||Head Quarters 21st Mich. Inf.
Martha's Vineyard N.C. April 26/65
My Dear Etta
I hardly consider myself
indebted to you for a letter but guess I will write a few lines for lack
of something else to do. You kneed not flatter yourself that it is from
any overflow of Brotherly affection for that always stands at or above par
but partly because I feel like it partly to practice. & as I said befor because
I lack other amusements. First comes a little adventure of Yesterday, & then
some old ones & finaly some nonsense. An attempt at poor wit & finaly
the end. So here goes.
Chapter 1st. On the 25 of April A.D. 1865, Capt.
Weimer Lts. Sage Bright & Brown procured leave to be absent from camp
for the day (they had agreed to go to the town of Haywood, N.C. about 10
miles out of our lines & all mounted at about 8 1/2 A.M. & started
crossed the Cape Fear river in an old flat boat & started rode & rode & rode & finaly
came upon an old plantation & learned we were entirely out of the way
impressed a nigger & made him show us the way to Haywood & took
him along for a hostage for himself arrived at a capt. some bodys dismounted
took Dinner had butter, milk, & pickles. Picked our teeth & started
as crossed the "deep River." Some citizen told us there were 1/2 a doz
or so mounted men in town & he could not say whether they were Reb.
or Fed. so we went for them like thunder rode into town & one fellow
rode off like -- (we did) we push for him (Lt. Sage & Brown) & run
him down in about 2-1/2 miles & found him to be an old citizen a Dr.
who lived in the region & O.K. Gave him some "Sage" advice & let
him to & started back to see who the rest were. Found a Q.M. of Gen.
Hardee's Staff & a Surgeon of the C.S.N. seated smoking & chatting
with Capt. W & Ben Bright. We of course halted got off introduced to
Capt. McGowan & Surgeon Sanford. Eat & smoked the calumeh of peace
finaly. Left (Sage & Brown) to visit some of our friends went down
to see Misses Faucett had lots of fun old man a Union so was homeley daughter
two good looking daughters the cutest little secesh you ever saw had a
good time made an impression promised to come again / & never expect
to see them / &e&e&e finaly had to leave went back to the other
boys & our "corn fed" friends they proposed to ride to camp with us & we
of course were glad to have them (by the way the Capt wants to trade a
trotting nag for my buggy) we had lots of fun the Surgeon was not accustomed
to a saddle to sit on had blankets &e&e under him & we started
raced horses most all the way home. Came like a thousand of Brick past
Division DHd. Qrs. brought our friends into camp where they still are.
Being lionized etc. Wish I was a paroled Fed Pris riding through the Confed
lines. "Here ends the 1st Lesson"
Chapter II. On or about the 17th of April
1865. The 21st M.V.T. was called upon to furnish one Maj. and all
the mounted men in camp to report to go foraging. About night they returned & stated
they had struck ire in a town near the Cape fear River named Haywood & so
all men were ordered out again & the 21st M.V.Trps as a guard started
about 4 A.M. reached Hawyood about 9 A.M. occupied the town picketed the
ferry & Bridges & after got them established. I took the liberty
to ride along & finaly rode out to a house with Capt. Woodward & dismounted & went
in were asked to dinner stayed had a medium dinner mounted rode back & at
the Regt our orderly met us & told that supper was waiting us at Capt.
Bryan's in town rode down & found a splendid dinner waiting us Roast
Turkey & etc. & 3 pretty young Bryans of the female persuasuion
to boot (I don't mean that we booted them) by & by one of my Sergts
brought one a small box with the Remark "adjt. here is a set of chess men
I found for you" & accepted Miss Bryan found board & soon we were
in Knights & Quean's & etc. finaly left about 8 P.M. & crossed
the river got all the mounted men (about 400) the Regt. over about 2 A.M.
so it made from 2 A.M. to 4 A.M. we lay down on the bank & in the A.M.
started for camp got in O.K. but tiard as the dickens with 57 horses & mules
8,000 pounds of beacon & hams about 3 chickens & 20 pounds of flour
to a man. Here endeth the 2nd Lesson.
Chapter III. On the day we took Fayetteville
N.C. some of the "Bummers" drove the rebs out of the town & then in
their usual style "went for" the town when our advance went in a Happy
set they were on one corner one big 6 foot 2-1/2 yankee had a barrell of
whiskey stood on end & the head knocked in with a gourd in his hand.
Found to weak the whole 14th A.C. on another one had a large box of tobacco
which he would throw a plug to any one who called for one & it literaly
rained tobacco upon our column. Another had a lot of Books piled up on
the side walk & would thrown them to whoever asked & etc. such
scenes were inacted in every town we entered in the C.S. only more & worse
most of the towns (all in S. Car) were either visible by the flames or
smoke & for over two months I never was out of sight of burning property
of some kind -- "rich is life" -- here endeth the 3rd Lesson.
IV. On the march through S. Car beside the road was a turpentine
factory & on
either side of the road was piled barrells of Rosin three barrells high & about
5 deep & more than 10 rode long the largest pile of barrells I ever
saw & our men set fire to them & a more magnificent sight I never
saw you can imagine the flame meeting about 40 or 50 feet above ground
forming an arch of flame & the smoke was more like a rising thunder
storm the rosin melting formed a river of fire more like a stream of lava
than anything else which ran out onto the River so as to set fire to the
bridge 3 or 4 rode below & 8 or 10 feet above the crater which stopped
the whole column untill the fire burnt out so as to be stopped & often
we would pass by factorys where there would be Rosin run into a large depression
in the ground perhaps 5 or 6 feet deep & over 3 or 4 acres the boys
used to delights to fire them "just to see the smoke" oh! the horrors of
war. may you be preserved from these [?] -- here endeth the 4th Chapter.
Chapter the V. In this my dearly beloved I shall
try to give you some idea of "Shermans Bummers" an order comes for a detail of a Com. [Commisary]
Off & 30 men (all mounted) to go foraging at daylight next A.M. some
time in the night the detail is made immediately & they all proceed
to the extreme picket post to be ready to start in advance at 3-1/2 or
4. They shove out (each Regt's by itself) come to a house deploy out & go
for it drive the Rebs out (if they are in) & load all the provisions
on their animals and leave & go for the next one & so on. By the
time they have been to 3 or 4 houses Mr. Com officer has but 3 or 4 men
with him the rest are "Bumming" on their own hook & a sorry may they
have some houses I have seen without a whole article in it in South Carolina
you might see all sorts of scenes boys pounding Piano keys with their hatchets
to see who could make the most noise or pile after pile of plates & "order
arms" on them to all who could break the most or try & see who could
shoot the most cows or hogs or see who could dress themselves in the best
suit of womens clothes & then make the lady of the house play for them
to have a cotillion & if the music did not suit slash their hatchet
through the top of the piano to improve the tune. You may not believe me
but such scenes have occurred time & again & worse our boys to
go on two more such campaigns would be the hardest fiends this world ever
produced we have men in our own Regt. in all others that would stand & have
a woman kneel to them & beg for Gods sake to leave enough for her children
in the house. turn from them with oaths & take the last morsel of food.
One old woman I saw with perhaps 1/2 a peck of potatoes to save for her
children be ordered by a man to hand them over & be forced with a cocked
revolver to do the same. I said I saw this. I did not see but heard from
good authority. No I never saw such, they generally do not point pistols
at men or women when I am around, or if they do they pull back mighty sudden.
South Carolina may have been the cause of this whole thing, but she has
had an awful punishment I have been thankful ever since I have been in
the army that this war was south. You never can imagine a pillaged house,
never -- unless an army passes through your town & if this thing had
been in the North I would Bushwhack until every man was either dead or
I was. If such scenes should be enacted through Mich. I would never live
as long as one of the invading army did I do not blame the south & shall
not if they do go to Guerilla warfare, but in North Carolina there has
been but little if none such the men seem by instinct to treat N.C. as
well as possible. In Raleigh the people told us that Wheeler's Cavalry
done them 3 times as much harm as our men did. One of Wheeler's men as
our advance came in stood & fired upon them & then saw they caught
him & brought him before Kilpatrick who asked him if he done so he
acknowledged it. Kill. turned around to his boys & pointing to one
of the large handsome shade trees of the town. Remarked "Boys! do you see
that limb." Was answered "yes" "aye-aye" "of course" &e&e&e & added "well
then; string him up" & [?] on about his business the poor fellow in
less than 5 minutes was going heavenward: this is enough of such matter
I guess. Here endeth the 5th Chapter.
2nd Volume. 1st Edition:
Page 1st. This is to be composed as the proceeding one
of not much of anything & what
there is of it not amount to much.
That [Shrit?], [Shemee?], Dressing gown,
fatigue dress as it has been called was duly received.
I am your most obedient servant. It is as gay as a Pea[cock] [?] every body
wants an acre or two & I
have had two or three applications for rents of the lower stories the upper & wings
I reserve for my own use as yet however it is all in my own posession.
The other one which has been "biled" "several" times is down now to a Hospital
Dressing gown length but honestly it will be spendid on horseback good
as a sheep skin on a saddle. No levity however. I did intend a week ago
to be home to go to a 4th of july Ball but now hardly think I will we have
had orders to shove ahead & go for Johnson which I hoped would be useless
he [?] for us on the 19th of March & a bad go it was for the old 21st
but she did herself credit & gained a bully reputation all through
the Corps as the Fighting Regt all did well I know our men in Booth Brigade
stood as long as man could stand & when that was no longer a possibility
run like the duce & we found out afterwards that that run was the best
thing we done that whole day by jove it looked hard to see intimate friends
blown to pieces before your eyes but such is life I tell you it was a tight
place we charged in this fashion and charged directly forward upon this
line of works which extended 2 or 3 miles & was held by Johnsons whole
army & as we charged they let us have the whole benefit of their whole
line besides a flank fire from the left of the 69th Ohio with shell & grape
we came up so that men pelted each other with Ramrods & buts of muskets & were
finaly compeled to fall back I did not intend to mention that thing again
but you probably think we ran when we ought not but no mortal could have
done better than our men did they won praise on the field from Div. Comdr.
Gen. Cowlin, Gen. Williams (Comdg 20th A.C.) & Kilpatrick our Division
commander was just proud of the 21st & they of Him he was in the immediate
rear of our right all the time I could have laid my hand upon him most
all of the time the coolest man there was in the whole afair but enough
I have now already written you a good motherly
sort of a letter & propose
to continue it longer & if you do not answer it in a corresponding
strain I shall give you 3 or 4 extra twirls in a contra dance when I get
home if I ever do. Guess I will go into the ile [oil] Business when I get
there see if I cant speculate in the "lights of the world" I dont think
I shall do much more loafing I am now getting to be old enough (most 23
years old) to see what & where I can hold out to the best advantage.
I believe I shall try to let Gov. Crapo to change me into one of those
6 new Regts an adjt. place is an easy one in any place I got took in once
on Division Drill was left in Commd. of the Regt. because major & Part
of it were sent off to chase off some Rebs who showed themselves I got
along all right however but dont want to try again. But as taps have sounded
I must close this & blow out lights. I am as I used to be (only tougher)
Brother Chas S. Brown.
P.S. I thought I was writing to -- to
-- to [?] when I signed this -- in a hour. Brown.
P.S.S.S. Tell the Mrs.
Hon. D.E. Brown I am her most dutiful son for & on ap. [appreciation?]
of one bully good pair of woolen socks recieved. Dr. Goodale an able Surg.
of this Regt will be at home about as soon as this reaches you he is posted
about the Regt & myself as well as anyone I was away when he left
is the reason I sent no message by him.
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