D. C. preparing for attack. Gen’l Hooker removed. Rebs in Penn. Predicts a great battle soon.

Date Written

June 28, 1863

William Henry Brown was 28 years old when this was written.
The recipient, John Kittridge Brown, was 19 when it was received.

William Henry Brown died 45 years, 8 months, 22 days after writing this.
It was written 156 years, 21 days ago.
It was a Sunday.

Headquarters 39th Regt. Massachusetts Volunteers
Washington D. C.
June 28th ‘63

Dear Brother,

I guess it is about time that I troubled you with another letter, I thought last Friday evening that your look to receive another from me while in this city was quite dubious, for all the guards were ordered in and we were told to get ready to march in one hour. We thought certain the Rebel Army were all to be destroyed before morning. When I went to bed at night I little expected that the morning would have found us in the barracks. But I noticed I was in my room at Reveille. When I found it was only to be a nights job and that we should probably return the next day I felt disappointed all the more so of my being in command of the company. Captain Bigham is detailed as Judge Advocate, at a Court Martial now being held in this city. Lieut. Mulligan is a used up man for the present—he is hardly as well as he when he went to Mass. And so of course I being relieved of guard duty, was in command. I did not know then nor do I now know the cause of our getting ready to fight somebody. But the next morning we were all ordered to resume our original positions and I am once again on guard at the war-end news, a position well suited to my growing habit of laziness; for this business will ruin any man from ever again attempting to work regularly at day wages, for this is all work, or none at all.

I think by the appearance of things that our look is poor to stay much longer in this city. The clerks and teamsters are being drilled to take our places as they did the night we were ordered in. They make very awkward work of it and had to relieve themselves from duty almost as soon as it was light and I think the military governor did not care about the outsiders being seen doing guard duty at the government buildings. I think tis a grand thing having all the employees of U. S. ready in need.

But the government is rallying every Regt. they can possibly spare to reinforce General Hooker and I would not be surprised any hour to be ordered away. I have an idea it will be immediately after the first battle, then is when he will want the men. If he is victorious, we shall go, if defeated, we shall be wanted here. If Hooker is badly whipped this city will be awfully seared. For its safety depends on his success. For I don’t imagine the defenses of Washington on the Maryland side are anything to boast of. But I don’t think they can whip one side of Fighting Joe. He knows how much is depending on him and he will take his own time about fighting.

In the meantime the Rebs are raising Hell in the old Keystone. Gov. Curtain seems to be making up to the magnitude of the occasion. There is one thing for sure, if their state is protected from invasion they have got to help do it and for every Rebel they kill doing it will be so much gained. It will save us the job. And to obtain peace we have got to run out the Rebel Army and the sooner we come to that conclusion, the sooner we can have peace.

If this war is dragged into the next Presidential Campaign, the administration is whipped and we shall have a peace disgraceful to all concerned. Therefore, Lincoln will use every effort to crush this rebellion. In that time and to enable him to do it loyal men must come forward and help do it. I hope that all men caught resisting the draft—shoot him down on the spot. I see by the morning papers the Rebels have paid a flying visit to Portland. If they had got that Cutter out it would have been a bad job for us. All honor to the [Sorrest] city for overhauling them. But goodbye for tonight. Yours,

William H. Brown

Wednesday Afternoon
The weather today is terrible hot, but I am glad to say cloudy. Sunday evening the news came that the Rebels were just above Chain Bridge. I had just returned from church and found the Regt. all in line. My guard had been ordered in and instead of going with the Co., I had to wait for them to come in. The Regt. left by 11 o’clock and by the time the different guards were all in and ready to start it was one o’clock A. M. We marched up beyond Chain Bridge, stopped there some two hours, and then marched back to the barracks. There was scarcely a dry thread left in my clothes, the boys are in poor condition to march. Soon after we returned, I was ordered to report with my gear at the War Department. I was tired enough to refuse, but had to go. We are liable to go on such trips any hour.

Sunday was the most gloomy day I have ever seen in Washington. Rumors of Hooker’s removal filled the streets. I could hardly believe it, but Monday morning confirmed it. The Command of the Army of the Potomac seems as fatal to our Generals as the office of Governor of Kansas was to the Democratic Politicians of 1856 & 7. Now we must try Mead, may success attend him. I was awful afraid that little Mc [McClelland]. I hope we are not reduced to such a strait yet and hope we never shall be!

The alarmists have been trying to make it out, that this city is in great danger. I’ll tell you when this city or Baltimore are in danger. Not until the Army of the Potomac is totally defeated. The Rebels will not attempt to capture either of these places with our Army hanging on their flanks, ready at any moment to pitch in. The great battle that I have been predicting has got to come off soon. And I think if Lee recrosses the Potomac with any organized Corps of his Army, then we are not smart.

The glorious 4th will soon be here. I will tell you in one next what sort of time I had. Perhaps I may not fire blank cartridges. I have just returned from calling on Bell Neal, but not Bell Neal any longer. Her husband fell in the Cavalry fight at Aldie. He has been quite sick in consequence. He feels very badly, but as she told me it is no worse in her case, than it is in a thousand others. I was well acquainted with him, he being my old roommate. If I remember rightly, the 4th is your 20th birthday, old enough to stand the draft [?] whats. My chances of being with you on that day are decidedly slim! I was not astonished at Walter Morsenot coming for I knew nothing about it until I received a nice long letter from Nan yesterday. I am thinking Nan is about as regular in writing as any (with perhaps the exception of the damsel). I also received one from you some two weeks since, quite a poetical one.

We are in Washington today, but where we shall be one week from today, we little know. Keep up good pluck. The Valley Forge of our war is upon us, may its sequel be as bright and triumphant as the one of ’76. My health is fair, nothing to brag of. Give my love to all. Regards to all the neighbors from your affectionate brother.

William H. Brown

For fear this city will be attacked J. B. Man sends his family north today. I will send this in the morning. Write soon. W.H.B.

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