Civil War Letters of James I. Brewer, Co. K 34th Mississippi Infantry and Samuel M. Brewer Co. A 11th Miss. Infantry (University Greys)


Cemetery marker of James I. Brewer and descendant David B. Boone


Top: Close up of the marker of James I. Brewer

Bottom: Descendant David B. Boone at the grave of James I. Brewer

Note: Spelling and punctuation in the original letters has been preserved


Camp near Shelbyville Tenn
January 22nd 63

Jno F Morgan Esq
Aberdeen Miss

Dr Sir

As I have written
to every person of my acquaintance since I
rejoined the regiment except you. and as
answers come in slow. I have concluded to
see if I can increase the amount of letters
which I should get, to about one every month
I have received since I left Home (1st Oct)
two letters, one from Grenada and one from
Columbus. I have written 2 to Kate 1 to Mat-
ilda 2 to Nannie (at Grenada) 2 to Mollie. 4 to
Father & Mother Besides about 75 which I sent
to various POs throughout the Confederacy. I
will hold on a while longer. and if I
do not rec. more I will advertise for
the whereabouts of Certain Persons.
Before this I guess you have heard of
the scrape at Murfreesboro. Fortunately for
me I was not there or this infernal war
would have been closed at that very place
I just intended to break the necks of
every "blue belly" I could find, and they
were pretty darned plenty. Our regiment was
at this place. left on account of the Small-
pox. We got rid of the pox and arrived at
Murfreesoboro just the next day after the fight.
We took our position in the brigade and had
been there about five minutes when the Yankees
(at the wright of the Brigade) charged
our pickets and tried to drive them
in. Stanfords Battery was posted
up near the line to support them, opened
and made Mr Yankee fall back. But they were
not so easily checked. They brought up a
Battery also. and I saw what might be
called an Artillery drive. The firing continued
for about twenty minutes. when a Battery
of heaby 12 pound guns were sent to take apart
with Stanford but the Yankees had got
enough before ------- arrived near enough to
open. Our regiment was then ordered
to double quick about 400 yds across an
old field and go to the support of Breckin-
ridges Division. The Yankees saw ours bright
guns (at a right shoulder shift) and opened
with a Battery on us. I must confess
I did not like the music their coneshells
and sound shot made. I thought I was
in a foot of every one of them. but I
don't suppose they came nearer than twenty
feet above our head, and the ground
was so soft (thanked) the shells would
not burst. After we had gone across the
field we were immediately ordered back.
but this time we carried our guns at a
"Trail Arms" On the morning of the fourth
about 2 A.M. we left the field. passed through
Murfreesboro and left it to the tender
mercies of the Yankees. Some condemned the
movement and some say it was wright.
I do not understand why we should fight a while
and then run. If the Yankees were
receiving reinforcements. Why did we retreat
to Allisonia and then come back to this place
(which is about half way between Allisoniia
and Murfreesboro) Why did we not stop
here and not go to Allisonia. All may be
wright. but I dislike to make such marches
for nothing.

This army has done some very
hard marching and some hard fighting and has
not gained one solitary thing, at least I can
not see the good that has been accomplished
though I am not a very far sighted fellow
If you can see the good we have done
please let me know.

This leaves me well, and
doing 'first best as fat as a wolf,
Things to eat are cheap here. For instance
you can get eggs at 1.25 pr doz, apples (green
125, pork 40 cts, Butter 1.00, Chickens 1.25 to 1.5
Dried Peaches 9.00 per bus dried Ap. 7.00 and
so, on We draw fresh Beef Meal flour
Bacon Sugar Molasses Soup & cetera
So you see there is no chance to starve

Please answer this on receipt
and tell me all the news.

Give my love to Tilda and the children
and try and pick me out a wife by the
time the war closes. As I think I will be
ready to settle down -----

With much respect yr friend
J I Brewer
 




Camp 34 Miss Regt
Walthalls Brigade
Withers Division
Polks Corps
Army Tenn
April 5/63

Dear Sister
Yours of the 29th
inst was handed me by the
mail carrier" a few minutes
since. I must confess
your "April fool" was a
complete success. I opened
the letter eagerly as I all
ways do. And took out
the enclosed one. I noticed
the black border- and
made up my mind to
hear of some friend or
relative's death. Indeed
I was afraid to open it.
but - I was very agreeable
surprised to find myself
"sold. I don't know when
i have been so excited.
I am glad to see you
have life enogh to try
your hand at such
tricks. I know you can-
not be very low spirited.
But let me beg you not
to try me in that way
any more, for I have
not got over the trimbles
yet. In yours you mentioned
a letter from Lamar received
by Nannie, which speaks of
Ma's not having entirely
recovered from the risen
on her knee. I am afraid
Ma has too much to do
about the house, the
negroes all having gone.
She may be compelled to
do all her housework.
This is not the first
time I have been thinking
about how she got along.
it has troubled me con-
siderable, I have been
thinking if I was by the
side of Dow I make him
go to Lamar in a 2.40
stile. He would not be
afraid of the enrolling
officer, for as long as
he has Mr Frosts certificate
as an employee of the
road he is free from
conscription. I am rather
pleased at the idea of Pa's
going to Grenada to work.
Then we can get letters
from him. You want to
know if I could not
be sent to help Nina.
such things are done
every day. We have 4
men now on detached
service. And if Col. Soal-
man wants me, all
he has to do is to
make a requisition on
Genl Walthall or Genl
Withers or Briggs, and say
that I am needed to
assist in the repairs of
the road, and I will
be sent to his, but
could not be relieved
entirely from the army.
I would be kept on the
roll and reported as
on detached service. I
reckon however, I am
not so badly wanted.
I would like however to
get to work, for hereafter

(REST OF LETTER IS MISSING)




In front of Chattanooga
Oct 2nd, 1863,

Dear Mathilda,
Ever since the
late battle, I have been
thinking of writing, but could
get no chance to send it to
the office. You know when
two hostile armies are
about to meet, they tear up
the rail roads, and every other
conveyance. They do not as
much as let citizens come
into their lines, but now
I think I can get this one
sent off. First let me
tell you that Dow and myself
were neither hurt, I was
hit on the head, by a ball
that had hit a stone and
glanced off, but the
lick was so slight, I did
not leave the field, or
experience any inconvenience
from it - I have
seen from the papers
what the fight was tho I
can only tell what transp-
ired immediately in front
of our brigade.

We opened
(our brigdade) the fight Friday
morning (18th) fought about
30 minutes when the Yanks gave
way, & went back on
this main body. Saturday
about 11 oclock A.M. we
were again drawn up
in line of battle & ordered
forward. We had gone but
a little ways before our
skirmishers laid down
and the line passed over
them. Then the hottest fire
I ever heard was passed
into our ranks. This lasted
but a few minutes before
the order to advance was
given. We raised a Rebel
yell (as the Yanks call it)
and charged them. We passed
two Yankee batteres and
could not have done. Not
a hat pr shoes or pants were
left on the field.
Some of the boys secured
some such things as oilcloths
canteens & a few blankets. But
the only thing I got was a small
steel watch key which one of the
boys handed me after the fight.
Its worth in ordinary times would
be about five cents. I am
in want of clothing & am
expecting some by a man who
will be here in a few days from
North Miss. I am not at all
easy about your future
prospects. I want you to let
us hear every week. I hope
things will alter some. I do
not know what will become
of half our proped. I am
afraid Pa & Ma are not doing
as well as when I last heard from
them. This winter will be a
hard one I think & the
most of us as well as you at
home will be bound to suffer
but I could do well enough
if I only knew you were all
doing well This leaves us both
well. Write on receipt

Your Aff Bro
J. I. B.

Address -
Co "K" 34th Miss Regt
Chickamauga
Tenn.


Camp 34th Miss Regt, On top
Lookout Mountain Nov 13th/63

Mrs Mathilda S. Morgan
Aberdeen
Dear Sister

Yours of the
5th inst was received yesterday while on the
march to this place. For the last week
we have been moving from one place to
another. Now, we are on top of
Lookout, and I suppose we will
remain at least for a little while.
This moving so much was caused I
think from the fact that our army
has been changed, or reorganized, that
is, some brigades have been put into
different divisions. Our's has been
put into Chathams, but as he has
asked to be relieved, I do not know
who will command us, but I think Genl
Walker. We may not be in a permanent
sitauation yet. Our position a week ago
was on the extreme right, but now are
nearly on the extreme left. This change
is made I think, to keep down so
much dissinsion, which between some
of our troops is most as great as between
Yankee and Confederate. Our divisions
will hereafter be mixed and composed of
men from all states. This is a good idea
and should have been done long since.
You ask us to come and see you this
winter. I wish I could promise you with
certainty but can not. I am a'going to
try for a furlough this winter and if
I get it will come to A---with out doubt.
The indusements held out by you and Mr.
Morgan (Pork turnips cabbage etc ) are almost
enough to make a fellow come on french
"leave", but I can't exactly get my mind
up to that. You may rest assured
that if I am so fortunate as to get
a leave of absence, I will come and
stay a short while with you, but must
tell you not that I shall be for going
to Lamar, too. You ask me why I thought
Ma & Pa were not doing well. As regards
the necessaries of life. I have every reason to
believe they are oh quite well. If I mentioned
any thing about their not doing well, I
must have had refferance to their
trouble about our absence and the
anoyance the Yankees must cause them.
I for a time heard from them very
regular, but since the fight at Chick-
amauga I have had not letter, though
I have had conversations with men
just from Tippah Co. who gave me to
understand that nothing serious was
the matter. I have a chance of sending
letters to them nearly every week, and wou-
ld get letters from them, but for the fact
that whenever a man starts from there
for the army, he has to keep his own
family out of the secret until he is ready
to start. There is so many "Gosies" in that
section, that a man is afraid to
let the neighbors know he is going to
the army for fear the Yankees will take
him up. Going to the Army is a danger-
ous business. Sometimes letters are
carried to Salem by some friend and left
there until some body starts, who brings it
to me. I think I shall in a few days
get some letters from them, as we are
looking for some men who will be
in, in the course of a week or two with clothing
for some of the boys. Dow & myself may
get some clothing too. We are in great need
of some, but if we don't get them
we will only be in the same ration with
a thousand others, who are too brave
to complain. You also wish to know
what I think of our situation up here.
I do not think we will do any
fighting unless the Yankees crowd
us, for our policy is to do as little
as possible. We will be likely
to hold them in check in front and
"devil" them with cavalry raids in the
rear, cut their railroad communications
make their haversacks as light as possible.
They can not winter where they are,
without doing so on half or
quarter rations. Our boys are on short
rations too but then we know that
the best is done for us and we expect no
more. I am surprised as Clarks staying
out of the Army. Do you not countenance
him, drive him away, unless he has the
proper papers, no time for skulking now.
I believe I have written all the "news"
I have. Dow & myself are quite well.
Should I or either of us be so
lucky as to get a short furlough, I shall
expect some good thing to eat at your
house, hard times notwithstanding.

Give my best love to the children.
If Mr. Morgan has not gone, tell
him to stay until his Regt is
exchanged at least. Good bye

Write soon

What has become of Grand Ma.
Love to her.

Your Aff Bro
J.I.B.




Letter of Samuel M. Brewer to his parents


Corinth Miss May 5 1861

Dear Mother

Monday we will start for
Petersburg va - two regiments
left har to day for virginia
and all of them ar de
termin to give old abe what
he deserve - and if we hav
good luck we will be in
the fite - mar tell Dow and
Jim to writ to me and let
me now how they are gitting on
mar dont beleve that the
led has bin dug out of
the ground that will ever
kill me -- tell Par I would
like to see him be four I left
for tare ant now chance fo
me to com home now un
less we camp at Petersburg
and then I can get a ferlow
to come   giv my love to all
of my sisters and Brothers
mar you and Par must not
be uneasy about me for I
will take care of my self
and be a good boy and
live to remember the who
remember me I must now
come to a close ------
dont write untill you hear
from me I will write every
chance I get

So good by

yo sun

Sam M. Brewer

P S
direct yo letters to the care
of Cap Sewerry of the
university. Grays


The letters above were contributed by David Boone.

Samuel Cole(man)? Brewer 1801-1880 was the father of Samuel M. Brewer, James I. Brewer, Mathilda Sackville Brewer and Nannie Brewer. Sometime about 1844 the Brewers moved from Virginia to Mississippi.

James I. Brewer was a Sgt. in Co. K 34th Miss.  In the letter above dated 13 Nov. 1863 he mentions that he was at Lookout Mountain.  On the 24th of Nov. 1863 the Yankees overran Confederate positions on the mountain.  Most of the men in Co. K were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.  Several Yankee company battle flags had already past Co. K before it surrendered.  Most if not all of the prisoners were taken to the new Rock Island prison.  Many men of this company arrived at the prison with smallpox.  Since the new prison had no hospital the men stayed in the barracks along with the healthy.  As a result there was an epidemic which took the lives of 1,300 Confederates and many Yankee guards by July of 1864.  Since James died in Feb. of 1864 he was most likely one of the victims.  His grave is marked as James J. Brewer which was probably a mistake reading the handwriting.  His letters make mention of a "Dow".  There was a Lorenzo D. Bruer in Co. K whose real name was probably Lorenzo Dow Brewer.  The two were probably cousins.

Samuel M. Brewer was in the University Greys.  He was age 23 at the time of his enlistment and was a brickmason.  This company was made up of men who attended Ole Miss University at Oxford, Mississippi.  It became Co. A 11th Miss. Infantry and served in the Army of Northern Virginia.  Sam's initial enlistment was for one year and he reenlisted.  At Gettysburg this company suffered 100% casualties upon reaching the "high water mark."  Sam was one of the casualties.  He was buried at Gettysburg and disinterred around 1871-73 and reburied at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond Virginia.


Copyright © 2000 David B. Boone, Jr. All rights reserved. Used By Permission. Content may be freely used for educational or personal non-commerical use but may not be used otherwise without written permission. This copyright notice must remain attached.

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