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Letter (#28) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to L.S.
November 4, 1863
New Iberia, 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.

New Iberia, La., Nov. 4, 1863

Last Thursday night we were met at Vermillion Bayou on our return from Opelousas by a large mail. One dear little letter from you for me was among them.

I am glad to write that we have at last found a place where we will likely remain awhile; where it seems worth while to fix up. I wrote my last from Vermillionville 25 miles north west from here, we went on to Opolousas 25 miles further lay there a few days and had to fall back on account of supplies. We came back in three days, were four going out - that was very hard marching. I had a pretty hard time coming back. I sprained my foot on the first-days march and it don't get well. I had to ride in the ambulance part of the last day. But we are in camp now and I will soon be all right again. We went three miles below here and lay a couple of days and then Lieut. Col. Kershner (our Colonel who was wounded and taken prisoner at Chickasaw Bayou and just returned a few days ago) was given command of New Iberia and we are stationed here to garrison the post. We got up this morning at four o'clock and came up to town, have been as busy as nailors all day fixing up shanties and I have as nice a shanty as a soldier need want. There are four of us, we have our shelter tents spread over as a roof, then the sides and ends we have built up with boards of various kinds, sizes and smoothness; half of one end is left open for a door - this faces the door of the palace of the rest of our mess. Now for the inside. First we have a gay floor of pine and poplar boards with the fuzzy side up to make it soft and to serve as a carpet. Our beds are on the floor - we each have a stool and I am writing on a rough desk made from an old cracker box - another of the boys has a desk at the opposite end of the tent near the door; behind me is my big drum and stretched along the side lay our knapsacks, haversacks, etc., to the center pole hang two guns and a pistol which complete our house equipage. You see we are well off if they will only let us be for a time and not run us somewhere else. It is getting too dark to write so I will finish tomorrow.

Thursday Eve. Nov. 5, 1863

We have been fixing up our house anew all day, have raised it so we can stand straight and put a bed of boards about fourteen inches from the floor which improves it a great deal as well as makes nice seats. It is raining now -- well let it rain we are ready for it -- have comfortable quarters which will keep us dry and warm if it don't rain too hard.

I received the letter directed to Carrollton, Miss. and I think all you have written to me lately. When the Company and regiment is written plainly on the envelope, it will generally come through even if there is no post office address. Postmasters look for the regiment not the town to which a letter is addressed. They are furnished with lists of the regiments in such and such divisions and their destinations, then forward letters belonging to such to them. Direct all your letters via New Orleans till I tell you otherwise.

I am so glad you are rarely sick, for you can not tell how anxious I am when I hear you are not well till I hear of your recovery again. I never was afraid of disease when I was at home -- am not yet for myself - but it seems so fatal to my dearest friends at home. I think I told you in a former letter of the deaths of my little twin brother and sister by dysentery. Our whole family except Mother and Ezekiel had it. All recovered save those two who were too pure to stay on earth but soared on angels wings to meet those dear ones gone before. This makes four of our family gone to heaven since I left home - four dear ones who will never gather round the family board again - whose places are forever vacant. No wonder is it that I fear so to hear of any one near and dear to me being sick?

The doctors of Holmes County used to lose a great many cases of dyptheria but they have learned better how to treat it and it is not feared so much as formerly. As Dr. Fuzz hails from the strong hold of Valandinghamism of course he is or ought to be perfect in all his professions. I am glad your Grand-mother is in fair way to recover. Hope soon to hear her health is fully restored. You have had a long tour at housekeeping and that too in the busiest season of the year. O how I wish I could be there to help you with your peaches and preserves. I know I could hinder and put part of them away if they did not find the can. I think I will call up and help you eat some of your fruit and spend the evening. I think I will have to go up and go with you to the molassus boiling. We used to have lots of fun in the sugar camp. I am sorry you did not tell me in time to go over last Sunday when all the young folks were along. What a big time we could have had. Well, well, you will not fool me always for I will go popping in some time when you least expect me and then we will have a big time. O what a long talk we will have - how much we will have to tell each other -- of all we have seen and gone through since last we met. I will have a long tale of hard-ship -- of battles - of bloodshed and suffering. I will have tales of marching through mud and water, over hills and across large prairies - through raging torrents and over dusty and scorching roads - but not these alone for I will have a brighter side to my picture -- I will have pleasant tales of camp life to relate when everything is quiet and no fear of a prowling enemy near and then I will listen to your less thrilling though no less interesting tales of home life - of pleasant parties and little incidents of sweet memory - of music teaching and its vexations - of broom sticking trustees, etc., etc.

The 54th Indiana left here for home a few days ago, they were one year troops. They had a sad accident as they were going to Algiers on the cars. There were two trains going the same way - something went wrong with the first, it stopped and the other ran into it, killing 12 or 14 outright and wounding some 60 or 70 more. How hard to be thus butchered while on their home-ward trip. The survivors were so enraged that they went for every thing they came across when they got to Algiers and in less than half an hour after they arrived, there were not groceries or saloons open in town.

I am so glad to hear the patriots of Ohio have given so large a majority for John Brough for Governor and so effectually killing the candidate who lives in "Canada." The soldier's vote will run up the majority to a 100,000 for Brough like a shot. Hurrah for the downfall of treason in Ohio. I am afraid you cannot read this botched up thing - the paper we get here is so poor we can scarcely write on it. Give my love to all my friends who inquire for me. Tell Zillah I like her a bushel. I suppose she is quite a large girl now.

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