Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Brother Abroad

These letters are part of a collection written by Newton Robert Scott, Private, Company A, of the 36th Infantry, Iowa Volunteers. Most of the letters were written to Scott's neighborhood friend Hannah Cone, in their home town of Albia, Monroe County, Iowa, over the three year period that he served as Company A's clerk. The final letter, describing the long-awaited mustering out in August of 1865, was written to his parents.

Scott's letters to Hannah are filled with rich details of the war and the living conditions in the Union camps in Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa and Arkansas. He tells of the terrible diseases that took a heavier toll than Confederate bullets, and the soldiers' frustration and impatience with the politicians in Washington.

Not only do we get a clerk's detailed account of the activities of Company A and the "boys of Monroe County," we also get a glimpse into the emotions of a 21-year-old farm boy uprooted from his family, friends, and sweetheart. In spite of his obvious education and proper upbringing, his polite prose sometimes gives way to impatience and sarcasm as he acknowledges Hannah's accounts of the many fairs, socials, and weddings taking place at home. Indeed he must endure the most embittering news of all when he is told that his sweetheart, "darling Hattie" has forsaken him to marry another.

Even though Scott & his comrades prayed for a Confederate surrender before their three year enlistment was completed, they were to serve the full term and were sent home five months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

The story does not end here. A year after returning home Scott married Hannah, his faithful correspondent, with whom he raised nine children. Newton and Hannah lived long, productive lives. Hannah raised her family and died of heart failure at 69. Newton was a mail clerk for the railroad for 41 years. He died a peaceful death at 83.

The first letter:

Dear Miss
I will Inform you that I am well at this time & that our Co. is all well Except two or three Persons our Mess is all well at the Present & I hope that when this Reaches you that it may find you & Friends well. Yours of the 19 inst is Rec. I was Glad to Hear from you & that you was well But I Had about given up getting any answer from you But Better Late than Never for Indeed Miss Han. I do love to get News from Home for it looks as if that is all the consolation that us Soldiers Have for we are away from Home & We Have to do as Best we can it is & Has Bin verry cold & Disagreeable to Day We cook & Eat out Doors & we Run to the Table & Eat But nearly Freeze our Fingers While Eating We Have one Stove in our Barracks Which Does a great Deal of good But one stove is a small make Shift for 80 or 90 men it is verry cold Standing guard Especialy of nights But If we are Spared to get through the war & Return to our Homes all will be well

My Self & H.W.Reitzel & J.M. Osborn will Be on guard Sunday & Sunday night I hope that we will leave for a warmer climate Soon. We Have not recd our clothes yet But our Major tells us that we will get them the first of the next week. I hope that we will get them Soon You stated in your letter that Sister Amanda looked for me Home She was verry much mistaken for Indeed it is verry Doubtful Whether I come Home Before we leave Here: If we should Stay Here 5 or 6 weeks yet I would likely come Home But I think that we will leave Here in 2 or 3 weeks our Major tells us that we will leave in 15 days The 30th Regiment Has 3 days Rations cooked & Every thing Ready & will leave to morrow for St. Louis they Have Recd there guns & Success to them I Hope that we will follow Soon I would Inform you that one of Capt Nobles men Died last night His name is Taylor Four of Nobles men & four of our men Starts Home with his Remains in the morning Indeed Dear Miss there is thousands of Poor Soldiers that will see Home & Friends no more in this World If you was in Keokuk & See the number of Sick & Disabled Soldiers it would make your Heart Ache. they are Dieing *illegible* Every Day. But anough of the Hard Side of a Soldiers Life I would tell you the good Side If I know it But don't think that I am Home Sick or Disheartend for such is not the case for I am only telling you a few simple Facts of a Soldiers campaign Indeed I wish never to Return Home Permantly untill this Wicked & God Forsaken Rebellion is Destroyed-- If we had our choices of course we would Be at Home for we are not in the army for fun nor money & Furthermore we wish never to fill a cowards grave & Dear Miss we Have no Fears But that we will Ever Have the good will of those Kind Friends Left at Home. Success to the union Armys & Ere Long may we all Be permitted to Return to our Homes & Live a quiet & Peaceably Lives
Give my love & Respects to all Friends & Reserve a Share for yourself Please write Soon & tell all to Remember & write to the Soldiers for it gives them great Pleasure to hear from Home

In Friendship Love & Truth I am Truly yours

This is Day 106.

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