 guns in honor to him. They are expecting the French in there daily and when they do come there will be a pretty hard fight, I expect.
The Mexicans, every one of them, wear these great broad brimmed hats and they look so curious in them. Some of them look as though they might be pretty wealthy. They use nothing but gold & silver. We can hardly pass our money. You can get $20.00 of our money for $10.00 in gold or silver. We can buy oranges for 5¢ a piece. The best one that I really ever ate. And over in Mexico for a bit in silver you can buy a dozen.
There is just plenty of sheep and cattle down in this country. As I was coming out here from the Island of Santiago I saw a drove of sheep that looked large as all the rest of the sheep put together that I ever saw before in my life. There must have been as much as 3000 head.
There is strong talk down here of our getting mustered out next April. If this is so , we will get home a little earlier than we would otherwise.
Mother, I wish that you would tell me the where abouts in Texas that Uncle John used to live. I might possibly happen to go to the place in some of my travels and I should like to give his family a call.
There is a great many Union men down in this county. Brownsville is a town very near as large as Danville. There is not near as nice dwellings in it though.
I received your letter of the 18th of Oct. a day or so ago. Write often now that I am where we can get a mail once in every two or three months The boys are all well except Geo. English. He has a shake every now and then. Much love to all.
Your affect. Son,
December 24th, 1863
Happening to think that I was owing you a letter I have made up my mind that I would either have to answer it or do without getting any more from you. It done me a good deal of good to receive a letter from you for I believe that it is the first one in my life. I wrote to Mother a day or so ago.
I am well and hope that you and your family are all right. On the "Goose" I often think of you and Mary and I should like to see you very much.
Tomorrow we get pay. It is Christmas too. How I should like to drop in home early tomorrow morning. Wouldn't I surprise some body? "Well, I would." George, I expect that you are around some good fire toasting your shins today. While here I am sitting in an open tent with all of the flaps up in my shirt sleeves and sweating at that. The days are very warm here and the nights are pretty cool.
Tomorrow morning I am going over to the 38th Iowa to straighten up the Quarter Master's papers. He has got them into such a fix that he can't straighten them so he came over and got me to go at it. I am going to charge him a little, too, if I do it. "That's whats me matter."
Let this short letter suffice for the present, George, for I am in a hurry. Some other time I will write you a good long letter.
Much love to Mary and the babies.
Your Affectionate Brother,
Geo. H. Brown
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