Cavalry chaplain writes from the war

On March 25, 1863, the Western Reserve Chronicle reported the appointment of the Rev. E.F. Brown of Baptist Church in Warren as chaplain to the Second Ohio Cavalry. This notice commented as follows:

This is a good appointment. From the first outbreak of the rebellion Rev. Brown has felt the most intense interest in the success of our arms, and the welfare of our soldiers. When the 6th Cavalry was being organized at this place, he made some little exertion to obtain the Chaplaincy of that regiment. Although he has felt at times that he was called to labor in that particular branch of the vineyard, he has since made no personal effort to obtain a situation, and his present appointment comes without his own solicitation.

On Sunday morning last, Rev. Brown delivered the sermon he has prepared for his introductory discourse to the soldiers, and if we mistake not, those who hear it will not voluntarily fail to hear him again.

In the evening he delivered his farewell sermon to his charge here. The house was filled to its utmost capacity, and none who were there, will forget the occasion.

At the conclusion of his discourse, a voluntary donation and subscription amounting to about two hundred dollars was made by his church and personal friends, for the purpose of procuring his equipment.

Rev. Brown left for his regiment Monday afternoon, and if his arrival is welcomed there as sincerely as his absence is regretted here, he cannot fail to do much good.

The next week’s edition of the Western Reserve Chronicle printed a letter from Chaplain Brown, datelined March 30, 1863, Camp Chase, Columbus:

Having left the goodly town of Warren one week since, and having seen some things, I am induced to put on paper, if you think them of any interest to your readers, I am willing they should be read.

I was mustered into service on Wednesday the 25th and found my home with Regiment, 2nd Ohio Cavalry, that evening; meeting, as I take it, a very cordial reception. On Friday a barrack was assigned me by the very gentlemanly Quartermaster. I am writing on a little desk left here by some person. I am sitting on an army chair for which I paid the sutler sixty cents, and the stationary is from the allowance of Uncle Sam.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, were spent in forming acquaintances with officers, and men, and in taking a general survey of the camp, and looking at various objects of interest. The men of this regiment make a good appearance. Seven companies were drilling at one time, one company has black horses, one brown, one dark bay, one light bay, one dark sorrell, one light sorrell, one dark gray. They made some terrific charges. They sent out their pickets as fast they could go, and as far as my eye could see, over ditches, logs, and stumps. The call from the bugler brought them back as swiftly as they went. One could not help thinking some person would be hurt. But both horses and men understand their business.

Thence I passed to the post, where some secesh were taking the oath of parole. The post captain inquired of several if they could read? They answered “No”. Can you write? “No”. Did you ever hear of a man called George Washington? “No”. Do you intend to go into the rebel army again? “No”. I have enough of that. Will you join the Union Army? “Not now, I want to go home.” Then the rebels will press you into the army. “No they won’t, the Union army are there now.” I was then permitted a sight into the prison where were about as many different garments as those I saw paroled, had excuses for their complicity with the rebels. They were not able to look a man in the face; just as it will be with the Butternuts at home, when this government has fully defended itself, and they are known to have been guilty of treason. There is a way that seemeth unto a man to be right, but the end of these ways is death.

Yesterday was the Lord’s Day. The circumstances being unfavorable for outdoor preaching; I prepared to go through the barracks and see the men. Major Henry Burnett, who is now in command of the regiment, sent the officer of the day with me as an escort. I talked to each company, ten minutes, and gave each soldier a testament, who had none, and thus I disposed of 250 out of 300 obtained from the post Chaplain. I also distributed four packages of tracts brought from home. I did not fail to visit the officers, and see that each of them was in possession of the word of life.

I have twice visited the Hospital to see the sick men of this regiment, I talked with others from Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania regiments. I have heard individuals say they wished never to be an inmate of such a horrible place. I almost trembled when entering it, but every man is well cared for there as he could be at home. They all seemed contented, and in good heart. I saw there a young lady who came to take care of her brother, making herself generally useful.

Colonel August Kautz being absent, Colonel Robert Ratliff is in command at the post. By his gentlemanly deportment he endears himself to all.

I avail myself of this medium of returning my heartfelt, and everlasting thanks to the many kind friends at home for their unexpected, and liberal expression of interest in my mission. It is a constant admonition to do with my might what my hands find to do. My horse “Warren is his name”, is a noble fellow. I could not have been better suited.

I fear that I am spinning out too long a letter. The bugle has bidden me lie down to rest, on my humble cot with one blanket under me, and two covering me, in this shanty, alone. With kind regards to all who believe the Gospel should be preached to every creature, in all the world, and love, and serve the cause of our glorious Union. I bid you good night.

E.F. Brown

Chaplain, 2nd O.V. Cavalry

P.S. Will the young ladies of Warren ransack their houses, and send me all the magazines they can spare?

Note: Rev. Edwin F. Brown was the second Warren minister to serve as the chaplain of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. When the regiment was organized in 1861, the Rev. Gaylord B. Hawkins of Warren’s Methodist Episcopal Church was commissioned as its chaplain. While serving with the Regiment in Kansas, Hawkins became ill and died of a “fever” on Sept. 15, 1862. Brown was thus commissioned to fill the vacancy. He served First Baptist Church from 1856 to 1866 with a two year absence to serve as a Civil War chaplain.

Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren’s Sutliff Museum.