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Letter (#3) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to L.S.
July 25, 1863
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Web Author's Notes:
The following letter of Thomas B. Linn, a drummer in the 16th OVI, was transcribed by contributor John M. Pierson who obtained it from Mary Bavender. The letters were part of a collection of papers from Linn and included a detailed diary. Combined, the letters and diary entries give us an intimate look at the life of a soldier in the 16th OVI during the Civil War.

These letters were all written or received while Linn was a Private in Company B. He was later promoted, on July 1, 1864, to Principal Musician, as a drummer, and transferred to Field & Staff. He survived the war and mustered out with the regiment on October 31, 1864, near Columbus, Ohio.

This letter is addressed to L.S. Research by contributor John Pierson uncovers some confusion. Pvt. Linn married an Elizabeth Shafer in November, 1864, just a few weeks after mustering out of the army. In his letters, Tom used the nickname Lizzie and it is likely most letters addressed to L.S. were to his future wife, Elizabeth Shafer. However, Tom also was acquainted to a Lizzie Shera and may have also written to her. Research continues.

Pvt. Thomas Buchanan Linn

Letter addressed to L.S.

Vicksburg, Miss., July 25, 1863

Scarcely had the last long triumphant shout ceased to vibrate through the air among the hills and valleys of the Big Black over our success at Vicksburg until we were ordered to prepare for another long march and more new conquests.

The morning of the fourth was spent in exultation over our success, and then for Vicks-burg to fall on that day of all other days. What humiliation it must be to the Confederacy to be forced to surrender on the birthday of our beloved country. May we not hope that this may be its' reserection as well as birthday and that this when we again celebrate it, it will be with fuller hearts and more thankfullness than ever. The afternoon we were busied in preparing five days rations and our traps for a trip to Jackson although we did not get started until the sixth. We left everything we had, grub and rifles excepted, with a few convalescents and went in light marching order. This has been an extremely hard march on me as I had to make it barefooted. I never like to write complaining of grumbling letters but I guess I will have to come pretty near it this time. I was so unfortunate as to let a rail fall on my foot and hurt it so that I could not wear my boot and had to take it barefooted. I tell you it was hard work. The sun about noon would almost burn us up and the dust was so hot I could not stand in it at all. You can judge how I looked jumping along like a cat on a hot stove. Any amount of our men dropped over with sunstroke on the way. Once on our way back if we had gone a quarter or half a mile further, I believe I would have fallen right on the road, but we happened to rest just then and I got cooled off some and was then able to go on a couple of miles further where we rested until cooler. A fine shower of rain came up cooling the air and laying the dust; -- never was rain more welcome than this to the poor tired soldiers.

We were seven days beseiging Jackson before we got it. We were trying to get around them as we did here at Vicksburg, but old Johnston was too sharp to be caught in a trap of that kind and remained only till he saw a day or two more would catch him when he skedaddled. He diverted our attention by making one charge on our works after another while he was getting his teams across Pearl River. We passed over the Champion Hill battlefield as we went out. I tell you it was a sorrowful sight to see the numerous graves of the slain and to gaze on the piles of slain horses laying just as they fell by their batteries. We skirmished with the rebel rear guard from the hill onward. When within six miles of Jackson the rebels captured one of Gen. Osterhaus' orderlies belonging to the 3rd Kansas Cavalry and shot him down and left him lay; he was not yet dead when we came up with him. It is said they shot him because he had a permission to raise a negro company. We took two of the same regiment and sent in a flag of truce demanding the murderer or we would shoot the two we had and all others we caught from the same regiment. It was a Texas regiment.

Sunday 26th - I received another of your letters this morning, also a Gazette. I have two more from you that I have not answered; one received just before we started to, and the other while at Jackson. I also received the papers sent me, I am always glad to get them. I think that a real good song you sent me, "The Old Union Wagon." I have not received your next to the last letter, the one I know you have written by your referring to it -- about the man hunt at Liberty and the Sham fight. Did Morgan go close to College Corner in his trip through there? This is a horrible letter, please excuse it. I am completely worn out and my hand trembles so. I never was near gone up in my life than I am now. I really think I fell older now than Uncle Caleb. We all need rest the worst kind. I hope we will get it now. We are camped below town near the river. I will write again in a few days.

P.S. - I send you a ribbon torn from our banner, the one my bedfellow and almost brother Newt Gorsuch carries; also a song "Dear Voices of Home" which I think is real good, learn it I want to hear you sing and play it when I get back.

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