United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Bruen, Luther Barnett--Correspondence
Ft Hamilton July 28th 1861 I suppose my darling little wife, about this time of day, is grumbling because she did not get a letter from me this morning (if she did not) and perhaps seated at her desk heaping coals of fire upon my head by writing a long letter to me. Well if you did not get one, you ought, for one was dispatched for you on Thursday. I received one from you on Friday night. Written on the 23rd. which was an answer to one you received the day before, when you received the news of the battle of Bull's Run. I can scarcely think of that disgraceful retreat without getting sick at heart. _ Have the Dayton Boys reached home? One of the New York papers announced their departure from Washington last week. Cut out and send me all that is said about them in the Journal & tell John Howard to write me the gossip of the street in reference to them. _ My dear girl you don't seem to get the hang of our life here. You apparently can't realize that we are only an hour's ride from the great City of our continent, & live a considerable village & that all the country between us and the City is about as populous as the outskirts of Dayton. We shall live here pretty much as we did at home. I have rented a furnished house till the first of May. If my nomination should not go thro' the Senate, I shall turn it over to the Surgeon of the Port, Dr. Lynde. You will need some bed clothes, table cloths &c. I was in the house this morning and think we can live their as cheaply and much more comfortably than any where else. The casemates are damp and I fear you or the children might fall sick in them. If we occupied them we should be obliged to board at a hotel about a quarter of a mill off, where we should have to pay about $20 or $25 per week for our board. House rent & living together will not cost us that and we shall have plenty of room & perfect privacy. we are not expected to live in fine style and none of the officers do. The ladies dress plainly and live in the same way and no body thinks of making it a topic of remark. I hope you won't distress yourself any further on that account. There are one or two army officers with their wives here & a good many wives & daughters whose husbands are "off to the war". Mrs Granger, wife of Capt G. is a very sweet lady. She's a native of Jamesville O. Her husband is an excellent officer & an agreeable gentleman. You will find all the army people pleasant, with, perhaps, the exception of the young ladies, of whom I cannot say so much, that is of the fear I have met. Col. Dimmick's family (wife & three daughters, one married) and Col. Brown's also; the one is at Fortress Monroe, the other at Fort Pickens. Col. Vogdes' family (what it is, I don't know) are here too. I have seen more of the members of the last two families, but they are represented to be pleasant people._ The village (my house is in New Utrecht) contains some wealthy people who live in very good style. Many of the houses are fine, but the culture of the people is not exactly in proportion to the style of the houses. Our officers have made quite a flutter among the girls in the village & its vicinity, but as most of the leave this week on recruiting service they will have a dull time henceforth. When they return they will have too much to do to spend much time with the girls, I imagine. Sam Craighead promised to come down & spend a part of today with me & I expect him by the boat in an hour or so. He will have to remain here until Sunday, as his portrait will not be finished before that time. I should very much like to have Mr. Ficher paint your portrait, but I don't know whether I can accomplish it, while we are here. His price is $150 for the large size, & that you know is almost a month's pay. I don't care so much about a portrait while I can have the dear original by me, & perhaps it's scarcely worth while to think about portraits until the times are settled and our country is once more at peace. Meanwhile, I regret constantly that I forgot to bring your daguerreotype with me, as I intended. It would have comforted me many a time to look upon them. Situated as we are, my darling, it requires at least three days for us to hear from each other. I hope you will try, therefore, to write at least twice a week. If I did not hope to see you very soon, I would suggest that as soon as you have mailed one letter, you begin another, but as it might interfere with your preparations for coming on, I will not ask you to write so much. I wish however, that you would hurry your preparations, so that you can leave home by the first opportunity that offers, after you have heard of the confirmation of my appointment. If I have sufficiently accurate information of the time of your departure & the route you purpose to take, I will try to meet you somewhere. I do not think you had better come by the New York & Erie RR. unless you leave at midnight, otherwise you will have to get out of the sleeping car at two o'clock in the morning, which would be very unpleasant. If you go by the N.Y. Central route you will have to get up at four o'clock. When you arrive at a station where you change cars & run the chance of geting something to eat after you have secured a place for yourself & the bairns to sleep comfortably all night. You can get along better without your supper & than your rest. I wish I could go for you, but that seems impossible just now, so you must not lose a good opportunity for coming on, and do not distress yourself about giving trouble. Make all your arrangements so as to give the least possible trouble by putting everything in your trunks but the children & a few indepensibles. Take a good lunch with you & plenty of it, and following my advice in the other respects and I'll warrant you will give no particular trouble to every body. And if you will let me know your route, I will try to meet you somewhere & retrieve whom ever has the honor of escorting you, of the major part of his trouble. I hope Howard has recovered by this time & that your folks & mine are well. I never had a very high opinion of H.'s trip & not much astonished that it made him sick. _ Make my respect Mr Forrer & give my love to mother and Mary. I would like to be home to kiss Sella & Frank & Robby & ride them on my knee once more & to have a good talk & a kiss or so from my darling wife. Thine, as ever, Luther Questions answered 1. I don't remember about the bill at Van Ausdal's 2nd. Davis & Cuppy hold my checks for the same amount on the Dayton Bank (where I have no money) If the latter are not presented & protected when due, I can not be compelled to pay them & D&C's checks may be given up when mine are returned. I would like to have all mine taken up before you come such. 3. When you come away put it in John Howard's hands. Please make out & send me an exact copy of the other Davis & Cuppy papers & I will send home full & explicit instructions. 4. My books & book cases will have to go home I suppose; you might set them in the corner by the closet in the library. 5th Mr Davis has the fence posts. If any body can be had to do the work cheaper, let him have it, if he is a good & honest workman. 6th I think I wrote you to bring towels, napkins, pillow cases. We shall probably need comforts but perhaps we can buy them here. You may as well bring your forks & spoons, butter knives & best table knives. 7th The papers are all paid for. 8th The clothes I left are not very valuable, and unless I come back home again may as well be given away. At any rate I don't remember any article worth saving.
Catharine Mitchill '31 Collection of Family Letters, Wellesley College Library, Special Collections