There is a principle concerning soldiers that holds true throughout the history of warfare. Namely this that all soldiers wanted to feel loved by someone back home normally expressed by some form of communication. I’ve personally witnessed the biggest, rough and tough soldier come to the point of tears because he failed to receive some form of communication from his family back home.
One hundred and fifty years ago, that form of communication was a letter from home. In the Civil War, next to eating a hot meal, receiving a letter from home could raise morale faster than any other action a commander might take on behalf of his troops. Commanders soon discovered that it was much easier to motivate the troops on road marches and in battles if they ensured that the mail deliveries occurred at every possible opportunity.
In his letter of December 16, 1861, Oliver Case writes of a sad situation with one his friends and fellow soldiers in the 8th CVI. Duwaine Brown (spelled Duane in Oliver’s letters) of Ganby, Connecticut enlisted as a private in Company A, 8th CVI on October 10, 1861. Oliver relates to Abbie that his friend has not received a letter from home in a very long time and that Duane “feels quite down spirited.” The daily mail call is torturous for the young soldier as “he watches the letters as they are distributed each day and as some, not all of us, receive some almost everyday and he does not, it makes him feel as if he was forgotten.” Oliver’s level of concern about this situation is such that he requests Abbie to “remind” his family to write to him.
Sadly, the story of Private Duwaine Brown does not have a happy ending as he will die of disease on January 5, 1862 at Annapolis, Maryland. The rest of that story to follow in a later post.
One of the organizations that helps all of our Service Members to feel loved is Soldiers’ Angels. Visit them if you would like to give a Soldier something that Private Duwaine Brown didn’t have one hundred and fifty years ago.