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Letter (#14) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to L.S.
September 2, 1863
Carrollton, Louisiana
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.

Carrollton, La., Sept. 2, 1863

Although it is only three or four days since I wrote you I must write again as this will be my last opportunity for some time. We start on a long march tomorrow - are to go in light marching order, leaving all our tents, knapsacks, and extra clothing here -- all to be well marked so that they can be sent on to us when we want them. We are to take with us a full complement of ammunition and will travel through a country where the life and safety of the soldier will depend on his activity and freedom from incumbrances, (so says the order) and after a ten days march we will go into comfortable quarters. We do not know where we are going and as is usual in such cases speculations as to our destination are rife throughout the camp. Some say we are bound for a trip through the country to some point on the Mississippi river to guard the river from guerrillas, others say we will go through to Mobile, but I think we will go to Galveston, Texas and cannot get it into my head that we will go any where but into Texas.

I do not think we will have any fighting of consequence, else they would not promise us comfortable quarters at the end of ten days particularly if they expected to meet much of a force of the enemy at our journey's end. I think we are going somewhere to do garrison duty. We leave all our sick to follow with our tents and equipments.

I went out on a visit to Lake Ponchatrain and had a bath in its briny waters. I tell you it was a grand sight to one who had never seen so large a body of water. As far as the eye could reach you could see the rippling waves sparkling in the sunlight and far out at sea I could see two white clouds -- the sails of some pleasure loving Nabob of Louisiana. The water of the Lake is just salty enough to give it a flat taste. There are several bathing houses out on the lake where a person can go down into the lake and enjoy a salt water bath. For a long distance out in the lake there is a splendid bottom and just the right depth for a sport and then how nicely the waves bury one up. I wish you could enjoy the scene and a bath in the lake. I know it would be a pleasure to you.

The soldiers and citizens here have a spat every now and then. Last Monday some of the 16th boys were down in town and went into a grocery drank what beer they wanted and then turned to go out without paying for it (this is an old trick with soldiers), the bar-keeper took down a double-barrelled shotgun loaded with pigeon shot and banged away at our boys -- the shot took effect in the face, arms and body of a little fellow in Co. A -- one shot put out his eye. He is pretty badly wounded but I guess with great care will get over it. The enraged soldiers made for the bar-tender but he fortunately for himself got away from them and gave himself up to the provost guards before they could catch him else they would have litterally torn him to pieces.

Every now and then some one gets shot in some of their scrapes with the citizens or these Eastern troops. The Eastern and Western men won't take a thing off the other. The Eastern troops will side with the citizens and this the Western boys can't go.

I will write again as soon as I can but that will not be for some time. I leave all my paper, ink, etc., in my knapsack and that behind so that it will be a long time before I will again have a chance of writing. We will be at our journey's end by the time this reaches you so you must answer immediately directing as your last. I have not had a letter from you for a long time and am very anxious to get one. Oh, when will this war cease? When will it be over and we go back to our loved ones? Not long, not long I hope. Yes, as you say, the back-bone of rebellion is broken and but a few guerrilla bands are left - when they are dispersed we are free -- but it may take some time yet for that.

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