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Letter (#38) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to his uncle A. B. Fry
December 2, 1863
Decrow's Point, Texas
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.

Pvt. Thomas Buchanan Linn

Letter addressed to Uncle A. B. Fry for publication in the Holmes County Republican newspaper

Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec. 2, 1863

We are at last on the bleak shores of Texas: landed on a sandy point extending into the sea, dividing Matagorda Bay from its more extensive neighbor, the Gulf of Mexico. This is called Decrow's Point, named after the old planter who owns it. Mr. Decrow is a native of Maine but leaving the old homestead, he wandered through the Eastern States, thence westward through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and finally found himself almost at the opposite extreme of his country, and settled. He has lived here twenty-five years, and is candid enough to admit that he has wandered from the path of his forefathers, and now sympathizes with the Confederates.

But I know you would rather learn something of our trip, than read about this old secesh Texan. We left - Brashear City Sunday morning, November 22, on the cars, for Algiers. Arriving at the depot about one o'clock, we were met by our paroled men, and then such a shout as rent the air, such shaking of hands at meeting with old comrades and friends, was only equaled by the meeting of the same men with their friends and relatives when they marched into the Court House in Millersburg, on that eventful eve when true valor and bravery were rewarded by the presen-tation of those beautiful swords to the gallant Lieutenants Corn and Vorhes. This important addition to our numbers raises the spirits of our men, as well as improves the looks and effec-tiveness of the regiment. Company B can now boast of 47 men, all good and true, instead of 29, as the case less than two weeks ago. We pitched our tents near the depot, and remained in Algiers two days. Tuesday evening, 24th, we retired to our humble earthen cots as usual, but had scarcely closed our eyes for sleep ere the double roll and five taps of the drum broke upon the stillness of the night, calling the officers together. Expectation was on tiptoe, but we were not kept long in suspense, for in a few minutes the order came, "Get up immediately, draw clothing and be ready to go aboard the steamship St. Mary's by one o'clock." Soon all was confusion: Sergeants running to and fro, making out requisitions for clothing: soldiers crowding around to receive pants, blouses, caps, blankets, etc., striking tents, making coffee, and bustling around generally, the whole scene lighted up by large camp fires, fed by all the extra wood, boards, tent poles, etc., presenting a picture hard to describe, but vivid to the imagination of any who have ever looked upon like scenes, or ever been a soldier. Fortunately we already had two days' rations in our haversacks; and drawing rations, always a busy time, but much more so when about to march, was left out of the programme. We marched to the ship and went aboard, the 69th Indiana and the 16th Ohio, in all about 180 believed to be incorrect, possibly should be 1800 men] men. We passed the spot where Gen. Jackson taught boasting Johnny Bull manners, behind his cotton bales, in 1812. A splendid monument proudly rears its lofty head on the site. It was dark when we passed Forts Pickens and Jackson, and we could see nothing. About ten o'clock, while all were wrapped in slumber, we glided from the smooth bosom of the mighty Mississippi to the more uneven and boisterous surface of the gulf. When we awoke in the morning we were far on our way, and for the first time in my life, look which way I might, I could see no land. A few light clouds hovering around the horizon, ob-scured the beauties of our first sunrise at sea.

Our first day on the gulf was very calm and pleasant, with scarcely a ripple to disturb its glossy surface. The boys amused themselves by watching the frolicking of large schools of porpoise, or sea hogs, as they glided swiftly through the water, ever and anon showing their huge backs, as they leaped above the surface, and then sinking deep into the blue sea, were hid from view. Thursday night the wind rose, and by morning the sea was quite rough, and the ship, to us "land lubbers," rolled fearfully. As soon as the boys crawled from beneath their blankets, they became sick. Then commenced a scene which as amusing in the extreme, and baffles description. One set of boys were bending over the yawl, pulling lustily at the "ropes of New Y-o-r-k," while the rest were almost bursting their sides with laughter and vain efforts to resist the sickening sensation, and scarcely able to hold it in till room could be made for them at the "ropes." One old negro, between his gasps for breath and flow of a copious stream from his mouth, cried out, O if de good lo'd will only forgibe me dis time, I'll neber go on de sea agin.

During the day we hailed a schooner with a prize crew aboard, bound for civilization. It was loaded with cotton. In the evening we came up with our blockading fleet off this point, and cast anchor between two and three miles from the shore. We laid at anchor all day Saturday, the ship rolling and pitching in unison with the huge waves which were lashing themselves into foam upon the distant shore. Saturday night came near sending us all to "Davy Jone's locker." The ship dragged her anchor thirty-two miles during the night, and was fast approaching some hidden rocks. A few minutes later and all would have been lost. The Captain of the boat came excitedly into the cabin and tried to get some of the soldiers, sleeping there, up to help draw the anchor, saying, "Get up boys, and help with the anchor, or we will all go to hell in five minutes." The recklessness of the soldier is seen by the sleepy "Well, let her go," the only answer he could get, and not until he aroused Gen. Lawler, could he procure the requisite assistance. It came not a minute too soon. I was in blissful ignorance of that danger till next morning, but was painfully alive to the necessity of holding on with might and main, to keep from pitching into the sea. Companies B, E, A, D, G and K were on the upper deck, and I expected each moment a huge wave would come rolling over the deck and sweep some of us, with resistless fury, into the roaring billow below. I was happily disappointed, for although her high wheel-houses frequently dipped in the water, none rolled across our deck. By morning's dawn we were back to our former anchorage. Sunday morning the wind fell, and we run some 45 miles, to St. Joseph's Island, intending to land there and come round in the rear of the fort at the entrance of this bay, while the troops here landed and crawled up on it in front. Monday the landing commenced in surf boats, each boat carrying from ten to fifteen men, running close to the beach, the men jumped out and waded to shore. We had landed but three or four boat loads, when orders came to return here, as the fort was in our possession. It was taken with the loss of but one man killed, and some four or five wounded on our side.

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