12 February 1863: “I am here gathering up conscripts straglers and absentees and hope you will come up before I leave”

Item description: Letter, 12 February 1863, from Robert E. Brumby to his sister Sarah Simpson, while he was on leave in Goodman, Mississippi.

[Item transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From the Simpson and Brumby Family Papers, #1408-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Goodman Miss Feb the 12th / 63

Mrs. S.C. Simpson

My Dear Sister,

I arrived in Old Goodman once more by yesterday’s train found all well. Bud Sue Mollie Guss & Ben. Mollie & Guss returned from Marietta about a week ago. Left only a day or two before I reached Marietta. Are you not surprised to see a letter from me written at Goodman. I know you are, it even astonishes me. I had allmost dispaired of ever getting home during the war and just a day or two before I started for home was telling some of the boys I had lost all hope of ever seeing home again untill the war closed. I feel so much freer than I have for the past ten months that I hardly know what to be at and yet I feel lost every thing is so changed. Nothing doing no excitement whatever. Every one looks as if they had nothing to do and had they would not have energy enough to make the effort. I rode out to Richland this evening to see Captain Walton and how sad I felt in riding through the town it looked like a desert waste no one about the streets two or three old men sitting at one of the store doors looking as lonely as the place itself with nothing to say only seeming to be there to think of and now and then say something of the past. “How terrible is war.” every where we go we see nothing but ruin and decay where a few years ago all was joy and gladness every thing and every one prospering doing well but now the picture is reversed and all looks dark & gloomy and when will it end. a question asked by ten thousand yea millions at once and no answer is returned no one can tell. There seems to be an impression among the people generally throughout the country that we are soon to have peace. that the war will soon be over. but why that impression I can’t exactly tell however it seems to grow out of the idea that the northwestern states are fast becoming oposed to the war and will refuse to lend a helping hand to Old Abe any longer unless he withdraws his abolition proclamation which by the South it is thought he will will not do. thereby produce dissension and revolution at home. I fear it is all a vain hope a delusion that will pass away and leave us where we now are in a war that will not end at least during his (Lincoln’s) term. I know you have thought hard of me for not writing before this but hope when you hear my excuses will pardon the neglect. In the first place for a week or ten days after the fight at Murfreesboro had no means of writing no pen ink or paper, and could not get any besides we were kept so constantly on the move that had I had every thing convenient would not have had the time. I managed to write to Ma & Pa a very short letter which they never received and Ma becoming so anxious to know what had become of me got Pa to send an Old Gentleman who was at work for him to hunt me up. When he found me and told me he was sent to look me up I never was so much put to it in my life to think Ma nor any of the family had heard a word from me. I was so fortunate as to be put down as one of the Officers to go after absentees of war who were at home and bring them back to their Regiments. So next morning I put out for home with this Old Gentleman. I was left at one of the stations on road and told him to say nothing of my coming on. So as to surprise them all. I got home the next day and you ought to have been there. it was a happy meeting to all of us I wish you had been. Ma & Sis and Pa in fact all seemed so much relieved and so glad to see me home again. I stopped with them one week and came on here. But my dear Sister my stay at home was not a very pleasant one. The Second day after I got there and expected to leave for Goodman that night our dear Ma was taken with a chill folowed by violent headaches and next morning (Sunday) it proved to be congestion of the brain. We sent after a physician and when he got there found we could no arouse her and he told us she would be sure to die. She was blind deaf and dumb in a perfect stupor. We went to work to arouse her and it was some time before we could perceive any signs of returning concientiousness when she did come too she tried to jump out of the bed and took Pa and myself all we could do to hold her. after a while she became so exhausted that when we lay her down, she fainted and to all appearance dead we all thought she was gone. both Doctors said she was but after a few moments Sis discovered she breathed slightly we then went to work and got her revived again after which she began to talk a little. The next day she lost her hearing entirely the pain left her head and seemed to settle in the spine and suffered intense pain from it. I sat by her day and night for four or five days and had to lift or turn her over every two or three minutes. the pain was so sever she could not lie in one position any length of time. I had to leave her still in a very critical condition but hope she will recover. I fear she will never hear again. She was as deaf as a piece of wood allmost could hear a little sound by holering close to her ears as loud as one could but could distinguish nothing we had to write to her on a slate to talk to her at all. Pa promised to write the next after I left. I have received nothing yet. He told me if she got worse he would telegraph and if he did not send a dispatch I might rest assured she was better now has come yet and I hope she is better. Ma told me to write to you as soon as I got home and tell you to come to Goodman and go with me to Marietta I will be here some week or ten days and want you to be sure to come up if possible. Should I be gone to the Regiment before you can get here you can go on with Uncle Arnoldus and Cousin Mary Barnes they will be here or in Canton next week be sure to come for all are very anxious to see you especially your Brother “the writer” I want to see you very badly and so with all the rest I was not hurt in the fight not even my clothes touched but was the only one out of the 50 men of the company who fought through that was not we 31 killed and wounded out of 50 men I assure I felt very grateful and do yet that God in his good providence protected me. Write to me as soon as you receive this and let me know whether you will come or not. I am here gathering up conscripts straglers and absentees and hope you will come up before I leave Ma & Pa are both anxious for you to spend the summer with them bring Mr. Simpson along with you if he will come. Cousin Mary will be here if I am gone and you can go with her. It is now late and must close. my respects to Mr. Simpson and kind wishes to all. Kiss little Ella for me. and many many kisses I send to you. All send their love. So good night my dear Sister from your affectionate Brother.

R. E. Brumby

Come if you possibly can write to me as soon as you receive this. If you can come do so for it may be last chance we may ever have to meet again and may be Ma too her health is so bad and her life so uncertain.

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