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Letter (#50) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to his aunt Love Fry
January 12, 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 Aunt Love Fry

Decrow's Point, Texas, Jany. 12, 1864

I received your good and interesting letter last Saturday evening. It is just such a letter as I love to receive - so full of encouragement and good cheer but such as always embarrasses me to answer as I wish. You ask a good long letter from me. I shall endeavor to write you one in return long enough and as interesting as I know how - of its good - I leave you to judge. You can scarcely conceive the pleasure such letters as yours gives us poor outcasts as it were. I read your letter to my tent mates and although they are strangers to you their eyes sparkled as I went on and all appeared livelier when I was through. It seemed to cheer them almost as much as if they had received good news from their own homes. (I was the only one in the tent who received any letters that mail.) I assure you it was duly appreciated and many repetions will not be offensive.

More than one party would enjoy your surprise should Tommie just step in now. I know you would entertain me like a prince and then the supper - whew - my mouth fairly waters when I think of it. Wouldn't I look funny a great big awkward soldier who has not used a decent knife and fork for three long years so long that he almost forgotten what such articles are used for, sitting up to a table covered with the very best and nicest good things which the land can afford? What a pretty figure I would cut in fashionable society. Well, I learned to be a soldier and in eight or nine months more I can learn to be a civilian again. Nine months will soon roll round and then for pleasant greetings and happy meetings. Well do I remember our parting at Wooster. I am afraid my promises were not all kept as faithfully as they should have been. Temptations were great, very great, far, far more than I ever imagined they could be.

Poor Lizzie with all her watching and waiting for her absent brother he never came. Little did I think that bright Sunday morning when I half gayly half sorrowfully kissed and bade her good by, and she to conceal her tears turned and slowly passed through the doorway and into the room that I was gazing for the last time on her loved form -- that I should never again see her beaming eyes turned lovingly to mine. I have frequently almost reproached myself that I did not go home to see her while we were at Portland or Cincinnati in spite of all guards, officers and the uncertain penalty of the crime of desertion. Had I gone I expect I should have been pardoned as were others who did go at that time.

I could not tell you all about the battles we have been in in a week. Will have to leave that to talk about when I get back to Millersburg if I should be one of the fortunate ones. You ask how I felt and what I thought -- easy questions to ask but hard to answer. When bullets flew thickest I confess I felt a little scaly and thought one might run against me. But I was not so much exposed as those who carried rifles. I did not have to go into any charges but was frequently where bullets whistled far too thick for comfort. But we can talk of this I cannot find words to express intelligently on paper the feeling of a man about to enter the storm of iron hail. You can only imagine his feelings when he hands his pocketbook or some little keepsake to his comrade to send to friends should he fall and then buckles his belt tighter for the conflict.

You ask if I get home-sick. No I am never home-sick but have sometimes when I get no letters for a long time felt lonely and down spirited. I love to get lots of letters and answer them. It is a good exercise and pays well besides keeps me out of mischief which I would be more apt to be at when I have no letters to write.

This is the first pleasant day we have had this year. It is calm and the sun is out. These Texas winds are cold indeed, coming from the North-west they sweep everything before them. I do not wonder Uncle William and Aunt Sue did not like Texas. By the way do you ever hear from them? Are they secessionists? Which way do Aunt Sue's friends side? Hope with the old flag. When I wrote to Brownhill day before yesterday I did not feel very well - but am all right now. Give my love to Grandmother, Aunt Nancy, Uncle, Willie Sheely and all other inquiring friends. Best respects to Miss Anna Lemon. I should be glad to receive another letter from you soon.

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