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A Thousand Days to Live by Joe Lindley

A Thousand Days to Live

by Joe Lindley

282 pages
Story about Henry Washington Brown - Union Army's 21st Massachusetts.

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Category: History
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About the Book
A Thousand Days to Live chronicles the Civil War life of Thompson, Connecticut native, Henry Washington Brown, who joined the 21st Massachusetts Infantry Volunteer Regiment on August 19, 1861 in Worcester, Massachusetts. While serving with the 21st Massachusetts, Henry participated in, and survived, dozens of major battles and conflicts only to be killed by the soldiers’ greatest enemy… sickness.

For more than 150 years, Henry’s family preserved his Civil War letters, passing them down from one generation to the next. The collection is among the most complete in the country.

The book starts with Henry as a member of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers. The 21st sustained some of the highest casualty rates of the war. Of the nearly 400 men from the 21st who entered the battle of Ox Hill on September 1, 1862, in Chantilly, Virginia, for instance, less than 200 were left standing after the fight. Henry wrote his parents that the slaughter his unit endured was nothing but “wholesale murder.” In 1863, possibly to escape the high casualty rates, and the fact that he was “tired of hoofing it,” Henry transferred to the 1st U.S. Artillery (The Flying Artillery). It was with the 1st U.S. Artillery that Henry fought at Fredericksburg and witnessed one of the Union’s greatest debacles.

This book provides a great deal of background information so the reader can follow Henry as he grows from a naïve nineteen-year-old boy into a hardened combat veteran who survived the war’s greatest brutality.

A Thousand Days to Live contains fifty of Henry’s personal letters. They provide a description of his life as a private during the war as well as his well-guarded thoughts of events he both witnessed and endured. He wrote his last letter home one thousand days after the day he enlisted. The story finishes with heart-wrenching letters from his mother and father as Henry dies a slow, painful death at Satterlee Hospital in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Few soldiers in American military history have participated in more battles and have seen more death than Henry Washington Brown of Thompson, Connecticut. When added together, the casualties of the battles in which he participated exceeded 100,000. The battles Henry fought included some of the Civil War’s most devastating, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Fredericksburg to name a few.

Henry’s letters were donated to the Thompson Historical Society in 2012 by the Brown family and are now part of the Brown Family Collection now kept at the Ellen Larned Museum, Thompson, Connecticut.



About the Author
Lindley is a winner of the Historic Preservation Medal. He has penned several books and articles about long-forgotten local soldiers. His interest in military history began while serving in the U.S Army. He has a B.S. and a M.A. in Education and lives in Thompson, CT with his wife Sue.



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