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Brunt, William (fl. 1863-1865) [Collection of William Brunt, D company, 16th regiment, USCT, infantry] [decimalized]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07006 Author/Creator: Brunt, William (fl. 1863-1865) Place Written: [various places] Type: Header Record Date: June 1863 to August 1865 Pagination: 14 letters Order a Copy

Brunt was a passionate patriot and his letters are filled consistently with pro-Union and anti-slavery sentiments. He writes on a combination of subjects, including home life, reports on health of fellow soldiers, camp life and politics and battle. He discusses deserters and disloyal soldiers, strife between officers and misbehaving soldiers (of whom he greatly disapproves). Some notable letters mention particular battles or Civil War figures, Brunt's activities in recruiting and enlisting Union soldiers (particularly freed slaves), his role in educating them for several hours per day, his refusal of offers from slaveowners to buy back their freed slaves, the role of women during wartime, and also such unlikely topics as contemporary attitudes on divorce.

William Brunt was, at the start of the correspondence, a soldier in the 83rd Regiment, Ft. Donelson, Tennessee. He was later made Captain of Company Division 16th Colored Infantry. Brunt's wife, Olive, and his two children virtually accompanied him to war, living in the nearby camps while Brunt was on the battlefield. William and Olive had lived in Kentucky prior to the war, but were disliked for their strong support of Union politics. By 1864, Olive was helping to run a contraband camp with Brunt, but by 1865 the two had divorced after Olive was unfaithful to William. Brunt retained custody of their two children and, despite the emotional strain which came from marriage of one and the death of the other, remained devoted as a soldier and anti-slavery advocate.

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