DescriptionJohn Brown, Jr. Civil War-dated Archive of Letters to his wife Wealthy Brown. 34 letters (one incomplete, and eight accompanied by the original cover), totaling more than 130 pages, various sizes, dated February 14, 1861 through November 29, 1863. An extensive collection by Brown with great content, during his service in Company K of Charles Jennison's 1st Kansas Cavalry, the "Independent Mounted Kansas Jayhawkers". The first letter in this archive pre-dates the Civil War and finds Brown in Windsor, Canada. Brown writes to his wife about staying with a family of "fugitives" whom he is hoping to recruit to emigrate to Haiti. Prior to enlisting in the Jayhawks, Brown toured the country lecturing on the evils of slavery and proposing emigration as a solution. Later letters tell in detail of his efforts to recruit men and raise money for his regiment and his mounting frustrations, "Grand Rapids, Michigan / Dec 29th 1861... Wendell Phillips has sent me some little help. Gerrit Smith has also sent me ten dollars...". In one letter he shares about meeting Col. Jennison and the mustering in of his company: "Leavenworth City Kansas / Saturday Evng Jany 11th 1862... On reaching Leavenworth we found Col. Jennison and Lieut Hoyt. Hoyt had come up with Col Jennison to assist in getting the Company in the right shape...Yesterday the men were mustered in here who came with me and my Company... I was mustered in as Captain... We expect to have drawn the arms and horse equipments for them to day... we are to move soon into the Indian Territory and Texas. We shall probably have the honor of constituting the advance guard in this expedition. Gen. Lane is looked for now every day..."
Brown also shares about engaging the enemy and forays into Missouri to free slaves: "Camp Johnson Morristown, Mo... Monday 27th [Jan. 1862]... I sent off a colored party armed and mounted under command of Mr. Stout and Henry Copeland to bring in some slaves from about 9 miles out. A colored man, husband of one of the slaves represented that the master of his wife was about leaving for the South taking with him the slave woman and her children. I thought it would make a fine impression to have eight or ten blacks well armed go and rescue the woman and children..."
Later letters tell the story of his illness and eventual retirement from his command. This is an uncommon archive with rich content too extensive to cite. Brown spends little time on personal familial matters, and what results is a great account of the Kansas Jayhawkers militant abolitionist agenda in taking up arms against the South and the institution of slavery. Several letters include long passages written in cipher, that no doubt will reveal additional content. Brown's language is never guarded about expressing his feelings on any issue. Overall condition is near fine. Additional transcriptions of letters can be seen at www.ha.com/6019*35062.
"Windsor. Canada West / Thursday. Feby 14, 61.
Since last Wednesday, a week ago yesterday, I went to Colchester. In that township are several important settlements of Fugitives - distant from here via Amherstburg 31 miles - After I left Amherstburg I had no way of getting a letter out from 'the Bush' as the back settlements in the woods are here called. You can hardly imagine how I am starving for music, and more than all else, starving for that deeper profounder harmony which two loving hearts can only appreciate. A mere pecuniary consideration could never keep me away from home in this way. Did I not feel, that I am laboring to promote the best interests of a people who have been 'cast out, and trodden under foot of men'. I would relinquish my undertaking & forever retire to a home so far from the turmoil of life.
Since I wrote you at Amherstburg I have lectured three times to crowded houses and established not less than 11 different Reading Clubs and have traveled on foot in visiting the homes of these fugitives not less than 30 miles. If I had lectured every evening the labor would not have been greater."
"Grand Rapids, Mich /Dec 12th 1861
. I am now quite resolved to go North to get some Indians for scouts. About sixty miles North at a place called 'Pent-Water' are several thousand Indians, and I am told there are many fine men among them who are willing and anxious to enlist but no one would want them - Thus far, although I have got several good men it has been a slow business recruition. Taking all that I feel at all sure of. I cant count on more than ten new recruits - But I shall still persevere - Every where I meet with the heartiest sympathy and every attention in the world, but so many men have gone already to the war from this region that it is really slow business this recruiting. I must now get a goodly number who will carry their Rifles with them too; perhaps fully for any attack while going through Missouri or be greatly exposed to capture. I don't mean to run any unnecessary risk of being overpowered by greatly superior numbers. There are other ways of getting to Kansas city."
"Thursday Morning / Dec 13th
.Today I have received a letter from Col Lewis. I had written to him to meet me here and go with me into the pine woods of the North part of the State. I also enclosed to him, my note of $50 - for three months asking him to discount same if he possibly could as I had only $3 left. He sent me back my note saying it would be inconvenient to discount it, but inclosed a ten Dollar Bill which he lends until I can get my pay from Government. I don't know how I am yet to get along. Certain I am, I will not give up. God only knows where the money is to come from to enable me to get through this undertaking and get fairly into the field with my company full. Now of course but fighting abolitionists will join me; of those only a small percentage are fit for soldiers. The larger portion of what are technically called anti-slavery men are either men of words instead of deeds or are, what is still worse, 'dogs in the manger', forever grumbling that the Government won't do any thing. Just as is they themselves were not part of the Government. If the existence of the Government depended on such dam'd drones the entire machinery might fall into rust and ruin for aught they would do except eat and sleep and growl."
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