In 1859, 64-year old Matthew Brown brought his wife, Nancy Tate Brown, and their six children from Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, to Miller County, Missouri. Matthew became a merchant in Richwoods, Missouri. Brown was followed to Missouri by William and Susan Tallman and their five children along with William’s brother, Charles, and his wife, Isabella, and their seven children. The three families had been neighbors in Pennsylvania, and were among the many families who migrated from Pennsylvania to Missouri prior to the war. William and Charles Tallman began farming when they arrived in Richwoods, located in Miller County, Missouri.
Being from Pennsylvania, it was natural that the Tallman and Brown boys served in the Union Army. William Tallman’s son, John B. enlisted in 1861, at the age of 22, in the Osage County Regiment, Missouri Home Guard. His cousin Jeremiah “Jerry” C. Tallman also joined the same regiment. In mid-1862, John B. joined the 8th Missouri Cavalry as a sergeant and was later promoted to adjutant. John B. Tallman’s brother, Jeremiah “Jerry” W. Tallman, joined Capt. Cary Gratz’s Co. F. 1st Missouri Infantry Volunteers in 1861, which was reorganized as the 1st Light Artillery Missouri Volunteers. Jerry W. later joined the 48th Missouri Infantry and then the 50th Missouri Infantry in 1864, along with his cousin William B. Tallman. That same year, their youngest brother, Robert Thomas “Tom” Tallman and their cousin Charles W. Tallman, joined the 47th Enrolled Missouri Militia in April 1864, and then the 48th Missouri Infantry in August 1864.
Matthew Brown’s son, John D., also enlisted in the Union Army. John D. Brown served with Jeremiah “Jerry” W. Tallman in Capt. Cary Gratz’s Co. F. 1st Missouri Infantry, which would later become the 1st Missouri Light Artillery Volunteers. John though had to be admitted to the Insane Hospital in Washington D.C. on September 24, 1863.
The 1st Missouri Light Artillery Volunteers had been involved in numerous large campaigns prior to John D. Brown’s hospitalization. They participated in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee (April 6–7, 1862), the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi (April 29 – May 30, 1862), the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi (May 18 – July 4, 1863), and then they repulsed Confederate General Theophilus Holmes’ attack on Helena, Arkansas in August 1863.
John D. Brown and the 1st Missouri Light Artillery Volunteers had endured hard service and witnessed horrific scenes of death, which was perhaps more than John’s mental capacity could handle. He received a medical dis¬charge in July 1864, and returned to Miller County, Missouri. Apparently, his condition improved, because he married July A. in 1866, and had four children, Bell, Mary E., Marcus W., and Frank R. by 1880.
Handwritten letters were the main form of communication between soldiers and their relatives during the Civil War. Letters from this time read as long, continuous conversations between the two parties, always hoping for a rapid reply from the addressee. However, due to the inefficiencies in the mail system, relatives would often repeat the same information in several letters, because they did not know which, if any of their letters, had made it to their loved ones. In 1862, Martha Tallman wrote to her brother, John B. Tallman, on the subject of letters.
My dear brother Hanna [Hannah M. Brown] came up this afternoon she had just received your letter & a note from John [D. Brown], your cry seems to be letters from home, well it is strange you don’t receive them for I assume you have written Father [William Tallman] & Tom [Robert T. Tallman] have written & I can’t tell how often I have. I wrote you last day before New Years, John [B. Tallman] too has, I don’t suppose they will reach you,
-Martha Tallman letter to Jeremiah Tallman – January 9, 1862
Soldiers became desperate to hear from their families and for news from home. They even gladly read each other’s letters just to hear about familiar places and everyday situations; anything to take their mind off the war and their struggles. Robert T. Tallman, wrote to William Brown, with an interesting suggestion as a possible means to encourage more communication.
I have not had a letter for two weeks what is our folks doing. tell them I am dead and mabe they will send for my bounty and wages, and I will hear from them that way if no other.
–Robert T. Tallman letter to William Brown – February 11, 1865
John D. Brown’s letter to his sister, Hannah, in August 1862, held a lot of information regarding his location and the route which his unit was taking. “We are on the Fayetteville road, 26 miles south of Springfield, but I don’t know how long we are to stay out. I think not very long though, as we did not fetch a large supply of provisions with us. I am sorry that we did not stay at Springfield longer”
While letters were the soldiers’ primary source of information on their home towns, families, and friends; newspapers helped to keep the soldiers abreast of current events. John D. Brown informed his sister, Hannah, “I am going to send tomorrow for theTribune and Harpers Weekly. I will have them sent in my name to Rolla”. He asked Hannah to make sure to “Save all the papers, Tribune Harpers. I want to look at them when I get home.” He also expressed his frustration about the postal delivery problems in a letter to his sister on October 13, 1862. “The Tellegraph is in operation between here and Springfield, so I think if they can keep that from being cut, they can take letters through safely.”
Both John D. Brown and Jeremiah “Jerry” W. Tallman were engaged in serious combat and recorded their experiences in battle through their letter to their sisters.
The Kansas troops had a fight on the 30th of Sept at Newtonia about 18 or 20 miles south of here. We were camped about two miles north west of this place when the battle commenced we could hear the artillery quite plain. We hitched up immediately and our whole brigade was ready in a short time. It consited of the 2nd & 3rd [Missouri] militia 1st Arkansas [Cavalry], one battallion of the 1st Mo. Cavalry, & one of the 6th Mo Cavalry. Also our battery. [1st Missouri Light Artillery] Orders soon came to move and away we wint, five or six miles on the road. There was orders from the front not to be in a hurry, then soon again to push forward. We got within a mile or so of the battle field & were ordered to comp, but no sooner in parke, than ordered to the field, that the enemy were advancing. Away we dashed to the prairie come up in battle line. The enemy were already in line about 1 ½ miles distant. We could just see them. it was getting dark. They did not advance on us, but soon opened a brisk fire on us from a battery, doing us but little injury oweing to the darkness. Only one man wounded, he belonged to the third militia. We then opened & fired twelve rounds. Then our men fell back through the woods to another prairie about five miles distanct, lay there till morning then come to where we are now to await reenforcements. Gen. [John M.] Schofield & [James] Totten have arrived with several thousand & more are said to be comeing.
-John D. Brown letter to Hannah M. Brown – October 3, 1862
After the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in December 1862, the 1st Missouri Artillery won the commendation of General James Blunt for its effective service. Soon after this, the battalion was ordered to St. Louis, Missouri, where it renewed its equipment, after which it was sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they remained until the its surrender on July 4, 1863. After Vicksburg, the companies were dispersed, with Company F being sent to Texas and Louisiana, where they remained for the next year.
Constant violence and guerrilla warfare made Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas some of the most dangerous territory in the entire country. Charles Tallman told his brother Jeremiah that “There are plenty of Bush-whackers in the County, Killing & Robbing the Loyal Citizens frequently.” And this kind of violence did not end even after the War was over as J.R. Moore wrote to Hannah Brown warning her to keep an eye out for a fugitive who was a “notorious Ladie Killer.”
In the middle of the collection appears a letter from Jane Brown, Hannah and John Brown’s sister. Jane was a student in Jefferson City, Missouri, and reported about her school activities and the daily appearance of soldiers in the city. Jane Brown witnessed the War through a different lens than her brother or sister. She did not face as many hardships and the threat of guerilla warfare was almost non-existent since the Federals held control of the city. She stated in her letter that she saw, “The Soldiers march up and down street every evening I saw a couple of canon and a pile of canon balls for the first time in my life.” Jane would go on to marry Robert T. Tallman after the war ended.
Life seemed to return to normal rather easily for the families after the War ended in 1865 and they seemed to prosper during Reconstruction. However, Jeremiah “Jerry” C. Tallman struggled to find his purpose in life once the War ended as he remained in Tuscumbia, Missouri, in 1868. For many men, when they returned to their hometowns, they returned to nothing. Their homes burned, property stolen, and loved ones dead. Life after the War for many young men was as bleak as the War itself.
The Tallman and Brown families were brought together with the marriage of Jeremiah W. Tallman to Hannah M. Brown in 1869. Their union is the reason this collection of correspondences exists. According to the 1870 census, Jeremiah and Hannah, along with their six-month old son were residing in Equality Township in Miller County, Missouri. Tallman was active politically and served terms as Miller County treasurer, sheriff, and probate judge. The Tallman family moved to Crocker in Pulaski County, Missouri in the 1890s where Jeremiah engaged in the furniture business. Hannah died in 1878 and by 1910, Jeremiah had moved back to Miller County.
Contributed by the STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY of MISSOURI RESEARCH CENTER – ROLLA
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