May 24 1864 – Nannie McClelland to John J Haun

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John Haun’s pro-Union pen pal Nannie McClelland writes to thank him for the gift of a homemade ring, offering to send him newspapers and inquiring about his past life.

Cumberland, Ohio
May 25th 1864

Mr Haun,

Your letter arrived safely last Saturday and with it my ring. You shall be pardoned for delay this time, but you are right about disappointment—I had expected your letter a week sooner, and as I turned from the Post Office with out it you might have seen a shadow of disappointment on
my face, thinking perhaps my letter had failed to reach you, or that you had been exchanged, which would have been heralded with much more interest than my letter.  Of course I will accept your ring as a token of “friendship” and will prize it very highly, you do not know how much. I think of it and I so admire your work, it being the prettiest of the kind I ever saw—just my taste, plain and neat. I wear with it two plain gold rings and with each one of them there is considerable romance connected. One friend is no more, while another is in Libby prison1 and yet another in Camp Chase. Don’t you think my “friends are scattered like roses in bloom”?2

I am afraid my thoughtless and ill timed remarks concerning yourself and family may have hurt your feelings. If so I am very sorry and hope you will forgive me, won’t you? Just when you wished to present the ring it was enough to wound anyone’s feelings especially if they are sensitive like myself. I do not doubt that you are in every respect worthy of my friendship and will judge you accordingly should we ever meet. I could not under any circumstances greet you as a friend, for such as been the effect of our romantic correspondence that, though years should pass and I might be wearing caps, you would still see on my finger the ring presented by J.J. Haun.

I do not think you would be troubled by a history of your life. I have come to the conclusion to take your word for it. I thank God and good parents that I, too, have a character unstained, and could you look in my heart you might know I have no cause to be ashamed of anything cherished there, or of my past life. But I had to laugh when you defended yourself about the flattery so well. I presume I will have to accept it as due praise and “no fakery.”

I agree with you that there are few persons who do not have some dark moments. If I had never been taught to feel for those in affliction I might be as sad sometimes, but this terrible war is enough to depress anyone’s spirits. I know you think how sorry I am for you and wish I could be permitted to make your prison life less wearisome, or acknowledge your kindness in some other way than thanks–but still we might be placed in worse circumstances. While thousands are falling every day, and making hearts and homes desolate, you are yet spared, for no doubt some wise purpose, perhaps soon to return to your home. I hope so and hope you will never enter the Rebel army again, yet very many others think they are right, no doubt.

I have just returned from taking a horseback ride, my chief source of enjoyment—but without a beau as good ones are scarce, the best being gone to the army. Do you ever get anything interesting to read in Camp Chase? I will send you some papers if they will be accepted. Oh did my last letter go unpaid? If so I shall feel deeply mortified. I was just out of stamps but gave a little boy money to pay postage and a dime for taking it to the office. Mr Floyd told me he received no money and the letter went unpaid, but he is always teasing me so. I should feel very bad to know any letter would go to a prisoner without a stamp. It was no fault of mine if it did.

Your friend,

Nannie McClelland

Metadata: Sender’s location: Cumberland, OH | Recipient’s location: Camp Chase, OH
Note: “Dated May 23th 64, Received May 28th 64”
  1. A confederate run prison for Union POWs located in Richmond, Virginia, known for its harsh conditions including over crowding and exposure to the elements.
  2. A slight misquote of a popular ballad, “Joys that we’ve Tasted” by F.D. Benteen. The line runs, “Friends have been scatter’d like roses in bloom, Some at the bridal some at the tomb.”