May 29 1864 – John J Haun to Mollie Burns

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John Haun expresses his pleasure that the gift he made for Mollie has reached her safely and describes to her the circumstances leading up to his corresponding with an unknown Union girl, Nannie McClelland.

Sunday morning
May 29th 1864

Camp Chase, Ohio

Dear Friend,

Your kind favor of the 17th1 was received on the 24th. I was delighted to know you were in good health and that the ring had reached its destination in safety. I was fearful it would not reach you not on account of its value—but I am somewhat like the fair sex, I dislike to be disappointed even in trifling matters. You say you will not wear it until somebody’s return home. It is likely somebody may never return; you would never get to wear it according to your doctrine. However you can use your own discretion concerning it. I am pleased to know you appreciate it so highly. (I have been a prisoner ten months and expect to be ten more.)

Mary, I received a letter yesterday from my Ohio duck. What do you think of that? A Union girl. too. Now if you will treat me right clever and write to me often perhaps I will let you see her letters. I know you would like to see them wouldn’t you? The correspondence commenced in rather a singular way by my writing letters for a prisoner to her, a mess mate of mine who was left at her father’s house wounded for a short time. I never saw her but I think she is a nice girl. She says she hopes I will not go into the Rebel army again. She wishes to send me something to read if I will accept it— but I will bet she is not half so pretty or fascinating as somebody I know. She is well educated judging from the letters she writes.

I was not aware I had a grandma living. If I have, I was somewhat surprised to find such an elderly lady wearing rings, but tell grandma I have not forgotten her or the pleasant little chat we had on the steps one evening. Is your uncle Will at home or not? I suppose all the town boys have been drafted or left home so the girls are without beau for the present. Is H.H.W. still in town, and what are you doing?

You are a little selfish, sure enough. You can do silly things whenever you please, but I must not dwell I suppose. I will have to submit to you as I generally do. The old song says it is the devil’s hell on earth for a woman to wear the breeches. Be careful or I will have to don a certain kind of apparel I once spoke of in a letter to you. I know you do not wish to exchange with me just yet.

Is it Tom Barkley’s daughter that is going to marry Mr Wells? I thought she was but a child yet, too young to marry. Tell me where the Wells are from. They must be worth catching, marrying so soon after coming to town. I must close for the present. Mary write soon and give me all the news. My respects to Tom L. and best love to Chalk.2 while I remain truly your friend. Love to Dora.


Metadata: Sender’s location: Camp Chase, OH

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”