|Letter to Thomas Reeves Brown,
a member of
Company "K" of the 37th Illinois Infantry
Sept. 25th, 1864
My Dear Thomas,
My darling, precious boy. I mailed a letter to you yesterday a week ago,
but it seems a month. We have received three from you since that are all
written & sent from the Mouth of the White River. The last by Will
My mind has been with you all the time for the last few weeks. I have felt
every day that I wanted to write, wanted to say something to you, and
wanted to say a good deal. I have thought of you at night. Waken &
thought of you in the deep shades of night when naught but stillness
reigned around. How was it with my boy? My bright-eyed, curly-haired boy
of ten & fifteen years ago; when I gazed upon him with such fondness,
and thought that beautiful countenance almost angelic.
How much I have promised myself in my children! How much happiness! How I
have asked God to make them true men! Men who could strive for the right
against the world. And can I be disappointed? God has never turned me away
empty. Has never refused me my request, though it has often been answered
in a directly contrary way from what I expected.
One son has nobly fallen! Gloriously died in defense of the Right, the
Truth, and left a name embalmed with fondest memories. Two more have taken
up his mantle & are following in his footsteps. My prayer is God
preserve them for noble deeds, for a preparation for a nobler life than
this. Where there is no war, no death, no separation of loved ones.
Today Mr. Kingsbury bore to the grave his eldest daughter, Martha. It was,
I think, just four weeks ago this Sabbath day that his son Ed was borne to
the same solemn resting place, where all the living find one common level.
Yesterday, Mr. Fincher buried his youngest, the day before Mr. Monroe
buried his only one, tomorrow Mr. O.L. Davis buries his youngest.
Well, notwithstanding death, not withstanding the war, notwithstanding the
absence of friends, and our desires to communicate with them, business
will go on as usual. Every thing that is done demands time and attention
& we must devote ourselves, with all our might, with all our mind to
Conference with us commenced this coming week, about Wednesday, and we
notwithstanding, Sallie & Lue are both sick, must bear a part of the
burden. It makes work for me, both for my head & hands, while my heart
is weeping & bleeding for the absent, and hoping and loving, also.
Yesterday I saw the Col. He looks thin, speaks well of you (thinks its all
a joke, I want to think so too.) You wounded pretty deeply when you asked
for copperhead papers. Don't make such as Doc. Faris, Lemon, Jim Myres and
a host more of low trash (between whom & your father, there is much
dislike) triumph over him, too much. Don't make his cup too bitter.
You can't vote. No need that you should choose the unpopular side, that
you should say by actions that your oaths to support the government,
maintain the union, and put down rebellion were not sincere, or were
repented of. The day is coming when a veteran will be proud that he bore
the name of veteran.
It is the opinion of men of the best judgment that if Lincoln is elected
the war will soon end honorably. Not so, if MacClellan. There may be
compromises, six month's armistice to give rebels time to gather up and
begin fresh. None but God knows the end of all this. He is the God of
armies. He rules in the Heavens above. He makes the wickedness of the
wiched praise Him in the end.
I should respect the honest opinions of my own son as much as the opinion
of any other man. But it seems to me you have not had opportunity enough
to form honest opinions. You have not had reading. You have not been able
to examine for yourself as thoroughly as you might. If you have gone too
far for it to be understood as a joke (which I hope it is) make your
humble confession that you were too hasty. If consistent with your
feelings. In any case, deal gently with your Father. He has much to bear
in old age. Respect his feelings. God will deal with you accordingly.
Melville Hopewell gave us a call and spent last
Wednesday with us and the night before. He is just two days younger than
yourself. He was on his way to Greencastle to college on your Father's
scholarship. He had just returned from a trip across the plains. He drove
a team in a government train eight hundred miles from St. Joseph &
back; walked from St. Joseph home, sixty miles in day & half. Received
40$ per month while gone & spent 50 cts. The balance goes toward
keeping himself in school as long as possible.
Clara Vaine was here day before yesterday; she told me there was a soldier
in town (one of the Provost guard) who looks just like you, just exactly.
She said he was so pleasant, when ever they (the girls) could not think of
his name they called him Tom Brown. So you see you are not forgotten. When
you get out of this war you must come straight home. You will find none in
all the world to love you better than all your old Danville friends. You
will not be 22 at farthest. I received most of my education after I was 25
years old. You have had the advantage of travel, and of reading or
learning to read your fellow man into the bargain. Lots of business is
here for you to attend to.
I want to write another whole sheet but it is getting dark & you are
tired of reading & your Father wants his supper.
So goodbye my own dear sweet child. "Remember your Creator in the
days of your youth." Receive for yourself all the love a Mother's
heart can give.
You will not forget to write. I hardly know how to direct letters. Have
not heard from John lately. Dear boy. God will care for him & you.
P.S. The new veterans have not yet reached home. Hundred day men have.
Capt. Carnadan has re-enlisted. Is now Lieut. Col. Aunt Lizzie is at B.
Covington, very low. It is thought cannot live more than a week or two at
farthest. Had a letter from Dr. Throop. He & Irene think of visiting
us sometime or other.
If with a true heart you re-enlisted twas the noblest act of your life. Be
true. If you are the child of God He says "He will never leave you
nor forsake you". Think before you further go.