This very interesting letter was submitted to the Tri-Counties site by Dave Clark
Transcript of W. C. Brown’s letter to Melvin Lewis Clark, former Union
Army Captain and commander of Company ‘B’, 101st Pennsylvania
Volunteer Infantry. The 101st was captured en masse at Plymouth
N.C and later transported to many southern prison camps. While at the Camp
in Columbia, S.C,, Clark and others attempted to escape. They were quickly
recaptured. Clark spent the night following his capture with Brown.
On the 23rd of May, 1879 Melvin Lewis Clark wrote to Doctor W. C. Brown, the man who had captured him back in 1865. Doctor Brown, who lived in the town of Betton, in Anderson County, South Carolina, responded on May 30th.
Doctor Brown’s well written and thoughtful letter reveals a great deal about the character of both men.
Col. M. L. Clark Betton, Anderson Co. S.C.
May 30th, 1879
Dear Sir: --
I was very much gratified indeed to receive your kind letter on the 23rd inst. It brought to mind that
Memorable night which I passed with you as pleasantly as the circumstances would permit of, about
14 years ago at my house. I am glad to hear that you got through the war safely, was promoted to Lieut. Colonel that you are yet living and, I hope doing well. We were of necessity at that time enemies, but I (am) glad to say now friends, and I would be glad to see you at my house now, as a visitor and not as a captive. We of the South have got enough of the war and think it best that our negroes were set free and that it was Providential. I am sure that not one in twenty of our citizens would have the negroes back as slaves, if they could by only saying so. I am sure that I would not. When we surrendered our armies, we did so in good faith, and we are not going to try the experiment any more. I can assure you, as we have had enough of war.
We intend to stay in the Union after this and with help to fight any other state back which may try to secede. We want to bury the bloody past, and fill up the deep chasm which has existed between North and South and shake hands with you all again. When I express this sentiment I am sure I speak the earnest desire of nine tenths of our people. I am sure, if it was not for the misrepresentations in new papers(sic) and untrue statements made by such men as Blain and others, to try to keep the dying embers of hatred blown up between our two sections, perfect good feeling and friendship would exist, as well as all good people on both sides earnestly desire and pray for.
As to the negroes, we would have no trouble with them, if it were not for the carpet baggers. We all have one common interest and we have and they do have, notwithstanding all the false statements to the contrary by designing men. I may in some other letter take more time to express all this matter to you.
As you may desire to know when and how I am doing, I will state that I am farming and raising cotton principally, have retired from the practice of medicine entirely
I am also a member of the State Legislature and have been since Gov. Hamptons election in 1876. I will send you one or two of my speeches. I will take great pleasure in exchanging papers with you, as I want to read and hear all sides and hold fast to what is right. What has become of your companion the Lieutenant, which was with you at my house? I do not recollect his name. I will be pleased to hear from you at any time.
My best wishes for your future success and happiness, I remain,
W. C. Brown