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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.



Kansas Memory Blog

John Brown, Jr. collection

Posted by Michael Church (Digital Projects Coordinator) on Oct 6, 2009

A recently acquired collection of letters written by John Brown, Jr. to his wife Wealthy Brown is now available on Kansas Memory. The thirty-three letters dating from 1861-1863 document his service as a Captain of Company K, 1st Kansas Cavalry (later the 7th Kansas Cavalry) during the early years of the civil war.  Complete transcriptions of the letters are also available.

The letters are very descriptive of camp life. Among other things, Brown also discusses the problems of determining local residents' loyalty in the war on the Kansas Missouri border; he writes that he sent ten black soldiers to save a slave mother and children whose owner was planning to take them further south; and he describes the execution of a soldier named Driscol from Company H who stabbed another soldier, was court martialed, and shot.


Several of the letters include encrypted messages written in a numerical code or cipher.  In his March 11, 1862, letter Brown prefaced the code by saying “I want to write you a few words in figures.” So far we have not discovered a key to the code.   


For more information see the John Brown, Jr. collection. Additional materials on John Brown, Jr. are available on Kansas Memory by selecting the category People—Notable Kansans—Borwn, John, Jr.

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