*John Brown Jr. served as a Union captain of Company K, in what was originally the First Kansas Cavalry but was redesignated the Seventh , under Col. Charles “Doc” Jennison. Though a son of the martyred abolitionist who swept through Kansas before the Civil War, the younger Brown recoiled at some of his father’s methods. Brown’s regiment spent months in Missouri, where its actions — jayhawking, burning and killing — left deep bitterness. After less than a year, he resigned his commission and returned to Ohio, where he died in 1895.
Here, he writes in early 1862 to his wife, Wealthy, from Camp Johnson near Morristown, Mo. *
Wednesday evening, Jan 22
My Own Precious Wife,
It is now nearly dark — weather still mild and O how muddy.
Everywhere about camp you step in — and unless corn husks or some old hay can be got, the horses are obliged to live in the mud. Major (a horse) during the fore part of the winter had the distemper and got very poor, but is now in good condition. I think he knew me (upon Brown’s return to the camp).
Tiger the dog did not at first know me, but next day he came to me with all his accustomed zeal. He is a most excellent watchdog. The Company think they couldn’t get along without him.
Nothing new today but the news that a good Union man living a few miles from here had his house surrounded by a gang of rebels and he was shot. He was an old man.
Small bands or rebels are still hanging around. They get together and do up their infernal work and then go home, where if found are good Union Men. It is hard to get the kind of evidence necessary to make a clear case.
If some of those should get killed who are least deserving it would be no wonder. You see how everything is mixed up here.
I don’t yet know how soon we shall go South. We are in hopes of getting Sharps Rifles for each of the Company before we leave. But all these things are matters of uncertainty.
A camp of soldiers remote from any reliable sources of news is a place where all manner of rumors are afloat. I have not seen a paper for many days and that was ten days old. We don’t know what has occurred during the past two weeks in the world outside Camp Johnson.
You might like to know how it looks in my tent just now. I am writing with my writing case on my lap. Mr. Knowlton is holding the candle — next to him sits Sgt. Peck and next to him Merrick Pulsipher with the same honest good-natured face — has a feather in the left side of his cap. His beard has grown finely and his face is fairly round.
Orderly Cotton come next, he sits close by the door telling stories. Lieut. Bostwick is lying on my trunk talking. Truman Creesey has just come in with some parched corn in his hand. He sits down in the door saying, “Well, I believe I guess I’ll be door keeper in the house of the Lord.” …
(Son) Johnny, I have thought of you a great many times today. Don’t forget me my dear boy. …
I want to say to Mr. Pulsipher’s folks that I am fully convinced that Merrick maintains his integrity in spite of all the unfavorable circumstances with which he is surrounded. He is strict in doing all his duty and neither drinks, smokes or swears. But in all respects conducts himself like a man.
Well, once more I must say good bye. My own precious wife, my Johnny and all. Good bye.
Yours always John.