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1864 June 1: “If I am obliged to serve long as Infantry I will desert”

June 1, 2014

This is Jerry Flint’s first letter home since returning to the camp of the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry after his furlough in Wisconsin.  Normally his style of letter-writing is to run everything together with very few paragraphs; this letter has too many paragraphs, often breaking up a subject into many single-sentence paragraphs.  We have maintained his paragraph breaks in this transcription, since it is easy to tell what belongs together.

The original letter is in the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University Archives and Area Research Center.

Camp 4th Wis Cavalry
Baton Rouge, La.  June 1st 1864

Dear Brother,

                          I told you that I would write you as soon as we arrived at this place.  And only one day has passed and I am fulfilling my promise.

Don’t you think it a rare bit of promptitude in me?

We find things in in rather an excited state here just now.  They are making extensive preparations for opening another campaign, probably to go over the same ground from which Gen’l Banks [Nathaniel P. Banks] so disastrously retreated.

The troops are all under the command of Gen’l. Canby [Edward R. S. Canby]. H’d. Qrs. at Natchez.

Our regiment, be being so full of recruits, we lack a great many horses.  The consequence is an order was read this evening that eight hundred of the men are to be equipped as Infantry immediately and report to Brig. Gen’l. T. W. Sherman [Thomas W. Sherman] ready for the field.  It is not decided yet who will go, but one thing if I am obliged to serve long as Infantry I will desert.

Whitefield looks tolerable well, although he has been sick some since I left.

He has got his hair cut and his whiskers are shaved off except for his chin which makes him look more like a man than I have seen him for a long time.

He tents with Henry and Charly.¹

Charly was rather disappointed at not getting anything in the box sent from River Falls.

I have just commenced the duties of Orderly.

My commission has not arrived, although Knowles [Warren P. Knowles] says the recommendation went in a month ago.

I went to a dance the night after I returned here, in company with Lieut. Knowles  [Warren P Knowles].

We had a very good time.

I do not know when Warren will start on his furlough.  Just at this time they don’t like to let officers leave.

Jim Tozer [James A. Tozer] is in the Hospital again.  I believe he has had a fever but is slowly improving.

Carleton [Carlton H. Lyman] is also in the Hospital but not very sick.

I found here a letter from you and one from Sarah.  Tell her that I will answer hers soon.

Give my best respects to Elmira and family.  Also to Mother, Grandmother and everybody else.

Tell Lyman Powell to go to the devil.  Confound him, he wouldn’t let me have a horse when I offered to pay him three times what it was worth.

Did not see Helen as she had gone to Darien.²  Dean and Shaw have furled.³

Write Soon
.     .Respectfully,
.     .     .  .Jerry E. Flint

1.  There are multiple possibilities for Henry, but no way to know which one Jerry is referring to. Charly was probably Charles G. Knowles, Warren P. Knowles’ brother; they were both from River Falls.
2.  Darien is a village in Walworth County, in southeastern Wisconsin.
3.  Because the sentence about Jerry’s sister Helen is followed by a sentence about Dean, Dean probably refers to her husband, Royal L. Dean. “Furled” might be referring to the closure of Dean’s business, which would make “Shaw” his partner; i.e., “The Dean and Shaw Company has closed.”

Jerry Flint letter of June 1, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

Jerry Flint letter of June 1, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

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