Dr. Robert Audley Browne (1821-1902) was born in Steubenville, Ohio, but was raised in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from the Western Reserve University there in 1840. He then entered the Theological Seminary in Allegheny where he ranked high in his classes. Browne later received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from his Alma Mater. By 21, Browne was licensed to preach, and at the age of 23, he was ordained to the Gospel ministry. After serving as pastor for several churches in western Pennsylvania, Browne enlisted as Chaplain for the Pennsylvania 100th Infantry, also known as the Roundheads, and was commissioned into Field & Staff August 28, 1861. He was an ardent supporter of the Union and joined his regiment without hesitation in all of its hardships and perils. He participated in several battles, including operations against Charleston and the battle of Fredericksburg. Browne resigned as Chaplain December 28, 1863.
Following his Civil War service, Browne was nominated by the Republican party as a United States Senator and was elected to this position in 1866. Browne then became president of Westminster College in 1867, and retained this position until 1870. Browne was undoubtedly a man of many religious, political, and educational accomplishments.
Robert was married in September 1846 to Mary Eichbaum. Together they had at least seven children. His eldest son, William (“Willie”) Eichbaum Browne (1847-1930) is mentioned in these letters and added a note to his father’s letter at Fredericksburg in December 1862.
Readers are referred to the collection of Browne family letters housed at the Penn State University Library. See Mary Gyla McDowell 100th Penn. Vol. Infantry Regiment Papers, 1861-1865.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Steamer “Ocean Queen” off Annapolis Harbor
Sabbath, 20 October 1861
My own dear wife,
Living in uncertainty from day to day of means of communicating, I concluded today—now that we are embarked—to drop you a line & let you know the fact [and] also apprise you of the arrival of Martha Leslie & her little boy. Also Sam Steen, Bruce Heslepp, Thos. McCreary, & others safe & sound. Some of the baggage including the precious daguerreotypes got left at Baltimore but the indefatigable recruiting officer, Thos. M. McCord of New Brighton went back after it & it is sure to reach us today. Thanks for so valuable a gift as the daguerreotypes.
Of course, I have to say a word, if only a word, regarding the beautiful wrapper & the note accompanying it. How pleasant to me this gift & the dear & kind words of the note, you may imagine. I regret the brevity of time I feel authorized to take today does not permit me to say more about it, but tell those dear friends I shall often bear them in kind remembrance when I put on this elegant gown.
The curry & bustle of such and embarkation as ours even up till the Sabbath noon, you cannot conceive. Happily we can hope we have seen the most trying part of it. When we come to sail, if the weather is fair everyday afterwards, will be orderly & comparatively comfortable. Imagine 16 or 1800 men aboard of our immense vessel which immense as it is, is crowded. The ordinary distance between decks is divided into 3 or 4 tiers of sleeping platforms made of pine lumber. There are also of course many staterooms. But all are crowded. You may ask when we will sail. I do not know. The order may come at any time. Then, we rendezvous at Fortress Monroe whence you will hear from me again.
So far the changing of freight today from upper deck to hold has prevented religious service. It was appointed for ten this A.M. It will be held after dinner.
Our vessel is victualed for 2,000 men for 15 days. But this is no criterion of our stay aboard ship. God bless you all.
P. S, Direct now to Rev. &c. USA, Roundhead Pennsylvania Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Sherman’s Division, Washington D. C.
Forward after the regiment.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Steamer “Ocean Queen”
Thursday, 8½ AM
October 24th 1861
Off Fortress Monroe
My own dear wife,
You see we are still at anchor here. The reason, I presume, is that the steamers are coaling. We presume from this a long voyage is intended. We will probably touch the tropics, double Florida, navigate the Gulf, and visit New Orleans. But we don’t know. At all events, one sees these little schooners drawn up along side these immense steamers hugging them close. I was up on deck this morning—a bright, cool morning—& noticed that nearly every steamer had a little schooner buckled to it.
Martha Leslie [wife of H. H. Leslie, Quartermaster, 100th PA] has concluded to accompany us (she had almost determined to return from Fortress Monroe). At the worst she can return with this vessel to New York via Havana where it will be necessary for her to touch for coal after landing us at our destination.
Thos. McCreary will probably reach New Castle [Penn.] this morning. He will be surrounded with a wondering crowd of auditors and be glad to break through them and get home. He will be asked plenty of questions and no doubt many of them very complimentary to his supposed intimacy with the War Department & Gen. Sherman & consequent perfect acquaintance with the designs and details of this expedition. If he were a Moses, he will need to be an Aaron to tell what he has seen without touching on what he don’t know at all.
After a few murky days, yesterday & specially this morning, the weather is bright & clear. Consequently we hope to have better spirits among our 1500 soldiers and sailors—soldiers more particularly. I shall now close with a few lines to Davy which will be continuation of the foregoing.
Direct letters thus:
Rev. Robt. Audley Browne, USA, Chaplain Roundhead Regiment P. V., 2nd Brigade, Sherman’s Division, Washington D. C.
Dear Mary, please send Davy’s letter to one of the papers to be printed.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Ship O. Q. [“Ocean Queen“]
October 25, 1861
My own dear wife,
The letter accompanying this I have concluded to ask you to mail to “Jno. B. Rodgers, Publisher of “Banner of Covenant,” Philadelphia” after you have read it. I wrote it to you & bethought me at its close that I had better make this use of it. Letters must now do double service, Mail it to him right away after you have read it, prepay the postage, drop a line to say you were directed by me to send it to him & alter if you please or strike out the first line of address. I would as soon you’d let it stand.
I am getting on splendidly. Everything is improving aboard ship. I am treated with much respect & kindness by Col. [Daniel] Leasure & by all parties including the 50th Regiment men.
I wrote you & Dave yesterday. Let Shaw have some of my home letters and tell him I wished him to have them if he desired them.
The ship boats disembarking the troops this morning make a fine sight. We will take dinner before we go, It is now 12. God bless you darling. Your pictures do me so much good.
Ever your Robert
Published in the Evening Post (New York) on Friday, December 6, 1861 on page 2:
Compliment to the Officers of the Ocean Queen
At a meeting of the officers of the Roundhead regiment and Second Battalion of the Fiftieth regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, attached to General Sherman’s division, held at Hilton Head, Rev. R. A. Browne, chaplain of the Roundhead Regiment, in the chair, the following resolutions were adopted:
Resolved, That on behalf of ourselves and the troops under our command, we hereby express our high appreciation of Captain C. T. Seabury, both as a man and a seaman, and tender him our sincere thanks for his kindness to us during our late boisterous voyage;
That in Captain Seabury, his officers and crew, we found men eminently fitted, in every respect, for their several positions, and who, on every occasion, did all that could possibly be done to relieve us of every annoyance incident to a voyage under such circumstances;
That in the steamer Ocean Queen we found a vessel every way worthy of such officers and crew, and we confidently recommend her as a safe and every way reliable ocean steamer…”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Port Royal [South Carolina]
6 December 1861, noon
Dear [son] Willie,
I write sitting on some gun carriages piled up in front of Gen. [Horatio Gouverneur] Wright‘s headquarters. Our men are embarking for Beaufort. I will wait & go off in the last surf boat to the steamer.
The order to break camp came to us about bed time last night and by daybreak our camp was a busy scene. Some of the boys who cannot get fighting out of their heads on such occasions could not sleep but must be up in the night working with their guns—some of which went off but did no harm.
Last night there was a skirmish at Beaufort (as I have been told since coming down to the beach) resulting in the enemy leaving some earthworks in our possession which they had been putting up since the former visit of our gunboats. As our troops are in possession, we expect no trouble. But we will be now farther from the Post Office & the postal arrangements, & again your dear mother & all the rest of you will be liable to anxiety on our account. However, as you behaved so hopefully before & God brought us all through the storm & battle, I hope you will have learned that anxiety is wrong & foolish. Let us trust God. I have not a solitary anxiety when I remember how you pray for us & feel calm over our marches & voyages.
From Beaufort I will write by the first chance. It is a much pleasanter place than this and though we will be nearer the enemy, I do not think he will attempt to interfere with our peaceful profession.
I will write & tell you more on the subject of your coming on here after I see how we get along at Beaufort. My love to Mr. and Mrs. Kipick & all my kind friends, including Miss Maggie Shaul & Mrs. Lenoire’s family. The Colonel [Leasure] has not time to write today. He is riding round on horseback seeing his companies embark.
I am your affectionate father, — Rob Audley Browne
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Tuesday P. M. 7 January 1862
I am very anxious to have this letter overtake the Ocean Queen which it possibly may. It missed this morning but may yet overtake it before the ship leaves. I have received your letters of 24 & 26 (none later date, none on Monday 23rd nor any before dated since the 17th) I think. I have also received Will’s of 26th. How full of pleasure to me all these letters, but a few painful lines. The shock you received on first learning my illness. Oh how I guarded against this; but my pain is removed by being left under the impression that it did not last & left no permanent effects.
I should from the late arrival of our mail have received letters from home (if written) as late as 31st. I have one good honest letter from Mr. Kipsick of that date which I will answer soon. I have also one from James of 26th and Hunny’s indefatigable letter of 24th. Also one from him Thur. 12th November though the Capt. has written as recently as 24th December & once before within that period. His friends have heard at Wurtemburg that he is dead & again disabled with the fever. Do let it be known as widely as possible that he was well enough to lead his company at the battle of the 1st and 2nd so that if the postmaster does not attend to the business in that direction, people may “hear tell” something true as well as false. I am almost afraid to add that he is now somewhat indisposed & taking medicine (yesterday he came in to take care of himself) lest somebody should hear it & report him dying or dead!
As for myself I am first rate and feel almost ready for anything. Emmy’s arrival—Kris Kringle’s unwanted display at the Knoll’s—the laughter over my sensible gift to you through Pap &c &c all did me much good. I will send you a lock of my hair when I get a little time to look for it but I had my hair cut yesterday & fear I can’t get you a good one now for some time. I have Ben Agnew as a visitor tonight from “Hilton Head.” Glad to see him. (the mail—de trop—or vice versa) Goodbye. Write often. Your Rob
Published in the Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts) on 1 February 1862, Page 3:
Have we a Florence Nightingale? A private letter from Colonel Leasure of the Pennsylvania Roundhead Regiment, now at Port Royal, pays the following tribute to a relative of the Secretary of the Treasury: “Miss Chase, a cousin of the secretary of state, is our matron, and I am well satisfied that her devotion to the welfare of the private soldier, sick in my hospital, has saved the lives of more than fifty of my best men. She also saved the lives of Mr. Browne, my chaplain, and Lieut. Gilliland, by her timely and assiduous attention. Miss Chase is a sort of Florence Nightingale, who has devoted the energies of a life that was darkened in its early days by a great sorrow , to the nursing of sick soldiers in the army of the Union; and in spite of ever misrepresentation and the thousand trials that beset her dangerous position, she has steadily persevered against the obstacles that intimidated all others. When sickness fell upon us, so that from two to four of our men died daily, she alone of our nurses stood calmly in the hospital, ministering to the sick and dying, as only a devoted woman can minister, and that, too, when the dreaded coast fever seized upon her, and she felt assured, and so assured us, that she would not survive it. But she made a determined effort to make the soul master the disease of the body, and succeeded, and straightaway, she was at her post again. I believe she expects and wishes to die at her post, sooner or later, to the end that she may lay down a life in the service of her country that has been a burden to her.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Hilton Head (Mr. Lee’s Office)
Thursday, February 20th 1862
My dear wife,
I am strolling around seeing my friends here at Hilton Head while I wait on the departure of a steamer for Beaufort, This morning we learn from Capt. Saxton, Quartermaster, that the Delaware leaves at 4.
I am writing now in “The Office of the Superintendent of the Contrabands.” In the various pictures of Hilton Head you see the old building that lifts itself pretentiously over all the new structures, known as “General Headquarters.” Gen. [Horatio G.] Wright occupied it after we landed here & in front of it we slept our first night in South Carolina. Mr. Lee now occupies the left hand corner room in the rear side of this building. I am writing by an open window and from it look out toward the Post Office & away up the river toward Beaufort. The view includes a few schooners in their anchorage. Many more I could see but at right angles with this building, one of the lone one story frame buildings put up by the Government cuts off the view of the river.
I am much pleased with the great improvement made since I was here last December 6th. There is an air of neatness gratifying to witness. The buildings & their surroundings are “neat” though as they are all plain wooden buildings, I feel inclined to add instinctively—“not gaudy as the monkey said when he painted his tail sky blue.” The Post Office is being painted white. There are some neat cottages painted & paled [?] in. The other buildings are frame—unplaned boards, ½ or ¾ of a mile down to the beach and the last building of all, next the ocean, is the extensive Division Hospital structure, 1 story high like all the rest, but so built as to be rather an architectural ornament against the buildings of Port Royal.
Last night we had wind, lightning, & rain. I slept in Col. Wallace’s tent with Alvah Leslie [Quartermaster]. The flapping of the fly wakened me up; and while I listened to the rushing of the gale, I thought of our loved ones on the Atlantic and breathed a prayer for them. I soon slept again & waked to behold and enjoy a fresh and lovely morning that “holds the winds in his fist.”
The last I saw of our dear [son] Will as I went ashore with Lt. Saps. Ferguson in the Provost Marshall’s boat, he was standing on the guards of the Atlantic as she steamed rapidly out to sea with his handkerchief alternately at his eyes & waved in token of farewell. I stood up in the boat & took off my cap when Mrs. Leslie on the guards below recognized me & waved her handkerchief. So I thought, did Jimmy. God bless them and bring them home in peace.
I go to Beaufort at 4 this P. M. It is now, as I close, near 3 & I must say, “goodbye,” as I design to mail this here. Our troops now have a fort built in “Jones Island” & by it, blockade the channel between Fort Pulaski & Savannah. See it No 10 on page 5 of Harper’s Weekly, January 4th. Capt. A. M. Sears of Col. [Edward W.] Serrell’s Topographical Corps crossed over to the opposite island & cut the telegraph wire connecting Fort Pulaski with Savannah. His brother, the post master, has just presented me with a piece of the wire which I present to you. You may have it exhibited in Allen’s window. God bless all including my dear little Q & his mother. Your Robert
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
Beaufort, South Carolina
Tuesday, 8 April 1862, 9 A. M.
My own dear, dear wife,
Last night—rather last evening—Beaufort was signaled that there had been an arrival from the North & at Hilton Head. It was announced very soon than a mail had arrived & “Richmond was taken.” However, a little later we had doubt thrown over nearly all this good news. The air being hazy, the signals could not be properly made out & the most that could be known was that a vessel named the “Mo[n]tana” had come in, but whether she had a mail aboard or whether Richmond had been taken, no one could tell. However, I suppose the Roundhead encampment slept in this belief & soldiers dreamed of home & wife & little ones, as though it were a fact, and our legion had already faced homeward & heard the order ring along the line, “Forward March!”
This is a bright and beautiful morn here. It is “the rosy time of the year.” I have walked down street along the Harbor or River—perhaps I should say up—tis up when the tide is flowing out as it is now, and down when it flows in. I was at the post office. I learn no printed news has reached us that Richmond is taken, but that McClellan’s large army lately rendezvoused at Fortress Monroe is marching on Yorktown which is one of the preparatives no doubt to that event. A paper has cone to Beaufort dated 3rd inst. bringing the news, and a mail is certainly in. You have no idea how that last fact brings joy to many hearts here & to none more than to mine. A few hours more will bring me precious tokens of your love; and sweet words from my little ones & perhaps the facsimile of my “Joe” in his mother’s arms with his mother’s sweet eyes gazing into mine.
7 P.M. This P. M. in company with Capt. [Thomas J.] Hamilton, I have been down to have my picture taken. A regular establishment has been opened here for 2 or 3 weeks, & has been doing an amazing amount of business. I was guilty of this piece of extravagance thinking the picture might be worth the dollar I paid for it in the pleasure it would confer on some persons, older & younger, with whom I am on terms of very pleasant intimacy at a place called the Knolls. You don’t know the value I place on my expected picture nor needs Joe to flatter himself. It is all on his account. The dear little birdling! I knew when I asked for it the he couldn’t be taken without his mother. I have you here ’tis true pictured before my eyes. often many times a day with 5 of the precious ones God has given me by your love. But this picture I expect will be only a week or two old when I receive it. It will be your very sun-struck image at that moment. It will almost seem as I gaze upon it & scrutinize it that I saw you that distance only back in the past; & it will go a little way to fill the great void of these many many months. Oh, what a rapturous joy will that day bring that unites us once more after so long & weary a separation.
As I write I hear the distant shudder of a steamers machinery. She comes at last. Nearer, nearer. It is a sound full of interest. You see the light at her bow burn through the darkness, you hear at length the flutter of the paddle wheels, & the splash of the water. Soon we will have our tokens from home of affections that can never die.
“Love is indestructible
Its holy fire forever burneth
From heaven it came
To heaven returneth.
It will be late tonight before we finally receive our letters. If I do not acknowledge & answer this, I will in another, most likely tomorrow.
10½ P. M. Your delightful letters of 24th & 26th received enclosing one from Will. Also your lines of 28th with Joe’s likeness & ___ humbug! (in part!) of which more again. Do sit again, my dear one, as soon as you can & send me a clear, distinct likeness of yourself & Hoe.
I shall mail this by the earliest chance for Hilton Head & therefore with no more. Accompanying you will find statement &c. of money matters. Ever your Robert
Another steamer with a mail is reported to have reached Hilton Head today. We will get her mail, I suppose, tomorrow.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER EIGHT
Saturday, July 19th 1862
As Alva [Leslie] expects to go direct home in advance of the mail, I shall diarize a little for today & send by him.
Col. [Daniel] Leasure & George went ashore last evening shortly after our arrival & remained all night. They came aboard again this morning.
We are attached to Burnside’s division. For the present we encamp at Newport News which is 8 miles above. The vessel, I believe, is now underway. We will be debarked this afternoon. It is expected the regiment with others there will be allowed to recruit their health for some time & wait the arrival of reinforcements. Burnside’s & ours are all, I hear, that have yet arrived—none from the North.
If any boxes are made up soon in North Carolina for our regiment, you might send me some of the vanities I affect the most in small tin cans. If you hear of no boxes, made up by others, make one up yourself—say a box of candle-box size. Send me fruit, dried fruit as well as canned. You know my weakness.
You would be amused at the sight the cabin presents as I write I have a tumbler beside me with ice in it. There is no water to be had. I take a bite off a piece, wipe my fingers & write again.It is a great luxury. So great that a lot of officers are similarly engaged, except the writing part of the performance. They sit with tumbler in one hand & pen knife in the other cutting the ice & eating it. Did ever you see children eating ice? It is not unlike. Since I was a boy, I never knew how delightful a trick it was till now.
I hear the 100th [Pennsylvania] band play on the deck above. It is quite agreeable. Last night we had singing. I was lying in my berth but could easily distinguish “Tis midnight hour,” “Annie Laurie,” “Home, sweet home,” “Home again,” & other sweet airs sung by [David] Critchlow, Capt. [William F.] Templeton, Morton & some others. There goes the band at “Yankee Doodle.” Splendid! I believe it carries the balm when finely played by a good band.
My epidermis is very tender & sensitive. But as yesterday, last night, and today have been cool, I get along comparatively more comfortably. Wm. M. Francis is here seeing after the sick by direction of the Governor. He came aboard an hour or two ago & was greeted in a manner very gratifying no doubt. I could appreciate it on account of my recent visit home.
I enclose with this some flowers gathered at Beaufort & Lenittes. Have your basket ready, also some books, & expect to express them in a few days.
Send your box to me soon by Adam’s Express. Direct “Chaplain R. A. Browne, 100th Penna. Reg., Fortress Monroe.” I am not going to sink these things in an indiscriminate mess like our former one.
And now, my own dear wife, goodbye. God bless you & our loved ones. How glad I am that we are 2 or 3 days nearer each other by mail & a letter may go or come any day. Drop me a few lines anytime. Love to all. Ever your Robert
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER NINE
August 3rd 1862
Chapel’s Quarters 100th Reg. P. V.
Newport News, Va.
Mrs. M. E. Browne, New Castle, Pa.
My dear wife,
We have had a pleasant prayer meeting between the hours of 7 & 8. Early this morning orders arrived to cook 3 days rations & be ready for embarkation at a moment’s notice. All the troops already embarked are lying here. Porter’s mortar fleet is in Hampton Roads, its first anchorage since arriving north. Absolutely nothing is known yet of our destination. I was at the Colonel’s quarters on the bluff this morning. Yesterday George went at Fortress Monroe & bought a horse & he & the Colonel have given me the above information. In view, from the Colonel’s quarters, out on the beautiful expanse of James river & down toward the “News” much shipping was visible, & among the nearest vessels lay the large steamers “Ocean Queen“—our first, & the “Merrimac,” our latest, transport. There is a strong probability we will embark in one or other of them. It may be this evening or it may be tomorrow. In regard to these particulars, even Col. Leasure is not as yet informed. Of course at the earliest moment I will endeavor to apprise you of the facts. I am writing these lines this morning to inform you of all I know & hoping by Mr. McBride of Philadelphia who has come to see his 2 sons here & who leaves I think today to have this mailed at a point from which it will reach you sooner than from Fortress Monroe.
As we commenced our prayer meeting, I noticed the litter bearers carrying Nellie [M. Chase] away to the General Hospital at Newport News & since I commenced writing, the wagon has gone past with her baggage. Poor Nellie!
Our Sabbath this far is very quiet & the good effect of our early services are no doubt felt to some extent. When we come to move, there will be but little excitement, so completely are we ready. I have yet about an hours packing, and a blessing to add to my letter, and then I am ready to be carried to the “utmost corner of the land,” [just] so they will send the mail promptly after us. I even entertain the hope the evening mail may reach us & bring me letters from you mailed early last week.
There is a gentle rain now falling—pleasant enough to increase the pleasant sense of Sabbath seclusion: tho’ it is to be hoped we will not be beneath it during our embarkation.
Last night I had again to lie on my breast, but slept pretty well. I feel tolerably sore but I think am drawing near the close of this annoyance.
And now, goodbye. Many many blessings from our Father in Heaven. I will close to have this ready for Mr. McBride. Love to Mother & all. Ever your Robert
Noon—I have just had dinner & learned that we have received orders to assemble at the bugle call to march down & embark, leaving fatigue packers to ship the baggage.
As the regiment are embarked, the order in which they are camped & 2 regiments lie yet between us & Newport News, we do not expect to embark till later in the evening.
George Leasure has just informed Joseph Gilliland that we with the 79th New York & 3 companies of 46th New York embark on the Atlantic.
The troops already embarked are all lying opposite or below Newport News.
The camp is taking an early dinner & making its last preparations. I will soon be packed.
May God our Father send sweet Sabbath blessings on my family & congregation & all our dear fellow Christians at home. Ever your Robert
The band have not yet received their discharge papers.
¹ Ellen (“Nellie”) Merill Chase (1838-1878) was born in New Hampshire to Jacob E. Chase and Jane Steele Merrill. Based on research conducted by Carolyn Schriber for her book, Beyond all Price (2010), Nellie began her career as a nurse with the 12th Pennsylvania for 3 months. While with the 12th, she met Col. Daniel Leasure, MD, who later organized the 100th Pennsylvania (“Roundhead”) Regiment and he persuaded her to join them when they embarked for Port Royal, South Carolina, in 1861. Serving as the matron nurse of the regiment, she tended to the ills and wounds of the soldiers, particularly following the Battle of Secessionville in June 1862. Her character and ability were questioned by several—particularly Rev. Robert A. Browne, until his own life was saved when he fell ill in late December 1861. Nellie’s “shady past” is revealed in Scribner’s book: “She was a teen-age runaway, “married” to a gambling, hard-drinking, cheating musician who was regularly on the run from the law, dragging Nellie with him. To escape his abuse when he wanted her to become the madame of his new brothel, she signed on with a Union regiment as their matron and head nurse. After a year with the Pennsylvania Roundheads, she moved on to other Civil War battlegrounds, ending up in Union-occupied Nashville as matron of Hospital No. 3 in the spring of 1863.”
TRANSCRIPTION FROM PAPERS
Steamer Long Branch
Pier at Alexandria, Va.
September 5th, 1862
Mrs. M. E. Browne, New Castle
Reno’s, Steven’s and Kearney’s divisions fought the battle of “Ox Hill” three miles this side of Centreville on Monday evening. We silenced the enemy, and so far checked his design to cut off the communication of our army with Washington, that with some loss of wagons, stores, etc. it succeeded in falling back, and is now within 6 or 8 miles, probably, of Washington.
In our battle of Monday, 1st, Gen. Stevens was killed. The last I saw of him was when he asked me to take back his son, Col. S., who had just been wounded. As I returned to the field I met our wounded being carried off. It was now dark and there was a piteous rain. I saw the regiment which had just come back from its engaging the enemy and were being formed in line of battle anew. Gen. Kearney rode up and addressing me, inquired who we were and where was Col. (Leckey), and, when I had brought Col. Leasure to him, asked if we would support his battery just posted in an advanced position. The men answered with a cheer, and supported it amid the whistling balls till the enemy were driven off by the artillery and other divisions of infantry.
I have since visited the battlefield, and seen where the dead of our army lay in a cornfield. They maintained the desperate struggle with the foe within a rod or two of each other. We gained the field, but did not hold it. The evacuation of Centreville, I presume, was necessity; and about 1 or 2 o’clock, A. M. our three divisions fell back, leaving their wounded in hospitals. I concluded with others, to remain and attend to the wounded, of whom we had about 150. Thirty-eight, I believe died before we left – which we did under a flag of truce about 6 o’clock last evening. We had to wait the arrival of our ambulances; they did not come till our provisions had run out and we were in a state of great destitution.
On the 2d a regiment of cavalry, 1st Va., Col. Brien came in, also one of infantry. The former promised us rations on arrival of his own supply, but was ordered away without their arrival as was also the other. We had a beautiful night for the trip with our wounded—23 or 24 white covered ambulances, wagons, drawn by 2 horses, pursuing their way by midnight. We had to leave about 50 or 60 behind to be brought down to-day. We reached the general hospital at Alexandria, about 3 o’clock A. M. I lay down with a portion of the wounded on the floor, the more serious cases being sent to another hospital in which were spare beds. Previous to lying down we all had coffee and soft bread.
Early this morning, after an hour’s sleep, I went to the other hospital—the Lyceum—where the other portion of our party were, including Clarke McCreary and Edwin Foster, and now, after seeing all, I am accompanying the party under conduct of a surgeon, among which are our other wounded of the 100th, to a hospital in Washington. Clarke and Edwin are neither of them in a dangerous way. I send with this a list of casualties of Monday 1st. I have already written to you of the 2d Bull Run battle—Friday and Saturday—and send a few records of our losses. I should have added to them the instant death of Charley Watson, but no doubt Col. Leckey has written and sent full details. My presence with the regiment has been so short since then I can tell you but little more, and especially amidst the present hurry. We will shortly be in Washington. Here I will hunt up our regiment (also in the hospital, if I can, Col. Leasure and Capt. Van Gorder, of whom I have no later news.) Our regiment was a mile or two from Alexandria yesterday, and last night I was told marched to the Chain Bridge.
Through all this I am well, with many, many reasons for thankfulness to our kind Father in Heaven, that my life is spared and my health very good. Oh! the human suffering I have witnessed and especially while I waited with the wounded at Ox Hill, house of John Miller. It is beyond conception.
— R. A. Brown
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TEN
Berlin on B&O Railroad and Ohio & Chesapeake Canal, Maryland
26 October 1862 12 M.
This holy sabbath would be dreary if we felt it so. It rains. The 9th Army Corps are crossing into Virginia on a pontoon bridge. Long lines of cavalry & artillery have preceded us. Now the infantry of Whipple’s Division are going. So will our own do soon. They & a large assemblage of infantry besides are walking here for their turn—all wet as barnyard fowls in a full day of rain. All this I see with my eyes here but not exactly from where I write for I am seated on some rude wash house furniture under a back porch (with an earthen floor) of a Berlin dwelling of a 4th rate character whose door opens right on the canal. The drip of a roof without a gutter comes down in big drops steadily.
Will, enveloped in his large overcoat (got just in time) is in view on the other side of the canal where I have just left him & whence he is watching our horses grazing & at the same time viewing the exciting panorama of the army crossing the Potomac. God bless him. He has “a heart for any fate” & takes to everything that comes as a duck takes to the water—with his bold & cheerful spirit. Do not fear for him. I will have him subjected to no more exposure than I find he can bear.
This is either a peaceful occupation of the other side, or a reconnoissance in force or an advance—the latter two will certainly bring us in contact with the enemy but I think he will retire before us—at least for some distance back.
And now dearest, goodbye. You may not get any letters from me for a few days after receipt of this on account of our moving past the postal facilities. If you do, you will receive by mail one closed this morning. God bless you.
Ever your Robt
P. S. I send this my Mr. Jobusto of Indian Run who is returning from visiting a son. Ever your R.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ELEVEN
December 15, 1862
My own dear wife,
We crossed the river on Friday. Saturday a portion of the army had a very bloody battle. We saw it but were not called to take any part. The 134th [Pennsylvania] were in the fight & lost 50 killed & a number wounded. ¹
I have just been over the river and as the regiment was waving, I started for it and Father had to quit writing. There has been some terrible fighting but our regiment has not been in it yet and the worst of it is over. Our regiment moved out of the town just as I came away and will not fight tonight. Father is well and we have not taken the ____ yet. I come back ___ and stay with Col. [David A.] Leckey, he being sick and not able to go with the regiment. Do not be uneasy about us as we do not go into any danger. Will write along the news as I get them. Father would have written to you but there is no way of sending off letters. I must close as I have work to do.
So goodbye, my dear Mother. Your affectionate son, — Willie
¹ The 134th Pennsylvania, led by Lieut.-Col. Edward O’Brien, was brigaded with the 91st, 126th, and 129th Pennsylvania in Hunphrey’s Third Division of Butterfield’s Fifth Corps. The 100th Pennsylvania was brigaded with the 36th Massachusetts and the 45th Pennsylvania in Willcox’s Ninth Army Corps.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWELVE
Camp of 100th [Pennsylvania]
Rear of Vicksburg, Mississippi
June 23rd 1863
My own dear wife,
I drop you a few lines at 7 A.M. There is nothing specially important. We are camped where we hear the pounding at Vicksburg which is about 10 miles southwest of this. We are near the Yazoo [river] and about 12 miles perhaps up that river & 3 miles out from the river at what I believe is called Snyder’s Bluff—not as far up as Haines’ Bluff. Last night we got orders to be ready to march on 3 or 4 hours notice with 3 days cooked rations. This morning we find a column has been going past in a south-easterly direction for 3 or 4 hours—said to be to meet Johnston with his army that have come up somewhere near the Big Black for the relief of Vicksburg. Of course all this may be so or may not. A very large amount of artillery went out with this moving column this morning.
I closed yesterday morning my letter of Sabbath & mailed it here. I received my letters—none by last mail. They were all old, 1 from Father, the rest from you written while the girls were sick. The next mail will bring me those written since my leaving home.
We are occupying one of the most wild, scrambling countries you ever saw or heard of—bluffs & gulches, no cliffs of rock however—all clay. The nearer vicinity of Vicksburg described in the papers I presume is such. It is exceedingly dusty. Always the case in the presence of a great army when it is not muddy.
I was delighted to see the bluffs & find our encampment on them. It is warm but the elevation makes it endurable & I think healthful. We have springs & streams. The water is not like those springing from gravel or rock in Western Pennsylvania but it is good though somewhat warm. The health of the regiment is good. I find in the hospital 2 men with some feverish symptoms, 1 sprained ankle, & Henry Silk—his thumb shot off a week ago with the accidental explosion of an old Belgian rifle he had been handling. ¹
Our corps on their arrival Saturday 14th at Sherman’s Landing below Young’s Point and a few rods above the artificial cutoff which is now quite dry, were put off there. Next day were marched down the west side of the cut off to the south side of the peninsula—2 regiments went over and were recalled. The whole were then re-embarked & reached here a few days afterwards.
I had evening service as usual last night. Yesterday A. M. I spent going round through the regiment. In the P. M., I retired to what seemed a cool hollow or gulch under the shade of a tree. But there was no breeze there and I found the pressure of the air intolerable. I had to take a higher position. But I really think my feeling a wonderful lassitude for the rest of the day resulted from some wholesome atmosphere influence in that ravine.
I said I was delighted to see these bluffs & find our regiment camped on them. I am satisfied the situation is comparatively heathy & do not see—-
But Hugh calls for the mail & I close. Love & blessings & kisses for all from your—
Robt. Audley Browne
Ch. 100 P. V.
¹ Henry Silk enlisted in December 1861 in Co. C, 100th Pennsylvania Infantry.
Headquarters 100th Regt. P. V.
Camp near Heckman’s Bridge, Kentucky
August 18th 1863
My dear wife,
Mr. Henderson died about 2 o’clock last night. He was a kind & pleasant old gentlemen & for his age wonderfully able to adapt himself to the hardships of service. He was born A. D. 1800. He had been failing somewhat during the Mississippi Campaign but during the last week or two, he took ill & sank very rapidly. When I engaged in conversation with him yesterday morning and gave him opportunity to reply, he said but little more than that he was “wonderfully weak.” He made this remark 3 times, if if forgetting it had already been made. His son Joseph is expected in a day or two & James A. Stevenson has telegraphed home. His body will be placed in a coffin as soon as it arrives from Nicholasville & will probably be buried at once as the best means of preserving it subject to any possible order for its removal. He was kindly esteemed by all parties. He was the veteran of the regiment and was very generally called by officers & privates in an affectionate way, “Uncle Jimmy.” His disease was chill fever or remittent fever. ¹
Mr. White may perhaps write for Mrs. White [to come]. She could not make a visit more opportunely than now. Neither could you apart from home & farm cares; but I cannot ask such pleasure, however joyfully I could accept it if it came along one of these fine days. The fact is tho’ we will be subject to only short removals, I doubt if 6 weeks hence will find us 50 miles farther toward the enemy’s country. Besides, we are now in a land of peaceful civilization, & many of these homes are an available shelter if we are marched forward for days or weeks if required for the ladies of the Corps until we again should rest & they could follow. I would advise Mrs. White to come on by all means if sent for—and you if you deem it advisable. How I wish I could issue my order & command your appearance.
Since writing the foregoing I have written to the Congregation—or Douthett rather— acting on the hints you gave me in a late letter. I do not know if it is right to burthen you with this correspondence, but on reflection have concluded to enclose it for your perusal requesting you afterwards to mail it in New Castle Post Office or if you prefer to talk with D. on the subject & have anything to suggest in addition to bear it to him. You will understand the hint better regarding Leasure. If Taggart were to see this letter, it would probably go to Leasure. Through T. he might bring some adverse interest to bear on the congregation. I speak simply of what might be & what I would prefer to guard against.
8½ P. M. We have just had our evening service with the presence of Prof. Williams of Lexington who has been with Gen. Hartsuff & the advancing column 23rd Corps as far as Stanford. Mr. Henderson was buried about 5 P.M. just after the close of the services. Prof. Williams rode in. I have been delighted to have his society. He is reading the papers today while I write. At the funeral this evening [were a] large number of the 129th Ohio—a new regiment that came near us yesterday. I noticed some of them helping us to sing 23rd Psalm. One who stopped afterwards asked if we were the 100th said he had heard & read so much about us. 1 company of their regiment is from Adams county & from D. McDill’s congregation (not Dr. but nephew).
This evening’s mail brought yours of 13th in which you acknowledge mine of the 9th, my first from Cincinnati. Also one of 10th & $10. They spoke of your neuralgia and the latter, much to my relief spoke of your relief by extraction of those foolish wisdom teeth. I hope you will not allow one of them any longer to trouble you. I will tell John Kusick of the death of his little girl. As for the peach crop & the railroader, how would it do to sell horse & wagon up & sell to them as they do to us soldiers? It has a good effect here & might there.
As to Burnside having been a tailor, I don’t know. However, he is like Wellington’s man—“He has made breeches in the enemies works in his time.” Goodbye. God bless you. Love and kisses for all. Ever your, — Robt. Audley Browne, Capt. 100th P. V., 9th A. C.
P. S. 19th A beautiful morning. 7 o’clock Prof. Williams has just left & is much pleased with his visit. I may possible to to Cincinnati today or tomorrow after our mail. Tell me if the letter to Douthett will be apt to suit the case.
¹ James (“Uncle Jimmy”) Henderson (1800-1863) enlisted in August 1861 to serve in Co. K, 100th Pennsylvania Infantry. He served as the commissary sergeant. He died on 18 August 1863.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOURTEEN
Crab Orchard, Kentucky
Camp 100th P. V. (Headquarters)
August 30th 1863 3 P.M.
This is [you] will observe a P. S. to the enclosed. I met Quartermaster Martin (of 1st Brigade, 79th New York) this morning going back to Nicholasville & gave him my letter of yesterday P. M. to mail there to you. This letter mailed in Crab Orchard this P. M. will I hope reach you at the same time. A mail as usual will reach in here every day & if not the same evening as at Camp Parke, the A. M. of the next day. The mail going will correspond.
This is a fine fall day. Our march was comfortable throughout but we have certainly been dumped down in a wild spot. The village 1½ or 2 miles mack is well enough. We are on the Mt. Vernon road.
This day is the anniversary of the last day of the Battle of Bull Run. As yet we have had no time for service. I will hold service after tea. How glad if I were at home this Sabbath.
I enclose a few wild flowers gathered here & a rose plucked at Mullins 2 days ago where I wrote you a P. S.
Goodbye. God bless you & our darlings. Love to Mary & all. Ever your Robert
P. S. Saw Norgrave. Says Will Wallace’s friends in Cincinnati. Told him that Will Wallace had married Rosecrans’ most famous nurse [Nellie M. Chase], the former Florence N[ightingale] of this famous regiment.
[Note this letter written on the back of a pass signed by Major Cline, and Major Byington]
Headquarters 100th Regt. P. V.
Camp Parke, Ky.
August 24th 1863
Chaplain R. Audley Brown has permission to visit Revd. Smith at Camp Dick Robinson, Ky. and return on the 28th.
— James H. Cline, Major, commanding 100th Regt. P. V.
Headquarters 3rd Brigade, August 24, 1863
Approved & respectfully forwarded — Cornelius Byington, Major Commanding, 3rd Brigade
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER LETTER FIFTEEN
Blane’s Cross Roads
December 19th 1863, 6 P. M.
My own darling,
R. Christy, our post master, bore this morning letter from me to you to be mailed in Knoxville. I have a chance by Francis of N. W. to send this also tomorrow, hence I write. We were surprised pleasantly to see our talkative New Wilmontonian come along for we could not have expected anyone to reach us here. He came round by Chattanooga. 2 orders came today from Division Headquarters—one to make out an estimate of everything needed to put us on a footing for service from overcoats to axes (the estimate will be immense). The other [order] giving an opportunity for re-enlistment and offering in addition to the bounty a furlough of 30 days from Covington to the regiment in a body if 2/3 of them shall re-enlist. Now all this looks like our going northward. Gen. [Edward] Ferrero I am told says before the middle of January we will be in Camp Nelson. There is a rumor that Burnside is to be assigned the command of the defenses of Washington & the 9th Corps transferred as usual so as to be under him. I don’t know if 2/3 of this regiment will re-enlist or not—possibly they may.
December 20th 10 A. M.— Sabbath with its sweet sanctuary & home associations. We had a hard winter night. Though it has now shined out bright & calm, it is still cold. We will have our meeting now in a few minutes, after which Francis expects to leave, so I must write briefly.
The campaign is now evidently over on our part, if the rebels will let us alone till next spring. This it will be their interest to do as we have now a large army in E. Tennessee. But I have no doubt we will be annoyed with raids.
Francis thinks the design of the War Department is to collect stores sufficient for 6 months campaign at Chattanooga & Knoxville & then to advance across these mountains into North Carolina. This will be the work of next spring & summer.
In a few days we will know perhaps what will be done with us. We will most likely be put in winter quarters near this point or sent north to be reorganized.
Mr. White who has been in Knoxville came up this A. M. He received 2 letters but I fear he will miss answering by Francis. Mr. White is quite well.