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.

Chapter the 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.

"Finis"

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 of that.

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) your aff.

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.

Brown

 

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