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”

September 8 1863 – John J Haun to Mollie Burns

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In this letter, John Haun describes the Camp Chase prison to his sweetheart at home, and updates her on mutual acquaintances.

Prison No. 3, Barracks No. 50
Camp Chase Ohio

September 8th 1856

Dear Friend,

I received your welcome and anxiously looked for letter the day before yesterday. It was dated the first of September. It is useless to say anything of the pleasure it gives me to receive a letter from you. Of course it is a great satisfaction to hear from our friends at home–in truth, you might say it is the only enjoyment we prisoners have. Of course I will consider your letter an answer to both of mine, but think it is hardly fair. But I will make a bargain with you to write two for every one you send me and think I have made a good bargain at that.

You read my letter to Mr Lemon did you? “Just like you” instead of committing it to the flames where all such documents should go. But you always would have your way. However I suppose you did right as I made mention of them in my letter. I heard Mr Lemon was killed Atlanta over a card table but did not mention it, fearing it would cause them a great deal of trouble and unnecessary uneasiness as it came to me in a very indirect way and I could not place any confidence in the report. I hope it is not true. Have they heard from him since he left home? We parted at Knoxville, he going to Atlanta I to New Market Station to Buford’s Brigade1, where I remained about three weeks with some of my acquaintances, and after which took charge of some cattle with Mr Ed Cantrell until February. I suppose you heard James Cantrell was wounded at Greasy Creek, Kentucky2 by a piece of shell in the shoulder but is well now.

How is Hat and cousin Sallie progressing now? Lovely I suppose. Do you speak to him or not? I hope you and him will make friends again, as I believe I was partly the cause of coolness between you. I admire Mr Steadman but not Miss Raulins’ taste. She will answer for father and husband both but I think not much of that latter. See what money will do–you know my opinion of such matters. What Matt Saunders is it you speak of? Surely not the man that married Gabbie Ross, for I heard he was numbered among the dead long since. Tell Billie G he had better mind who he abuses in these war times; he might be called on account some day. I am glad to learn Silas has such a good school. I would like to make one of the number very much. A man forgets everything he ever did learn soldiering.

My Tennessee sweetheart does not resemble Lizzie T. very much, being much prettier, of course, and a little larger than M.C.B., but not so pretty. By the way, Mary is a favorite name with me. I never knew one by that name but what possessed all the qualities requisite to a lady. Perhaps I had better stop lest you think I am going into ecstasies over a name. There is something in a name, Shakespeare to the contrary. She used to sing the favorite song to me… And “Oh twill be sweet to remember when I am far far from thee, that the hand of fate only can sever my lasting affection for thee.”3 Ask Tingle to sing it for you, he knows it.

It would seem Paris had some great attraction for you I think for Mr. McCally is the sole cause of so much visiting, young and good looking of course. Give me a bid to the wedding won’t you? I like to hear of your giving yourself “go it while young.”

Perhaps a description of Prison Number 3 will be interesting. It is an important place of late. Number 3 contains over three acres of ground enclosed by a fence about fifteen feet high containing 69 houses in a straight line three deep with streets running in front of each house. Each house contains from fifteen to twenty prisoners with settlers stores in the opposite side near the entrance, where we are supplied with a few necessaries such as tobacco, pipes, paper &c.

If you think I write such a pretty hand I would suggest that you employ me as private secretary to do your writing for you. I am out of employment. Mollie I got the blues sometimes when I think of my situation. You know I am subject to them frequently.
Give my kindest regards to Mrs L. and Tom. Ask Tom if he is acquainted with a Mr. Crimes of Clark County. He is here. I must close for want of space. I am making a fancy ring intended for you and will send it by letter if I can, when it is finished. Do try and find time enough to answer this. Respects to Dora and friends. Goodbye for the present, while I remain yours &c.,

J.J. Haun

I live on Shenault Street. Put the no of Barracks on your letter, as it will be more certain to arrive.

Metadata: Sender’s location: Camp Chase, OH