John Brobst served as a corporal in Company A, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, enrolling at Port Clinton under Captain D.B. Kauffman and being mustered into service in September 1861. He was twenty-three-years of age at the time of his enlistment, stood 5'9" in height, had a Dark Complexion, Dark Hair, and Grey Eyes. By occupation, he was a farmer and his residence was given as Berks County. Corporal Brobst was mortally wounded at Second Bull Run on August 29, 1862, and passed away on September 12, at the Georgetown Hospital. His remains lay at rest at the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's National Cemetery, Washington, D.C. His father, Simon Brobst, was a soldier in the 96th Pennsylvania, who died of disease on August 24, 1862.
My thanks to Ms. Linda Moyer, a descendant of John Brobst, for her kindness and generosity in sharing John's letters with me and allowing them to be posted on this site. Please do not copy or reproduce without first getting permission.
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October 9, 1861:
Camp Hamilton near Fortress Monroe West Virginia Oct 9, 1861
I take the present opportunity to inform a few lines to you to let you that I am well at present and Hope that this few lines will find you in the same state of health Further I let you know that I like this playing soldier very well so far but we have not so good beds as we had at Camp Curtin Where we had boards to lay on but here we have to lay down on the bare ground and that is sometimes very soft it gets wet sometimes but we can sleep for all Further I let you know 6that our provisions has not changed of we get the same kind of grub that we had at camp Curtin Further I let you know that we are encamped in Camp Hamilton about one mile north of Fortress Monroe in Elizabeth City County Virginia state you can see the very spot where we are encamped on the map there so you see fortress Monroe and rite above fortress Monroe you see Hampton and between these two places you see Female College and Segars Farm and on Segars farm is the place where we are encamped at present we have about two mile and a half to Hampton that was a beautiful town but the sessionist burnt it down it was inhabited by secession but they burned it down so that the Union men could not take their winter quarters in there we sometimes go out and tear some of the houses down that aint burned down and fetch it in the Camp for fire wood and some of them fetched books along in the Camp that where left behind all the people left the town and went further south some left their household furniture behind old jeneral Tylaer left a pianoforte behind that cost eight hundred dollars and the soldiers went and knocked it all to pieces.
Further I let you know that you must take your Certificate that I sent to you to a Squire or a justice of peace and take your children along and tell him all about and tend to it so as you draw your money like the rest Some of the rest did draw already Mr Siglers Wife from Reading drawed ten dollars already you can draw from the time I left home you can get somebody to attend to it. Further that I Received your letter on Sunday last with kindness and was glad to hear that you are all getting along well and that there is nothing wanted by me but that I cant help at present bit Ill come home as soon as I can Write as soon as posible and after you money write a gain and don’t forget it your Husband
your faithfull Husband John Brobst
Direct to John Brobst 48th Regt P.V.
Com A in care of Cap Kaufman
Fortress Monroe Virginia
November 10, 1861:
Headquarters 48th Regt.
Camp Hamilton 1861
I take the pleasant opportunity to inform a few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present time and I hope that you are all in the same state of health by the time this few lines reach your hand the reason is that I write this odd letter that I wish you would get your and the children likeness taken and all on one picture of you can and sent it to me with my boot and other things when the boots are done. I let you know that we expect to go away from here to fort Hatters about two hundred miles further one Indiana Regt went away from here to Fort Hatteras just a few days after we came here but they came back again this Morning to this place and they complained about the times down there they said they did not get any bread to eat from the time they left here till they got here again nothing but crackers and that the water over floated every thing there where they was. They lost their tents and some of their clothes and could not cook anything unless full of sand there is always such a strong wind and nothing but sand and when they came they were nearly starved and some where bare footed and bare headed they looked hard when they came and if we go down there [ineligible] we will get in the same scrap but I hope note and I don’t care about going down there I would like to stay here where we are now here is a good place but a little cold I let you know that you shant send anything untill them boots are done then you write me a letter and I will then let you know what I want so this is all at present.
husband John Brobst
I let you know that I been looking for a letter all week for a letter from you but did not get one I was not going to write untill I got one bit I wrote one so if you please write me a letter every week to please your husband John Brobst
November 27, 1861:
At Fort Clark Regt. 48th Co. A
Novem 27 1861
Hatteras inlet NC
Novem 27 1861
Hatteras inlet NC
I let you know that I received your letter to day and it was read with pleasure and I was glad to receive a letter from your hand wile I did not receive one last time that we got the mail here it is ten days to day that we the last mail here we don’t get the mail here every day like you do at home And further I let you know that we had pay day to day and I did sent ten dollars home to Port Clinton to Dr Nice where you can get it it will be sent by express the whol Com will sent together but every ones is in an envelope so it don’t give me no [ineligible] we got paid for one month and fourteen days at the rate of $13 per month next time I expect to sent more than this time I will sent one dollar in this letter to see whether it will go safe in letters
further I let you know that I want you to sent me them boots and five pounds of tobacco of that kind what I always used when I was at home and one pound of smoking tobacco for the tobacco we get here is so bad that we cant chew it and then so dear yet that we can hardly afford to buy it and sent me two pair of white gloves but good ones and one dollars worth of letter stamps and one check shirt I got enough with one I ones wrote for couble but I got enough with one and sent me your likeness with it and if you want to sent something els of little [ineligible] you may if the box not quiet full you must get a box and put everything in an shut it up a gin and sent it by Express Further I let you know that we had a funeral yesterday one of our men died yesterday morning and we buried him yesterday afternoon in a Medithist grave yard about five miles from our camp he was sick about three weeks his sickness was the typhoid fever And further I let you know that I am still well and I hope that you are all the same at home and so I will bring my letter to a close with my best respect and love to you all at home
Write soon and don’t neglect it my Dear Sarah Brobst
December 16, 1861
N.C. Dec 16 1861
I let you know that I am well present and I hope that this few lines will find you in the same state of good health and all the folks at home and that we are still on the Sandy Island and not knowing when we will get away from here but I don’t care much for we have houses now to live and we live right comfortable now but we have to work most every day at building some more houses we are building about fourty houses for the Regt and we are building a fort here to and a middling large one to which will take about five or six months yet to finish it but I don’t think we will stay here that long.
Further I let you know that I will sent you a box of sea shells which you will find very beautiful to look which were picked up on the island on the Atlantic coast you may take care of them if you get them and I also sent some tea which the inhabitants of this island use but it has to be sealed off before used for the use of tea and only the leaves they use of it
I will enclose this letter in the box but when it will leave here I can not tell but I will get it ready to day [illegible] the mail boat will come here to day and may not you will please let me know as soon as possible when you get them and I am expecting that box that you was going to send with the boat coming next and further I let you know that in five weeks I received but one letter I would like to know what is the fault that you don’t write to me sooner So I’ll close my letter love and respect to you and all my children Whil I remain your husband John Brobst
I don’t want you to use that tea [ineligible] it is not healthy for you folks at home we never used any ourselves
December 27, 1861
Dec 27 1861
Hatteras inlet N Carolina
Dear I take the pleasure to inform you a few lines to let you know that I am all well at present time and I hope this few lines may find you the same as they leave me for by the time they may reach your hand [ineligible] Dear Further I let you know that I received that box last Wednesday Christmas and I found every thing good excepting the pies were spoiled they were moldy but all the rest of the things were good yet but I had a great trouble in getting it four of us started away from the camp in the afternoon about three oclock of the 22 ult after the boxes are in a little sail boat and it was very windy we had five miles to the fort where the boat or ship laid when the boxes were on we came down about dark and the tide was running out and the wind blowing the same way and we went by the ship and could not stop our little boat and so we went out toward the Ocean at full speed but we turned around and sailed across the Sound and it was as dark as pitch we could not see were we was and we went on, untill about ten oclock in the night we came to an Island were we stoped all night and we was away from the Ship about six mile out in the sound and there we stoped all night and I and another man stood there and held the boat all night so that the wind did not blow it away we stood in the water about three feet deep next morning we started of for home and it was ten oclock when we came in camp that was on Monday and I did not get the box untill Wednesday and I found everything well excepting the pies my boots are fitting well and further we are getting along very well at present we have no snow here like I think you have at home and we are working every day here building fortification so I will close my letter with my best wishes and respect to you all at home while I still remain your husband John Brobst
Write me an answer as soon as possible
I received your
January 7, 1862
N.C. Jan. 7 1862
I let you know that we got the mail to day from sixteen days but I was not rewarded with a letter from you I don’t know what is the reason whether you did not write or whether you did not write every one was rewarded with about a half dozen letters excpecting I did not get any one yet about my money that I sent home and I wish you would let me know whether you got that money that I sent and that odd dollar that I sent in a letter
And further I let you know that I am well at present and I hope that these few lines will find you the same as they leave me at present And further I let you know that if you don’t want to write me letters I wish you would write me one yet to let me know whether you ant going to write anymore and money you wont get anymore either if you cant let me know whether you got that what I sent And I would like to hear from you how you are getting along as bad as you wish to hear from me and how I am getting along and so this is all for this time and you can do so as you pleas about the matter so I will close my letter with love to you my Dear Wife while I still remain your husband John Brobst
Direct your letter to
John Brobst 48th Regt
P.V. Co A
February 1, 1862
I a gin thake the pleasure of informing a few lines to you to let you know that I am well at the present time where as I hope this few lines will find you in the same state of good health as it leaves me at present And further I let you know that we are yet on this Sandy island and not knowing when we will get of from it And that we had a funeral a gin last week. We buried one of our members by the name of John V. Spreece he died after a long sickness in the hospittle. We now lost two of our members since we left home and another one by the name of Thomas Smith we discharged and sent him home he was most to old for a soldier and had the Rheumatism. And further that Burnsides expedition is lying here for about two weeks already but he is now almost ready to start but a good many of the vessels are wrecked and sunk already this is a great place for wrecks here about Hatteras and if it keeps on this way he will make poor proggress And after all the Rebbels know all about this expedition but if this Expedition Succeeds it will give the rebbels a good stroke that is if the expedition attacks those places on the shore of of virginia and N Carolina and get posession of that Railroad that will all their Commications off with Norfolk and all virginia but if the Expedition dont soon start the vessels will all wreck before they get them off there is one ship wrecked with one hundred and fourty horses whereof one hundred drownded and only fourty came out alive And a good many men drownded in all those wrecks and a good many dies so from sickness on the vessels And further I let you know that there is a maile here for us but we ant got it yet is yet aboard of the vessels but we expect it to day yet so this is all for this time untill the mail reaches our hand maby I will have some question to answer from your husband
to you my wife Sarah
February 1, 1862
N Carolina Feb 1 1862
I let you know that I received your letter dated the 15th of January to day in good health and well condition and was glad to receive it because I did not receive one for so long a time but we ant got the mail since the 10th of last month and that is the difficulty here that we don’t get the mail regular. And further I had ones before mentioned in a letter about that that Pearson want Ellen I stated that you might do as you pleas about it that you might give her to him untill I do come home if you want you must not got the letter but I did sent it And I did sent one to Pearson also the same time and stated same way
And further I let you know that we ant had no mail here yet and we had non yet or of course we would have seen it we have first rate weather here we get our share rain here bit the weather is not so very cold nor so very warm it is mild moderate what is called weighty to hot nor to cold And further I let you know that I would like to come home sometime but we are all right we cant get away we are worse than in a prison here but we have good quarters here to live in that is the best of it And further I let you know that I wish to know who reads your letters at home and you will pleas and let me know in the next letter and who written them So this is all for this time and I close my letter by senting my best respects to you my wife Sarah Brobst
from your husband
write me an answer as soon as possible
February 12, 1862
Feb. 12 1862
I let you know I am well at present and hoping that this few lines may find you in the same state of health as it leaves me at Hatteras And Further I let you know that we are yet on Hatteras Island but expecting to leave in a few days for some other place but where I can not tell yet we heard reports of Burnsides Expedition to day and pretty good ones too The reports are that Roanoke Island is taken and about 28 killed and two hundred wounded on our side and our men captured about thirty large guns and about three thousand small arms with over two thousand prisoners and some more reports that I don’t remember anymore Our whole Brigade was formed in a Square four Regts of infantry and the Rhode Island Battery the Rhode Island Battery fired 34 shots for a salutation for the glorious victory of our Expedition how many that are killed on the rebbel side I can not explain And further I let you know that we got paid a gin on the 10th for two months and I received twenty-six dollars of which I send twenty-two and a half dollars home or on the road home and if you get it take care of it so it don’t get stole and don’t spent it all not more than you must The money will be sent to William C Guldin in Port Clinton by express and you have to pat the expressage at home this time and write me one answer as soon as you get or as soon as you get this letter and let me know whether you got it or not And further I wish you would sent me a dozen of posage stamps I believe that the letters will go sureer when they are paid for so this is all at present so much from your husband John Brobst
Write me an answer as soon as possible my wife Sarah Brobst
March 17, 1862
Camp near Newbern North Carolina March 17th 1862
This finds us all well and hope you are all the same. We left Hatteras Inlet on the 13th and expected to be in the attack on Newbern but the George Peabody the boast we left on run on a sand bar and detained us we got in sight of the fleet in Neuse River about dusk, a dense fog [ineligible] and prevented us going any further, so we waited till the next morning and proceeded up the River but long before we got up to the fleet we heard the gun boats bombard the rebels forts. General Burnsides immediately ordered us to land, we did so and then had to carry eighty thousand cartridges about seven miles but before we got to the battle ground the four Brigades had stormed their Battery and taken possession of it. Dear Wife you cannot imagine the scene of the battle ground, at one place you could see an arm at another a leg and at another probably head severed from the body I saw eleven dead rebels lying side by side all shot in the head or breast, our balls were well aimed and every shot brought home. Our party took about three hundred prisoners among them a Col by the name of Avery. He was also taken at Roanoke Island but exchanged and now is again in our hands. The enemy acknowledge having thirty thousand men we had fifteen or very near that number. Some of the prisoners say they thought we had fourty thousand men when we first landed but now see they were deluded by their superiors. Genl. Lee had command here but fortunately (like Floyd) happened to be among the missing when the battle commenced; so the commanded rested upon General Branch; he also escaped, he just a couple hours before the battle commenced had business in Goldsboro. Our dead and wounded are a good many; still, I think that that of the enemy exceed ours. I can tell you the place looks awful horses by the dozen lying dead under the wagons, and quite a number lay along the way dead no doubt wounded in the battle and died on the way retreating The number of heavy guns captured is about one hundred and twenty small arms very few knapsacks blankets cartridge boxes and almost anything we need we can get here. The enemy had long knifes very near as long as my army pretty near in the shape of a sword. They expected to cut us up awfully but I guess they missed it. However we missed the battle, we came but a couple hours to late. Newbern is in our possession and all North Carolina will be before long. We expect to go to Fort Macon or Rather Beaufort City. That will be in our possession before we are a week older. As soon as we have anything new to write you can depend upon it I will have you know the four companies left at Hatteras will soon join us. The Cols Horse and pretty near all the things belong to us are now here. I guess I must now close for want of more time. The sun very warm. Direct in care of Capt. D.B. Kaufman. Company A 48th Regiment PA Campe near newberne North Carolina. Col. James Nagle commanding give my love to all accept the same yourself.
I remain as ever your Aff Husband
May 15, 1862:
I received your dear letter of May 4th on the 14th and see from it that you and the dear children are all right healthy and lively, which cheers my heart for it always my prayer to God that he will keep you all healthy. Sarah you write the God had given us the gift of a little son, which is a double joy for me and I think it must be right sparing so that you can buy a new gown. Dear Sarah you write that I should write you with a name; I can not fulfill your wish because every day I hear too many names but none please me, so make your own choice and give him a name that you like. This is fine with me for I think a name is not that important. Dear wife you write that I should send all of my money home. I always send as much as I can spare for I must have some because I have no jobs by which to make anything like B. Meier. I have more duties to do than he does and I can not run around all day in the village like he can. If you really are in trouble and need money sell a cow for I think that two are too many for you. I can not send any more money or I would suffer and I certainly do not want that yet. Dear Sarah I received the mailing and I thank you very much. You write that I should let you know what all I have sent; I do not know any more myself; I sent a parcel in care S. Beyer, one to you in care of D. Finck, Port Clinton, and one with Benjamin Meier in care of D. Finck in Hamburg. I think that you have probably received all of them. I do not know any more news to write to you. My heartfelt wish is that my letter arrives to find you and children healthy as it leaves me. I remain your faithful husband untill death. Greetings to all good friends and acquaintances who ask about me.
August 8, 1862
Camp Near Fredericksburg
Va Burnside’s 9th
Army Corps August
Laboring under the impression that you would once more hear from me, I take the opportunity of writing to you hoping it will reach you and all enjoying the same blessing as I am at present, that is good health. Although the heat is intense the health of the men is comparatively good, another consulation we have that is excellent water here from the mountain. We left Newport News the 2nd day of this month and arrived here on the eve of the fourth. This department is called Burnside’s 9th Army Corps—On our way from Newport News here a solider in Comp D shot himself. The ball punctuating his abdomen and came out his right haunch from the effects of which he died in about 30 hours afterward. His remains were interred at Aquia Creek, peace to his ashes. On Tuesday Genl. King’s Division had a brisk skirmish with the enemy a couple miles from here. The loss on either side I am unable to state as I did not get the [ineligible]. David Nicolson Capt. Kaufman’s cook left for Port Clinton this morning. I presume there will be a happy meeting when he gets home. Captain Kaufman is now Major of the Regiment. The box you sent to Newbern for me I have not as yet received. You would better go to E.J. Kivlin and see him about it. He can write to the General Express office and have matters attended for as the things cost very near or quite fifteen dollars. I cannot afford to lose that amount at present so you will oblige me very much in attending to it immediately. The last letter you wrote to me I did not answer as we had a very heavy march and do I postponed it till now. Trusting this will reach you all enjoying good health. I will close my love to all write soon.
Your aff Husband
Corporal John Brobst
Company A 48th Penna
Regt Burnsid’s 9th
(via Washington City, D.C.)
From Sarah Brobst to John Brobst: August 20, 1862:
Port Clinton Agt 20 1862
I will now try and answer your letter bearing date of the 17th Augt and in reply will leave you know that we are all well at present hoping that these few lines may find you all enjoying good health and happiness. Further I will leave you know that i received your likeness and was very glad to hear from you and see your face once more you write about not getting a box i only sent you one and i guess you got that as you sayd you did not get that Box but i guess you think i am sending another Box did you not get that Box with the Tobacco &c in please write to me in Next Letter did you not get 2 shirts in the box which i have sent but write to me right away and leave me know all about it--George Wagoner lost 2 children with sore throat (Canal George) have you forgot me as the rest got money and i did get none. how is it. tell me I paid for the Boxes which i owe 1.13 and the [ineligible] was 1.25 I received another which cost 113 now i guess you know all about the Boxes. I have no more at present did you get those handkerchiefs or not. no more but my love to you. write soon.
from your wife Sarah Brobst