United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Bruen, Luther Barnett--Correspondence


4 pages


Nokesville Va. April 3. My Dear Wife: I sent you a letter yesterday and one to-day, therefore I won't write you one to-night, altho' I rec'd yours of the 29th but a little while ago. This is commencement for the purpose of saying something which I might possibly forget, if I do not write for a day or two. A notice of a book, entitled "Illustrations of Universal Progress: A Series of Discussions. By Herbert Spencer, -- published by Appleton *and* Co, which I have just read in the N.Y. Tribune, has pleased me so much, that I wish you to buy the book and read it. I am afraid you are not reading as much as I would like you to and I think you will find this book both interesting and instructive. I should buy it myself for my own reading, but I have no way of carrying it on the march and to tell the truth we have little taste for solid reading in the army. The same author has written a work on Education, which has lately been published by the same firm. As you seem just now to be exercised on that subject, I would advise you to get that and read it, also. If the books are not to be had at the book stores, they can be sent for. Don't mind the expense, but buy them and then read them carefully. Monday evening. I stopped writing at this point, because I had determined not to send this letter to-day, not caring to have you vexed too often by receiving two letters in one day. I gave you my "views" in a P.S. (post-scrap) to my last letter, and, being a very reasonable person, I have no doubt that you subscribe to them heartily. We are having more snow and rain to-day. The outlook was so disagreeable that I have scarcely ventured out of my canvas house to-day, except to get my meals. As a matter of course I feel lumpish and dull, and obey a natural impulse to bestow these pleasant attributes on one who is most poorly armed for resistance. I do not think you need worry much over my hankering for the Judge Advocate's Bureau. Had not the Senate lowered its rank and thereby also its emolument I might have had my longing eyes steadfastly in that direction. But when I saw the Senate's amendment I turned them away from it as a thing no longer desirable and which I could not accept. I must confess, however, that within a few days I have begun to regard it with a new interest. Spending my time mainly in my tent, I have been thinking over my prospects quite seriously, and have come to look upon the place, tho' otherwise not very desirable, yet as one which would afford the greatest advantages to me in preparing to leave the army. This step I see every day more clearly must come some day, unless your happiness and mine is to be shipwrecked. I mean of course by leaving the army, only the strictly military part of it, which involves frequent separation from my family and a wandering, unsettled and unsatisfactory life, very distasteful to both you and me. The Bureau of Military Justice is itself a part of the army, but a part which is permanently fixed at the Capital of the nation and which would not often compel an absence from home. The official duties of one belonging to it, would not so completely engross his time that he could devote a considerable part of each day to some congenial labor by which money and reputation might both be earned. And it is on this account that I have nearly arrived at the conclusion that I would accept the place even as a Major of Cavalry, hoping that I can command the industry and resolution to do some literary work which would pay enough, together with the salary, to enable us to live comfortably and respectably even in so expensive a place as Washington. I should get something more than a thousand dollars per year more than I do no, and on that I have no doubt many of the quiet residents of that city live well enough. I should feel satisfied that in any event we had enough to live on, even I could not succeed in my other prospects and otherwise I feel I should become a most miserable and discontented person. With an assured position like this I could preserve any cheerfulness and independence, better than in other which seemed to be within my reach. Notwithstanding this change of views, I am not all sanguine. In the field and away from the point for effective effort, and with no judicious friend to work for me, it is not probable that I shall get a place towards which, no doubt, many longing eyes are turned. Were I there I am afraid I have not sufficient skill in crooking the pregnant hunger of the knee that thrift may follow fawning. I might perhaps have succeeded better in the world if I had. There is however somewhat of the old Puritan leaven in me, and I could better live on Franklin's loaf with water from the street pump than do it, so far as I am personally concerned. When however one has a sweet wife by his side and four dear little mouths to feed, one frequently wishes that his back-line were more pliant. Enough of this -- if it comes let me try to make the most of it; if it comes not, we will try to make the most without it. -- Tuesday, April Fifth. So, this is your birthday! Well, I have nothing but love and this poor letter to send you in remembrance of it. May we see many happy returns of the same! Perhaps some one of my frequent *epistals* may pop in on you this morning and remind you of me. Perhaps the one I sent on last Wednesday will be lucky enough to perform this kind office. -- I shall be anxious to hear from your election of yesterday and hope the Copperheads have been decently cleaned out, but I am afraid no such good news will come to me. But I don't feel much interest in your city elections now -- I lost it about three years ago! Love to our little ones and Good bye, darling, L.B.B. #Send me some P.O. stamps -- I shall be out before you can answer this.# #You may consider Herbert Spencer's book as my birth-day offering, and if you find it as interesting and instructive as I hope you may you will prize it as highly for yr own sake as for mine.#



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.