1864: Ephraim E. Brown to Mary D. Babcock

These letters were written by Ephraim E. Brown (1844-1934), the son of John Brown and Lucinda Morris of Persia, Cattaraugus, New York. Ephraim enlisted in December 1861 to serve three years in Co. C, 64th New York Volunteers. He was promoted to corporal after one year’s service and to sergeant in mid October 1863. He was severely wounded in the left shoulder during the fighting on 12 May 1864 at Spotsylvania and discharged on 5 December 1864. After he recovered sufficiently, he enlisted again in the same company and mustered out in February 1865.

Ephraim was 17 when he enlisted against the wishes of his mother, Lucinda Brown. However, he had his father’s permission. During his 3 years of service, he was under fire 27 days and was wounded six times—twice with minié balls, twice with bayonet and twice with shell. He participated in the battle at Fredericksburg, and his eye-witness account of the battle at Antietam is amazing! See Antietam on the Web.


Letter 1

Camp of the 64th New York
Near Willis’ Rapid Anne [Rapidan river] Va.
January 27th 1864

Ever and remembered friend Mary,

I now take the opportunity of writing you a line in answer to yours and your picture. Mary, everyone that sees it says it is the handsomest picture there is in camp. Mary, I went and got one took too, but [I’m] very sorry to say it is not as handsome a one as you sent and [you] know I never can take as good a one but you will please excuse me for sending such a poor one. But if I ever get home, I will endeavor to bring a better looking one than I am now sending—although it is a very good one for this place. I think yours is a very handsome one. The boys all say they are a going to write to you and cut me out. “All right,” I tell them, “go on.” I think you came it on [ ] quite nice. “Bully for you,” I say.

Mary, I am going to send the two old pictures I have to my mammy because they are getting spoilt. I got two took today—one for our folks & one for you. Such as this costs $1.25 here and I call them very poor at that. I intend to get a photograph and send to you soon as possible. I have to go some 6 miles to get one took and when a fellow goes so far, he gets all tired out and cannot sit long enough to have a good one taken.

you spoke about Bets. She is [ ]. I shall write about her some other time. I think you are right about not giving up for you said what. Give Delil my best regards and tell her to write the news &c. Give all enquirers my best respects and oblige. I shall have to close and write again. Goodbye. [Write] soon and oblige your friend, — E. E. Brown

to Miss M D. Babcock. Write often.

Letter 2

Camp of the 64th New York Vol.
Near Germania Ford, Virginia
January 31st 1864

This is Sunday eve. I take my pen in hand to write a short and perhaps not very interesting letter to you. I am in good health hoping this will find you all the same.

As for the weather here, it has been just like spring until today and today it has been rather lousy although guess it isn’t agoing to amount to much. Still I wish it would come kinda lousy and turn into snow because I am afraid we shall have to move or get drove out of here and I’d rather stay till spring and then, if it is necessary, I am ready. But I am in  a poor rig for moving. I have got a big express box from home and a cheese weighing 80 & 85 apiece and I should hate to go and leave all of my traps. But I guess there isn’t much more danger.

Tell Bill I am all right and hope he won’t look at those big bounties and guess there isn’t much danger of it—at least hope not. There is some talk amongst the boys about reenlisting for to go to California and bring mules back for the government and I would do that before I would go in the ranks any longer than till my time is up. Well I guess it is getting about bed time and I will close by sending you all my best respects and all enquiring friends. Good bye.

From Ephraim E. Brown

Tell Delil I am alright and all the rest of the family. From E.E. B. to Miss Mary D. Babcock

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