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Letter (#48) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to the Holmes County Republican newspaper
January 4, 1864
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 Holmes County Republican newspaper

Decrow's Point, Texas, Jan. 4, 1864

Mr. Griffith: -- Thinking a few lines from the old 16th might not be uninteresting to your readers, I will devote a few minutes of this wet, disagreeable afternoon to their amusement, if not benefit.

This is the most changeable climate I ever saw. One day it is warm and pleasant, the next colder and more disagreeable than the North side of the North Pole. I will give you a history of the past week, and how the soldiers of the 16th regiment spent their holidays. Not in sleigh-riding, rabbit hunting, and the many other pleasant ways we used to spend them; you may bet. Neither are we feather-bed-soldiers, with splendid barracks, and free access to cakes, pies, good cider, and last, though by no means least, to those smiling pieces of calico which eat your sugar candy, pull your whiskers and gaily slap your face. No, we came out for the hard knocks, and I am rather inclined to believe we saw a few of them, too. But to my diary:

Christmas was one of those sunshiny, autumnal days, we had so many of during the last month. We had a day's rations of flour issued to us as a rarity, that morning - a change from the monotonous crunching of hard-tack, quite acceptable to all. There is no drill, and all the sports of the soldier were resorted to to pass the time quickly and pleasantly.

Saturday -- A great change in the weather. Instead of the bright sunshine of the day before, dark clouds, with lowering aspect move slowly through the air, while fitful gusts of rain and wind foretells the coming of the furious strife of elements. Soon the wind veers round to the North-West, and then comes down upon us with unrelenting fury, sweeping everything before it not fastened with firmness of a rock.

Sunday -- About noon the wind goes down, and before night the sun warms the air, and we have another autumnal evening.

Monday -- Skirmish drill occupies the morning hours. Battalion drill and dress parade take up the afternoon. Day pleasant.

Tuesday -- Exercises as yesterday; also, warm and pleasant. In the afternoon the beautiful and staunch steamer St. Mary's arrived at the wharf, and after tattoo, a large mail was distributed to the boys. Nearly every one heard from home and friends. The papers brought news of Grant's glorious victory over Bragg, and Burnside's successful repulse of Longstreet at Knoxville. Of course, with such news we are in the best of spirits. Nothing is more prized by the soldier than a good letter from friends at home. Friends, you who love the soldiers cannot show it better or cheaper than by sitting down and writing him a long friendly letter. Need not fear we will not receive it. If Co._ 16th O.V.I., vis New Orleans, La. is written plainly on the envelope, I will guarantee it to reach us in nine cases out of ten. The Republican is a welcome visitor, always looked for with interest, and a mail never arrives without at least three or four asking, Tom, did you get a Republican?

Wednesday - Sky threatening, with frequent gusts of wind and rain. In the evening the wind rises, and by nine o'clock has increased to a perfect hurricane, a regular Nor'wester. Half the tents in the regiment were blown down or torn in shreds before morning, and no signs of the storm abating.

Thursday - Was spent by all trying to keep warm. Those whose houses are down creep under the fallen canvass, to shiver and shake till the wind goes down, so they can rig them. Storm rather increasing.

Friday - New Year's Day. The wind too high to cook; great difficulty making coffee for breakfast. Dinner; feast on hard-tack without coffee. Last night was the coldest of the season; ice froze three inches thick in kettles left out. First ice we have seen this season. The wind goes down this evening.

Saturday - Drizzling rain all day.

Sunday - Drizzling in the morning, but about noon the sun came out and fog raises somewhat.

Monday - Today the same old drizzle reigns supreme. The wind is shifting to the north-west, with a fair prospect of blowing big-guns again before morning. I look for a disagreeable night. Below I send you a copy of Gov. Tod's letter to Major Mills, acknowledging the receipt of our old flag.

The State of Ohio, Executive Department
Columbus, November 30, 1863
Major Milton Mills, 16th O.V.I., Berwick, La.:

Dear Major:

Your letter of the 2nd ult., accompanying the battle torn colors of the noble 16th Ohio, and giving its history, with the several battles through which it has been safely and bravely borne by your gallant command, reached me sometime since. At the first leisure I take great pleasure in thanking you and your gallant boys, in the name of Ohio, for this honorable testimonial of their heroic patriotism and great perseverance in the holy cause of our country. This brave old flag, with your letter attached, shall be placed in the room provided in our State House, as a proud memento of the enduring valor and great services of the glorious 16th. Please convey to your brave command my profound respect and admiration. May God grant their continued success and safe return to their friends.

Yours truly,
David Tod, Governor.

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