Previous Linn Letter Soldiers Letter Index Linn Letter Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Next Linn Letter
Letter (#40) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to L.S.
December 13, 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.

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.

Decrow's Point, Texas, Dec 13, 1863

This is Sunday evening, the wind is blowing very hard from the North-West scattering sand over everything. I feel lonely and wish for your society O, so much. Were I only with you how pleasantly we could and would spend the evening. Sitting by your cheerful fire the wintry winds might howl away - what would we care for their blowing. But I am in Texas far, far away from the one I love and for whose sweet presence I sigh unable even to hear from her by letter. We have been here two whole weeks and have not yet seen the first sign of letters - those dear little mementoes of absent though unforgotten friends. I have not had a letter from you since the one I received on the ship three weeks ago - that was our last mail. A ship now rides at anchor outside the bar which I think has just come. I have great hopes that she brings precious tidings of absent ones.

My last letter was closed so unceremoniously that I did not write as satisfactorily as I would wish and hardly know what I did say. I thought it was going off right away and when I took it to the Adjutant he said it was only going to headquarters maybe would lay there for a week. It may be there yet for all I know. I was vexed that I had not kept it till I had it finished. But let it go -- I will try to have this one finished when they call for it. As we cannot send letters every time we want to we must make up for that by writing long ones. I keep your letters for months - until I have to destroy them to lighten my load - and then when I can't hear from you I enjoy myself by reading your old letter over and over. I have been reading your old letters over today again and trying to imagine I am at the Corner again and with you instead of being on this sandy beach.

Do you remember one night as you and I were walking home from the Corner you happened to look over your left shoulder and saw the new moon - how you started with a suppressed shriek and how you jerked me when I looked the same way to see what was the matter? I can remember how you looked and how I laughed at you as well as if it were but last night. I don't remember any bad luck following. Last night I saw the new moon again but over my right shoulder and though of that little circumstance. I wonder what good luck is in store for me this time. It is getting to dark to write more now, so good night and pleasant dreams.

Tuesday, Dec. 15th

The ship St. Mary's did bring a large mail with her but not a single letter for "poor me," nothing but a couple of papers. I was looking for letters from you and some from home, but was disappointed and I will have to content myself for a couple of weeks more with reading those I have dreaming of "Auld Lang Syne." We had another Nor-Wester night before last - blowing sand over every thing. You would have laughed to have seen us yesterday morning when we got up. Our blankets were covered with sand white as snow and looked a good deal as if it had been snow and drifted there. Our ears, eyes and hair did not escape for they were all filled. I thought if the old fashion pow-dering the hair was still in vogue we could dispense with the services of the hair dresser for that morning at least. The wind has now shifted round until it blows from the North East and it is trying to rain a little I believe but hardly knows how to go about it. I hate wet weather for campaigning but fortunately this country is so sandy that it never gets muddy.

I must tell you how I pass my time. I am awakened about six o'clock in the morning to beat reveille -- then wash and get ready for breakfast - by that time it is time for breakfast call - after breakfast which consists generally of crackers, coffee and pickled pork I have to prepare for guard-mounting which is at eight o'clock this lasts about half an hour and if we have to attend brigade guard-mounting it takes about as much longer. We attend brigade guard-mounting about every other day. After guard-mounting we get to rest till dinner time, the regiment drills a couple of hours in the forenoon but that is only company drill and I do not have to be out. I spend the time in writing, reading - if I can get any thing to read - or in lying around trying to kill the time as best I can. At twelve o'clock I have to be out at dinner call. Dinner consists of about the same as breakfast with perhaps a mess of beans or rice and twice a week we have fresh beef. At two o'clock we have battalion drill and we play while they are marching. This is our longest and hardest drill. We beat supper call as soon as we come in and eat our suppers of hardtack, coffee and tonight, pickled beef instead of pork. Supper is just ready and I will have to stop and eat.

Wednesday, Dec. 16th.

After supper and dress-parade last night I had no time to write and so will finish this morning. We have half an hour for supper and then go out for dress-parade which takes us till dark -- come in and beat retreat and then we have the long winter evening till eight o'clock to spend as best we can in the dark for candles are scarce and if they were plenty the wind would not let us burn them - our house is so open. At eight o'clock tattoo is played and then I retire to bed for the night and until I am aroused in the morning for reveille again. You see I keep regular hours. This is a description of a fine day - when it rains we have no drills and when the officers have something particular to attend to we get clear as was the case yesterday. Friday is cleaning up and washing day and we are exempt from drill. Sunday inspection takes the place of training.

Hillow what's this? Here is a man selling songs -- wonder what they are! "New songs for the army by C.F. Breining" of our brigade. I see among them an "Answer to When this Cruel War is Over," "The Home Guard" and others. I must send one to you. I think the "Answer to When this Cruel War is Over" is real pretty and you must sing it to me after the other. Will you! I like it for its sentiment - so consonant with my own feelings.

I have some little shells - the smallest and prettiest I could find - if I can fix them so they will not break all to pieces I wish to send them to you in this letter. Little round ones are hard to get as they are not very plenty and all the boys are watching for them - the scallops are found in any numbers. I wish you were here and I was but a traveler instead of a soldier - what fun we could have running up and down the beach gathering shells and chasing the breakers back. Well may the poet sing "O give me a home by the sea."

We have rumors of glorious news from the Chatanooga Army. Our brave old U.S. Grant has scattered Bragg's Army to the four winds, and Gilmore is at last inside the birthplace of treason, Charleston, South Carolina. I hope he burned the city to the ground and destroyed it as effectually as Ninevah or Babylon of old. I hope soon to hear of the fall of Richmond and with it the Southern Confederacy. How gay it would be if the old Sixteenth could only return home before her nine months are over and that too without fearing the necessity of having to come out again. But if we were where I could receive your letters and those from home regularly I think I could pass these last months of my soldier life quite contentedly with the prospect of being soon free again.

I will close now and watch for a chance to send this away - there are several ships in the harbor, maybe some of them will take our letters. Good-by till I can write again.

Previous Linn Letter Soldiers Letter Index Linn Letter Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Next Linn Letter