Veteran in camp writing to brother and musing over past battles and losses

Date Written

Sept. 19, 1863

William Henry Brown was 28 years old when this was written.
The recipient, John Kittridge Brown, was 20 when it was received.

William Henry Brown died 45 years, 6 months, 3 days after writing this.
It was written 155 years, 8 months, 1 day ago.
It was a Saturday.

Camp of the 39th Mass. Vols. Near Culpepper Va.
Sept. 19th 1863

Dear Brother John,

The time seems right smart since I have heard from you. I received a letter from Eveline written Sept. 1st which is the last I have heard from Royal family of Joseph. You see by the heading of this short letter that we are again on the move. We received orders last Saturday eve to prepare three days rations and be ready at an hours notice. Monday the Reg’t. here paid off and we had time to send home what funds we desired. When I was detailed on picket for 48 hours. On Wednesday morning orders came for me to call in my guard and rejoin my Reg’t. By the time I got ready it was daylight. The 39th had crossed & I joined them with my detachment about one mile from the river. The day was cloudy but by noon the sun burst forth and it was terrible hot. It was lucky for me that our Corps. only marched some ten miles and here we now are encamped.

We are about four miles from Culpepper & eight from the Rapidan. We are in plain sight of Cedar Mountain where Banks had his fight last Aug. where George Willis of Litchville the Color Segt of the 2nd Mass. was killed. Here is the same ground over which Pope made his disastrous retreat and finished his campaign with the second Battle of Bull Run, where Joe Hooker with his Corps saved the Army from annihilation caused by the treachery of Fitz John Porter. This is old ground for most of our troops. Our forces occupy Culpepper, the Rebels are no force on the other side of the Rapidan. We may meet with a stout resistance if we mg. to cross. But I bet—if we try—we go across. But I don’t believe we shall have a big fight this side of Gordonsville. Everybody seems in the best of spirits. They all seem to think we shall give the rebs fits if we get a fair crack at them and we all calculate to do it.

The successes of Rosecrans & Burnside in Tennessee and of Gillmore at Charleston with the glorious news of the elections in California, Pa. & Me. have made the soldiers free on their muscle. And the Rebels have got to come down. Dave Crockett has got his rifle and the Rebel Coons and he might as well come down. We may move from this camp before night—or we may stay a number of days. I think we shall stay until the middle of next week and perhaps before you get this, we may have a fight. Cannonading may be heard almost all day. I should think by our present position that the 1st Corps is held in reserve. If so it is contrary to all precedent for they have always led in the fight and we may now.

The line storm commenced yesterday morning. It rained in torrents and completely drenched us. Today tis cold and dreary. Hope it will clear away by night. For the last week I have suffered from what I thought I was [?] against, that is diarrhea. I have it more than ever since I enlisted, tis much better now. But I have quite a cold but is nothing. I am glad you have heard from Charley. The poor unfortunate yet survives. If we all live to get home want we tell some yarns. What is Walter thinking of? I hope he won’t persist to going out next, it will be too bad for Sue. But it will be just like him to do it because everyone don’t want him to.

I rec’d a letter from J. C. last we. I am in somewhat of a rush today so this must answer goodbye. If we have a fight, I am bound to lay out my reb. Write me a good long letter. Lieut. Mulligan got his discharge. My regards to the Col. and all the neighbors. Love to Father, Mother, Eve, & Nan. Your Affectionate brother,

W. H. Brown

Scans of Letter