LETTER FROM JAMES HARVEY BROWN 91st NEW YORK, WIA PORT HUDSON

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Item Code: 480-169

A very well written and descriptive letter to his mother and father by James H. Brown, Co. B, 91st New York. Brown was married and 24 years of age when he enlisted at Albany on 9/10/61, mustering in as a private for three years in Co. B of the 91st NYV on 9/1/61. The regiment served briefly in Washington before being sent to Florida, where it spent most of 1862 and was in two small engagements. In December 1862 it was sent to Louisiana and joined the 19th Army Corps. In the Spring it took part in Banks’s campaign against Port Hudson. Brown had been promoted corporal 3/31/61, by the time the regiment took part in the large assault of May 27 assault he seems to have been on the color guard, and had his right thumb shot off in the heavy fighting.

He writes from Camp Parapet, August 28, 1863, where the regiment was posted in the defenses of New Orleans after the fall of Port Hudson in July. He mentions several of Grant’s corps being in the area and that he was acting as a commissary sergeant since he could not hold a rifle and did not want to be the color-bearer.

He refers to the old regimental colors as, “shot to ripins,” and says that he “had hold of them at Port Hudson when a shell struck them and shot the staff to pieces[.] that is having shell come most to close to suit me. it is bad enough to have balls cut your close without having them infurnal eleven inch shell coming so close as to have them take away ones breath. I had rifle balls come very close between my legs and between my arms and body and had my canteen cut off me and finely a bit of my flesh about so much…” which Brown follows with a drawing of his mangled hand.

Several of Brown’s letters to his wife are in the collection of Tulane University, as well as an image of him. He was an observant writer with a good sense of humor. In this letter he tells his parents: “you said it was warm there and you thought it was Hot here[.] if you call it hot whey you can take a ruber blanket and spred it in the sun and then bake Hoecake on it then it is hot here…”

Tragically, Brown became ill not long after writing this letter and died in mid-October. A letter from the regimental Chaplain notifying his wife is in here widow’s pension application file. She was just nineteen at the time. She remarried in 1866.

Included below is a copy CDV image of the writer in the collections of Tulane University. They have letters written to his wife. Purchase does not include the image.  [sr]

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