Skip to content

1864 September 26: Jerry Flint — “The cavalry at this post is ordered to prepare for the field immediately but its destination is of course a secret”

September 26, 2014

A letter from Jerry Flint with the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry in Louisiana, to his brother Phin (Phineas) in River Falls, Wisconsin.  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.

Be warned that the “N” word was used by Jerry in his letter. The University of Wisconsin-River Falls  does not condone the use of this language but includes it as an accurate reflection of society during the Civil War.

Camp 4th Wis Cavalry
Baton Rouge La Sept 26th 1864

Dear Brother

                            I received a letter from you several days ago but being unwell at the time I was obliged to postpone answering it immediately.  Lt. Knowles [Warren P. Knowles] is to start for River Falls in a few days, and I will improve the opportunity to send a letter by him.

All the company property is turned over to me and I am now Commanding Company.  It is rather more responsibility than I like to have, but shall have to stand it.  Our sick men in the Hospital are to receive furloughs and I suppose you will soon see them up there.  Some of them are rather to [sic] healthy looking, in my opinion, to be used that way when better men have to do their duty for them.  But I am not “boss” of these things.  It is now approaching the termination of the sickly season, and I think that men who stand it through this month will come out all right.  Such has been my experience in this Country at any rate.

Charley¹ is quite unwell but I am in hopes he will not be seriously ill.  I cannot forbear to again express my high appreciation of him as a soldier.  He is no shirk, but always ready and willing.  In fact, he will do duty many times when he is unable rather than be reported sick.  He stands very high with the veterans, and that is saying considerable in favor of a recruit.  Whitefield is in very good health and has been most of the time.  I have but little opportunity to see much of his actions, as I do not tent near him and the rest of the boys would not say anything before me.  But at any rate he is not quite as noisey [sic] as formerly.  Rossie [Roswell V. Pratt] is the same good boy as ever, and if possible I am going to have him tent with me while Warren is gone.  I think him one of the treasures of earth.  Henry has been “shaking” some but I think it will not last him long.

The cavalry at this post is ordered to prepare for the field immediately but its destination is of course a secret known only to our Leaders.  If we start as soon as expected I shall probably to not get an opportunity to write again very soon.  Times are very busy just previous to starting on an expidition [sic] !  Our sabres are all to be ground sharp and all equipment put in perfect order.

The boys talk politics considerable now the “Chicago Platform” being distributed freely through the camp.  McClellan [George B. McClellan] stock does not run into very high figures, but still it has some “bidders.”  His letter of acceptance is sound enough but the platform upon which he stands I do not think can bear him up through the canvass.  He is a very good man but has fell into bad company.  I believe him a much sounder man than Freemont [sic: John C. Frémont].  I think I shall vote for Abraham [Abraham Lincoln] although I did want to cast a big vote for Benjamin.²

We have not been paid yet and the boys are begginning to get wrathy of over the matter.  It is useless though to growl and we will try and console ourselves that there will be the move coming by and by.

A friend from Natchez lent me ten dollars to day which will enable me to procure postage and I have paper enough for present purposes which I drew of the Quartermaster.

I received a letter from Helen³ last night.  She was staying at Uncle Arial’s while they were visiting with “you all” (Niggertalk).  Give my love to Grandmother & Aunt Lydia and in fact all the family.  Tell Mother I have not forgotten her if I have not written as much as I should have done.  I will do better as soon as I can.  My love to Elmira and Little Lucy.  Tell Lucy to write to me.

It is Sunday evening and I imagine the folks having a sing at Uncl [sic] Joseph’s.  How a person’s memory will go back sometimes and dwell on old scenes and associations.  But it will not do to reflect, for when the man becomes unmaned [sic]4 he will make but a poor soldier.  Thoughts of peace and the happy days of old hardly correspond with my present surroundings, and should not be indulged in too much.

The chaplain5 had preaching to-night in front of his tent, but I did not go over for he is a bigger fool than I am, and that is certainly useless foolishness.

Well tattoo6 sounded some time ago and I am beginning to yawn.  So hoping this may find you well and enjoying a reasonable proportion of God’s choisest [sic] blessings I remain as ever

Your affectionate Brother
.                              .Jerry

1.  Charles G. Knowles was the “Charley” who was a recent recruit.  Charles P. Nichols has also been referred to by Jerry in letters as “Charley,” but he was a veteran.
2.  General Benjamin Butler, a prominent Radical Republican who was considered as a possible opponent of Lincoln. Butler was an ally of Lincoln and early in 1864 Lincoln had asked Butler to run as his Vice President.
3.  Jerry’s and Phin’s sister.
4.  Today we generally think of unmanned space craft, or something similar. But unmanned can also mean a person deprived of qualities traditionally associated with men, such as self-control or courage, which are important attributes in war.
5.  George W. Honey, from Sheboygan Falls.
6.  A tattoo is a drum version of taps–which is the bugle version—and lets the soldiers know that it is “lights out” time, or time to go into quaters.

Jerry Flint letter of September 26, 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 September 26, 1864, from the Jerry E. Flint Papers (River Falls Mss BN) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls University Archives & Area Research Center

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: