Ruth Jane Tucker is my step great, great grandmother. She married Lewis J. Black, a civil war veteran, and they had four children, including Frank W. Black. Frank Black was the mature, abstinent, hardworking, soft-spoken blacksmith that my great grandmother Lena Edel married after Ray Shearer left her and her three young children to fend for themselves. While not my biological family, I consider Frank Black and his parents to be just as much as part of my family and heritage as if he were my biological great grandfather.
Five months before she married Lewis Black in February, 1864, Ruth Tucker got a letter from William A. Brown, a friend of hers who was serving in the Union army in the Civil War. This letter was clearly important to her, as she kept it all her life. On her death, it passed to her son Frank Black, and on his death it passed to his widow, Lena Edel. When Lena died in 1978, it passed to my grandfather Vernon Black. On his death, it passed to his widow, Dorothy Black, and on her death it passed to my father. As I’m the family historian, my father did me the favor of not making me wait until his death to take possession of this wonderful letter.
This letter is presented below, in its original form as well as transcribed:
Brashear City, La
Sept.. 19th 1863
Yours of the 16th of Aug. was recd. a few days ago[.] it found me in moderate health, and I hope that when this reaches you, you may be enjoying good health. We left Carrolltin La on the 6th[.] most got aboard the Steamer Atlantick for Algiers[,] a small town opposite New Orleans[.] there we took the Cars on the New Orleans Opoulousas & Great Western Rail Roard for this Place. Brashear City is Situated on Burwich Bay, 82 miles from New Orleans and 22 miles from the Gulf of Mexico[.] it was recaptured from the rebels on the 22nd day of July. there is a large body of troops concentrating here, no doubt for som grand move[.] The enemy are fortified about 15 miles from here[.] there force is said to be from 15 to 20 thousand commanded by Dick Taylor. Troops have been crossing the lake for the last two day[.] there is a great many eastern troops here, principally New Yorkers[.]
I should have liked to have been at home to attend the Camp Meeting[.] We have got so far away that it is almost impossible to get home and we are still going farther away.
There is only about 110 men with us of the 114th[.] I guess they will keep us on the move as long as there is a man left us. James A McCandlish is in the hospital at New Orleans[.] I Klingler was left in the convalescent Camp at Carrolton, also J. R. Martin[.] We only have 14 men of our Comp’y with us and the Cap’t [&] Thomas[.] Tell Mant that I compliment her highly on the prospect of getting that present. I also rec’d that piece of poetry and it was very applicable to my condition[.]
I will close hoping to hear from you again soon[.]
As ever yours
Wm A. Brown
From the names listed in the letter, it appears that William Brown was serving in the 114th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. According to the National Park Service’s Soldiers and Sailors database, there was only one William A. Brown serving in an Ohio Volunteer Infantry unit, and it was in fact the 114th. According to the Official Roster of the Soldiers of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1866, volume 3, page 131, William enlisted for service on August 15, 1862, and was mustered into Company G of the 114th on September 9, 1862, at Camp Circleville, Ohio, as a Sergeant. He was one of the highest ranking officers of Company G. He was promoted to First Sergeant on March 8, 1863, and then further promoted to First Lieutenant on May 9, 1864. He was transferred to Company F on November 27, 1864, and then he mustered out on July 31, 1865, in Houston, Texas.
Also in Company G were Isaac N. Blosser (Blosser is Lewis Black’s mother’s maiden name) and George G. Black, Lewis Black’s older brother (older by about 11 years). Isaac served with William until they both mustered out in Texas, but George was discharged on October 16, 1864, in Washington, D.C., on a surgeon’s certificate of disability.
Clearly, there’s a lot of investigation to be done on this letter home from First Sergeant William A. Brown to his friend Ruth Tucker. I’ll continue this work in a future part 2 to this story.