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The Civil War Letters of William Laban Brown, Part II

Sultana plaque at Vicksburg, Mississippi - Photograph courtesy of Betty Shepard Long



Robert Warner at the Sultana Memorial in Knoxville, Tennessee - April 2004
Photo courtesy of Betty Shepard Long





Tenn. Knox Cou(nty)
May the 2nd, 1865

Very Dear Affectionate Husband,

I once more have the privilege of answering another kind letter from you which found us all well and doing the best we can.  I received the 2 last letters from you just a week ago today.  You said in one of them for me not to write till I got another from you so I thought I would commence for I am looking for one in a day or two.  So I hope these lines may soon come to hand and find you enjoying good health and in great spirits of coming home.  Well William you wanted to know how I am getting along.  As well as any person can without money.  I hanít had any  money for some time nor I hanít borrowed but one dollar but I expect I will have to try to borrow a little but I have paid for most of the bread we have eat ever since last fall by sewing for my peas of corn just for my cow and fattened my meat and my meat will not hold out till fall.  You need not be uneasy about me for I think I can make out somehow till you get home for I hope it wonít be long for it is the opinion of the most of folks that you will be mustered out before long.  God grant it I pray.

This May the 3rd:
Well, William as I have wrote 2 letters before and told you how I was getting along I will say no more about it this time.  I will just say my Irish potatoes looks well.  I put them right across the branch from the spring so I think I will have good potatoes this season.  William if you will come home you shall have as many peas as you can eat for I gathered one bushel of hulled peas last year.  My corn is not planted yet.  I thought last winter I should try to get more corn put in than my new ground peas but as I donít feel as stout as I did then I felt like if me and the children works the truck patches and it (?) we will do very well.  The woods is as green as I ever saw for the time a year.  You wanted to know about Crit.  He is at Nashville.  He is mustered out but had to wait a few days to get his pay.  He will be at home in a few days.  Will (Rule?) and several others has come home.  Joseph Johnson and Jamey (Maticks?) and some others was left at New York City sick.  (Carick or Garick?) Thurmon died at Washington City.

William I heard about the ship blowing up that had left Vicksburg with some prisoners on it.  Oh, I made sure it was you.  I could not tell anybody my feelings but when I got a hold of the paper and read it, it relieved me very much although I am very sorry to hear of any poor men having to suffering that way.  Your mother say to tell you she like to took a jumping fit when she heard it.  Will, William (Gomleyís?) rebel garitte scout came in to Knoxville day before yesterday armed and on good horses under a flag of truce to surrender on conditions they wanted to keep their arms.  There was a good men found their horses that had been stolen when they come in so they put the rogues in jail.  I donít know whether Sam was along or not.

Tenn Knox Coun(ty)
May the 4th, 1865

Dear William,

We are all well this evening and just returned from prayer meeting at Salem which was held by request of Gov. Brownlow.  He requested the people to hold this as a day of prayer and thanksgiving.  Prayer is a staff to the Christian for m(e?) for I have prayed more since  you left home than I ever did and I feel like they have been answered to a great extent. I hope you have not quit praying in time of your troubles and for us and our Government.  So enough of this at present.  William, Crit just now come home with his discharge.  He looks well and hearty (so turn over [to the back of the page]),

This the 5th of May
William, Mary Sharpe was at meeting in great trouble yesterday for she hanít heard from Boid since last Nov.  If you know anything of him or can find out anything, write to me all about him if he is dead and I will let her know and also Mat Rodgers.  Enough of this just now.  I will quit and go to washing and maybe I will get another letter from you this evening.

[End of letter]

[Note:  A Madison H. Rogers, Corporal of the Third Tennessee Cavalry, Company A died on the Sultana.  This may well be the "Mat Rodgers" referred to in N.C. and W.L. Brown's letters.  This would also support the use of "Mat" as a nickname for "Madison" supporting my belief that the "Mat" most often referred to (and with no last name mentioned) must be John Madison Brown, brother of William Laban Brown.]



WLB Letter # 1 of 53
Reference 000002-000003

Camp near Nashville, Tennessee
May the 18th, 1863

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well hoping these lines may find you enjoying same blessing.  I wrote you a letter.  I wrote in March and sent by Matthew (Anderson?).  I wrote also the fifth of May and sent it by Steven [crossed out?].  I wrote you the (particulars?) in it.  I would like to hear from you all.  I have been all through state of Kentucky.  I have been to Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  All winter there we saw a hard time there.  I went to Louisville for horses and was gone three weeks and I wrote there to you [Note:  I have not found any letter from Louisville in the collection.  EB].  I have nothing to say to you about the war.  I hope that it will come to an end soon.  Tell Alford (Brown?) that Allen is here and has got his discharge.  I got a letter from you dated December the 15th which gave me joy to receive.  The children and you I would like to see.  But if you I no more seen on earth I still hope we will meet on Canaan(Ďs) peaceful shore where parting will be no more.  Tell the children that Paw said be good children and Maw Nancy I promise you that I would not forget to pray and I often pray God to bless me in all my trials and troubles and get home and I want you to pray also.  I went to prayer meeting yesterday in the Presbyterian Church ________ prayer meeting there from four to five every day.  Dear Father and Mother I donít know what to write to you only that Crit is at (Carthage?) Tennessee.  Mat received a letter dated May the 3rd and said he was will.  Mat is here. Like he was at home he has sick spells.   ________ the trip _______  ________.  Father I heard from you when William (Crouse?) came _______ in March.  He said you was all well.  You ____ tell that Jonathan Houser is dead and Michael Houser is dead and Carson Anderson is dead ___ and (Sieket?  Isaac?) Prior [spelled Prier]  is dead and I canít tell you how many more is dead and if I die on the battle field or with sickness remember that I die my country must be sustained.  And the boys calls me The Old Man for fun.  Thomson Wade is my orderly sargent and a good one.

I am better satisfied here than I would [be] at home and (by out?).  Nancy I would send my likeness to you but I canít find out when any one going to start. If this donít start in the morning I will try to send it now. Jhon Rodgers is dead.  James McClanihan is dead.  [End of letter or maybe a page is missing - no signature on it]



WLB Letter # 2 of 53
Reference 000004-000006

May the 31st 1863
Camp near Nashville, Tennessee

Dear Wife,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these lines may find you enjoy(ing) the same blessing.  I have wrote you two times.  I receive(d) your letter dated December the 15th and I was glad to hear from you and the rest of my friends.  I would like to hear from you all now.  Seven months have almost passed away since I saw you and I expect that the time has been longer to you than it has to me for I am better satisfied here than I thought I would be though I donít know when I will get home.  I hear from East (Tennessee?) almost every week and I that that from what I hear what I know that times is no better there than when I left and I am better satisfied here that I would be there.  Sam is talking about going home.  I would like to come very [much] but when I come I expect to bring ___________.  I donít like a camp life much.  I will give you a list of the names that has died in my company.  Agusty Bowens [or Bowers], Michael Houser, Spencer Tipton, James MacClanihans (or Macclanhan) (G or H) and I [from companies G or H and I], (Sicket?) Prior, John Rodgers Co. A.  We have had a heap of sickness and I was sick two months and I was taken at (Louisville?) Kentucky with (fever?) and weakness and they left me at (Elizabethton?).   There I got on the cars [train cars?] and went to Nashville and stayed there two weeks and was very [word missing?] and I (saw?) Crit from Saturday till Thursday and they had to move and I went to  the (barracks?) and stayed there one week and the boys all that saw me thought that I would die but I got well and stout and heavier than I every was.  I weighed (157?) and I have stood picket (six?) days and nights out of eight but we donít have to stand picket now but I donít know how soon we may have it to do and fight too for some think that we will start home before long but I donít; I wish that I could think it and it would be so.  I pray for it to be so Nancy.  That book that you fetch to me the day I started I have got it yet and I have got that lock of hair.  I love to read the book.  I told you to never [be] uneasy about me.  I donít hear preaching nor praying often.  I would like to be at Mount of Olives and hear brother Hines preach for I often think of the good meeting was there last fall.  Some that was in the Church play cards and swears and some donít and I can keep from such habits and will do it.  Pray that I may continue faithful and if you I see on earth no more I hope we will meet on Canaan(Ďs) peaceful shore where parting will be no more.  Marthey you must be a good girl and when Paw comes home we will have fun.  Mary you said you love ______ meat.  Paw loves it too.  (Tray?) you must be a good boy and good to Wiley and (loan? love?) your book. Nancy I feel now like I did when I left you.  I canít write what I wish so farewell for the present.  Your will know how (who?) wrote these when ______ _______.

I send Jud-y a song and Mary _____ paper.  I sent Marthey a flag in my other letter.  I would like to see Wiley.  I would write more but my feelings will not permit.  Well up to 24 fourth [?] of May 1963.



WLB Letter # 3 of 53
Reference 000007-000010

Camp Near Nashville, Tennessee
June the 5th, 1863

Dear Wife,

It is with great pleasure I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present hoping these lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  I received a letter from somebody dated May the 11th.  It was sent to me from Carthage, Tennessee and it gave me great joy to hear from you all.  I would like to see you all and hear you tell how you have got along.  I have got along first straight I was sick and not able for duty two months but I am stout now and have done a heap of hard duty.  You said something about trying to get along and gain friends.  I can tell you that I have the good will of all in the regiment so far as I know.  So enough of that.   I have wrote you three letters before this and got two.  I canít write anything about the ____.  The _____ say there is a better prospect to come home now than there ever was.  The report is here today that the rebels had made an attack on Franklin and Murfreesboro Tennessee.  I heard the (cannons?) yesterday.  I think if we get home again ____ fall that we will do well _____ of that sort.  Father I was glad to hear from you and doing the best you could for me.  That is all I could expect of you.  To all who wish I can say to you that I can enjoy myself the religion that I profess I haint forgot to pray and I want you to pray for me that I may get home.  I have received four letters from (G.C.?) and he is well and he still lives in hopes of coming home and I do too.  I would like to see Brother Hines at old Mount Olive once more and hear him preach for we donít hear much preaching here.  I could write more but I started two letters home two or three days ago expect you will hear from me and Mat before they get there.  If you will _______ to (squads?) I want you to write to me and Mat if you have the ______  ___.  So enough of that sort.  I must bring my lines to a close.  My name you know when and when (me?) you see give my best respect to all my friends.  W.L. to N.C.  Mat will send you a few lines.  He says he is here on the land [of the] living, a-living the life of a soldier.  He is not very well too.  He has a bad cold and cough.  Dear Wife I am glad to hear from you and hear that you was (well?).  I saw the few lines you sent to G.C. and he sent it to us.  William Hitch [same last name as John Madison Brown's wife Sarah Hitch] is here and is well.  I would so like to be at home and ____ (around?).  I would like to write more if it would do any good.  I must bring my lines to a close.  (J.M. to Sara H.?) [John Madison to Sarah H.?].



WLB Letter # 4 of 53
Reference 000011-000014

Camp Near Nashville, Tennessee
August the 4th, 1863

Dear Wife and Children, Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters one and all.  Whereas it has pleased God in his mercy I am happy to let you know that I am well.  I received your letters dated (July?) the 16th and (19th?) which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you all.  I have received three or four letters from you and I heard from you several times and I have wrote to you four times and sent my likeness to you in May.  Mother you said you had heard that some of Pickens men got behind the bushes.  That is not so.  We have never been in a fight yet though we had [a] skirmish on Stone River and ever[y] man stood at his post.  Nancy you said to write something about my sickness.  It was diarrhea and weakness.  I was able to wait on myself all the time.  I have my health as well as I ever did.  Matís health is good and he loves to scout.  We scouted all week last week and caught forty rebs.  You may talk about rough (country?) but here is the worst road to get off the (pikes?) I ever saw.  I have stood picket six days and nights out of eight. In the last of April I was detail(ed) to go to Louisville for horses.  I was there three weeks.  I have had three horses since I came here.  One died and was [one was] (turn?) over and I have the other one.  Critenton was well the 26th of July.  He write to me few (days?) and I write to him.  When he hears from home he write to me tell Laben (Lotenson's?) folks Steve is in Nashville.  He is there yet; he is not able for duty.  He came out to see me but I canít get a pass to go to see him.  No soldier is allowed to go in Nashville unless he has business there.  Boyd Sharp is well, James Franklin is well, Robert Rule is well, Josh Hines is well, Anderson Davis is here belong to the fourth Cavalry Co. G.  The boys are most all a going to write home.  Nancy I canít write all in a week that you would like to hear.  There is only about firteen came over when I did in the army.  Well, Marthey, you and Mary must be good girls and when Paw comes he will bring you something nice.  Jud-y, you and Wiley must be good boys and Paw will fetch you something pretty., that is if [he] ever come.  My dear friends one and all, it is nine months tonight since I saw any of you.  The time has been long to me but I am better satisfied here than I would be there.  We have a heap of fun.  Nancy you must not get out of heart.  I ain't out of heart yet.  The boy's calls me "Dad".  I want  you to pray for me.  We have hymnbooks and when the boys sings (their?) good old hymns it makes me feel like old times.  Religion is _____, heaven is (home?) and if we meet on earth [no more?] I hope we will meet on Cannan's peaceful shore where parting will be no more.  So farewell for the present.

William L. Brown

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuelís veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stain.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, as well as he, wash all my sins away.

Dear dying lamb thy precious blood shall never lose its power, till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.

Eíer since by faith I saw the stream, thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been by theme and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song Iíll sing the power to save, when this poor  lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

When you sing this, think of a poor soldier a long ways from home.  This is my favorite hymn.

William L. Brown to N.C. Brown
 

August the 6 - Myself and Mat is well today.  This letter will start [i.e., be sent] on the 7th.  This is my own handwriting.

William L. Brown
 

August the 14th 1863

Myself and Mat is well.  I received your letter last night and I was glad  to hear from you though was surprised to hear you had a boy [my grandfather Albert Rosecrans Brown who was born 7 July 1863 - almost exactly nine months after William Laban Brown left for the army] but I am glad to hear that you are as well as you are.  I donít know so well about a name for the boy.  You may call him what you  please or you may call him Albert Rosencrance.  I donít care what.  So enough of that.  Mat Rodgers is well and all the boys are well.  Clay ____ is dead.  (Shane or Shawn?) MacCullie got drowned in the river and we found him the next day.  When you write donít be afraid, write what you please and it will be right with me.  I must close.  Farewell, my friends, farewell.

W.L. Brown



WLB Letter # 5 of 53
Reference 000054-000055 (000054 and 000055 are the same, probably at attempt to darken to the copy on 000055).

[Letter is addressed as follows:]
Mr. G.C. Brown [Gilbert Crittledon Brown, or "Crit" - Brother of William Laban Brown]
Co C (6?) Regiment
East Tennessee Volunteers
In care of Colonel Cooper
[Postmark is Nov. 12, probably 1863]

Sep the 10 in the evening
Dear Brother,

I had just sealed a letter to send to you when I got this one.  I am happy to hear you was well and on the land of the living.  I want you to write to me ever(y) time you move.  Tell the boys howdy for me.  I weigh (165?).  Mat weighs (170?).  I must close.  Farewell for this time so I remain your friend until death.

William L. Brown

______ I am a poor soldier a long ways from home.
The time may come when I can (go?) home again.


WLB Letter # 6 of 53
Reference 000015-00017

Camp near Nashville
September the 7th 1863

Dear Father and Mother, Brother and Sisters,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well and when few lines comes to hand may they find you enjoying the same blessing.  I received your letter dated October the 14 [could it really have been almost a year getting to him?] and it gave me great satisfaction to hear from you. Father you said you wanted to start in ten days to see Crit.  I donít blame you for that and I too would like to see you but it would not be much satisfaction to you.  You would have to get a pass and like as not you would be brought in to Nashville as a prisoner.  Mother you said you intended to come to see us when the way gets (open?).  I would be glad to see you coming but the talk is we wont stay here long.  It is hard to tell.  Hariet I hanít forgot you.  James you said you had not time to come for work[ing] dry hides.  I wish I was there to help you and Robert.  I guess they keep you busy going to mill.  Mary Jane I was glad to hear you intend to be a good girl.  Hamilton if you come with Mother I will give you a good hat.  I got a letter from Crit day before yesterday and he said he was well and at (Clyes Ferry?) forty five miles below Knoxville.  Tell [everyone] Boyd Sharp is well, Josh Hines is well.  Fletcher (Murphy?) is dead.  Mat Rodgers is well.  I must close for I must write to Crit and clean my gear to go on inspection in the morning.  Give my best respect to all.  I donít know where Anderson Davis is. Write as soon as you get this.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 7 of 53
Reference 000023-000027

Nashville, Tennessee
September the 12 [no year given but probably 1863]

Dear Wife,

I am well at present and hope when these few lines come to hand they will find you enjoying the same blessing.  I received your letter dated July the 8th and it gave me great satisfaction to hear that you was as well as could be expected.  I wrote to you, sent it by the way of (L.B.?).  I will send this one by ___ the (same?).  I have nothing much to write.  Mack Rule and Gary Griffen got here safe.  Crit at Alexander, TN and we are fixing to leave here and it is said we will come to Knoxville.  I expect you hear the news as fast as I do.  The Yankees is as nigh you as the rebs is me.  If no bad luck I will [be?] somewhere on the Tennessee River before long.  I donít think we will come home.  My opinion is we will go in to Georgia.  I fear the time will be long before we can come home.  If we are kept on (rosey's? [Rosecrans?]) _____  ______ I will not.   (T)here is talk of going to (Curneide?).  If we do we will come home.  When you do write I want you to write to me where bouts the Cusicks live in Illinois so I can write to them.  You said for me to send a name for the boy.  I wrote my other letter you may call it Albert Rosencrance if you like the name.  I have no (choice?) in name.  I would send you some presents but it costs more than they are worth.  I paid one dollar for my likeness and fifty cents a letter.  [This "likeness" may be his photo in uniform which was used as the basis for the oil painting over the fireplace in the A.R. Brown homeplace in Erwin, TN].  I have drawed money twice and I can send you some if the man will carry it and I have (Cont 122?)) and have spend ___ (Cont?) sixty and could spend more.  We can buy pies for ten cents and apple dumplings for five.  There is the largest watermelons here I ever say and the price is as large [!!].  Marthey I will send you and Mary a thimble apiece and some needles.  Judson I send you and Willey some buttons.  Be good children and when Paw comes he will bring you more (pretties?).  Nancy I will send you ten dollars and if you swap it for confederate money make it pay well.  Donít let any have [it?] unless it will pay well.  I must close.  Give my best respect to all my friends and may God bless you is my prayer.  I am well satisfied though I would like to come home.

William L. Brown


WLB Letter # 8 of 53
Reference 000020-000022 and duplicates 000028-000030

Nashville, Tennessee
September 13, 1863

Dear Wife,

I seat myself this evening to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am on the land of the living.  I am not very (?).  I have had the diarrhea but it is stop on me and I am able for duty.  I am happy to hear that East Tennessee is (relieve[d]?) and I would like to come home but I donít know whether we can or not.  I have wrote you two letters since I receive(d) your letter that was wrote June the 8th.  I write ever(y) chance I have.  I would rather hear from you now as any time since I left.  I wish I could come home and see you and the children and all my friends.  I have heard what old (Doley Funck?) said about (poor?) men.  They ought to fight for they have no land and here boys has land at _____.  When I have time to write I will give her particulars. Thunder.  I must close, it is time to feed [the horses?].  Give my best respect to all my friends and may God bless you all is my prayer and if I never meet you on earth I still hope to meet you on Canaanís peaceful shore where parting will be no more.  Pray for me that I may hold out faithful until death.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 9 of 53
Reference 000018-00019

Camp near Nashville, Tennessee
September the 20th, 1863
[This date was the last day of the Battle of Chickamauga - no mention of involvement in the battle]

Dear Father and Mother,

I am well and when these lines come to hand they may find you in good health.  I got a letter that said the boys had been sick and one said you was sick.  I hope you will get well.  Mother you must not get out of heart.  The Yankees has come and we will come some time.  The war will not last always.  If it does it will be the first war that last(ed) that long.  Mother I hear from Crit ever(y) week or two.  He was here about (three?) weeks ago.  He was at McMinnville TN and I donít know where he is now.  I wrote to him a few days ago.  Well, Hariet if old (Laben?) come I guess you can give him the (several illegible words follow) James, I wish I could be there to help you work.  Well Hamilton, I (reckon?) you wish I could come home to you could get (select?) of my things.  Well Robert you must be a good boy and I will treat you to something sometime.  Mary Jane you must do the same and I will get you a _____ pin.  Boyd Sharp is well.  Josh Hines is well and all the boys is well from that neighborhood.  Tell (Marer?) and Alford I have that little bottle yet and fifty cents of silver I am keeping for to remember them.  Father I want you to write how you are getting along a-tanning and farming.  My Company is a rough set of fellows but we get along fine.  I saw three men tied down today for getting drunk and more ought to be.  I must close for I have to go on picket tonight.  When I get time I will write again and write more about my Company.  So farewell.

W.L. Brown to Jhon Brown [his father].


WLB Letter # 10 of 53
Reference 000031-000033

September the 20th, 1863
Camp near Nashville, Tenn.

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well and hope that when this come(s) to hand it may find you in good health.  I received your letter dated August the fifth and sixteenth and was glad to hear that you was all alive though not so well.  I hope you may all get well.  You must not get out of heart.  You must not study about me so much.  I think you study too much.  You said something about my sickness.  It was the diarrhea and weakness.  I was able to wait on myself and was with the regiment all the time but one week and then I was in the (barra?) in Nashville.  I was taken in December and was not able for duty till the first of February and since that time I have had my health very well.  Nancy I think the time long to come home but I guess you think it longer than I do and I fear you will think it longer yet for I think we will not get home soon.  The talk is that we will have to go down on the railroad thirty miles below Nashville but it is hard to tell where we will go but unless we can get a furlough we canít come home and I have no hopes of that.  I think that the way will soon open and we can write home with any trouble.  I have write three letters and started to you (since) I sent my likeness and this one will be four and receive(d) three.  I sent one by the same man that brung my likeness and ten dollars and some presents for you and the children and if I have the chance I will send you some more.  Nancy if I could come home I would fetch you a fine dress and the children one apiece.  Marthey I guess you have growed a heap.  You must learn to read and write and what Maw tell you to do, do it like a good girl.  Mary you must do like Maw tell you.  Jud-y you and Wiley must be good to Albert Rosencrance and when Paw comes home he will fetch you something pretty.  Wiley I expect you wouldnít know Paw.  Well, Nancy I have that little book you gave me yet and I take good care of it and read it.  I have read it through and I read in it ever(y) chance I have.  Nancy I wish I was there to meeting this fall like I did last fall I enjoy myself better than I thought I could.  I donít drink any more whiskey here than I did at home and I donít swear nor play cards nor I donít intend to, God being my helper.  Tell Brother Hines that I would like to hear him preach.  Nancy when you write if you know, write where the Cusicks lives in Illinois and I will write to them. There are some Butternuts and copperheads a-making for home. They are not friend to their country if they was able to fight.  I must close.  We have had frost in August and there was here last night and night before last and ____ cold today.  So farewell.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 11 of 53
Reference 000045-000046

October the 2nd, 1863
Camp Near Nashville

My Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that I received your letter(s?) dated Oct. the 4th and it gave me great satisfaction to hear you was all well.  I am well and Mat is well.  I have just returned from a nine day(s?) scout.  I hanít been in camp but three days in twenty.  We caught 60 rebs and killed 8 and never got a man hurt.  The rebels was on a bluff near Centerville and as the advance guard was crossing Duck River they fired on us and the rear surround the bluff and caught them.  It was a good place to bush whack for the river was deep enough to swim. Some swam horses.  My horse is a large black and when we made the charge into Centerville I was the second man in third East Tennessee.  When we make a charge every man takes care of himself.  When I was on the scout I wanted to fight one morning.  We had a company of mounted infantry with us and they robbed a house of everything and there was a little girl, the only child the man had and her sister had died and left her a fine quilt and a (Conty?) pin and her likeness to remember her and she begged them to leave her them and they would not and if I had a knowed it I would a died right there or she should a had them.

I have always done to all men as I want them do to me.  If a man is honest at home ____ he is honest here.  I am not in ____ to write old Bill Pickens.  The old drunkard told you a lie.  I hanít got any office and donít want any and a man that will tell such a lie as that is a mean man and he is not Colonel yet nor I hope he wonít be.  I could not believe him an oath.  I will come home as soon as I can.  If you had plenty to go on I would like to stay in the army but if I can get out I will do it.  I hanít heard from Crit since the fight.  I donít get much time to write.  You said you wanted to know my weight.  I weigh (160 [lbs?]) and am as stout as I need.  I must close.  The bugle has blowed to water horses.  The boys is all in good health.  There is letters coming here every day from East Tennessee.  I have been almost to the Tennessee River.  I would write more but I donít know what to write.  Give my best respect to all.  I will write in a few days.  May god bless you all is my prayer so farewell for the present.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter #12 of 53
[I have photographs of this letter but cannot find it with the Xeroxed copies]

Click here to see a copy of this letter (then use your browser's back arrow to return)

Nashville, Ten.
Oct the 4, 186[3?]

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present hoping these lines may find you in good health.  Nancy, it is allmost eleven months since I give you the parting hand in a few hours and the time will expire and I have fared well to be in the midst of so many dangers and accidents.  Several accidents have happened in this regiment with pistols.  Captain Sam [probably Samuel W. Pickens] was looking at a very small pistol yesterday evening and he let it go off and shot Jhon Moon in the belly and he is alive yet and we hope he will get well for every like him and several more cases have took place but not serious.  It is a wonder more men don't get killed than does, they are so careless.  Nancy, I am looking for a letter from you before long and han't heard from Crit since the fight near Chattanooga.  Nancy, I am well satisfied as could be expected and I still hope to get home.  God has blessed me with good health so far.  Mat is well and the boys is generally well.  We have a heap of duty to do.  Last Saturday night I rode all night and Sunday all day and caught only five rebs and we have to take such trips very often.
 

October the 5

Jhon Moon died this morning.
 

Oct the 10

I am well and Mat is well and the smallpox is in this regiment and we are almost all got vaccinated.  Fletcher Murphy and John Forster has them and was sent to the hospital last night.  The weather is cool.  I han't heard from Crit since the fight.
 

Oct the 15

Jhon Forster is dead.  I received your letter on the 15th and I han't had time to write until this morning.  I have been on duty all the time.  Nancy, I wish I could be at home to go to meeting.  Nancy, I was glad to hear you was ble to go to Knoxville to see Colonel Pickens and he told you a lie.  I have no office and don't want any.  He just told  you that to make fun of you and I will tell him of it if I ever see him.  It made me mad when I read it - since he had the command of a few men he thinks he is somebody.  He is a drunkard and has been under arrest for getting drunk and he ties men down [for getting drunk] when he will do the same thing himself.  I have been in the service almost 12 months and I han't never been under guard.  I stay in camp and tend to my own business and if he had told you there was no chance for me to come home I would a thought as well of him.  So enough of that.  Nancy, I will send you my weight in my next letter.  They boys says I will weigh (175?) but I don't think that I will weigh more than (155?).  This is the 18th day of October.

W.L. Brown



WLB Letter # 13 of 53
Reference 000037-000038

October the 18th, 1863
[No return address indicated, but probably another letter from the "camp near Nashville, TN"]

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

I received your letter dated September the 27th and it gave great satisfaction to hear that you was all well.  We are both well and _____ is well.  Boyd Sharp is well.  There is no new cases of the small pocks in the regiment.  Well I guess you feel like you was almost out of (bondage?).  Father I can just see you or the way you done when the Yankees came there.  Well Mother, I havenít forgot you.  I think of you ever(y) day and you must not get out of heart.  Well Hariet I hanít forgot them pies.  If we get any pies here we have to pay for them.  Well Mary Jane you must be a good girl and the first chance I have I will send you a present.  James you must learn to write.  Hamilton you and Robert must learn to write and the first letter you write to me I will send you all a gold pen.  Give my best respect to all my friends.  Father if Allen Brown is in that country I want for you to see him.  He owes me ten dollars and I want you to get it.  I loan(ed) it to him when he left Nashville and I haint heard from him since.  Tell mister Hines [their local minister] Josh is well and tell all the Christians to pray for peace.  The prayers of the (right/righteous) availeth much.  And may God bless you all.  I must close.  We will have to move our camp today and winter quarters.

W.  L. Brown


WLB Letter # 14 of 53
Reference 000047-000049

Mrs. N.C. Brown and Sary L. Brown [Address on the letter]

Nov. the 13th [1863?]

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you in good health.  I got the letter and socks you sent by Colonel Pickens and I answered it and sent it by mail.  I hanít time to write more tonight.  Jonson Wade and Sam, Wiley Pickens will start home in the morning.  I intend to leave this regiment if I have to join a battery.  I expect to die in the army.  I must close for I canít see to write.  I will write in a few days, so farewell for this time.  William L. Brown

November the ____

Dear Wife,

I am well and hope these few lines may find you well.  I got the letter you sent by Colonel Pickens.  I was glad to see them socks.  I will not write much.  I will write in a few days so farewell for this time.

Jhon Brown to Sary H. Brown
[John Madison Brown to his wife Sara Hitch Brown - an "addendum" to W.L. Brown's letter]



WLB Letter # 15 of 53
Reference 000050-000052

To Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Leave this with Rufus Brown
Knoxville E. Tenn.

November the 20th, 1863
Camp near Nashville

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that I am on the land of the living and in good health and Mat is well.  Nancy I sent you ten dollars by Jonson Wade and told him to leave it with Roof [Rufus] Brown.  We got the letters and socks you sent by Colonel Pickens or his men.  They got here last Sunday was a week ago and there was glad to see them.  Tell Father the men that he sent me word by told me that they was all well and I was glad to see them but they canít tell much.  Nancy I have seen the lunatic asylum and it was a sight to see.  I canít describe to you the beauty of it.  On yesterday we went out on general review and there was six thousand men on the field.  The time may come when the war will come to an end but we wonít live to see it.  I wish I was out of it now for there is a great deal of confusion and (partiality?) here.  Major Catlett will start home in the morning and a good many other men that has no family.  A man that is no kinned to a man that wears _____ has no chance here.  In the letter I sent to you by Jonson Wade I said that I was a going to leave the regiment if I had [to] join a (battery?).  I donít know how that will work.  I will try to get a discharge but I donít hardly think I can get it.  It is a bad (have?) to get a discharge.  Captain Slater [probably Alexander P. Slatery] will do all he can for me.  There is a good many that ought to have a discharge I am examined and considered not fit for field duty I might get sent to the invalid corps and I donít think I would like to go in to it.  If I canít get a discharge I will stay in the regiment.  Steve Jonsan was sent to the invalid corps.  I got a letter from Crit dated the 27th of last month [October 1863] and he was well.  Mat was at Murfreesboro and he say Anderson Davis and he was well.  Boid Sharp is well.  Josh Hines is well.  There is about 15 that came over as I did that joined the army and there was 50 started.  There is many thing I could tell you if I could tell you if it was necessary.  The paper of the morning says there is (more?) fighting near Knoxville.  I hope the rebels will get their rights.  If they will send for the third they will hold the place.  I wish I was there to fight right there.  I must close.  Give my best respect to all my friends.  Farewell for this time.

William L. Brown and J. M. Brown



WLB Letter # 16 of 53
Reference 000034-000036

Camp Nashville, Tennessee
November the 24th, 1863

Dear Father and Mother,

I seat myself to let you know that I am in the land of the living and in good health.  I heard the news from the fight at near Knoxville.  I wish I had been there.  There is two hundred men you on a scout.  The news is favorable.  Refugees are coming from Alabama.  The state of affairs in that state are bad.  Two females was hung for refusing to tell where their husbands was.  The leaders of the South are beginning to come to their ____ but the war will not end soon.  The Federal government has two much (aristocracy?).  The officers I think donít care how long the war lasts [just] so they get the money.  There is two or three regiments been made up in Middle Tennessee.  The slave holders are getting their rights great (destruction?) of Negroes and ______ things this has been a _____ ____ but many farms have been ruined. The war has been the ruin of thousand of men.  You have no idea how men that was counted honest what rascals they are.  I have seen things done to Rebels that would arouse the _______ of any man that has a soul.  I am in favor of doing anything to put down the rebellion, but to steal and rob houses I donít think such conduct will do any good and the man that will do such donít think much of his country.  (Here?) is the place to find out a man.  Father ____ (Rambo?) tells me you wanted me to get a discharge.  I donít think I can get a discharge.  I will try for it.  I am _____ that I will when examined be sent to the invalid Corps and I donít think I would like it.  I have traveled a good deal.  I have been in (Jacksonville, Indiana?) and nearly all over Middle Tennessee as far down as Duck River some sixty miles from Nashville.  I canít tell the number of towns I have been in.  I have traveled more than Mat has and if I could get out of the army know I would not begrudge my time.  It has learnt me more than I had any idea i(t) would.

Well there may be some false reports about me there.  If you get this before Jonson Wade starts back ask him about how I get along.  Tell him you want the truth and he will tell the truth for he is a respectable man.  The ________ of the regiment is ______.  Mat is well.  He is gone to (Lebanon?) and will return tomorrow.  Anderson Davis was well last Tuesday.  I must close.  Give ___ my best respect if this letter come to hand.  If you try you may see Major Catlett for he will start home in a few days.  I am in hopes the time will come when I can come home.  Farewell for this time.

William L. Brown to John Brown and Mary Brown


WLB Letter # 17 of 53
Reference 000056-000057

Camp near Nashville
December the 6, 1863

My Dear Brother,

I am well today.  Mat is well.  I got your letter about one hour ago.  I was glad to hear from you.  You said had wrote in your other letter about father being there.  I never got that letter.  I had heard that father had been there.  I sent you a letter a few days ago.  Parson Burnett is chaplain of this regiment and will preach today at one oíclock for the first time.  We drawed money last week.  I will send you them stamps and them envelopes.  Mister Morten has got back and he left Knoxville on the 15th.  He was in the retreat from (Morrisville?) but left before the fight was over.  I wish I had been there.  I think if the East Ten. Troop had been there the rebels been afraid to go into east Ten. Again.  But the rebellion will not be put down as long as the government treats rebels as they do.  I could tell a good deal more if I thought it was necessary.  The time has come that loyal men has to _____ with the disloyal.  The [war?] will never end as long as men fight for money for I think they ____ they love greenbacks better than they love the government.  I must [close?].  I will send you them stamps and them envelopes.  If you have a chance to write home write that I am well and Mat is well.  May God bless you is my prayer.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 18 of 53
[Note:  I found photographs of this letter but it doesn't seem to be with the Xeroxed material]

Click here to see a copy of this letter (then use your browser's back arrow to return)

Rendezvous
Nashville, Tennessee
December the 21, 1863

Dear Wife,

It is again I seat myself to address you a letter in order to let  you know that I am win good health and hope these lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing.  I have wrote you several letters since Colonel P[ickens] came back and I have not heard from you since.  I would like to hear from you again as the rebels has been in there and are there yet.  I am afraid they will be hard to get out of East Ten.  The talk is we will leave here before long, but I think it uncertain.  The smallpox are here yet and Lucas Hood died with the smallpox.  There is from one to three cases a day - three other deaths in two days with other diseases.  Davey Cusick is on the mend.  I think he will get well.  I send a letter ever chance I have by hand and by mail.  I sent two by hand and ten dollars by Jonson Wade.  Nancy, if you can't live in east Ten. I want you to leave and come to Nashville and I will send you back North.  I don't expect to come home till the war is over.  If I keep my health I can't get a discharge.  If the regiment comes I will come.  They say we are coming to Knoxville, but I don't think so.  I have been fooled so often I won't believe it till I get there.  I expect to send this by Miles Bacon in the evening.  I have found out that the officers think we will go to Memphis.  I don't know whether we will come home or go down there.  I don't know yet.  In the next ten days I can tell.  Mat is well and is gone to (Lavern?) today and will come back tomorrow, fifteen miles distant from this place.  We have a fine time here, a fight occasionally.  I saw the ______ fight last night I ever saw.  It was two Negroes.  So enough of that.  Well, Marthey I wan't you and Mary to be good girls and learn your books and Paw will send you a gold pen apiece the first chance.   I have sent to New York for them.  If I get them I intend them for you.  Judson, I would like to see you and Wiley and Albert.  You must be good boys and when Paw comes home he will fetch you something pretty.  Be good children and do as Maw tells you and God will bless you.  That is the way for children to do and they will do right.  May God bless with good health and food till Paw comes home and if we never meet on earth may we meet in heaven.  Lord, as we make one family on earth grant that we may make one in heaven, there to sing the praise of God forevermore.  Amen.  I can't write all I wish.  Write as soon as  you get this.

William L. Brown
 

December the 22

I am well this morning.  I send this letter by Miles Bacon.  I will tell you my dream I dreamt last night and night before last.  I was at home and I hope I will hear from home or get to come home before long.  Boid Sharp is well, Josh Hines is well, Mat Rodgers is well.  Tell William Jonson I saw his cousin Will Godred [probably Goddard] last night.  The news is this morning that Longstreet is killed and all his men.  Three cheers for that, I say.  I must close.  I will have to start this in a few minutes.  I want you to live in hope if you die in despair that is my fate. Tell all the neighbors that I am as fat as a bear.  I weigh one hundred and eighty.  Mat weighs 190.

William L. Brown to N.C.B.
[What follows is most of the alphabet in WLB's handwriting in capital letters]



WLB Letter # 19 of 53
Reference 000058-000060

[Envelope addressed:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville E Tenissee
A soldier letter

Shelby County Ten.
Jan the 20th 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well at present and hope these lines may find you in good health.  We left Nashville on the (27?) day of December and we have marched one hundred and 96 miles and have (reached?) Colliersville West Ten. 25 miles above Memphis.  Nancy I hanít heard from you since Colonel Pickens came back.  I wrote a letter a few days before I left Nashville and sent it by Miles (Bacon?).  I would like to hear from you very much but God only knows whether we will meet again or not.  I hope we will one time more on earth but if I never see you on earth I hope to meet you on Canaanís happy shore.  I canít write much.  We left Nashville the 27 day of December and got to Columbia on the 28th of December and left Columbia on the fourth of Jan.  On the (7th?) day of Jan. crossed the Tennessee River at Savannah.  Jan the 9. We got to Corinth, Mississippi Sunday Jan the 10.  We took (shipping?) and came to Middletown, TN.  There we lay up one day and then we march to La Grange TN and lay up one day and then march to this place.  The name of this place is Colliersville, TN.  We have travel along the railroad all the time.  I donít know wher[e] we will go next.  We are ordered to take up winter quarters but we canít draw tents.  We have made this march without tents.  I bought myself a (gum blanket?) and gave seven dollars for it and got it stold [stolen] from me.   I could ride all day in the rain and not get a bit wet.  A man in the ___ Ten got it.  I will know it if I see it.  I will have it if I see it.  A great many of the boys has got their feet frost bit.  Mat has his frost bit.  The weather has been very cold in many places.  We had to cut the ice to cross the creek when we left Nashville.  We did not expect to be gone more than (19?) days and we did not fetch but one set of clothes with us and the gray backs like to eat us up before we could get to (wash?).  The weather is pleasant today.  There is some talk of the brigade refusing to stay here unless the rebels were out of East Ten.  The commanding officers are gone to Memphis and I donít know what will be done.  If you get this write and back your letter to W. L. Brown, Third East Ten Cavalry Co. B.  Mat is well but his feet is frost bit and a good many others.  Sary, Mat says if the rebels hanít got _____ [possibly the name of a horse at home?] for you to sell her if you want to.  He says he is as well satisfied as a man could be in a (sandy?) country.  The time may come when we will see each other and I hope it wonít be long.  My Christian friends I hope to meet you all again.  I live in hope if I die in despair.

William L. Brown and J.M. Brown
 

Click on the small map to see a larger version



WLB Letter # 20 of 53
Reference 000061-000064

State of Ten, Davidson County.  Camp near Nashville, March the 21 1864

My Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that I have returned to my old camp from the raid into the Mississippi.  I am well and have been all the time and when I got back found 14 letters for me and you had write some of them and Crit and father had wrote the rest in which they gave me great satisfaction to hear from you all and that the rebels had not took any more from you-all than they had.  I was sorry to hear the rebels had took Matís mare.  You said you had sold ____ but you did not say who bought her.  I will give you a brief sketch of the raid.  We left December 1863 and marched to Columbia Ten where we remained till the (fourth?) of Jan when we crossed Duck River on a pontoon bridge and then we marched to Savannah and crossed the Ten River at that place in a steam ferry boat called the Bluebird on the 7th of Jan and we marched to Corinth and got there on the ninth of Jan where we stayed all might and on the tenth of Jan we took shipping on the cars [railroad?] and went to (Middleton?) where we lay by one day and then we marched to LaGrange Ten forty seven miles above Memphis and then we left for Colliersville Ten and got there on the fifteenth of Jan where we camped until the tenth of February.  All things being ready we left for the (Mississippi?) with twelve days rations.  The first night we camped in the (Mississippi?) the rebels fired into the pickets and killed two of the fourth Ten and the next day the fourth Ten was in the advance and the bushwhackers fired on them and killed them.  Jhon Harvey Murphy was one of them.  All this on the twelfth of Feb and then we went to West Point from (Cedinia? [maybe Caledonia]) to West Point we burnt about two (million?) bushels of corn and destroyed thirty miles of road and fifteen hundred mules and horses and ______ and two thousand bales of cotton.  ___ burnt in all ____ destroyed two million dollars worth for the rebels.  Nancy I have been in as hard a cavalry fight as has been in the war.  The fight commenced ____ West Point and first brigade fought them on Sabbath from West Point to ______.  On Monday the fight was renewed.  The third brigade was in the (rear) and the ___ Ten was in the (rear?) and we was ____ as soon as we (blowed?) _____ the fight commenced in the rear and (heavy skirmishing?) for three miles and at (Caledonia? Okolona?) the third brigade formed a line to fight them.  The third brigade was composed of 6 Illinois, fifth Ky., 12 _____ fourth Ten, third Ten and 2nd Ten and the rebs was in sight and while we was waiting for those in front to advance a heavy force was about to surround ___.  This was found out in time to get away and we was ordered to retreat on double quick.  The rebs flanked us and we had a hard time for about two hours and the rebs was close enough for holler at us close up or you will be cut off.  I can tell you I never heard bullets before the rebs over shot us or they would have killed lots of us.  It appeared to me like if there was no chance to get away but the third did not lose but five men.  Josh Hines and Billy Cruce was killed or captured.  We ____ (while? white?) I saw Billy Cruse after the first fight was over.  I donít think he was killed.  We fought the rebs three days and fell back 60 miles. In all we did not lose but two hundred men.  In all the rebs lost 1,0000 wounded and missing in this fight.  I had a hard time.  My horse had give out so I was on a  little mule and it was every man take care of himself.  I done first rate the first day but the 2nd day my mule gave out and I had to walk (5?) miles.  I lost my saddle.  That was all I lost.  We got back to Nashville the 18th of March.  We crossed the Ten River as we came back at Fort Henry and came by the way for Fort Donelson.  There was plenty of forage where we scout -  it was a rich country.  I hanít time to write any more about the fight at the present.  Mat and Marsh _____ was detailed at Fort Henry to guard prisoners on the boat and they hanít got back yet.  I look for them every hour.  It may be they had to go to (Cincinnati?). They have had time to get there.  I must close.  A few words to the children.  Children I hanít forgot you.  I want you to be good children.  Marthey I have a gold pen for Maw and one apiece for you and Mary and I will send them to you the first chance I have.  Judson I will send you and Wiliey and Albert a hat or knife or a book.  Know while I am writing Mat and Marsle Prier came up.  They are well.  Nancy I got your letter of the (18th?).  I was glad to still hear you was well.  You wanted to know if I had got frost bit.  I did not.  The rest of the boys has got about well in this regiment.  I got the socks you sent by Jonson Wade and the galluses [suspenders!] by Clint Boyd.  The first pair you sent I left here while I was gone and somebody stole them.  I guess the man that got them needed them.  I may see them sometime.  I canít think they would have took them otherwise.  March the 23rd. Major [Albert C.] Catlett died today and I am sorry for he was a fine man [could this be where the choice of Albert for William Laban Brownís new son came from?].  He died with the smallpox.  I must close for I have to go on guard in a few minutes.  I will write in a few days to you and father.  May the mercies of God rest upon you and keep you from all harm is my prayer written to all my friends.  So goodbye for the present.

William L. Brown
 



WLB Letter # 21 of 53
Reference 000064-000069

March the 25, 1864
Rendezvous Near Nashville, Ten.

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

As the time has so swiftly passed away since I seated myself to address you a letter day after day has passed away but God has blessed me with another opportunity of addressing you in a brief letter to let you know that I am well at this time and have been well for the best of five months.  I weight 170, Mat weighs 190.  I hanít never wrote how I like the army.  If I could get to come home I would like the _____ very well.  I have _____   ______ my health very well and I have learnt a _____ and seen a heap of the country.  You said if we could send you some money you could pay it back.  We hanít  _____ any money since we came back.  There is four months pay due us and we have to (settle?) for our clothing and it will take about five dollars to pay for mine and it will take twenty to  pay Matís.  I could if I had a chance I could send you some if I could get a furlough I could fetch it to you but old Bill Pickens wonít let us have furloughs.  I think there is better men in the rebel army than he is.  I donít like him and I never did but I _____ he would make a good colonel but he is ______ _______ principal or at least I always thought so and I donít see anything to the contrary.  There is a good many men here that donít like him and give him (justice?).  I will not say anything more about him.  Father, I have seen almost half my time and if it was out, know I should be glad for this is not the government I thought it was where it comes to (protecting?) rebel property and taking all that a federal soldierís wife has and more than that.  When the government will _____ men that I know to fight in the rebel army two years and ______ be ______  ______ will take the oath allowing them to fight side by side with good men.  I can tell you I donít like fighting for a government that will allow men or their families to be treated in any such a way.  There [are?] men in east Ten. That I know have been (paroled?) and good union men had to suffer and I will give you a few incidences of it.  Alexander White and Parson Hines I am informed has had their fences burnt and (Gholen Houk?) write (believing?) them was let alone and old Mister Wade and his sons fencing was burnt and James Sharpe fence was let alone and all this done by the federal troops.  I donít like to burn fences but if any has to be burnt let the rebels burn first.  This way of robbing houses wonít pay and I say if the East Ten. Troops had a got to come in there they could have saved the property of the good (lordís?) men.  This is not all - I hope the time will come when ___ will soon come when the _____ ______ ______ ______ will (rule?) in Ten and all the men that is able will have to come out and fight some.  There is men that I know that has said they never intend to make themselves target[s] for the rebels to shoot at and I donít think they are any better than (rebels?).  I have served about half my time out and I donít think I can serve the balance.  (Father _____ ____ up) you could sell out and (get a fair?) price you could (do better?) for you could get transportation out of there and it would not cost much to move and if Nancy canít draw from the government I want her to come out of there if she has to come I want you to write to me when you think she will have to start and what time she will get to Nashville and I will try to get to go with her back (north?) for Nashville is not fit for (decent?) folks to live and I think anybody in East Tennessee ought to leave for I wonít live there anymore though I would like to come home on a brief visit and tell just what the government is doing for I canít write in week what I could tell in one hour.  If I canít get a furlough I will always think I ought to.  I must close.  I will give you the names of the towns I went through when I (went on?) the raid.  (Hillsborough?) and Columbia, Pleasant View, Henryville, Waynesboro, Savannah - all these in Tennessee and _____ then to Corinth [Mississippi], _________, Pocahontas,  ____, Middleton, LaGrange, Moscow, Collierville, Germantown - all these in Tennessee.  Holly Springs, (Pontock?), New Albany, _____ ______ ______ the towns in the ____ and as we came back we came through Middleburg, Bolivar, ____ton, Huntingdon, Paris and crossed the Ten. River at Fort Henry (Newport?) Tennessee and came by Fort Donelson, then to Nashville.  I will quit ____ my foolishness.  I will write in a few days and see if I can do better.

William L. Brown to Jhon and Brown and family and to all wants to see it I aint afraid to write.



WLB Letter # 22 of 53
Reference 000070-000072

April the 11th, 1864 [Postmarked Nashville]
My Dear Wife,

I embrace the present to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope these lines comes to hand they may find you enjoying the same blessing.  I received your letter of the 29th and 30th [of March 1864?].  I was glad to hear from you and that you was all well.  I have nothing of importance to write only that we will draw money in a few days and then there will be a chance for furloughs and then I will try to come home.  If I donít get to come in the first round I will come in the second.  Tell Juddy I will fetch him a book and I will [bring] all the children something when I come if I get to _____ home.  Tell Mary Jane I like them galluses very well and them socks I never put on till this morning.  The first ones was stoled.  I hear from you every few days.  Mr. James King came here last night and he said he had saw father a few days ago and said the folks was all well.  Nancy, I would like to see the (Mingeys?) as they pass by this place and bid them the time ______.  I wish them a safe journey, a long journey never to return.  Nancy, I never had any hand in that letter James Franklin wrote but he told me about it.  Nancy, I want you to stay in old East Ten. As long as you can and when the war is over East Ten. Will be the greatest place you have of in life.  I must close this page and begin a better subject.

Nancy, I have good reason to believe your prayers have been answered.  I can [tell?] you with shame that I hanít prayed much for some time but God has carried me safe through and I have not [lived?] up to my duty.  It is God that take the army over the mountains and through the valleys and the battlefield and I intend to try to do better from this time, God being my helper.  Nancy I am going to write a letter to Uncle ______ Brown and maybe I can hear from your fatherís folks.  I was sorry to (hear?) that Josh was dead.  I would be glad to see them.  May God help us all is my prayer.  Tell Marthey I wrote this letter with her pen.  Goodbye for this time.

William L. Brown to N.C. Brown and Children ____ Marthey L, Brown, Mary M. Brown, Jhon J. Brown, William H. Brown, Albert R. Brown
 



WLB Letter # 23 of 53
Reference 000073-000075

[Letter addressed to:]
Mr. Henry Davis
East Knoxville, Tennessee

Camp Catlett near Nashville [First time this name Camp Catlett has been used - note that a Major Catlett died of the smallpox on March 23rd, 1864 according to an earlier letter suggesting the camp has now been named in his honor]

April the 15th, 1864

Dear Brother and Sister,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well at present.  I hope these few lines may find [you] enjoying the same blessing.  I received your letter ____ before yesterday and I was glad to hear from you and from home.  I have been with Anderson all winter but I forgot to write to you in my other letter about him.  He is well at this time.  I can see him any day.  I showed him the letter I got from you.  He said he had write to you, Henry.  I think you have done well by not going in the army.  If [I] could get out of the army I would give the government a clear receipt and there is 6 months pay due me at this time.  Money is no temptation to me.  I have been gone from home almost 18 months.  I would like to come home a few days but I donít know whether I can get the chance to come.  If I canít I can stay.  Joseph _____ is here and has been for some time.  He is well.  This you may tell his family.  (Seafaict Burnet?) died this morning.  The measles and smallpox is still in this regiment but it is not so bad as it was.  Margaret ____ Mat says he doubts you hating the rebs as bad as he does.  He is well and likes the army as well as could be expected.  I am detailed to cut logs to make a bridge.  We have moved camp eight miles on the Harden Pike and on the Northwestern Railroad.  We canít hear much - the cars passes there twice a day.  Four trains have passed here today.  They will ______ this evening.  We get the mail once a day and that is about twelve [noon?].  Henry, provision is high here but not half so high as they are at Knoxville.  Henry, I think if you can get along a few months longer you can make money.  East Tenn. Will be a place someday yet.  The Negroes will be freed and if the poor folks can live I want them freed and sent away.  If they ainít sent away I will fight them as long as I live.  The time will come when freedom will reign over the land.  God grant the time.  I must close.  Give my best to all my friends.  Tell Father [and] Mother that I wrote to them before I wrote to you.  Tell Nancy I am well.  Tell Sary Mat is well and may the blessings of God rest upon you all and save you in heaven is my prayer.  (I remain?) your brother until death.

William L. Brown and John M. Brown to Henry Davis and Margaret A. Davis.



WLB Letter # 24 of 53
Reference 000076-000080

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
South of the River
A Soldierís Letter

Camp Catlett near Nashville, Ten.
May the 1st, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

I am happy to inform you that I am well at this time and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  I have nothing of importance to write at this time only parson (Burnet?) came back this morning and brought a letter for Mat and it said you was well.  I got the letter you sent by ____ (Macman?) which came to hand last Sunday and I was glad to hear from you and I did not answer it and the reason is I had wrote a letter a few days before and told you I did not expect to come home till my time was out and the next day orders came that three men out of all the old company might have furloughs and the major told the captain to send three trusty men and it was agreed on and the captain picked P.B. (Loden?), Joseph (Elenburg?), W. L. Brown and the furloughs was filled out and sent up to the post commander to sign and they hanít come back yet and I donít think they never will for it has been ten days since they went up.  Major (Mines?) says they will come yet but I think it doubtful.  If they do W will come home and if they donít come I wonít come for I wonít run away like some is doing.  Nine men has left this regiment.  Last week 8 out of Co. (H?) and 6 of Co. ___ and they are marked as deserters.  Nancy when the news got out that I was coming home there was a good many letters and likeness[es] was ____ for me to fetch and  money.  Their money I handed back.  The letters I have yet and if I come I will fetch a good many more.  I donít think there is anything to (hinder?) _______ for we hanít got any horses and I donít think we will have any soon.  We had to turn over all the horses we had for they was needed in the front and it is better to let them go than to go with them for if we had refused they would have sent me to the front and I have had my satisfaction of the ______.  I am satisfied to stay here till my time is out.  Nancy, I was offered one hundred dollars for my furlough and I would take it and I can get five dollars for the chance of it yet but I wonít sell it at all.  Nancy, Green Hill left here last week and I sent word by him that I was well.  In a letter I got sometime back something was said about my likeness.  I canít send yet.  I have sent one and it is enough I think.  Nancy, my teeth still inclines to rot and I have had them plugged.  I had five plugs and cost me ______ and one of them wonít do any good.  G.W. Davies had three put in and all he had done cost him 19 dollars.  Tell father and Mother that I would write to them but I donít know to write more than I have wrote.  If I donít come home I will write to them in a few days.  Tell Father I canít send him any oil but if I can get a permit if I come home I will fetch him some.  I must close for the present for it will [be] dress parade in a few minutes.  May the blessings of God rest on all is my prayer.

William L. Brown to N. C. Brown

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Immanuelís veins
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day
and there may I, as vile as he,
wash all my sins sway.

Dear dying lamb thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved to sin no more.

Eíer since by faith I saw the stream
thy flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme
and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I'll sing thy power to save
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.



WLB Letter # 25 of 53
Reference 000081-000082

Camp Catlett
May the 24th, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself to let you know that I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  Nancy, I got to camp last night about midnight and found the boys all well but Peter Tipton  and all my things was here and all the boys was glad to see me and I was glad to [see] them.  Boid Sharpe and Mat Rogers and others are gone to Carthage on a boat and the time is out and we are looking for them back.  Nancy I (could?) to have wrote the childrenís ages down and forgot it.  Please send them to me.  Nancy, there is no talk of us moving to the front but we will move camps in a few days.  Nancy, they had (drawed?) me a horse and saddle and the horse is small and hard to ride but I think I cdan break him in a few days.  Nancy, I am afraid there wonít be any more of the boys get furloughs.  Tell Edmond Davies [that] Anderson is well and was glad to get ____  __ ______ ______.  Nancy, we will draw greenbacks tomorrow or next day and if I have the chance I will send you some for you can take better care of it than I can.  If you can draw your grub you wonít need much money till Fall and if you canít draw write to me and if I stay here I will send you something by express.  I saw William (McCarroll?) at Clarksville Alabama and he was well and if you have the chance you may send his folks word I saw him but did not have time to talk with [him] for the _____ was running when I saw him.  Tell Laben Johnson that Joseph (Goddard? Godred?) got back the same night I did and his colonel has _____ charges against him.  I donít think they will punish much - I hope not at least.  Tell  _____ _____ that _____ ______ is with his regiment and was glad to get the letter they sent him.  Nancy, there is many things I would [tell you?] but I hanít time.  There is more to do since we drawed horses this time than ever was before.  We have to drill twice a day, water three times and (graze?) once a day and clean up camp and if I get to write I have to steal the time.  I will have to quit and go and feed and curry my horse and then I will have to go on dress parade.

Well now dress parade is over and (maybe?) I can finish.  Nancy, you may tell Margaret Anderson that Sam is at Nashville and Johnson Wade and James (Caden?) is you to see him.  I must close.  I hope these lines may find father well and all of the family.  Mat is well and is on guard today.  He has the (head?) a little this evening.  I will write in a few days.  May the blessing of God rest upon you all.  Lord forbid that of my friends should do anything that would be disgraceful to the ______ of Christ grant that they may do to all us they would have others do to them.  This is my prayer.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 26 of 53
Reference 000083-000084

Camp Catlett
May the 28th, 1864

Dear friends one and all,

It is with pleasure and respect  I embrace the present to inform you that I am well at the present and hope the few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  I got to camp the 24th night of May and found the boys all well in Co. B but Peter Tipton and Thomas Patton and found all my things but one shirt.  I got to (Chatanooga?) the first day and there was lots of ______ soldiers there wounded and came to Nashville as I did on the train before me but I did not know any of them.  Tell Peter French that Rufus French is here and was glad to hear from them.  (Cowan?) and Anderson Davis is well.  Boyd Sharp, Mat Rogers, Mack Rule has been gone twelve days.  They went off ____ boat and we are look[ing] for them.  Clint Boyd is well.  There is no talk of this brigade going front but we will move camps in a few days.  The ______ very hard at this place one in the 4 Ten. In the hospital was killed by the name of Foster.  I wrote day before yesterday I was afraid there would not be any more men get furloughs but they sent up to be approved, four to the old Companys, two in the new Co. B.  Andey Tipton, Wyatt Bailey, W. E. Barbary, Ryley Graves.  Co A. J.H. Franklin, ____ Dunlap and I donít know any more.  Mat (wonít?) get to camp before August, I donít think and if there is a chance I think he will come then if not before.  Donít get out of heart.  I think Mat wonít.  That will be a good time to come for peaches will be ripe then.  Captain Tipton and Captain Coker and others have resigned and some have deserted.  Four left last night.  We drawed money yesterday.  I got twenty one dollars.  I was behind five dollars for clothes and if I have no bad luck the next time I settle I will make it pay.  I have a horse and saddle.  The horse is contrary.  When I get on him I canít keep him still and he wonít go _____ by himself.  I am writing a good deal of foolishness just to be doing [it].  Tell all the neighbors that ask about me I hanít forgot them.  When you write, write whether the smallpox is still raging yet or not and who has them.  We have right orders _____ but we donít ______.  They wonít last long.  Tell (Peggy Ann?) Mat says he was glad to get that (cake?) and he hates the rebels bad as ever.  Father, I would to hear from [you] today if I could but I canít.  A man in the army canít hear from home every day and Sunday too.  Joseph (Godred [Goddard?]) has got back and is in the work house at Nashville.  I saw William McCearl at (Clarksville?) Allabamey and I did not have time to talk with him but a few words.  He did not know me at he donít look well.  I must close for it is time for dress parade.  Write as soon as you get this.

William L. Brown
W.L.B. [?]
J.M. Brown



WLB Letter # 27 of 53
Reference 00085-00087

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. N. C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
South of the River
[Postmarked at Nashville on May 9 (or 29?) and at Knoxville on June 4, 1864]

Camp Catlett
May the 29th, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

It is with pleasure and respect I seat myself this Sabbath evening to let you know that I am well at the present and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  I have nothing of importance to write as I have wrote two letters since I return[ed].  The reason I write as often I want you to hear from [me].  We all got back safe.  Jhon (Cancel?) got his leg ____ riding in the freight ____ and was letting his feet hand out and ____ cut on the end of a plank where a fence crossed the road and I was sitting by him but my feet was not hang[ing] out.  Nancy, that boy that was at Henryís did not get off.  (Mrs. Griffen?) and Mistress Rice got there last night.  ____ Tipton and Captain Coker has resigned and other[s] would if they could for that is the only way the regiment will get out of the ______ is by promotion and the sooner the better for the rest of us.  Enough of that stuff.  They boys are all well as far as I know.  Boyd Sharp and Mat Rogers and Mack Rule and Davey Cusick and others have been gone about 18 days today and we are looking for them back and Rufus French was glad to get his letter.  Nancy, if you will go to the post office and rent a box and write to me the number of the box I will back my letters to Knoxville box no. and all you will have to do to know if there is any letters for you will be to look in the box and if there is any in the box call out the no. of the box and you will get the letters.  One box will do you all, and it wont cost but 25 cents a month and you will have to _____ for three months at a time.  Mat is writing a letter too.  A few words to the children and I close.  Children, you must be good children.  God love[s] good children and when Paw come[s] maybe he will stay.  I hope I will get to come home sooner than I did before.  May God bless you and if it is Godís will that we will never meet on earth again I hope we will meet in heaven where parting will be no more.  Farewell one and all for the present.

William L. Brown
 



WLB Letter # 28 of 53
Reference 000039-000040

Camp near Nashville
June the (1st?), 1864

Dear Father and Mother,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well at the present and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.  Father I haint much to write only we have move camps between the (Harden) and Charlotte Pike four miles from Nashville.  Father there is a good deal of _______ out here.  The third regiment last Sunday evening called the Knox County boys together to elect candidates to the convention at Nashville to represent Knox County.  The candidates was _____ ______, Adam Kenedy, (Tim Homer?) , W.C. Mcamonhan and Kenedy are (several illegible words) is (opposed?) to (immancification?[emancipation?]) and wants to extend slavery.  Homer was elected.  I am afraid the Butternuts will gain the day in the presidential election. I am in favor of _____ and for (immancification?).  I say ____ ever(y) Negro no ____ who he belong to and make them in the front of the battle and let them earn their freedom.  I am in favor of putting down the rebellion then there will be time enough to talk about the Negro.  Just let the Negro be for he will be a nigger wherever he be.  The fact is if we donít free them it will be hard to put down the rebels for they make the rebels (support?) in the South.  I have give you a piece of my (ideas?) and I will close this part of my discourse.  I will give  you the names of the officers that has resigned.  Captain [Thomas D.?] Tipton and Co. (A?) Captain [Joseph N.?] Witt Co. G, W.C. Lieutenant McCammon Co C, Captain [Charles W.] Coker Co. E and I wish they all would for that is the only way for us to get out of serving by _______ or you may think this foolish talk and so it is but I write to (Captain ______).  I have wrote three letters before this one since I came back the ______ opinion is we wont stay here long.  Icanít tell _____ we will not have to leave the State.  I have heard it hinted we sould go to _______.  Time will tell.  ______ (Swagerty?) was _____ to ranks this day for neglecting his duty whilst on picket.  The time has come that we have to walk _____ and it is ____ _____ thing are _______.  Father if I can get the _____ I will rend you some oil (by express??).  Tell Henry and (Peggy Ann?) to write to me.  William McCowan(?) will be at home before long.  Tell Crit if he haint gone to write to me.  Mat is well, the boys are all well as far as I know at this time.  Excuse bad writing and spelling.  May God bless you all is my prayer.  I remain your son till death.

William L. Brown to Jhon Brown and Mary Brown


WLB Letter # 29 of 53
Reference 000088-000089

Camp near Nashville
June the 5th, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself [this] good Sabbath morning to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same great glessing.  I have not much to write as I have wrote four letters before this since I came to you and father.  I have not heard from you since I left home.  Mat got a letter from home and said Father was able to go to the (barn?).  I got a pack of letters that was wrote February dated 12 to the 18.  I expect to send this by hand by W. C. McCamon [possibly McMahon?] and I did not know it in time to write last night, therefore I canít write much.  There was several men came from East Tennessee yesterady old Biley Wallen, Geardon Hauk, Andy Mclear and others.  I will send you ten dollars if he will carry it.  I hanít asked him yet but I think he will.  Mat wrote a letter and [sent it?] to him last night.  I must close.  Nancy, write to us as soon as you hear he is at home.  I want to hear from you very bad so no more at present.  My pen is bad.  I want to write more but I hanít time.  Farewell for the present.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 30 of 53
Reference 00041-00042

Camp Thomas
June the (16th, 1864?)

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to inform you that I am well and hope these lines may find all in good health.  I have heard from you all as _____ as five days.  The time has come we have to march.  We have to move about 80 miles south to ___________ or that is the talk.  I think we make that a place of (rendezvous?  [looks like render vuse]) and there we will make raids into Georgia.  That is my opinion.  If it were cool weather I would like it better.  (Mat?) is well and is _________.  (Cowen?) is not well.  He wonít be able to march.  There is right smart of sickness in this brigade.  The weather and (season?) is fine.  Corn and oats is heading and some wheat is ripe ____.  Wade tells me corn looks very well and oats and clover looks well and wheat wonít be much.  When you write what sort of a crop you have.  I must close as the day is passing away and I have a heap to do.  There are some _____ ____ here about the promotion of officers Co. B all right.  Give my best respect to all my friends.  May God bless you all is my prayer.

William L. Brown

May  we meet in heaven.  In heaven alone no (sorrow?) is known and there is no weeping there.  (Sound?) in a song of sweet accord and thousands walk together there.


WLB Letter # 31 of 53
Reference 000090-000091

Camp Thomas
June the 16th, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

It is with great pleasure I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope these lines may find you enjoying the same great blessing.  Nancy, I received your letter day before yesterday.  Old Mr. Wade brought them the one you wrote at Henryís came at the same time.  I also got one dated June the 3rd.  I answered it and sent it by mail and I may send this one by Mr. Wade or (Waylon? Wallen?).  Nancy we have marching orders - is said we will start tomorrow but I donít think we will get ready before Sunday.  They say we will go to Pulasky about 80 miles from this place on the Tennessee River below Bridgeport.  I donít know how far below.  Nancy you need not be uneasy.  The same God that was with me [in] the beginning is with me yet and with all that put their trust in him.  Nancy, I got the children[Ďs] ages.  Nancy, there has been more drinking and gambling and fighting here since I came back than I ever saw for the length of time.  One day last week _______  got cut almost to pieces by a man by the name of Rogers.  The man got away.  ______ is getting well.  That broke up gambling and I am glad of it.  Tell Sary Mat got a letter too and one yesterday.  The one he got today was dated May the 30, the one yesterday June the 5th.  He answered them.  May God bless you and be a husband to you [and] a father to the children is my prayer.

W.L.B.



WLB Letter # 32 of 53
Reference 000092-000094

[Letter addressed to:]

Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
South of the River

Athens, Limestone County, Allabamy
June the 24th, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these lines may find you in good health.  We have been on the march seven days.  The weather is very hot.  Crops looks fine.  What is ripe.  Nancy, I was mistaken about Pulaski being on the river.  We was first ordered to Pulaski and then to Decatur but we hanít got there yet.  We can get there tomorrow.  It is only fifteen miles from Athens and twenty-five miles to Huntsville. Nancy, we have and are yet following the railroad from Nashville to Huntsville.  The road that I came back on when I was at home we crossed Elk River on a pontoon bridge.  The talk is [Nathan Bedford] Forrest is coming up the Tennessee River but I donít believe it.  If he is if he donít mind [if he isnít careful] he will find (lead?!).  We ainít in ______ now.  I donít expect to stay many days in a place for some time.  I must close.  I will give you the march.  June the 18 March (12 or 18) miles, camp at Franklin.  Sunday June the 19 march 20 miles passing Spring Hill and Poplar Grove, camp near Columbia.  Monday June the [20th] march 10 miles
passing Columbia and camp the overnight by the side of a large meadow on the Pulaski road.  Tuesday, June the 21st march 12 miles passing ____ville and camp on Richland Creek.  Wednesday June the 22nd, march 14 miles passed Pulaski and camp on Buchanan Creek.  Thursday, June the 23rd march 15 miles and camp in Alleybamey crossing Elk River on a pontoon bridge.  Friday June the 24th, march 9 miles, camp near Athens, Alleybamey and will march to [?] in the morning.

Nancy, the boys are in fine spirits.  Mat is well except the diarrhea.  We donít have to march hard.  Nancy, I have got my little horse broke to ride fine.  He is about ths size of Dick [a horse back home?].  Nancy I weight 137 lbs and am falling off every day but I am just as stout as I ever was.  I close for it is getting late.

William L. Brown to N.C. Brown



WLB Letter # 33 of 53
Reference 000095-000096

Camp at Athens, Allabamia
[No date on letter - probably late June or early July 1864]

We got to this place last Friday and was expected to march on the next day but we are here yet and I donít know how long we will stay here.  The fourth and second are at Decatur.  Things are working strange.  Brigade headquarters are here.  The sick we left at Nashville came up this morning and I got two letters and Mat got two.  Mine found me well.  Mat is not very well but is able to go about and help to cook a little.  He hs better today than he was yesterday.  I was glad to get the letters.  They was dated from June the 12 to the 16th.  I wrote a letter the same day we got here.  I thought we could have to march on the next day but was mistaken.  I donít know when nor where we will go next.  I will write every chance.  The corn and oats look well in Ten.  Wheat is good and is ripe and they are (eating?) it.  As far as I have been in Allabamy there are not much corn and wheat.  The land is poor but level.  Athens is located on the railroad and is a very pretty place.  The water is good enough but I hanít found none like home.  This is Limestone County.  It is thought by some we will go to _______ Tennessee but I donít think so.  We will have to rout Forrest.  Reports say he is in 25 mile of Decatur with three brigades.  He is aiming to make a raid somewhere and if he donít mind and go slow he will get what he needs.  We want to ____ him again to pay him for the way he has been cutting up.  There was a rebel spy caught yesterday near Decatur.  He was shot through the thigh.  If it had been his head it would been all right with me.  The bushwhackers are all through this country.  We will have to scout.  Co. C. and Co. K are on a scout today.  I wrote in a letter and sent it by old Mr. Wade that (Cowen? Bowen?) was sick.  He got here this morning.  He is about [as] well as (Grisel?) is ______ ____ to be dead by this time.  Marthey and Mary I am glad to hear you are learning your books.  That is the way to learn.  You must be good girls and God will love you.  Jud-y I am glad you can say all your letters.  The next time I hear from you I think you can spell ____. Willey the song you sung is a good song if you sing it every morning it wonít hurt you.  Albert you must be a good boy.  Nancy, the money I sent you was a ten dollar bill.  I was paid in the new ______ but it was a 20 dollar bill and I got it changed and sent you ten of it and I donít mind [remember?] whether it was the old or new.  I guess the[y] thought old ragged money would do you.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 34 of 53
Reference 000097-000098

Camp at Athens, Allabamey, Limestone County
July the 3rd, 1864

Dear Wife and Children,

I now seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these lines may find you enjoying the same great blessing.  I received  the letter you sent by C.F. Davis.  It was short but sweet.  It came to hand yesterday by (C.F.?) Davis himself and he had like to got killed as he came down.  The train behind him run on them and throwed 7 boxes [boxcars?] off the track.  He was in the box behind and it rolled over 7 times.  He had good luck - these boxes was loaded with sick and wounded men.  3 men was killed, four mortally wounded.  The fault seems to have been in the engineer.  This is Sunday and I have heard two (sermons?) today.  I was at a Negro meeting this evening.  They had a fine meeting.  Nancy, I have received two letters since I came to this place.  I have wrote two to you and one to father.  They may not come to hand.  July the 11th - I am on picket today and the mail came in this morning for the first [time?] it will come regular[ly] - it comes from Knoxville of a morning and from Nashville at two oíclock in the evening.  Mat is about well - he has gone to cooking and is writing a letter.  I think we will stay here till corn gets fit to feed on.

July the 5th.  I return from picket this morning.  I am well and in good spirits.  Two Negroes have been whipped here today, one for stealing clothes and the other for stealing money.  I saw the one that stold the money whip[ped].  It was James Dunlapís money, amount $71/85.  I would not took the whipping for all the greenbacks.  Enough of that.  Nancy, I saw the smoke of the battery yesterday evening at sunset when they fired to celebrate the fourth of July.  The [it?] made me think of what our forefathers tried to do in gone by days and I am fighting for the same thing they fought for - for liberty.  I am in hope Richmond has fell by this time.  O may this cruel war soon end and all return to their homes and enjoy peace.  May God help the rulers and cause them to see that they have to die a[nd] that the love of Christ might be extended to all in authority and grant O Lord that peace and happiness may be in the land and help us all to live so that when we come to die we wonít be afraid to die and if I shall never meet you on earth any more I hope to meet you where parting will be no more.

Write soon and Back your letters to Athens, Allabamy till further orders.

William L. Brown to N. C. Brown

A bad day for Negroes - since I closed the above one of the Ninth Ohio shot a negro soldier dead on the street, the cause I hanít found out.  The Negroes has a show in town tonight, last night and night before.  I donít go about _____.  A.P. Slater, C.F. Davis, J.J. Wade are all sick.  This the 6th of July.
 



WLB Letter # 35 of 53
Reference 000099-000101

[The envelope is mostly illegible at least in the Xeroxed copy but probably reads:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266 [so she did get a post office box!]
South of the River

Camp near (Massby?) Al.
July the 12, 1864

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to let you know that we are both well and have move[d] camps to (Moresby? Mossby?) last Saturday and Sunday.  We had to take a two days scout across the Ten. River.  We crossed at Decatur about three miles below this place.  We was camped at Athens just two weeks and we donít expect to stay here only today.  We will draw money today.  We will have to move across the river and camp at or near Decatur if the order ainít countermanded.  The rebels are thick over there.  When we was over there we caught one captain and (10?) privates.  Co. A had a right smart skirmish with them but nobody got hurt.  I had to help guard five night before last.  We expected to have a right sharp fight but we did not.  The fourth are gone on a raid and it is thought they will go to Montgomery.  Twenty thousand troops left Decatur las Sunday and we was ordered to go with them the but order was countermanded.  Co. K [&] Co. L. are at Athens yet and I [think?] maybe we will be divide[d] and some one place and some another.  The 2 are dismounted again.  Old Duff Thornburgh has resigned.  Little feisty (Jacke?) is commander brigade.  I donít think we will be long in a place.  Major Minnis says we will be in Ten before the [e]lection but he donít know any more than I do about that.  He has to go where he is ordered.  Nancy, I received your letter dated July the 2th and we got one from father the same date and the same day which gave me g[r]eat satisfaction to hear you was well and also to get a few lines from Mr. And Mrs. Hanes.  You may tell them Clint Boyd is well  Boid Sharp is well.  I have got several letters since I left Nashville and I have wrote five or six.  Direct your letters to Decatur to follow the regiment as we are not settled yet.  I will write every chance I can send home any time.  We will get 16 dollars a man ___ I wish I had a chance to send mine home for there is nothing here to buy that a man needs and if I was to go on a scout and get captured the rebs would take it from me and if I capture one and he has greenback I count it mine for that [is] the way they get it but if he has gold or any other kind I wonít take it.  Nancy, I was glad to hear crops looks well and from the way you and father write you hear a heap of lies about this regiment.  Donít believe anything you hear nor the half you see - that is the way I do.  I find it to be the best - I intend to take the world fair and easy from this _____.  May the blessing of God continue with you.  Give my best respect to all.  I was sorry to hear Crit was in the hospital.  I heard all the 6 had got killed but 90 men and (six?) of them was wounded and I canít believe it.  Farewell for the present.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 36 of 53
Reference 000102-000104

[Letter is addressed as follows:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
South of the River

Camp near Decatur, AL
July the 14th, 1864

My Dear Wife and Children,

I again drop you a few lines to let you know that I am in good health and hope the same of you.  I receive[d] a letter from you dated the 6th of July and one the 8th.  I was on a scout when it came to me and I read them and tore them up Ďfore we had a skirmish with rebs but nobody got hurt but we caught 12 of them.  One was a captain.  I wrote a letter as soon as I got back.  I wrote then that we would move the next day but we are here yet but we are under marching orders all the time but I have no idea where we will go next.  I got the letter that was dated the 6th yesterday and one from father.  I get all the letters you write.  I am sorry to hear Betsy Davis and Claborn are sick.  Anderson Davis is gone on a raid and he may be gone some time for they took fifteen days rations with them.  There is hot weather here.  Nancy, I have crossed on the pontoon bridge four times.  It is over five hundred yards long.   I have been on two scouts this week.  D. G. Thornburgh has resigned.  J.M. Thornburgh is commander of the brigade and J.B. Minnis is colonel.  Nancy, you may tell Margaret Anderson Sam is as well as (common?) all but his back and hips.  He has not got but one letter since he came to the regiment.  Tell her how you back your letters and he wants to know if her father is staying with her.  Nancy, Mat is well.  Boid Sharp and Clint Boid and Mat Rogers are all well and Mat Rogers says he hanít heard from home since I was at home.  Well, I will have to close for the present.  I will write as often as I can, so goodbye.

William L. B. to N.C.B.



WLB Letter # 37 of 53
Reference 000105-000107

Camp at Huntsville, Ala.
July the 19th, 1864

My Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself to drop you a few lines in order to let you know that I am well and in good spirits.  I started a letter to you the 15th of July and if you get it, it will ____ that I was near Decatur and just as I got it finish[ed] I had to start with three days rations and one hundred rounds of ________ but when we got to Huntsville we found out nothing was the matter and the next morning they all went back but Co. B and we are left here and I am glad of it.  I donít know how long we will get to stay.  I hope till my time is out for this [is] a healthy place and the prettiest town I every saw and the best water.  There is a spring here that affords more water than Stock Creek and other good springs besides.  The boys are all well satisfied here.  The water from that big spring is _______ with _____ all over town and a man can get a good drink almost anywhere in town.  A soldier couldnít ask for a better place than this is.  I think this will be good news to you.  I call it good luck for Co. B but there is some rough country day before yesterday I rode 17 miles over the worst road I ever saw and yesterday I rode about 24 miles but the road was better.  We will have to scout a good deal but that is fun.  Nancy, I have a twenty dollar bill I wish you had for I have no use for it here and if I have a chance I will send it to you.  I may send it by express.  If I do I will write to you before I do it and when you write what you think if I were to express anything you would _____ to lift it out of the express office or will you tend to it yourself.  I think Doctor Rogers would do to direct to and then he could send or hand it to you.  Nancy, roasting ears will soon be plenty.  We can get beans now.  I had a good mess the other day just by picking them.  I intend to make it pay when I go out if there is anything I want if I have the chance.  Nancy, I want to know how Crit is getting along.  Father wrote he was in the hospital and I hanít heard from since I saw a man from the front the other day and it aint as bad times as we hear it is.  The 23 army Corps was the first across the (Chatahoochee?) River.  They [are] in a few miles of Atlanta.  I think Sherman is there by this time.  They took a factory that had 7 and 50 women in it and sent them North and the rebs was only half of the factory.  Nancy, write how Betsy Davis is and Claborn and father[Ďs] folks is and if any of the neighbors is sick.  I donít know what the rest of the regiment is doing.  Andy (Hapley?) has seen his brother and he is a rebel.  There is a good many folks here that has (kin?) in East Tennessee.  Sam Mcanaly has a brother that lives in this town.  His family is here but he went off with the rebs.  I must close.  My prayer is that God may bless you all and keep you from harm.  So I remain your __ husband until death.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 38 of 53
Reference 000108-000110

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
in care of Rufus Brown

Huntsville, Ala.
July the 22 (1864)

Dear Wife,

I am well at the [present].  It is none oíclock and I am writing by candle light.  I would not write tonight but I have the chance to send you twenty dollars by [Captain?] William Farmer.  He will leave it at Rufus Brownís.  I wrote a letter day before yesterday and dated it the 19th.  The regiment is a Maryville about 20 miles below here.  Co. K and Co. H are at Athens.  There is many things I would like to write ____ but I hanít time.  Mr. Seafolet has got a discharge and is here tonight.  I expect to go out on a scout tomorrow.  I havenít got a letter from [you?] this week.  I will write in a few days.  I donít know how to tell you to back your letters.  You may back one to Huntsville, Ala. Co. B 3 Tennessee Cav.  I may get it.  I must close.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 39 of 53
Reference 000111-000113

[Letter addressed:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
A soldier letter
[Postmark is Chattanooga, Ten - 3 Aug 1864]

Huntsville, Ala.
July the 26th, 1864

Dear Wife,

I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these lines may find you and the children enjoying the same great blessing.  I wrote a letter the other night and sent it by the old man Capolet.  I also sent you twenty dollars by William Farmer to be left at Roofs [Rufus Brownís].  I have been here ever since the fifteenth of July.  We are on detach service but will be relieved in a few days but I would like to stay here all the time for it is a pretty place and good water.  I have been on two scouts and we caught a rebel that was in the (siege?) at Knoxville.  He was at home when we caught him.  His wife cried so I was a little sorry for her but it put me in mind of the time I had to leave home or be conscript[ed].  They know it when _______ by when we are on a scout.  Apples are getting ripe and peaches and _______ blackberries are plenty but we donít have a chance to get them.  Everything is very high here and negroes are so thick they canít be stirred with a stick.  The thirteenth (Indiana?) cavalry are there and they hanít never had any horses.  The are doing ______ duty and they talking of _____ army if they donít get horses in this month but I think they are doing very well.  I would rather do what they have to do than to have a horse.  Some soldiers donít know what is good for them.  I think we have been _____ ____ so far.  There has been a change in our officers.  John B. Minnis is lieutenant , colonel J. W. Pickens, first major Ben Cunningham, second major O.P. McCammon is captain of Co. L, Dick Goddard Captain Co. A. Alexander Goddard Captain of Co. H.  Will Comings has lieutenant place in Co. K Co. B all right yet.  Nancy, I have read that little book through twice.  It is said a man cannot serve God in the army.  It is very hard to do but it can be done.  I have tried it.  It is just as easy to pray one place as another.  God is the same God everywhere.  Nancy, I hanít heard from you since I got your letter that was wrote the 6th of this month and I got it the 15th of this month.  I have wrote two letters since I wrote for you to back your letters to Huntsville but you may still back them to Decatur to follow the regiment as they weill have to go to the headquarters of the regiment.  Captain Slatery is invited to go out in the country with his company to a picnic and I am afraid I canít ride tomorrow for I have a boil a-coming and I canít hardly sit down this evening.

Mat is in moderate health; when night comes he complains of being blind ___ when the morning ______  I have tried to get him to go to the doctor but he wonít.  I must close for the want of something to write.  Give my best respect to all my friends.  Marthey and Mary I want to hear something from you.  Judson and Wiley and Albert I want to hear if you have been good boys.  So goodbye for the present.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 40 of 53
Reference 000114-000116

[Letter addressed to:]
Mr. Jhon Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
A Soldier Letter

Huntsville, Ala.
July the 28th, 1864

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

It is with much respect I seat myself to address you a letter in order to let you know that myself and Mat is well.  I have had a boil and hanít done any duty for a few days but it is better.  We are here on detach service, Co. B alone.  The regiment are scattered, some at Decatur Co. K and Co H is at Athens yet.  I donít know what companies are at Decatur and there may be some at Maryville where we left them.  Father, we left Athens the ninth and went to Decatur and I got a letter from you on that day.  I answered it and I hanít got nary one from you since.  I have got four from Nancy that was wrote in month I got one last night that was dated the 10th and 12th but when it was wrote she had not got ary letter from me since I left Athens and I have wrote four to her and one to you.  I have wrote for you to back your letters to Decatur till further orders.  I would say back them to Huntsville, but I donít know how long we will stay here and if they go to the Headquarters of the regiment they will be sent to us.  I sent a letter by the old man Capolet and twenty dollars by William Farmer to be left at Roofs and Parson B______ came here might before last and said he saw him and if he left the money there she will get it if not already got it and I think he will leave it there.  I would rather stay here than any place I have been for we have good water and it is a pretty place.  There is a spring here that affords more water than Stock Creek and they have it ______ to force the _____ all over the town.  There is a large fort here and this is a good country here.  Corn looks well what little there is.  This country is torn up very bad and Negroes are so thick that they somtimes they darken the (streets?) and there has been more Negro equality here than any place I have been.  The boys went out yesterday and arrested a man that has been _____ a _____ (gal?) for several years and only Negroes.  This is the sort of people live in the South but old Abe will free them all.  I want him to - I think if Lincoln is elected peace will be made right off.  As for old Andy [Andrew Jackson] if he were not on Abeís ticket he would not get my vote, but Abe and Andy will get it if [I] get to vote, but we will not get to vote if we donít get to Tennessee, and if the soldier[s] donít get to vote they will be a Butternut  a _______ and then the war will go on.  Well, I have written enough of that.  I will close by saying I hope you will remember us in you prayers.  May God bless you is my prayer, so goodbye for the present.

William L. Brown to
Jhon Brown, Mary Brown

When you write, write where Crit is if he is in the hospital or at the regiment and you can back your letter after this manner:

Mr. William L. Brown
Co. B 3 Regiment Tennessee
First Brigade, Fourth Division
Leave army Corps or to Decatur - ary one will do.



WLB Letter # 41 of 53
Reference 000124-000126

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
A soldiers letter

Huntsville, Ala.
August the 5th, 1864

Dear Wife,

It is with great pleasure this evening I seat myself to address you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time and hope these lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing.  I have nothing of importance to write as I have not received a letter for some time from you.  The last one I got was wrote July the 12 and I was glad to get it.  I am looking for letters every day.  Mat has got one that was dated July the 23.  He is gone on a scout and this is the third day they have been gone.  I would have sent but I was on picket when they started and I heard from them a little while ago.  They had caught some rebs and was close after the rest and I learned by a letter that was write to Captain Slatery that the regiment has been in a fight down below Decatur and not a man got hurt.  There was one regiment of (infantry?) along and they lost one killed and two wounded.  The rebs had two pieces of artillary.  They caught five and found 6 dead on the field.  There is something strange about this regiment.  We have the best (luck?) of any men I have every saw and I hope we will still have good luck.  Nancy, I forgot to tell you Andy (Hafley?) has seen his brother and he is a reb.  We are here on detail service and we like this place very well.  I was out about five miles today and got a lots of watermelons.  Peaches and apples are plenty but they sell high.  Nancy, I want to hear from you worse than I ever did.  Since I left home I want to know if you got the money I sent you by Captain Farmer.  I write a letter to father and you last week.  I think there is something wrong about the mail or we would get more letters.  I shall write very few days, as often as I have the ______.  I have been on duty every day this week.  I had a boil last week as was not fit for duty.  I canít see that the weather is any hotter here than it is in Tennessee.  There is a good season here.  Corn looks well, and cotton.  I think this is a good country.  There is as good water here as I ever saw anywhere.  If we can get to stay here till fall then I would be willing to [go] somewhere else if necessary.  Nancy, I have wrote some letters - if you get them they may surprise you.  Nancy, I want you to keep in good heart for my time is closing out fast.  My prayer is may the Lord bless you in all your trials in life (bear temptations?).  I have many temptations to bear but I thank God I can bear them all.  May the Lord bless you is my prayer.  I must close.  So farewell for this time.

William L. Brown
to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 42 of 53
Reference 000127-000128

Huntsville, Ala.
August the 9th, 1864

My Dear Wife,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to let you know that I am well and hope the same of you.  I received a letter from you that was dated the twelfth of July.  I was glad to year from you and hear the neighbors were all well, but you did not say where Crit was and I hanít heard from him for some time and I donít know where to write to or I would write to him.   You said you had received three letters from me.  I have wrote more.  I have got two from you since I came to this place and I am looking for more every day.  When I wrote before they boys was gone on a scout.  They have returned all safe and was succesful.  They caught a rebel Captain and a few privates and several pistols and guns and some good horses.  They was out four days.  I was on duty every day last week.  I was on picket four days and nights.  Nancy, I can tell you headquarters of the division is here and they have sent Co. (I?) here to help us.  Co. K and Co. H is at Athens and the rest are at Decatur and they can get a fight any day by going out ten miles.  Lieutenant Holmes got his shoulder strap shot off the other day.  That is the nearest anyone has come getting hurt as far as I know.  Before we came to this place the 12 Indiana Cav. Was here and almost every time they went out the rebs would fire on them and they hanít fired on us yet.  I donít know what is the reason but we have better luck than any regiment I have been with, and if they only would let us come to east Tennessee one time we could clear the (vanguard?) for the northern cavalry are too afraid of bushwhackers to do any good.  Enough of that.  We have plenty of rain.  Apples and peaches and watermelons are plenty.  I think we will get to stay here till fall.  I hope so at least.  Nancy, I have got my little horse as gentle as I want him.  I can turn him loose anywhere and go and catch him.  He is the best horse about that I have ever had and he donít care for shooting but he donít like to be rode off to himself but after he gets away it is all right.  Enough of that.  I have to quit writing to go on a scout.

August the 11th

Now the scout is over - we did not find any rebs.  General Granger has moved here and says he ____ to keep Co. B and Co. (F?) here to scout.  Captain Slatery has gone to Nashville and will be gone a few days.  Nancy, the first and fourth Tennessee Cav. Has had bad luck near Atlanta.  They were surrounded and had to cut there way out with great loss. I think they intend to try to get the Tennesseeans all killed if they can, but we have been favored so far.  They will get us into it sometime.  Enough of that.  I heard that one brigade of the fourth division have gone to Knoxville.  I wish they would send us there.  I must close for [lack of] something to write.  May God bless you is my prayer.  Farewell at the present.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 43 of 53
Reference 000129-000131

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
A Soldier Letter

Huntsville, Ala.
Aug the 15th, 1864

My Dear Wife and Children,

I seat myself with pleasure to let you know that I am well at [present].  I have just returned from three days scout and I have received your letter dated Aug. the 2.  It gave me great satisfaction to hear from you and to hear from the neighbors.  Nancy, I have nothing of importance to write as I have been on the scout five days in the last week.  I am getting tired of scouting for we have to ride hard and donít do any good hardly.  They treat the people so bad I hate to go out.  Day before yesterday they burned a housed and the folks was not at home.  They ____   ______ they carried off and burnt all they had.  After we left we found the woman and children and what Co B had they gave back to them.  The rest would [have] done the same but they did not see them.  The man was a bushwhacker but I was sorry for the children.  I have been on four scouts and hanít found a man in arms but we have found a good many guns.  We have been in Lincoln County, Tennessee and there is where the house was burnt.  I donít mind taking watermelons for they donít break a man up.  The (picket?) and eight of us went to a stillhouse and got two canteens of brandy which made a draw Ďround for the boys.  I donít care for that but we have men that will take shirts and donít stop [with] the menís but take the womenís too.  I think it is a shame to all mankind and the man that will do so there no finding ______ for his Mother at home.  When I am out need anything to eat I take it but donít waste anything.  Enough of that.  We have had rain every day this month and I think it will rain today.  Nancy, I heard from Mat Rogers last night.  He is well and the fourth Tennessee have got back what werenít captured.  I donít know whether Anderson Davis has got back or not.  If I had been here night before last I could have seen them as they went down.  They lost all their horses and a good many men and the rebs got them.  It is very warm today.  A few words to the children.  Marthey and Mary you must learn all you can at school and be good and kind to your schoolmates.  Judson, if you go any you must be good to the ____ boys and mind your Uncle Henry.  Wiley, you and Albert must be good boys and _____  ______ you are too little to go to school yet wait till Paw comes and then you can go.  It is raining right now.  I bring my lines to a close.  I got a letter from Father last night and Hariet.  I will write to them today.  I hope you will pray for me that I may get home.  May the Lord bless you and preserve you is my prayer, so farewell for the present.

William L. Brown
to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 44 of 53
Reference 000119-000121

Huntsville, Ala.
August the 15, 1864

Dear Father and Mother, Brother and Sisters,

It is with pleasure this evening I seat myself to let you know that I received your letter that was dated the 31 of July.  It found us both well but tired for we have been riding hard for three days.  We left Huntsville on the 12th about four oíclock in the afternoon and went out on the Rediville Road and got to Rediville at dark, a north-east course.  Then we marched a north course on the Shelbyville road to and stayed at _____  _____ on the same road seven miles north in Tennessee.  Then we made a right turn - a north-east course-in a barren country several miles and then we came to a little hut.  There we found ring of rebs the ____ ____.  Then across the country an east course and got dinner and _______ and rested.  Then south to a man that had plenty of forage and stayed there on the night of the 13th, then back to Markem Mill, a northwest course, then the same course to the Pulaski road, then a southwest course to Huntsville.  I think we traveled near one hundred miles and we did not catch but one reb and we caught him about five miles from Huntsville.  We was in the command of lieutenant Wade.  I am getting tired of scouting.  I am getting tired of seeing men treat the people so bad.  I am ashamed a heap a time and when men will take a womanís shirt and other things as bad  I want to be at home and it is a shame to all mankind.  If I were in command men would have to do better or I would send them to the penitentiary where they ought to be.  We have plenty of rain.  Crops are good.  I have not heard from the 6 for some time.  They have had a hard time.  There has been more men sent to the front.  The fourth Tennessee is at Decatur.  They have had a hard time.  They lost all their horses and the rebs got them.  They passed by night before last.  Mat want[s] Thornburgh _______.  I wish he was here to command the brigade.  He has more credit than old Bill Pickens but I shouldnít be surprised if he donít command the regiment again but not by my vote, but I donít care who commands if I can get to east Tennessee.  If I was there I would be where I want to be, but if they wonít let us come home I would rather stay there [Huntsville?] but we donít get letters regularly.  I have wrote [a] good many letters.  I have got three or four since I came to this place.  I will close for the present.

William L. Brown to Jhon Brown and Family

[What follows is the alphabet in capital letters in W.L. Brownís handwriting - a useful tool for deciphering some of his letters!]

Henry and Hamilton and Robert, I guess you are thinking about pulling fodder and I wish I was there to help you but I donít expect to be there to pull fodder this year and I am afraid I wonít be there next year, but if I was there I could beat any of you.  Now you must save a heap if you can for it will be needed.  I may come and want ______ to feed my (Nancy?).  Farewell for the present.

[What follows is the alphabet in lower-case letters in W.L. Brownís handwriting - again a help in deciphering the letters]


WLB Letter # 45 of 53
Reference 000132-000134

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266

Huntsville, Ala.
August the 19th, 1864

Dear Wife,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to let you know that I am well at present and hope the same of you.  I received the letter of yours of the seventh and eighth of August.  It came to hand yesterday.  I was glad to hear you and fatherís folks and the neighbors and friends are all well as (common?).  They are all gone on a scout.  I didnít go because I was on picket and was tired and my horse back was a little sore and I didnít want to go.  The keep us busy as there is only four companies of mounted men here.  Captain Slatery is in command of them.  One Co. of the Twelfth Indiana Cav., Co (L?) second Tennessee, Co. (D?) and Co. B third Tennessee.  I heard from the regiment last night.  They are gone on a scout this day was a week ago.  They made a saber charge on the rebs and drove them back and not a man got hurt is [what] I have heard of.  They can get a fight any time they go out but they have always whipped the rebs.  Enough of that.  Well, I suspect the boys and girls has a fine time as there has been two weddings.  Tell Becky and Cliff I wish them much joy, also Adam and his lady and tell Mrs. Ana Johnston and Mrs. Hickey and Mrs. Hanes I wish them all the good that is allowed them and when you write again if you know anything about Joseph Johnston or any of the boys in the sixth for I want to hear from them.  It does me good to hear from my old friends.  I think of them as often as I think of home and that is every day and almost every hour, and of a night the boys sing the good old familiar hymns and then it makes me think of home.  Then I get off to myself and think of the old Christian friends that I have heard sing the same songs and I look forward to the time when I can meet them and hear them sing how firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, and I hope I shall live to meet you all on earth again but if is Godís will to keep us apart on earth I hope to meet you in heaven where parting will be no more.  May the blessing of God smile on us all and Lord keep us from doing anything that would be displeasing in thy sight.  Well, children, I am glad to hear you are going to school and if you will try you can learn to read before the school is out.  Wiley, you and Albert must be good boys when the rest is gone to school and when Paw comes home you can go too.  You must take care of your books and not tear them.  Nancy, I was glad to hear from Uncle (Ray or Roy?) and sorry to hear _____ was (dead?) and the cousins.  Nancy, I would write to your father but I donít know whether he would get it or not as it is a hard matter to get a letter (write?) on the railroad.  There has been a Co. of Ala. ____ added to the regiment and it is thought that old Bill Pickens will be Colonel yet.  I will close for the present.  I will write in a few days, so goodbye for the present.

William L. Brown
to Nancy C. Brown and Children [followed by a few faint handwritten words which I canít make out]



WLB Letter # 46 of 53
Reference  000122-000123

Huntsville, Ala.
August the 19th, 1864

Dear Father,

It is with great pleasure I seat myself to let you know that I am well and Mat is gone [on] a scout.  I was out five days last week and was on picket and when I was relieved they was ready to (start?) and I was tired and my horseís back was a little sore and I didnít want to go.  I donít know when they weill get back as they can stay as long as they want to.  They took two dayís rations with them.  It has rained here every day in this month more or less.  The wind blows like it might quit and it is very warm, but I think it isnít any hotter here than it is in Tennessee.  Father, if you was down here I could tell more in one hour than I could write in a whole day, for I am a poor hand to write.  I forget to write half what I want to write before I am half done.  I was glad to hear Crit is at home.  I am getting along very well and if we can get to stay here till fall and then get to come home to vote for old Abe Lincoln I will be satisfied.  There is a heap of talk of re-enlisting but if I donít change my notion I never will re-enlist, but if Lincoln is elected there is a good many that will re-enlist.  I have heard from the boys at Decatur.  Boid Sharp is not well, you may tell his folks.  Mat Rogers is well and the health of the regiment is as good as (common?).  Father, I saw a man by the name of Roberts.  He was raised near ______ Station.  It has been ten years since he left here.  He is a union man.  He lives 15 miles from Huntsville.  He met Captain Slatery this morning.  He thinks they will find the bushwhackers. They have all _____ run the Indiana boys but if they fire on the Ten. Boys they will get help and that is the way we do, and if we fail to catch rebs they canít be caught, for that has been all we have done.  Enough of that.  Tell Rufus Brown I wrote a letter to him but I donít know if he got it or not.  Hariet I want to know if you _____ _______ ary  ____ or not.  If you donít mind you and ______ Rogers will have to wait till the war is over to marry.  I think it would be a good plan anyhow.  Mary Jane _____ ____ _____ ___ _____ you any (Mary or marry?) you must learn a heap at school and learn to write and I will get you a good pen.  James, if you and Hamilton and Robert will learn to write I will get you a pen apiece the first letter you send me.  I am writing with the best pen I ever had.  Father, I want that continued if it is any advantage _____ letters.  It is getting dark and I close for the present.  Write soon.  Give my best respect to all my friends.

William Laban Brown
to Jhon Brown


WLB Letter # 47 of 53
Reference 000135-000138

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
A Soldier Letter

Huntsville, Ala.
Aug. the 22th, 1864

My Dear Wife,

It is with pleasure this morning I seat myself to answer you kind letter of the tenth (instance?) which came to hand last night which gave me great satisfaction to hear you and the neighbors and friends was all well. I am well and the boys are all as well as (common?).  Nancy, you said you was sorry I had to miss the picnic, and I ainít sorry for I donít want to go to any such places.  I had rather stay in camp and write a letter anytime to you or some other good friend. Nancy, I am glad to hear you are as well satisfied as you are I am doing very well.  I think I have plenty of duty to do, but that [is] what soldiers looks for.  I wouldnít mind the duty through the week if I could get to rest up on Sunday.  I had to go out yesterday and press horses.  Horses are badly needed and they are scarce in this country.  Nancy, our brigade has been in another fight down below Decatur last Friday night.  They were out on a scout and was looking for them.  The rebs fired on the pickets on one side till about 12 oíclock.  Then they moved around on the other side.  The rebs was between 5 and 6 hundred strong but they got badly defeated - one captain captured and ten privates and 15 dead rebels left on the field.  Our loss one man wounded in the thigh and he belong to the 2[nd] Tennessee.  We got the dispatch yesterday and then _____ ______ Ware came here last night on his way home for he has got his discharge.  He says the 2 and 3 has orders to march this morning at eight oíclock.  They [are] expected here tonight.  We have orders to have three dayís rations ready but it is not known where they are going.  I donít know whether we will have to go or not, but there is a raid to ______ or go front that is not known nor wonít be till after we start and if we were to be sent to (Cleaver?) Tennesse it would be a surprising thing and would be some accomodation to us but if they find out we want to go there they will not let us go any nearer home.  We have been very lucky and have been in a good many _____ fights and have been blessed.  We have a few Christians in the regiment and if we had more I think we could do better and feel better.  Nancy, in my other letter I wrote that the boys was gone on a scout.  They have returned.  They did not find any rebs.  We canít find any but the twelfth Indiana gets whipped every time they go in the (Cove?) but we have been over there twice and they donít show themselves and if we were to see them I donít think we would run with loaded guns.  Enough of that.  I donít know where I will be when I get the next letter from you, but if you will back them to (next lines crossed out).  I close for the present.  So I remain your husband until death.

William L. Brown
to N.C. Brown

Nancy, if you can you ought to go to see your uncle.  It is not far - it is only 11 miles.  I have been trying to find out whether Anderson got back or not but I canít.  If he gets home you may (hear it?) out before I do.  Give my best respect to all my friends.  No more at the present.

W.L.B.

As I have made a mistake in the backing of the letters I will write it out in full if I can keep it in mind long enough:
Mr. William L. Brown
Co. B Tennessee Cav.
First Brigade, Fourth Division Cav.
Army Corps

[And on the next page another example of the capital letters of the alphabet, in slightly creative order, in W. L. Brownís handwriting]



WLB Letter # 48 of 53
Reference 000140-000142

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
A Soldier Letter

Huntsville, Ala.
Aug the 28th, 1864

My Dear Wife,

I seat myself this good Sabbath evening in order to let you know that I am well and Mat is well.  I wrote a letter the 22th  of this month in which I left the impression that it might be we would have to leave here as I heard the regiment had orders to move, but I did not know were and the next day we were ordered on a scout and met the regiment and they are here and will be apt to stay here a while.  We were on the scout four days.  We lay one night at Elkmont Springs, Ten. And the next night in Lincoln County, Ten.  We found one bushwhacker and the boys shot him four times as he run but he was not dead when they left him but we heard he was dead.  They found him at home when they found him and they surrounded the house and he broke to run and they shot at him four times and hit every time.  He ____ to been a bushwhacker and give the names of others were they were that night and they went but they could not find them.  The balance of us was watching a train of war going loaded with cotton to keep them from ______ it.  Well, I have had one holiday but it is over for we are under the worst tyrant we have every been under since we have been in the army and that is John B. Minnis.  Since he has got to be colonel he feels as big as _____ with his _______ he has the ill will of the most of the officers in the regiment and some has told him what they thought of him and there is privates that will do it if he donít do better.  He donít allow a man to go out of his sight without a pass and then he has to see it.  More than that he days he intends to make gentlemen out of this regiment but if he donít be careful he will get to ride a rail for the whole regiment is down on him.  I have give only a few ideas of his bigheaded way.  The time has been [that] we all thought well of [him] but it ainít now.  I will quit [about] him but I could write all day and then not tell half I want to tell but if Tennesseeans ainít treated better I think they ought to lay down their arms and come home and go to bushwhacking.  I know if the leaders of east Ten. Had done what was right a year ago we could have been there to have _____ Maryville.  If I could hear of the leaders of Ten having to suffer I would be glad but when they hold a convention and use their influence to leave us out then they was thinking of making a dollar but if they have got their eyes open enough to in the hundred days (service?) maybe they will see the benefit of Tenn soldiers yet after the country is ruined.  These men I never will vote for if they donít ask forgiveness and if the rebs had hung some of them they would have done right.  If I get out of this three years in good health I will be a free man.  I want to say more but it may be best to hold on at the present, but if we ainít better treated I will tell them of it in a way they donít want to hear it.

William L. Brown



WLB Letter # 49 of 53
Reference 000143-000144

This the 29th of August [1864]
[Probably another letter from Huntsville]

I am well and Mat is well but there is a few sick at this time but the boys from our neighborhood is all well as far as I know.  I wish I was in east Tennessee.  If we were there we could help the rebs raid.  I have a hard feeling with the leaders and always will have, but I canít help myself and that what hurts and if I could help myself I would get a new bow and new strings and play a new tune.  Well, I better tell my occupation:  I am cooking and the reason is I donít have to drill nor do any other duty and it is (easier?) than to do what is to do here and I will do anything before I will drill twice a day and go on dress parade for if a man keep up with the orders that is here he wonít get to sit down at all.  The fact is we canít do it and if Colonel Minnis is a going to make gentlemen of us he will have a (happy?) time of it.  I am afraid that when he goes to make us over that he will spoil us in making for he would forget and order us to drill or something before we would get (dry?).  Enough of that.  Nancy, I got the letter you put the piece of the childrenís dresses in.  It is pretty.  I close as I am not in ____ to write.  Times is not as well as they might be, but I will try to bear it.  I canít keep my mind right for I have heard the rebs are raiding east Tenn and we are here and it looks to me like they donít want the loyal menís country saved but if they can save the rebs and let ours be eat up they donít care for the very men that ought to be in east Tenn is not there but they have to suffer the hardships of a soldier and the ruins of our horses and that is enough to make a reb of the best of men if they could be made at all.  If the rebs werenít in East Tenn I would not say a word and I donít ant Father to let the boys go in the hundred dayís _____ nor going himself if they hanít already in for they will be sure to send the hundred dayís men to Richmond or Atlanta just because they are east Tennesseeans for the North is wanting to get the land and if there ainít better times before long I won't fire another gun and let the men that wants to rob us fight it out for the war was got up by rogues and rascals.  You may think I am too plain - I have not spoke as plain as this, I think, and if I dared do it I would speak by sentiments.  I am for old Abe Lincoln for president.

August the 30th, 1864
You must not get out of heart.  I think I can live till I die.  I eat when Iím hungry, I drink when Iím dry.  If the rebels donít kill me I live till I die.

William L. Brown
to N.C. Brown

Back your letter to Huntsville, Ala



WLB Letter # 50 of 53
Reference 000145-000149

[Letter addressed to:]
Mrs. Nancy C. Brown
Knoxville, Tennessee
Box 266
(In haste?) Soldierís Letter

Athens, Ala.
Sep. the 18th, 1864

My Dear Wife,

It is with the greatest of pleasure this Sabbath evening I seat myself to answer your kind letter of the fifth which came to hand  yesterday, and it gave me great satisfaction to hear you was all well and it found me well.  Mat is well but there is a good many sick with chills and the sore eyes and some of the men has been sent to Nashville.  They left here yesterday.  As for Wheelerís raid, I know more about it than you do.  I hanít been after him myself but the regiment has.  They were after him 12 days but he got away.  He crossed the river at the shoals.  It was the fault of the general ship he got away.  The 3rd lost four men in the round - Captain Carrel of Co. G and two of his privates and William Hickey Co. E - all of them is supposed to be killed.  Captain Carrel is a fine man.  No doubt his company will miss him.  We got a letter from Crit.  He is at the regiment and was well.  Nancy, you said you had heard we had all re-enlisted - not a man has yet and I donít think there will be many that will.  I hanít and that ainít all - I never will.  I am tired of the service now.  I want to be free again and if I ainít treated better I wonít stay my time out.  The next day after we got here I and James (Cook?) ____ mat of ____ went to a old stable and got some planks to make a bunk and Colonel Minnis had give orders not to take any more but we didnít know and we had to take the planks back.  Lieutenant Homer was officer of the day and he had to take us to the Colonel and he was asleep and lieutenant (Carr?) is acting adjutant and he ordered us to be tied to a tree but Homer did not do it but he put us under guard till the Colonel got up and we were under guard three hours and lieutenant Wade and Captain Slatery was trying all the time to get us off.  I hanít spoke to Colonel Minnis but once since I was at home and if I can help it I never will till I get out of the service.  Then I will whip Carr and if he donít laugh at it I will try him a ______.  This is plain talk and I may find them in a close place sometime and if he is too good to be waked up to oblige me I am too good to help him.  I intend to obey all the orders he makes if I know them.  If I donít  I canít.  Enough of that.  We left Huntsville the 13th of this month.  The nights are cool.  We will not stay here long I donít think.  Well, I have enjoyed myself very well this summer.  I have grace sufficient to overcome all the trials and temptations that came upon me.  We are expecting to draw money before long and if we do I will try to send you some if there is any chance.  If times donít get better I will  see if there is any chance to send you some salt and flour by express if I can.  I must close for it is time to get supper.  So goodbye for the present.

William L. Brown
to Nancy C. Brown

Athens, Ala.
September the 20th, 1864

Well, Nancy, George W. Davis got a letter from (Erwin?) and William _____ died in the federal army with sickness and (Jesey?) Brown was killed in the confederate army but not tell when nor where.  I was sorry to here it but I donít believe he was a reb at heart.  I would like to hear more about it.  You said you had got a letter from your Uncle (Enoch?).  What does he think of the war?  When you write again tell him I am for old Abe Lincoln.  Samson Garner died last night and will be buried this evening ___ in honor of the war.  No more at present.

William L. Brown to Nancy C. Brown



WLB Letter # 51 of 53
Reference 000117-000118

Athens, Ala
Sept the 20 [1864]

Dear Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

It is with pleasure I seat myself to answer a letter I received a few days ago.  It found me well.  I am well today, Mat is well.  I hanít much to write only the raid is over and Wheeler got away and the talk is he is a-coming back again.  I donít think he will though he may.  If he does we will be ____ him it was ____ he had killed four of the 3rd Ten but their names has been _____ to Decatur under a flag of  _____. They have three and the other one is left at Florence mortally wounded.  This is all the damage done to the third.  Wheeler lost a good many men in the ______ and if he tries it over he will not fare as well as he did before.

Father, you seem to be uneasy about another raid in November.  I donít think that will be.  I think the call of the militia will stop raids in Tennessee.  That is the best call old Andy has made and if old Abe would send the disloyal families men, women and children south and the loyal North and sweep the country clean between it would stop the rebellion in less than six months.  Let every man fight for Abe or Jef [Jefferson Davis?].  If I could see you I could explain my view in a few words.  If I get to vote I will vote for Abe.  The man that wonít is a coward for I could name a few who are in the army that I know are cowards that are for McClen.  The fact is I donít think there ought to be any election and just let old Abe hold on a while.  Quit this for the present.  Father, I was sorry to hear you had been sick again.  I hope your sickness may be to your advantage in the discharge of your Christian duties.  I am doing the best I can but it is a hard thing to make a soldier of Christ and a solder of his country, but I do the best I can.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.  So I remain your son and friend until death.  Farewell for the present.

William L. Brown to Jhon Brown, Mary Brown


WLB Letter # 52 of 53 [The last letter before WLB was taken prisoner]
Reference 000043-000044

September the 21st, 1864

Dear Father,

I seat myself to drop you a few lines ____ I came in off picket this morning and I donít feel very well.  I hope these few lines may find you in good health.  This letter will start  tomorrow or next day (?).  Father I want you to do what you think best with my stock if you want any of it take it.  If I knew when I could come home I would know better how to _____.  The times is hard there _____ _____ are not as hard as they might be if you could be ______.   I have been and so the _____ that I _____ ______ you would think it hard times last winter we took every(y) thing that would do to feed on for fifteen miles around Murfreesboro and burnt more cedar rails than every you saw in Middle Tennessee.  The people (along?) the roads have suffered.  I have some corn made without any fence and they stood guard to keep the stock out and when we was passing some of the boys would take some ears.  I wish I could send some money to you and Nan.  If Alan Brown has got home he owes me ten dollars.  ______ get it from him and if I can I will send some more home.  I sent ten and Mat sent ten by Jhon Marten.  Itís time to feed [the horses?].  I must close so farewell at the present.

W.  L. Brown

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuelís veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.  The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I as vile as he, wash all my sins away.

When you hear this song think of me.  It is my favorite hymn.



NOTE:  Much of William Laban Brown's regiment surrendered or was captured in two separate events near Athens, Alabama, on  September 24 and 25, 1864, as summarized in the information below from a website (Third Tennessee Cavalry, Company B (Union)) devoted to the history of the regiment:

"Some 150 men from the regiment, under Major S. W. Pickens, were at Athens, Alabama, when that point was surrendered to Major General Forrest on September 24, 1864. Major Pickens, Captains Coile and Goddard, and Lieutenants Cummings, Homer, Wade, Derrick and Norvell, representing Companies "B", "E", "F", "H", "I", and "K" signed a statement protesting against the surrender as unjustified in a later inquiry into the affair.

400 men from the regiment were captured September 25, at Blockhouses Number 7 and 8 at Sulphur Trestle on the Nashville and Decatur Railroad, as General Forrest moved up from Athens, Alabama, into Middle Tennessee. These two affairs practically wiped out the regiment. The officers were exchanged on December 15, but on April 27, 1865, the steamer Sultana, with a large number of paroled prisoners on board, blew up near Memphis, killing instantly 174 members of the regiment, and a number of others died of injuries sustained in this disaster."


WLB Letter # 53 of 53
Reference 000150-000152 (same as 000153-000155)

April the 11, 1865
Parole Camp [Camp Hicks or Four mile Camp} near Vicksburg

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

It [is with] great pleasure this morning I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and Mat is well and we get plenty to eat but no good water to drink.  But I donít know when we will be exchanged.  I think it doubtful whether we are exchanged at all till the war is over.  I hope that wonít be long.  They say Richmond has fallen and a raid has burnt Selma, a town 10 miles distant from Cahaba where the rebs had a right smart arsenal, the only one they had in the western department and if we take ______ they are done with Ala River.  Well boys, I guess you are fixing to plant corn.  The woods are right green here and have been for 2 weeks.  I wish I was there to help you work.  Well, Mary Jane, I have the galluses you knit for me yet.  Well, Hariet I want [to] hear from you.  Well, Mother I think I have got to be tolerably good cook.  Well, father if I was there to help you work in the [tan] yard I would like it better than here.  I am out of something to write.  I want you to write what sort of times it is in east Tennessee and what has become of Crit.  Give the news in ____ I am (looking?) for news from home every day.  I have wrote two letters since I came to this place.  If you get them they will give you some idea what sort of (fare?) we had.  I close for the present.

April the 14th, 1865

I am well today but some of the boys has the diarrhea.  Mat is well.  (Noah?) Croley is in _______ with me and is right poorly with the diarrhea but is on the mend.  You may tell _____ ______ if it werenít for ______ we could not write at all for we are almost out of (money?).

William L. Brown
to Jhon Brown and family



Some related Web resources:

Third Tennessee Cavalry, Company B (Union)

More Tennessee Cavalry Unit Information
 

(Photo of Jerry O. Potter courtesy of Betty Shepard Long)

Jerry O. Potter's book from Amazon


(Gene Eric Salecker and Betty Shepard Long - photo courtesy of Ms. Long)
Gene Eric Salecker's book about the Sultana
 

<>
Sultana: The Mississippi's Titanic (VHS Videotape from the History Channel) - Available at a discount from Amazon.com

RootsWeb Site with Sultana Links

Cahaba Prison web site

National Archives and Records Administration<>


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Last Update June 20, 2013


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