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Bruner, Jacob. Letters, 1861-1863.

MSS0994 -- 1/2 cubic foot

Jacob Bruner was from Antwerp, Paulding County, Ohio. He joined the 68th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on 23 November 1861, serving as a sergeant in Company C, and Quartermaster Sergeant with the regiment until 19 April 1863. That month he accepted a commission as First Lieutenant in the 9th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry (African Descent), a newly formed regiment of black enlisted men and white officers. Less than two months later on 7 June a Confederate force of Texas Infantry and cavalry attacked the 9th and three other regiments in their camp at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana. Jacob Bruner was killed during the assault.

Note: The language in Bruner's early writings may offend some readers. Readers should be aware that like many Union soldiers from the Midwest, Bruner's racial views are not progressive, but reflect the views of many whites of his generation. The readers of these letters will note Bruner's changing views on race as he witnesses the great social and individual cost of the "peculiar institution" upon both blacks and whites in the South. The extent of Bruner's transformation is apparent in his later writings as he ascends to the rank of lieutenant in the Ninth Louisiana Volunteers of African Decent.

The container list follows, with descriptions of the contents of each folder. Jump to the eleven letters written during his service with the 9th Louisiana which are digitized.

For additional information on the collection read "Jacob Bruner's War" in Preview (Spring 1992).


Finding Aid -- Container List

Jacob Bruner letters to his wife, Martha.

Box/Folder -- Description
1/01 -- December 1861. 4 items.
4 letters dated December 1861, to his wife containing references to his instructions that she "always stand firm as a Christian," and "live close to the Church;" writing for the Paulding Independent; Camp Latty, Napoleon, Ohio being "quite dull;" wanting his wife to visit and to bring his son along, and staying in a hotel if she was able to visit; writing a song for the regiment, and making $5.00; and the execution of W.H. Johnson, a deserter who had attempted to betray the Union army into the hands of the rebels, and Bruner's observation "so be it with all traitors."
1/02 -- January 1862, 2 items.
2 letters dated January 1862, to his wife containing references to Camp Chase being as much ahead of Camp Latty as a "mansion is ahead of a hovel;" Camp Chase looking more like a village than a camp; two or three thousand men in camp and more expected; writing songs for Companies C and E, and how much he made; knowing that his wife would rather have him in camp with the name of a "brave man and a patriot" than to stay at home and be called a "coward;" asking his wife to forget his faults, and his explanation that when he had been harsh, he loved her and the children "none the less," but that poverty had "ground" and embarrassed him and made him "snappish;" and writing a song called "Root hog or die," getting 1,000 copies printed for $2.00, and selling $12.84 worth in one day.
1/03 -- February 1862, 5 items.
5 letters dated February 1862, to his wife containing references to fighting for his country, and his family being as much entitled to the "necessaries" of life as those who stayed at home "at ease;" England and perhaps France coming in on the side of the rebels if the government did not make a "decided strike" within thirty days; over six hundred thousand Union troops in the field at an expense of one million dollars per day; having better hope of a speedy termination of the war than ever before; visiting the Ohio capitol which was a "splendid affair;" the Ohio legislature passing a law taxing all property 3/4 of a mill on the dollar for the support of soldiers' families; instructing his wife to educate their daughters; writing some poetry to his daughters; men and women by the thousands greeting them with shouts and cheers when they arrived in Cincinnati; two steamboats (Lebanon and Hazel Dell) needed to carry the regiment; the voyage to Paducah, Kentucky; the attack on Fort Donelson; the escape of John Buchanan Floyd and the capture of Simon Bolivar Buckner; a great many of the men having the measles; and about twice as many surrendering at Fort Donelson as Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
1/04 -- March 1862, 5 items.
5 letters dated March 1862, to his wife containing references to his claim that the Sixty-Eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry had been poisoned with bad food at Fort Donelson, resulting in much sickness among the men; nearly the entire regiment being sick with diarrhea; the regiment being called into line of battle, but not being involved in the fighting at Fort Donelson; advising his wife to wait until he sends money the next time before she gets a stove; his wife's father serving in the Forty-Eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
1/05 -- April 1862, 7 items.
7 letters dated April 1862, to his wife containing references to the battle of Shiloh; wanting his daughters to go to school; expecting a fight at or near Corinth; advising his wife to be careful with what money she had since he did not know when pay day would come and because there was "little charity" in the world when a person had no money; a few lines he composed about the regiment to the tune of "Happy Land of Canaan;" her father being wounded at Shiloh; her husband, father, brother-in-law, two cousins, and five nephews on his side being ready to die if necessary for their country's rights; instructing his wife to teach their children that next to God, their highest duty was to "venerate and esteem" past and present patriots and to regard the "good old Stars and Stripes as the beacon of Liberty" and as the "emblem of all that is good and great in human government;" rumors that the Confederate troops were rebellious and trying to desert, and that many of the rebels who fought at Shiloh had been drunk; being a witness at a court-martial of a lieutenant from the Fifty-Sixth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry who had gotten drunk while on picket duty; and Captain Patrick H. Mooney of Company C being under arrest for drunkenness and abuse, and Bruner's observation that Mooney was "worthless and unfit to command a company of men."
1/06 -- May 1862, 7 items.
7 letters dated May 1862, to his wife containing references to the evacuation of Yorktown and the surrender of New Orleans; expecting that the boys would be home by July 4th; being appointed quartermaster sergeant; George B. McClellan; Abraham Lincoln; and the evacuation of Corinth.
1/07 -- June 1862, 6 items.
6 letters dated June 1862, to his wife containing references to slavery; the "lordly" planters teaching the common people to regard northerners as a "race of heathens full of treachery, brutality and villainy;" some southerners believing that northerners denied the existence of a God and worshipped "idols of wood and stone;" the rebellion having assumed "gigantic proportions;" his observation that the "worst calamity" which could befall a nation was civil war; asking his wife not to do wash to support their family; southerners believing that Union troops would "violate the chastity of the women, murder the children and free all the slaves," and thinking that Union troops were black; Colonel Samuel H. Steedman; and advising her to be careful of smallpox.
1/08 -- July 1862, 5 items.
5 letters dated July 1862, to his wife containing references to the ambitions of political leaders having plunged the country into civil war; observing July 4th in Bolivar, Tennessee, with a firing of the national salute, the Stars and Stripes elevated to the steeple of the courthouse, and the Declaration of Independence read to all; bands of guerillas burning the cotton to prevent it from falling into Union hands; wishing that the war was over for "humanity's sake;" the end of African slavery being at hand; the Emancipation Act; and men staying at home and saying they loved their country being "cheap patriotism."
1/09 -- August 1862, 7 items.
7 letters dated August 1862, to his wife containing references to two or three hundred "niggers" at work on the fortifications at Bolivar, Tennessee; becoming a Freemason; his happiness that she was a Christian; Christian teachings and Christian examples being "seldom experienced or seen" among the soldiers; and receiving the "sad" news from Minnesota where the Sioux Indians had massacred approximately 500 white inhabitants.
1/10 -- September 1862, 7 items.
7 letters dated September 1862, to his wife containing references to a "hard" fight at Medon Station, Tennessee; two members of the company intending to have Captain Patrick H. Mooney court-martialed; advising her not to pay anyone a cent of his debts unless he requested her to do so; feeling that some day they would be above "beggary and want;" wishing that the war was over on almost any terms; and being tired of hearing that "army after army" had been cut to pieces without accomplishing anything.
1/11 -- October 1862, 6 items.
6 letters dated October 1862, to his wife containing references to the battle of the Hatchie or Davis' Bridge on October 5, 1862, and carrying the flag during the fight; the rebels of the south and the abolitionists of the north being the men who had done everything in their power to bring about civil war; the abolitionists loving the "nigger" better than they loved white men, and distracting the country and dividing the north by their "fanaticisms and extravagant political dogmas;" free white men of the north never tolerating the "nigger element" among them; believing that while the Negro was among them his "proper element" was slavery, and that the Negro was "socially and morally unfit to mingle with white people;" "traitors" in responsible positions doing all they could to keep the war going as long as possible; and having no doubt that many of the Union generals deserved to be shot as much as Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard.
1/12 -- November 1862, 8 items.
8 letters dated November 1862, to his wife containing references to seeing Ulysses S. Grant and James Birdseye McPherson at Bolivar; Colonel Mortimer D. Leggett of the Seventy-Eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry; forming acquaintances with businessmen that would be worth thousands of dollars; a rumor that Ambrose E. Burnside had been defeated in Virginia; the "damnable injustice" of not paying the soldiers more regularly; and Black Republican "nigger loving devils" who had been sent to Congress and were so intent on the welfare of the "wooley heads" that they neglected to pay the men.
1/13 -- December 1862, 7 items.
6 letters dated December 1862, to his wife containing references to Abraham Lincoln's State of the Union message; and the men knowing less about what the army was doing than friends at home. This folder also includes a letter from Oliver Bruner (brother).
1/14 -- January 1863, 8 items.
8 letters dated January 1863, to his wife containing references to Robert C. Murphy and the destruction of the Union supply base at Holly Springs, Mississippi; the Emancipation Proclamation; the "imperative duty" of the United States government to send Negroes out of the country and colonize them; not objecting to seeing South Carolina made a Negro colony; believing that they could never suppress the rebellion, and that they were engaged in a "hopeless" undertaking; being disappointed and disgusted with the way in which the war had been conducted; and seeing the Mississippi River for the first time.
1/15 -- February 1863, 7 items.
7 letters dated February 1863, to his wife containing references to the death of his brother (Oliver) at Murfreesboro on January 16; and approving his wife boarding young ladies attending school on condition that there be no "night sparking."
1/16 -- March 1863, 5 items.
4 letters dated March 1863, to his wife containing reference to the death of his brother (Isaac). This folder also contains a letter to his sister-in-law.
1/17 -- April 1863, 5 items.
5 letters dated April 1863, to his wife containing references to Abraham Lincoln having "at last sensibly concluded to arm the darkey and let him fight;" accepting an appointment as First Lieutenant in the Ninth Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers, African Descent; slavery being a "great drawback" on republican institutions; and being a "Master Mason."
1/18 -- May 1863, 5 items.
5 letters dated May 1863, to his wife containing references to recruiting for the regiment progressing slowly; and wanting his wife to spend two or three months with him in Dixie.
1/19 -- Partial letters, n.d., 3 items.
3 partial letters which are undated.

Other

Box/Folder -- Description
1/20 -- Letters to Martha Bruner concerning the disposal of her late husband's effects, July 1863, 2 items.
1/21 -- Published and unpublished poetry about the Civil War written by Jacob Bruner, 4 items.
1/22 -- Letters written to his children by Jacob Bruner, 1862-1863, 7 items.
1/23 -- Letters to Jacob Bruner written by Martha Bruner, March-April 1863, 5 items.
4 letters dated March-April 1863, from Martha to Jacob Bruner, and 3 letters dated March 1863, to Jacob Bruner from his sister containing references to a Union speech in the school house at Antwerp; his sister wishing that he would let the rebels take him prisoner so he could come home; hearing that the regiments which had been in the field over a year were going to be furloughed home, five out of each company at a time, with the married men first; and quilting.
1/24 -- Letters to Jacob Bruner from his sister and brother, 1862-1863, 5 items.
4 letters dated 1862-1863, to Jacob Bruner from relatives containing references to everyone having to mourn for friends and neighbors who had gone to war; and the death of his sister-in-law's husband (Isaac) of smallpox, and almost every family throughout St. Louis suffering from the disease. This folder also includes a letter addressed to Isaac McCoy of Company C, Sixty-Eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry from a friend at Triune, Tennessee.
1/25 -- Poetry and letters written to Martha Jewell by Jacob Bruner, c.1854, 4 items.
1/26 -- Military service documents and a teacher's certificates of Jacob Bruner, 1861-63, 4 items.
Jacob Bruner's teaching certificate dated October 5, 1861, from the Board of School Examiners of Paulding County, Ohio; his appointment dated 13 May 1862, as Quartermaster Sergeant of the Sixty-Eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry; and his discharge certificate dated 19 April 1863.
1/27 -- Miscellaneous writings by Jacob Bruner, c. 1850s, 3 items.
Miscellaneous writings (1852-1855, and undated) by Jacob Bruner including information on the Revenue Cutter "Harriet Lane." This folder also contains a document dated 20 March 1852, regarding the sale of State of Ohio canal land to James Jewell.
1/28 -- Miscellaneous letters to Martha Bruner, 1864-1903, 6 items.
Includes miscellaneous letters dated 1864-1903, to Martha Bruner. This folder also includes a copy of Instructions in Guard-Mounting, for Sergeants and Corporals by H.B. Carrington (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1861), newspaper clippings, etc.

Transfers:

The following issues of the Paulding Independent containing letters written by Jacob Bruner were transferred to the Library.

DateName Published UnderPage
9 January 18624th Sgt.2
23 January 18624th Sgt.2
30 January 18624th Sgt.2
13 February 18624th Sgt.2
20 March 18624th Sgt.2
27 March 18624th Sgt.2
10 April 18624th Sgt.1
12 June 18624th Sgt.2
10 July 1862Q.M.S.2
4 September 1862Q.M.S.1
25 September 1862Q.M.S.2
11 November 1862Old Zeke2
4 December 1862Old Zeke1
26 February 1863Old Zeke1
16 July 1863Letters written by Captain L.J. Hissong, Co. e, 9th Regt., La. Vol., concerning the death of Lt. Bruner at the Battle of Milliken's Bend.2

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