1864: Henry Clay Thompson to Melinda Brown

I could not find an image of Henry but here is one of Alfred R. Wilson who served in Co. H, 9th Iowa Cavalry (Photo Sleuth)

This letter was written by Henry Clay Thompson (1846-1930), the son of John Quincy Thompson (1814-1856) and Melinda Phillips (1824-1914) of Linn county, Iowa. Henry enlisted on 21 September 1863 as a musician in Co. K, 9th Iowa Cavalry. In April 1864 he was promoted to 8th corporal and mustered out as 3rd Corporal in February 1866.

Henry enlisted at the same time and in the same company with his older brother Jonas William Thompson (1843-1864). Sadly, Jonas died while in the service and the “particulars” of his death are described in the following letter though the exact date is not given. According to a family record, Jonas died on 5 August 1864 at DeVall’s Bluff, Arkansas, at the age of 21.


Austin, Prairie county, Arkansas
September 27, 1864

Dear Mother,

It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to answer your kind and welcome letter which I received about ten days ago. I am well at present and I hope when these few lines come to hand, they will find you well and enjoying good health. You must excuse me for not writing sooner for I could not get time to write for the night I received your letter the news came that we had to leave the next morning at daylight. We was gone eight days out on a scout and I could not write till we got back to camp.

Well, I will tell you all about Jonas’ sickness. We was in camp at DeVall’s Bluff when he was taken sick. We was ordered out to Brownsville about twenty-five miles from there and he had to ride a horseback out there. We stayed there three days and he got worse all the time and he only lived five days after we got back to the Bluffs. He was taken to the hospital as soon as we got back and I went and stayed with him all the time he was sick and took as good care of him as I could till he died. His disease was the congestive chills. He suffered a great deal while he was sick but he had his senses the most of the time he was sick. He did not talk much while he was sick. I did not hear him say anything about you or any of the family. He was so sick he could not talk much.

He was buried in his uniform the way all soldiers are buried. Well, I have wrote all the particulars concerning his sickness and death.

Well, about that note of Hearts, I believe he left that note with Bryan. You can write to Bryan and have him collect it and send the money to you. I believe the note was 18 dollars with ten percent interest.

The time seems very lonesome since Jonas died but his time had come and he was called away very sudden. Well, it is getting late and I will have to bring my letter to a close by sending you my love and best respects to all the family. So goodbye. write soon and don’t forget to write all the news.

From your affectionate son, — H. C. Thompson

To his beloved mother, Melinda Brown

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