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Letter (#51) from Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
to L.S.
January 14, 1864
Indianola, 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.

Our Place Indianola, Tex., Thursday Eve
Jany. 14, 1864

I hardly know how to commence this letter - it seems so funny to be writing in a house again even if I am writing on my knee. I guess we have reached the comfortable quarters at last, which Gen. Washburne promised us at the close of a ten days march when we were at Carrollton. Been more than ten days coming through though, don't you think so? There are four companies in this house - A,B,D, and E. We have a nice story and half house, nicely painted - has belonged to the upper crust. There are ten rooms large and small in the house - seven down and three upstairs. Nineteen of us have one room about 16 feet square and 10 high. One corner is occupied by six men in three bunks one above the other - another has two bunks for six men - a third is occupied by five men in two bunks while Mr. Fenner and your soldier boy have the other corner all to themselves. We have our bunk put up between two windows to the lightest and I think the best corner of the room. We put up our own bunks. Now I have told you all about our house and room but had almost forgotten to tell you where we are and how we got here. But as I have commenced at the wrong end I will keep it up and tell you that we are in Indianola - or as it is sometimes called here Powder-horn. It was quite a stirring place before the war -- had about 2,500 inhabitants although it is now pretty deserted. A little fellow I was talking to this morning says the men have all gone into the army.

(I can scarcely write there is so much confusion in the room, some are singing, some playing cards, some tearing things up generally making all the noise they can conveniently, while two are reading and three of us trying to write -- no wonder I get everything in wrong end foremost.)

Now for a brief review of the past three days. Tuesday every thing was going on as usual till about three o'clock when heavy cannonading was heard in this direction and in half an hour after the long roll beat in camp. I tell you now there was a rush about that time and in a very few minutes every body was out ready for a move. Fortunately the order was countermanded and we were ordered to be ready to move the next morning at seven o'clock. We were ready yesterday morning at the appointed time - had every thing on the boat but did not get off until about noon. Came up in the afternoon and were in our house and hard at work putting up our beds before dark. It is about twenty miles to Decrow's Point by water -- not so far by land.

I will close for tonight -- will keep this open till mail goes out - will write more probably. Am looking for a letter from you the next mail. I learned at tattoo tonight that our drum corps will have to go into quarters by ourselves in the morning. We are to go into a house with three rooms - will be about a dozen of us in the whole house. I think we will have a gay time.

Sunday Eve., Jany. 17, 1864

Our gay time in our house all by ourselves did not last long. Friday morning the drum corps went to their new quarters and all of us went to work with a will to rig up - worked all forenoon as busy as nailors -- got our bunks up and part of our other little conveniences when orders came to pack up ready to move immediately.

We considered the propriety of bringing in a file of soldiers to swear - but finally concluded that even with their aid we could not do the subject justice and so desisted. Four of us, our fife Major, two other fifers and I occupied one room, had a couple of nice bunks up - a convenient cupboard and were just ready to put up a stove. You see we were having things nice. I can't write today - can't think of what I want to say and will stop.

Monday, January 18, 1864

We moved from town Friday evening. Saturday morning we had a grand review of our division by Gen. Benton. I assure you it was grand. The review was held on a large plain and we had a splendid view of all that was going on. There were eleven regiments and one battery of artillery - three brigades. Gen. Warren the commander of the first brigade wears the old style military dress. He presented quite a showy appearance, with his fancy continental hat and plume waving gracefully backward and forward in the stirring breeze - his gaudy golden tipped epaulets dangling from his shoulders as he rode his coal black charger up and down the line. This is the first old fashioned uniform I have seen since I was a very small boy playing in the streets of Millersburg. After we had marched by the General's stand and taken our places in the line again Gen. Warren rode up to Major Mills and asked if he was in command of that regiment - pointing to the 16th Ohio. Being answered in the affirmative he said Splendid regiment, Splendid regiment, does my soul good to see such a regiment - makes my eyes water to look at them. We did do well that day. When marching by Gen. Benton the music wheeled out of the line till the regiment passed so I had a good opportunity of seeing the boys when marching by us and there was not the least crook in the line of any company.

We received a mail this morning but there was no letter for poor me. I was looking for an answer to my letter of Dec. 2nd but mails were so uncertain when we first came to Decrow's Point. I am afraid they will be more so when we leave here. I look for some more hard marching when we start again. May not go though for five or six weeks and then again we may leave inside of a week. I hear there is an artist down town and want to go down this afternoon or tomorrow to have that miniature taken for you. They are calling for letters and I will close this and send it. If I can get a good picture will send it in my next.

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