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Brother of Mine

The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie

Edited by Hampton Smith

Publication Year: 2011

In 1861, as President Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the Union, Thomas Christie wrote to his father, voicing desires shared by many an enlistee: “I do want to ‘see the world,’ to get out of the narrow circle in which I have always lived, to ‘make a man of myself,’ and to have it to say in days to come that I, too, had a part in this great struggle.” As it turned out, Thomas had an excellent partner in his quest: his brother William. Both signed on with the First Minnesota Light Artillery, working as “cannoneers,” responsible for loading and aiming big guns at the enemy. The First Minnesota saw action in major battles at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. But the adventurers also endured the monotony of camp life, the hunger of poor supply lines, and, in William’s case, the challenges of enemy capture. The ups and downs, the doubts and thrills are recounted from their differing perspectives in this collection of letters to worried parents, a winsome sister, and a younger brother eager to join in the fight. Their vivid epistles are enhanced by the familial connection of brothers in arms who eventually did see the world—and returned home changed.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. v-

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Introduction

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pp. 3-19

Among the many collections of Civil War letters and diaries in the Minnesota Historical Society holdings, the letters of William and Thomas Christie stand apart. As a group these letters provide a detailed account of two brothers’ personal experiences in the war. They also tell the story of their unit, the First Minnesota Light Artillery. ...

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The Collection Story

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pp. 21-23

In the fall of 1959, the Minnesota Historical Society received several boxes of captivating papers from the family of W. L. Stevens, some of it dealing with Stevens’s businesses in Mankato but also some particularly interesting letters from the family of Stevens’s wife, Sarah Christie. Librarian James Taylor Dunn explored matters further, asking donor George W. Monahan...

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1. “A Part in this Great Struggle”: October 21, 1861-March, 17, 1862

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pp. 25-38

My Dear Father: —
Please don’t be angry when I tell you that I have enlisted today in ‘the McClellan Rifles,’ a Company of Sharpshooters for the 3rd Minnesota Regiment. Indeed, my dear father, you know I ought to have gone long ago. Our Country needs my services. ...

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2. “The Bullets Came like Hail”: March 22-August 15, 1862

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pp. 39-71

Well, here we are, in camp at last! You should have seen how glad both men and horses were to get off that old steamer! Some of the horses could scarcely use their legs at first. The landing is on the west bank of the river, 9 miles above Savannah, and not far from the Mississippi line. ...

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3. “Your Poor Soldier Correspondent”: September 21, 1862-April 8, 1863

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pp. 73-122

My Dear Sister,
No doubt you have been forming all sorts of gloomy conjectures as to the cause of my long silence, but it is easily explained.
At 3 O'clock on the morning of the 17th we were roused by the notes of the Reville, and when our eyes were rubbed open fell into line. ...

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4. “No Glory in It”: April 11-October 2, 1863

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pp. 123-171

My Dear Sister,
In penitent mood I take up my pen to answer your last letter received some time ago. I do not think I ever passed so long a period before in which I felt so disinclined to all literary pursuits as during the past fortnight, and I cant write a thing that will satisfy myself when I don’t feel like thinking steadily. ...

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5. “This Dull, Idle Existence”: October 20, 1863-March 19, 1864

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pp. 173-212

My Dear Brother,
I sent off a letter to Father this afternoon, but, as it was but a short one I must write again to tell some of the incidents of our journey.
At Cairo we embarked on the stern-wheel steamer Emma,1 bound for Memphis, taking with us some bread, butter, and bologna, for grub. ...

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6. “Enough Fighting to Satify Us”: March 25-September 9, 1864

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pp. 213-260

My Dear Father,
We came out here on the 23rd, and are camped on the bank of the river, close to the ruins of the railroad bridge; my gun is trained on the pontoon bridge. The cavalry of the enemy are within four miles of us; our own videttes are in plain sight. ...

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7. “We Had a Lively Time for Awhile”: September 15, 1864-May 27, 1865

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pp. 261-312

My Dear Father,
At last we have settled down into the old routine of camp-life, roll-call twice a day, guard mount, feed-call, water-call, etc. etc. This morning we were inspected by Capt. Marvin, inspector Genl. On the Division staff. As always with us everything went off quite creditably. ...

Bibliography

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pp. 313-314

Index

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pp. 315-330


E-ISBN-13: 9780873518109
E-ISBN-10: 0873518101
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873517812
Print-ISBN-10: 0873517814

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: notes, index, map
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • American letters -- Minnesota.
  • Minnesota -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories.
  • Soldiers -- Minnesota -- Correspondence.
  • Minnesota -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • Christie, Thomas -- Correspondence.
  • United States. Army. Minnesota Light Artillery Battery, 1st (1861-1865).
  • United States. Army -- Military life -- History -- 19th century.
  • Christie, William, 1830-1901 -- Correspondence.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories.
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