August 26 1863 – John J Haun to Mollie Burns

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John Haun writes to his sweetheart Mollie of the campaign from Tennessee, life as a POW, and mutual friends.

Camp Chase Ohio
August 26th

To M.C.B.,

Dear Friend your welcome favor of the 18th1 came safely to hand on the 25th and it contents carefully pursued. But when at last my eyes at the bottom of the page and saw the name attached my heart fairly leaped and went—well no matter now—suffice it to say words are inadequate to expressing feelings in the news of a letter from one I had so truly despaired of came at last, and with it the assurance that I was not entirely forgotten. “I read reread and then read it again.”

As you remarked, little did I think a year would lapse without my seeing my old native town with so many hollowed associations and fond recollections of the past and numerous friends. “Flowers made to bloom wither, wither and fade.”2 I had little thought of leaving the state the night I stopped at Mrs Lemon’s to tell her and Tom goodbye. By the way please recollect providence does not always attend to his own patch. It would not have been a compliment to you as namesake had my horse been old and unsightly in the eyes of men. But he was just to the contrary, a little too high nettled at times similar to _____, hence the name.

You censured me with forgetfulness of you. “Oh what a word.” Probably it would have cost me less anxiety and consciousness had it been so, but you accuse me wrongly. It was the next thing to an impossibility at that time to send a letter from Tennessee to Kentucky but I suppose there was some sent through nevertheless. Had it been otherwise you would have received not only one but probably more than you would like to have been troubled with, for it seems you have been enjoying yourself finely, dancing, going to picnics, &c, &c. It would seem the gentlemen or dancing, one or the other, possessed far greater attractions now than in days of yore, for it was more than I ever could persuade you to do, not thinking it harm by any means as I have often told you. But the people are going by contraries nowadays. However I sincerely hope you will keep your promise with your Paris friend as regards dancing.

I spent my winter in East Tennessee at Sweetwater,3 a small town on the Virginia and Tennessee railroad, a pleasant little place. We did not leave there until the 10th of February when I joined my command at Beech Grove.4 Since that time have been in some close places as you supposed, closer than I would like to be again. You will probably think I am jesting when I tell you I have gone to sleep and had pleasant dreams while riding along some dreary rank but it is nevertheless true, being perfectly worn out from loss of sleep, riding day and night.

Of course I had a sweetheart in Tennessee—you know my weakness for the fair sex. The next question is what is her name. I know you want to know it. Well I will tell you. It was Mollie T., a lady of “sweet sixteen” as the novel says, with large blue eyes, bright hair and a nose slightly inclined heavenwards. She sings and plays with exquisite taste on the piano. What do you think of the picture?

What has become of Sallie McLeonnell, also Laura Ready. I am sorry Evan Cannin’s is in ill health. Married life does not agree with him it would seem. I should like to attend singing school as I used to very much, and to go home with Mollie. You would like to see me, I imagine, no more than I would you.

I understand the church members lay aside their religion on certain occasions, more especially the Methodists. Is it possible, bad girl, for one that was so opposed to dancing to participate? Bad girl truly.

Jones Griffin was moved to another part of the prison so I am alone. Our boys have all been removed to Camp Douglass. Howard Graves is very sick with the fever. I heard that some of our town boys had left Kentucky to avoid the draft. We are regaled every evening with music from a brass band and a sight occasionally at the fair sex as their curiosity brings them hither to get a sight at Morgan’s horse thieves. [Bammin?] is only second rate compared with to us. Criticisms are unnecessary.

As regards your letter, send to us again, for I assure you your letter was duly appreciated as it is about all the enjoyment we have, receiving letters from our friends. But I am overstepping my bounds and must hasten to a close. I heard from your sweetheart last winter, Tom Flanagan he was in Mississippi. Wouldn’t you like to see him. Frank A. is not married yet. I suppose it is postponed indefinitely. C.H.W.’s cousin Sallie N. asks your whereabouts at the present time. Poor fellow, he is here sick and I fear will never recover. I have been sick myself for the last two weeks but have nearly recovered at least sufficiently so to be out of all danger.

It is somewhat of a task for me to write a letter from this place, because there is nothing that would be of any interest to you, and as I suppose you have very few acquaintances here besides myself that I could make mention of. I suppose it is useless to say anything concerning my seeing cousin John and Thornton, for it has been such a length of time since I saw them in all probability you have heard several times since then. At any rate it will do no harm. I saw them in March last near Liberty, Tennessee.5 They were well and in good spirits. They left Smith’s Regiment about that time and joined with Breckenridge6 in exchange for Wallace and Howard Graves, so as to be with Albert. I have not seen or heard from them since.

You say my sweetheart is as pretty as ever—so much for that—and that she is awaiting patiently for my return. Well, I fear that will be some time yet. I am fearful she is depending on a broken stick. You ought to go and see her often, for I think you would find her quite entertaining but probably it will be well necessary to remind you of the fable of the gay grasshopper and his friend, and take warning of his case.

Metadata: Sender’s location: Camp Chase, OH | Recipient’s location: Georgetown, KY

July 30 1863 – John J Haun to Mollie Burns

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This letter initiates a long correspondence between John Haun and future wife Mollie Burns during the 18 month period of his incarceration at Camp Chase, a Union military staging area and prison camp.

Prison No. 3, Barracks No. 50
Camp Chase

July 30th 1863

Miss Mollie C.B., 1

I thought you would like to hear from an old acquaintance, the fate of which no doubt you have already learned ere this. This being the first time I have had the pleasure of writing to you, I sincerely hope you will not think I am presuming too much by taking the liberty of penning you a few lines, knowing you to have been guilty of a correspondence with a bachelor suffering the same fate as myself, why not correspond with another? Knowing your goodness of heart I take it for granted you say yes.

It is useless to give an account of my trip, as the papers will do that in a much smaller space and better style than I can. Suffice it to say the bulk of our command took up its abode in this delightful place the 26th of July.2 I would like to see you and them and could say as much as I liked but as it is we are limited to a certain space, and that very small as you will see. We have been treated very well so far and I hope it will continue while we remain here. I was captured near Cheshire3 on the Ohio River the 20th of July4 but not until my faithful animal, your namesake, gave out—so I surrendered. John Herritt, Howard Graves, Clem Nutter and Sinia Harris are with me.

I would like to take a peep at that picture I left with you when I left town but would much rather see the original. As there is no chance of that for the present I would content myself with the picture, but I suppose I will have to content myself without the sight of either. Well, such is life’s injustice. Webb said you made some inquiries about me but he had not time to go into particulars.

I must close as I have finished the allotted space. Write as soon as you get this, your friend,


P.S. Direct letters to Camp Chase prison No., 3.

Metadata: Sender’s location: Camp Chase, OH