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Ye Olde iBrattleboro Archive

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Search the first decade
of iBrattleboro archives
at Archive-It.org
Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

150 Years Ago (1864 3/9)

Another night has passed, and such a night of storm. It commenced raining about 7 o'clock and rained very hard and snowed all night. This morning it is snowing very fast and thawing. The whole face of the ground is covered with snow and water. No drilling today. It is the best weather to make the sap run I ever saw. Well, I dated my letter wrong, should have been Sunday 6th. It is now Wednesday 9th. I have got in debt to you now two letters certain, one Saturday night, and I was made glad again tonight by another which has reminded me that I must hurry up this. I do not think that I shall hardly get it finished, as I have to go on guard tomorrow and I must get this off by half past 8 o'clock. I go on guard at nine tomorrow morning and come off at nine Friday morning. Perhaps, you may get this by the time the guard is relieved.

I will tell you what we shall be doing from ½ past 8 until 9 o'clock. In the first place the guards will fall in in two ranks in the guard house. Two files on the left will give way and the prisoners will be placed in the interval. They will all march out of the guard house and will stand until the new is formed, and marched on to the ground. The roll of the prisoners will be called and they will be marched back to the guard house in the same manner as they came out. Now, if you get this letter before 9 o'clock you will know just about where I am and what I am doing. Sometimes that guard house is not a very pleasant place. I saw a woman in there this morning, the wife of one of the men in our company, a Mrs. Reed, not a very handsome one, but a good woman, I will bet. She stepped up to look at the prisoners. While she was looking two that were chained together and han cuffed together came along. She looked at them a moment and her eyes filled with tears, and she got out of the house winking pretty fast. I expect that that woman would make but a poor keeper over those prisoners. She would let them all out sure. Well, it does look hard.

I am sorry that Jacob has so hard a time. He will probably go into the invalid corps. That is not a very hard place, and a man that is transferred gets the same pay from the State and Government. Those that enlist as invalids only get Government pay of $13.00 per month. I will make inquiry for Mrs. Brown. Probably can find out if she can draw the pay, as most likely there must be some cases similar to hers here. I can write nothing more about the disease that has prevailed here than I wrote sometime since. There have been several post mortem examinations and the disease is called cerebello spinela meningitis. Well, I have spelled it as near right as I can. The symptoms are the same as those in Charleston and die in perfectly the same manner. The disease prevailing in Winchester and Piermont is the same. In some places they give the name above and in some the spotted fever and in some cold fever, in some Typhus, but it is the same dreadful disease under whatever name it is called.

Well, you see I have got this sheet nearly full, but it is a poor letter, but I shall have to send it with all its imperfections on its head, for I can write no more until Friday. This disease, Meningitis has disappeared from this vicinity. It has been among children in town and among recruits in camp. I will give you a good night kiss, and retire to my luxurious couch.

Your own,

I have this evening melted over some brown muscovado sugar and am going to have some bread and sugar in the morning. Won't that be nice? There is but little maple sugar brought to camp yet.


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I didn't know we held prisoners in Brattleboro. I had thought that we just ran a hospital for the wounded.

I went looking for newspapers from this era to get a flavor for what Charles might have been reading. The closest I got to this date was a Phoenix from April 22, 1964. Lots of ads for medicines and cures, and lots of text about the war, the barbarians in the south that needed exterminating, and so forth.



I've been doing a little reading about the meningitis that was going around...a bad thing to catch even now, but an even scarier disease back then when treatment options were almost nonexistent!




There's a white-haired guy in good health

who comes to library at opening time--he's a 10am regular, I think his name is Alan--who has spent the past few-to-several years digging into American history, with an intense focus on the pre-Civil War era through Reconstruction. (He taught me that The Worst President Ever was Buchanan, Lincoln's immediate predecessor, who thoroughly failed to address the issues which became the ideological schism that only war could resolve once he was out of office.)

It's a damn shame he's limited to library hours, as he's a committed if isolated scholar. The Republic spends more on military bands than it does on the NEA, and that's been the case since the NEA came into existence. I view history as an art, as historians have their own aesthetic/perspective just as preachers, performers and poets do. In a "More Perfect Union" (POTUS Obama, before and a few years after his first inauguration), there would be a grant at least giving him a laptop and a hot WiFi connection (which is now as good if not better than broadband).


June 28

is the centennial of the assassination that set off a war that, at the time was of an unprecedented scale.

I don't want to be responsible for the drudgery of reporting the day-to-day homicidal madness that was "The Great War", and the AP wire will probably kinda cover it like they've done with the War Between The States, but if someone or somebodies want to buddy up to split the responsibilities it would be a great addition to this site.

Caveat: in order to understand WWI, one must understand the two Balkan Wars--the first was 1912-13, and the second was a six-week Bulgarian overstep beginning in August (I think) of 1913. The Balkan Wars radically re-shapes both the Austrian-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, and without knowledge of the intricacies therein is to be without knowledge of how Franz Ferdinand and his wife (of love and not the demands of monarchy) came to the end of their mortal coils.


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