John G. Linn Papers

John G. Linn was from Vernon County, MO who and enlisted as a solider in Company E of the 8th Missouri Infantry, which later became the 11th Regiment Company E of the Missouri Confederate Infantry.1 The 11th Infantry Regiment was formerly Burn’s 8th Regiment and was organized during the winter of 1863. The unit served in William Henry Parson’s and S.P. Burn’s Brigade, Trans-Mississippi Department, and fought in Arkansas and Louisiana.2 The regiment engaged in combat at the Battles of Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, and Helena.3

Linn was captured during his service and sent to the Union prison at Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island in December 1864. After the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, there were almost 13,000 prisoners held in the Fort’s barracks. Overall, 33,000 troops, officers and political prisoners were held at the Fort during the Civil War.4

Linn wrote home to his sister, Bell McKill, begging her to send him money. Depending on where a soldier was imprisoned, and protocols of the prison guards, a prisoner could use money from family members to buy goods, like extra food or newspapers. Moses Bradford was a Confederate prisoner of war, like Linn, and in his letters to his sister Bradford requested money explaining,

we are not allowed to received any money in this penn but if it is Sent to use we get a credit for it and can buy some things from the Suttler If you have some butter and dryed fruit I would be pleased to get a portion of it and Some nice bacon hams also The prisoners here are very well treated by the Officers that have charge of the prison we have as much liberty as prisoners could expect we can buy news papers every day.

Moses Bradford letter to Melissa Jane Bradford – Jan 23, 1864

The exact circumstances within the prison on Pea Patch Island are unknown, but it is likely Linn experienced purchasing freedoms somewhat similar to Bradford. Linn, however, described his living conditions as, “destitute circumstances as man was ever placd.”5 Linn was supposed to have received funds from his mother but they never arrived. Due to the inefficiencies in the mail and the high occurrence of theft, Linn told his sister, “If you can get a Check on Philadelphia or Baltimore & send it would be much the safest or send it by express.”6

Eventually, John G. Linn was released from prison and returned to his home in Vernon County, MO were he married Sarah Ann Harrison on February 15, 1871.

Contributed by the Bushwhacker Museum and Jail

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  1. Kenneth E. Weant, Missouri Confederate Infantry- 8th, 9th, 10th, & 11th Regiments, Vol. 2, Jefferson City, MO: Missouri State Archives, 2009, pg 119.
  2. Weant, Missouri Confederate Infantry, 110.
  3. National Parks Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Systems,
  4. Fort Delaware Society, “History of Fort Delaware”, updated 10 November 2010, accessed 10 November 2010, Delaware City, DE,
  5. John G. Linn, Letter to his Sister Bell McKill. Dec. 6, 1864. Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri.
  6. John G. Linn, Letter to his Sister Bell McKill. Dec. 6, 1864. Bushwhacker Museum, Nevada, Missouri.