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Letter (#52) from James Parson
to Private Thomas Buchanan Linn, Co. B, 16th OVI
January 15, 1864
Shreve, Ohio
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 Pvt. Thomas Buchanan Linn

Shreve, Wayne Co. Ohio, Jany. 15, 1864

My good young friend and most noble Union Soldier. I received a day or two ago your very kind and flattering letter dated Dec. 15th at Decrow's Point, Texas. I thank you many times for thus honoring me with a letter; I wish could reciprocate the favor, but such as I have I will freely give unto you. It is true as you say I feel a special interest for the soldier - for you specially, for I know the purity of your nature and your ardent desire for your country's welfare. The regiment to which you belong - the 16th has justly earned a fame for gallantry and nobleness of purpose - will be engraven on the pages of history, and will be read with interest long after this poor body of mine, shall be forgotten. You ask an excuse for writing to me, why my dear young friend I esteem it a great honor to be remembered by those noble soldiers, in our Glorious Union Army who are showing their faith by their works. For it is said By their works shall ye know them. It is true I am for the Union and the Enforcement of the Laws. But I sometimes feel ashamed that I am doing so little toward the same, while others are doing so much. To be sure we here at home give a little money now and then but what is that to the exposure that you endure that we here may live securely. I said I am in favor of the enforcement of the Laws, there is no way of enforcing law, only by the force of human effort. There can be no good Government only by the enforcement of the law. This is what the noble army that you belong to, are engaged in, therefore, if a word from me would be of any value, I would say go on in this most noble cause, until there is not a rebel to be found either North or South. I esteem the work of putting down this rebellion the greatest work perhaps that men have been called to do, since the world began. Surely those who do the work will have a reward such as have not been awarded to any in all time past. You my dear young friend may fall as many have already done -- but if so, you fall in a most holy cause -- the cause of your country's and may He that has thus far watched over our country's destinies reward you. As many of you as may live to return to enjoy the smiles of friends at home, will be received with a similar welcome, to the one described by you to your Uncle, when the paroled boys joined you. The letter above mentioned was published and read with great interest. I can well appreciate your feelings as expressed about the Copper Head portion of our community; to exhibit the cloven foot by all such is never difficult. But never mind my friend, the time will come, that it will be said that such and such belonged to the Union Army, he was one that fought at Vicksburg or at Port Hudson or at Gettysburg or other place in the war to put down the slaveholders rebellion. These will be honored, praised and feasted, they will be honored with the best gifts of a grateful country. And then they will also have the approbation of their own bosoms. There will also be other such and such of whom it will be said they voted for a traitor for Governor. They professed to be for the Union, while they were always finding fault with the Government and its' Army. It will also be said they encouraged desertion by writing to them that they should not fight to free the Niggers, and that this was only war for the Abolish- ionists, etc., etc. The time will come and I think it is near, that men, if they are capable of shame, will be very much ashamed of their doings and sayings of the present time. Indeed I am told that some young men now in the army are ashamed of some of their nearest friends at home in consequence of traitorous letters sent to them. Benedict Arnold the traitor of the revolution had his day, and the Tories of the same time had their day, and so will the Traitors of the present time have their day. If some of them don't wish they had never been born it will be queer indeed.

You say I have doubtless learned that you are on the sandy beach of Texas. Yes, I saw the account of the trip published with the success of taking the Fort etc. But I can assure you, I read no account published that interested me so much as the one from your own pen to your Uncle as Published in the Holmes County Republican. The description down the noble Mississippi (that your regiment contributed so much to open) was most natural. The trip over the Gulf with the sea sickness was portrayed to the life. I hope I may yet live to read many such from you and others.

I suppose I have seen the shelter tents you speak of. We had a great general muster of the Ohio Militia last fall at Wooster, lasting I think eight days. There was quite a large body of men and officers collected to drill and learn the art of War. They were provided with tents a portion of which, were the same that you describe, they would barely do to shelter a little from a shower, but would be poor protection in cold weather. I feel especially glad to hear that you have plenty to eat. I have heard it said that a certain General should have said if they would give him Irishmen half drunk, French men half-starved, and Englishmen with a full belly, then he could whip any army of equal numbers that could be brought against him. We Americans I think go for plenty to eat, at least the substantial, such as you describe -- crackers, coffee, pork and beans. But the more especially pleasing intelligence you give is The boys are all in good health and appear to enjoy themselves as well as could be expected. I hope you may continue well and enjoy your-selves to the end of your time or the end of the war as the case may be.

You will please say to Mr. Yarnell that I received his very welcome letter and answered it partially yesterday. I say partially for I intend if not hindered in some way to write him again in a week or two, so that he may get a letter from myself or others every mail that does come. I can well anticipate your disappointment when a mail comes and you do not get the expected letters from friends at home. I can't say any thing about your Father's family, but suppose they are well. Now in conclusion my young friend be of good cheer. Your Government is doing all it can to sustain you, and soon, as soon as possible your ranks will be filled by new recruits, either of volunteers or conscripts. A letter from you or any of the boys, will always be acceptable. The Lord bless you. I am yours in friendship.

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