1862: John Brown to Children

How John might have looked

This letter was written by 51 year-old John Brown (1811-1864) of Almond, New York, who enlisted on 31 August 1862 to serve three years in Co. G, 160th New York Infantry. John’s enlistment papers give his age as 44 but he was in fact 51. He was discharged in June 1864 at New Orleans, Louisiana, suffering from chronic diarrhea. After John returned to Almond, he died of the disease on 17 October 1864. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

The Brown family was enumerated in Almond in the 1855 New York State Census. From this census we learn that John’s wife was named Caroline [Caroline Andrews (1813-1857)]. Their children were Charlotte (b. 1835), Franklin (b. 1837), Lucy (b. 1839), Selman (b. 1841), Louisa (b. 1844), and Ira (b. 1845).


Addressed to Franklin or Ira Brown, Almond, New York
Postmarked Auburn, New York

Camp Wayne [Auburn, New York]
12 November 1862

Dear Children,

Charley returned here last night and brought a letter from you. I had been looking for one for some time. I have written twice since I came from home. I was very glad to hear that you was all well and getting along after the old fashion. I am as rugged and healthy as ever and have all the necessaries of life that I need.

Yesterday was a busy day here. The regiment had a very splendid silk banner presented to it and Colonel [Charles C.] Dwight had a noble horse and accoutrements presented to him by the citizens of Auburn. The weather was fair and citizens of Auburn and the surrounding country turned out in their splendid carriages dressed in their silks and furs and the scene was pleasing to behold.

I cannot tell how long we shall stay here or where we shall go when we leave. Some says to Texas, some to New Orleans, but I don’t believe there is anyone yet that knows where we shall go yet.

Lucy, I am very glad you sent me the pillow tick. We can stuff it with straw and it will be just as good as feathers.

Ira, I want you should take good care of the sheep. If they are low, doctor them. Make some sheds as early as you can and divide them in as small flocks as you can and try and not lose any through the winter if you possibly can help it for if I never come back, you will need all you can make from them. Take good care of the colts and try to winter them if you possibly can. Commence feeding them oats early. You had better put them up soon for those cold storms are bad for them. Try and get the little calves to eat some potatoes and get them through this fall and I believe you can get them through the winter.

There is a thousand incidents that takes place that I might write about that would interest you but as I am a poor writer, it is hard for me to put it on paper. Night before last there was two barns and a large shed burnt with a quantity of grain and hay and thrashing machine and one mowing machine and one or two carriages and other things about one mile from here. It was as light as day and a large number of the soldiers run through the guards and went out to the fire — some yelling and some screaming like wildcats. It seemed as thought the whole camp was wild with excitement.

No more at present. From your father.

Some of you write often. Anything from home will interest me.


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