War letters of
Co. H, 19th Regiment Arkansas Infantry, CSA
Hugh A. Brothers, son of Caleb Brothers, was born about 1836 in Alabama. He moved with his family to Arkansas in the late 1840s, eventually settling near Waldron in Scott County. It was there about 1858 that Hugh married Martha A.J. Gee, daughter of Miles Maryland Gee and Louisa M. Cochran. This union produced two children: William Riley Brothers (1859-1941) and Seleah Melvina Ellen (Evelyn) Brothers (1860-1951).
On 22 Feb 1862 at Waldron, Hugh Brothers enlisted in Capt. George Featherston's Company, 19th Regiment Arkansas Infantry, CSA. Soon thereafter, the unit was sent to Fort McCulloch in the Choctaw Nation (now Bryan Co., OK), then under the command of General Albert Pike.
Scared, ill and homesick, Hugh Brothers found solace by writing letters to his wife and children back home. Three of these letters survived and are transcribed below from copies of the original documents. Hugh's handwriting was, for the most part, neat and legible (see signature above) but misspelled words and the lack of punctuation marks make the letters somewhat difficult to read. A few small holes in the original letters and poor copy quality at the fold lines obscure portions of the text, and some words — followed by [?] — are guesses based on context. Sentence breaks [ / ] and paragraph breaks have been added by the transcriber. Otherwise, the letters appear as they were written.
Aprile the 25th 1862
Choctaw Nation / Camp Mcclloch /
Dawsons ridgment / Capt Featherstons cumpiny
Dear wife and children /
I now take my pen in hand to let you no that I am stil able to get up on my feet and nock about a little / I can inform you that I have had the mesles and they went verry heard with me tho I am a mending mighty fast now / I had so much cold settled on my legs [?] and sistem was the cause of them hurting me so bad / the mesles has went clean threw the ridgment nearly / I think that I am out of all danger now unless I wase to get wet / the mesles has bin broke out on me a week this evening /
Martha you nedent to let this make you uneasy about me for I feal better sadisfied now than I have ever since I have bin in the ridgement / ever since we got to it / and I was sceard all the time for fear I would take them and now I feal that I wase out of all danger of them buy being carful /
Martha my darling you have no idea when I wase a lying so sick how bad I wanted to see you and the children and be at home so you could wait on me / Terrel [Hugh's older brother] he has had the mesles two but they never hurt him /
I never node of as much sickness in my life as they are here / they wase three men berried yesterday eavning / there is not a day but what more or less dies out of ridgment a coming from fort smith up to pike / I think that they left three hundred men on the rode sick with the men that [...] was left to tend on them / and we can hear every day nearly of some of them diing that we left behind / it is strange to me what makes men die in a big army so fast / they die jest like sheep with the rot nearly /
I received your letter dated the 30 of March which give me great sadisfaction to hear that you wase all well / tell William Riley that I think about him every day / tell little melviny that I am mighty glad to hear that her hed [?] is well and that she is so peart /
we have made up a male to go from here to Waldron and from there to Danvill / Capt Featherstons and Capt Gauts [?] cumpiny from yel Co has hierd a man to carry a male for us all the time Monthly / as he comes down he will leve a letter for you at Waldron and you be sure and rite me a letter and have it at Waldron so he can get it as he comes back / if you or arry one of the children gets sick I want you to rite to me about it / not keep it back atall /
I am coming home as soon as I get able to walk home if I can get a ferlo and I recon I can for pike is a giving his men ferlows now / me and Terel is both a coming together / we are about one hundred and seventy five miles south west of fort smith on the fine rode that leads from fort smith to Calaforny on a creak called blue close [to] the texas line / Jeneral Pike is a fortyfying here / so nothing more at present only remains yours affectionate husband until death /
Hugh A. Brothers To Martha AJ Brothers and William R. Brothers and Melviny E. Brothers
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State of Ark / Jeferson Co. /
August the 26th AD the year of our Lord 1862
Dear Companion /
I take my pen in hand this morning to let you no that I am wel at this time and harty / you may no that I am wel for I way one hundred and sixty eight pounds and I hope when this letter comes to hand that it wil find you all injoying the same good blessing / I can inform you that I received two letters from you the 25 day of August that was dated the tenth of August which give me great satisfaction to hear from you and to hear that you was all wel /
I have nothing strang to rite to you / we are right here on the same old camp ground yet at the sulpher springs / I have no idea how long that we wil stay here nor where we wil go to when we leve here / you said in your letter you was sorry to hear that we was a starving / I can say to you that we get plenty of beef and bread and molasses and shugar to eat now /
you said that William Riley said that he wanted me to come home and go to town with him / tel him I wil come home and go to town with him jest as soon as I can / tel him that he dont talk about me any more than I studdy about him / tel him that I will come home and go to James Henslees and fetch his stears home for him and yoke them up for him and let him plow them / Martha my dear love tel William Riley that hit does me a great deal of good to hear that he has not forgot me yet /
tel little Melvina that I am glad to hear that she is so smart and sweet / tel her that I would love to see her a running about and playing and hearing her say pappy / and tel her that I would love to see them two little sweet teeth /
Martha my dear you rote to me that you had a hog up in the pen ever since the next day after I started from home and you was a going to save it til I com home / I want you to kil it and eat it and put up another one and fatten it and eat it and fatten one along that way on all the ____ and kil them and eat them for if there is no corn there will be no mast to fatten them and this winter they wil all die / so you fatten them along on your scraps and eat them / you stated in your letter that you wanted to swap Jo [?] off to that cow of Jessey Reeds that runs at Fathers / do jest as you pleas about it /
Cornel Dawson got up last Saturday night and made a speech to us / and he talks like that he thought that there was no prospect for pease / he said that he thought that the dark cloud of war was jest now appearing over us / that is jest his opinion about it / he dont no / some days we hear that pease is jest about made and then maby the next day we wil hear that there is no hope of pease being made shortly / I can inform you that our rigment has reorganized / we firs helt a vote on it and we voted it down and then it rocked along a few days and the news com to us that we had to reorganise enny how / but when our twelve months is out then we are all a coming [...] home whether pease is made or not if we are a living /
Martha I can inform you that I have drawd twenty dollars at last and I am a going to send it in this letter by Loranzo Antony home to you / all of it / and you spend it for any thing that you nead / us that was give ferlows to come home and take kear of our wheat has bin served mighty mean about our money / for when we was at home old General Pike paid all the men that [were] up there / them that had bin in over six months he paid 50 dollars and them that had bin in over three months he paid them 25 dollars before they started from fort Mcculock to Little Rock / and the other day old Dawson got holt of sum money and he jest divided it equal bettwix all of his men / and it jes was the pittyful sum of twenty dollars apease / I wil send you six Envelops by Mr Antiny so that you can send letters to me _____ / Mr Antiny is a going to ride the male for us one more Month / you be sure and rite to me every chance you have /
you rote to me that you wanted to see me mighty bad / My Dear Love I cannot express with my pen how bad that I do want to see you and my dear little children / Mr Antiny says that he wil start from Waldron the 15th day of September next to come and bring us letters from you / ones to us / so you be sure and have your letters rote and in Waldron ____ ____ that time /
our Cornel give us orders to rite home to our wimen and tel them to make us all the cloze that they could and that he would send a man around with a wagen to get them / and that he would buy them from them and then he would bring them here and sell them to us / if you make me enny cloze dont sell them to nobody for if you waz to sel them to enny boddy it would be jest a axadent whether that I would get them or not / if you do make me enny cloze you save them til you get a chance to send them to me that you no that I wil be sure and get them / and if you dont get that sort of chance you keap them /
Martha my dear darlin you tel Mrs Ross that I am glad to hear that she thinks anuf of us to promise us a fat pig and a fat hen to roast when we come home / tel her to keep them fat and in good trim / that I feal in hopes that we wil hapen in some of these days before long and be blessed with the oportunity of eating some of her giney pig and good fat Shanghig [?] hen / tel Mr Ross that I [would] love to see him / tel him to rite to me / tel him to give me all ___ inflamation that he can about the War / tel him that I would love the best kind to receive a letter from him enny time /
Martha My dear beloved wife I wil tel you what I want you to do / I want you to cut sum hair out of your head and plat me some hair braids / one to go on each arm / and put them in a letter and send them to me / if I cant get to see you I would love to have them on my arms so that I could see some of your hair that had come off of your sweet head so hit would be a great satisfaction to have them on my arms / so that if I was to die out here it would be a plesure to me before that I died to think that I would have some of your sweet hair and pritty hair on my arms when I was berried /
no I am in good spirits / I think that I wil be at home with you and my dear little children by Christmas or the first of March / enny how my Captin told me this morning that there would be no chance to get a ferlo to come home at coart [?] so I must bring my lines to a cloze / so nothing more at present only remains yours affectionate husban until death
H.A. Brothers To
M.A.J. Brothers and
W.R. Brothers and
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State of Arkansas / Jefferson Co [...]
the 23 day of September 1862
My Dear companion /
I take my pen in hand to let you no that I am well at present hoping that when thes few lines comes to hand that they [...] wil find you all well and doing well / I have nothing strange to rite to you / I can inform you that I received your letter this eavning which is the 27th day of September which gave me great sdisfaction to hear that you was all well /
I can inform you that we are here on the same old campground yet / but I dont think that we wil stay here much longer / our old Cornel made a speech to us the other night and he said that we would leve here in a short time / he said that we would go east on white River or that we would go back to Old General Pike / he said that he wanted us to go back to Pike if we can / I think that if we go back to Pike that our old Cornel wil let us come buy home / and if we have to go acros the River I think that our old cornel wil give us ferlows to come home and sow wheat / he says that he wil give us ferlows to come home and sow wheat if he can / I dont no for certain but I think that I wil be at home in the coarse of a Month /
the old Cornel said in his speech that he thought that we would all be paid all of our money in a few day and fernished plenty of good clothing and plenty of new guns / we [have] not Drawd no money only that that I sent to you / you never said enny thing about the money that I sent you in your letter / I started twenty dollars to you in a letter / you never stated enny thing about it in your letter so I dont no whether that you got the money or not that I started to you / rite to me in the next letter whether you got the money or not
Martha my dear I can inform you that the hair braids that you started to me that I got them / and you dont have no idea how glad that I was to see them / as soon as I open the letter and saw them I coulden help from crying / I was so glad to see them / Martha my dear tell William Riley that his Pappy was mighty glad to see a lock of his hair and tell him that his Pappy said that his hair was mighty pritty / tel him that I would be mighty glad to be thare and see his little army of rusters fight / tel him that his pappy says for him to pick me a pritty little ruster and save him for me / tel him that I think without a dout that he wil see his pappy a coming home in [the] coarse of three or four weeks /
old cornel Dawson is a working every day as heard as he can to get a transfer to General Pike and I think that he will get hit without a dout / and if he dont get hit I think that he wil after he gets a transfer and gets started that he wil give the captins charge of their cumpines and let them go by home and sow wheat /
Martha my darlin tel little Melvina that her pappy says that he is mighty glad to hear that she is so smart and so sweat / tel her that her pappy says that he would love to be thare and see her running over the house and playing /
Martha my dear you rote in your letter that you want me to send you a lock of my hair in the nex letter that I rote / I wil say to you that when we come down here it was so fer south that it was so hot when we first come down here that I had my hair cut off all over and tolerable short / so I believe that I wil not send you enny of my hair as it is verry short and I think that I wil fetch it all home shortly enny how / and if enny thing should [...] turn up that I couldent get to come home the next letter after this I wil send you some of my hair and it is so short that I hate to send it / in fact I think that I wil be at home in a short time without a dout / I can say to you that we have got the best Cornel in the world
Martha my darlin I am a going to send you a paper of shirt buttons and one pen stock and two pens and some water melon seed / we give $ 75 cts for the watermelon / I can inform you that the health of our rigment is verry bad at this time / is verry bad tho we have not lost but two men out of our Cumpiny / we as the lord would have it has had better luck in our cumpiny than enny of the other cumpines in the rigment / and I thank my god for the mersy that he has had uppon us / and I wil send you a dispach [?] and let you have the nuse [?] of the war [?] / I wil send you a half a dosen envelops / Martha my dear companion have your letter rote and in waldron againts the 10th of October / Mr Antony says that he wil start from waldron on the 10th of October to bring us letters
Martha my dear there is no use for me to try to tel you how bad that I want to see you and my dear little children for I cannot tel you how bad that I want to see you and the little children and get to stay with you / but I hope that the time is close at hand when we wil get to stay all the time together /
the old cornel said that he dident think that we would ever would be in a battle / he said that the other night in his speech / I have not drawd no money only that twenty dollar bil that I sent you / but I think that we wil get all the money that is due us in a few days / but I can make us much by trading here in camps as I want to make use of here / I went out to Pine Bluff day befor yesterday and bought some paper an some pocket books and some comes and one song book and brought them in camps and sold them out in camps and made ten dollars /
I can inform you that I have got to be issuing sargent and that pays me six dollars more in evevery month / Martha you rote to me that you was a going to make me some close / I dont want you to make me no close for the old cornel says that he can fernish us with plenty of close / Martha my dear I want you to put all the cloth that you make on your self and them dear little children / ___ keep your self and the children ____ ____ / I want you to take good kear of your self and my dear little children and keep them out of the cold as much as you can and out of the rain for if I was to hear of you or arry one of my dear little children being sick I dont no how that I could stand it / but if enny of you does get sick I want you to rite to me about it /
Martha my darling tel Father that Andy Stout [?] told me that he said that if I neaded a pare of shoes to send him word and that he would send me a pare / tel him that I am a thousand times oblige to him for his kind proposal / ___ _____ pare of shoes and have drawd two shirts and one pare of drawers / so I must bring my lines to a close / so nothing more only remains yours affectionate husband until death
H.A. Brothers To
M.A.J. Brothers and
William Riley Brothers
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Hugh Brothers accompanied his regiment to Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, AR, in October 1862. Three months later, 11 Jan 1863, the post fell to superior Union forces resulting in the capture of nearly 5,000 Confederate soldiers. Hugh was among those sent to Camp Douglas, a Union prisoner-of-war camp in suburban Chicago, IL, in late January.
Lightly clad Confederate troops suffered much from the cold winter blasts off nearby Lake Michigan. Temperatures in February 1863 were reported as low as 40 degrees below zero. A variety of other factors — including overcrowding and unsanitary conditions — resulted in a high death toll.
Hugh Brothers contracted smallpox and died 10 Mar 1863, less than seven weeks after his arrival at Camp Douglas. He was buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, along with nearly 6,000 other Confederate war prisoners. One can be certain that Hugh's last thoughts were of his beloved wife and dear little children.
Martha A.J. [Gee] Brothers Roberts
Martha [Gee] Brothers moved with her family to what is now Delta Co., TX, probably at the end of the Civil War. She married (2) Thomas Bryant Roberts, 04 Jul 1866 in Lamar Co., TX, and bore nine more children. She was buried at Nancy Smith Cemetery in Somervell Co., TX.
1. O. Alden Smith, Scott County, Arkansas – A Gateway to the West, (Waldron News, Waldron, AR, 1989), "Caleb Brothers," p. 25. 2. Linda Stokes, "Sargent Hugh A. Brothers," (1989) unpublished article. 3. Merrill Pence, letter to Mike Morris, 13 Apr 1995. 4. Confederate Soldiers, Sailors and Civilians who Died as Prisoners of War at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill., 1862–1865, (Edgar Gray Publications, Kalamazoo, MI). 5. Joseph L. Eisendrath Jr., "Chicago's Camp Douglas, 1861–1865," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, (Springfield, IL), LIII:1 (Spring 1960), pp. 43, 46.
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If you can add to or correct any information at this site, please contact the compiler:
Bobby J. Wadsworth
This page last updated 01 Jan 2009.