SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MANUSCRIPTS DIVISION 2001
| 2001 Gifts to Manuscripts | Front Page | Previous Issues | Manuscripts Division | Newsletters |
| USCAN | South Caroliniana Library | USC | Search USC web |
Bradley Family Papers, 1855-1929
Concentrated in the Civil War years, this collection of thirty-six letters and documents was produced by members of the Bradley family of Abbeville District. The principal correspondents are Patrick Henry Bradley (1813-1887) and his son Thomas Chiles Bradley (1842-1864). Three items from the Morrah Family are also included.
Patrick Henry Bradley (1813-1887), colonel and later general (1842) in the state militia, was the son of John K. Bradley (1785-1861) and his wife, Mary Kidd. Before the Civil War he was a planter with a large estate in the White Hall section of Abbeville District, an area that fell into Greenwood County when it was created in 1897. During the Civil War, he was captain of Co. C, Seventh South Carolina Volunteers for a year, served two terms in the state legislature (1862-1863, 1864-1865), and after the war was instrumental in the construction of a railroad from Greenwood to Augusta. The town of Bradley, in Greenwood County, grew up around the railroad depot built near his home. He served a third term in the legislature in 1881. Bradley married Jane Hearst Chiles (1821-1876), daughter of Thomas White Chiles (1793-1865) and his wife, Mary Hearst (1798-1871). A son, Thomas Chiles Bradley (1842-1864), was killed at Trevilian Station, Va., 11 June 1864. Other children included Mary Frances Bradley (1844-1914), Patrick Henry Bradley, Jr. (1854-1906), and William Oscar Bradley (1857-1912). The youngest daughter, Rebecca Irene Bradley (1863-1937), married John William Morrah (1850-1929), a merchant and planter who lived at Mount Carmel in Abbeville County (McCormick County after 1914). Patrick Bradley Morrah (1915-1992) was their son.
P.H. Bradley raised a company of volunteers from his neighborhood that became Co. C, Seventh South Carolina Regiment when it entered state service on 15 April 1861. In the collection is an undated roll of the company. Seventy-four privates and fifteen officers are named. P.H. Brad-ley was listed as captain, his son T.C. was fifth sergeant, a brother-in-law, T.M. Chiles, was third sergeant, two other Bradleys were privates, and many other relatives and friends were in the company.
Six letters and one undated fragment written by P.H. Bradley to his wife are in the collection. The earliest, 20 August 1861, written from Fairfax County, Va., was devoted almost entirely to plantation concerns. The necessity of finding an overseer was discussed at length, and Mrs. Bradley was given specific directions about the responsibilities of certain slaves-"Make George hunt them [the hogs] up & mark all the pigs & keep them from running off." A few lines at the end of the letter conveyed the news from the front. "We have a great deal of sickness at this time, & nothing discourages a Soldier so much as sickness. I have 29 men sent back to Hospital & 8 men sick in camp.…I have a hard time of it here, but I am working & fighting for the Liberty of my family & Country & it may be for their very Existence, & this makes me willing to make the sacrifice," Bradley concluded.
Another letter, undated, but written from Vienna, Fairfax County, Va., probably during the late summer of 1861, also noted the poor health of the soldiers-"We have a great deal of sickness in the camp, mostly measles. My company is the strongest in the Regt., & we now have twenty-three on the sick list. Some companies are nearly broken up for the present." Bradley also reported that he was very attentive to the sick men because "many of the men are so careless that they will not attend even to their own friends or members of their mess." The men had been paid the day before, Bradley wrote, for two and a half months service through 30 June. He received $325 for his services and promised to send to his wife a check for $275 or $300; however, he did complain that from his monthly pay of $130, he had "to buy all I eat." "Everything is quiet in camp today," he continued. "We feel as secure here as we would at home. We can hear Old Abe's Drum almost any night at Arlington Heights, & our pickets go every day in sight of Washington…."
Bradley wrote his wife from "Camp near Centerville, [Va.]" on 9 December 1861 with news of the suicide of a young soldier in a South Carolina regiment, the scheduled execution of two soldiers at Centerville "for insubordination & an attack upon their officers," and a duel between two officers in the Seventh Regiment which resulted in a serious chest wound to one of the combatants. He also reported that he, as the ranking captain of his regiment, had to act as colonel while "our Col. is also now sick, & Col. Fair [Lt. Col. Robert A. Fair] is grunting." His day was very busy with all of his added responsibilities-"I have to either write papers, sign papers, or attend to something from daylight till dark."
On 8 March 1862, the army broke camp on Bull Run and marched southward. Bradley wrote to Jane from "near Orange C. H." on 20 March. "The retreat has had a bad effect upon our Troops," Bradley observed. "The men seem dejected & discouraged….This thing of falling back & giving way has a ruinous effect upon volunteers. Our commanders are nearly all West Point men & I fear very much do not understand the nature or genesis of the troops under them. They treat them just like they would soldiers in the old Regular Army." "The first day [after leaving Bull Run] I tried to march with the men, I had three days rations in my haversack, my overcoat & oil coat & two blankets in my knapsack, all to carry. I broke down completely." Bradley then asked the "Genl." for permission to march with the wagons rather than with the men who walked over the railroad tracks. "There is so much stoping, that I can get a good rest when ever I want it," Bradley wrote.
From his camp on the Rapidan River, Bradley wrote Jane on 23 March 1862. "My own health in some respects is better than it was three weeks ago," he asserted. "I have got over my cold & my feet don't swell so much. I also have a better appetite. I still have Diarrhea & Rheumatism, but I hope by the blessing of God to again be restored to health, & if he has any thing for me to do on Earth, he will give me Physical strength & Endurance to perform it." Bradley confided that even though "there is some little stir making here the last day or two to reenlist men for the war,…I don't see any chance to reorganize the Regt. again….I find it impossible to raise my company again. You may therefore look for me home by the 20 April."
The regiment was reorganized for the war on 14 May 1862 when it was consolidated with several other units. P.H. Bradley did not continue in the army after his one-year term expired. He returned home to Abbeville where he was elected to represent his district in the South Carolina House of Representatives. He took his seat in the legislature on 24 November 1862 and continued his service through the end of 1864. One letter sur-vives from this period. Writing Jane from Columbia 23 January 1863, he reported on his efforts to find cloth. "I have just looked through the market & find it very bare of Calicoes." "I am boarding at Mrs. McMahon. It is a very good place. I am on the ground floor & have for a roommate Col. Sloan of Anderson. He commanded the 4 Regt. last year & is now in the Quarter Masters department."
One of the volunteers in Bradley's company was his son Thomas Chiles Bradley. He joined his father at Manassas, Va., on 15 June 1861, where he enrolled as sergeant in Co. C for a term of one year. A student, probably at Erskine College, before he enlisted, Thomas wrote home often while in the army. From the camp of the Seventh Regiment near Vienna, Va., he wrote a three-page letter to his mother on 10 August 1861. His state of health, and that of his relatives, friends, and the men in his regiment and brigade, dominated his thoughts. Except for two boils that bothered him "especially on a march," he was "well at present" as were his father and other relatives. "We have a great deal of sickness in our camp at present; nearly half of our Regt. are down with the measles and one third of our company have them." This was a problem that affected other regiments as well. "This Brigade [Bonham's] of nearly 4,000 men, could turn out 1600 men able for duty and it would take half of them to wait on the sick." Thomas also described his perceptions of the engagements at Bull Run fought the previous month. "I was an eyewitness to a part of the battle on Thursday, the 18th of July, which (I think) was the hardest battle of the two….Our Regiment was under a heavy cannonade for two hours on Thursday and all day Sunday without being permitted to return the fire. But about sundown on Sabbath evening they turned us out of our trenches, and put us after the Yankees, and we pursued them to Centerville and the last we heard of some of them, they were at home in Michigan."
When he wrote the next letter, on 11 December 1861, Thomas was in Mt. Jackson, Va., recuperating from illness. He assured his mother that "my health is improving and my strength is coming back pretty fast." His thoughts also focused on the time remaining in his initial twelve-month enlistment. "Our term of service will be out in 4 months and four days from today….There will be a good many glad boys about the 15th of next April and my humble self will be among the number," he concluded.
When April arrived, however, Thomas was ill and in the South Carolina Hospital in Manchester, Va., just outside Richmond. He arrived there 16 March 1862 suffering "with my old disease Diarrhoea," he informed his mother in a letter written the next day. He had marched with his regiment from Manassas until the men crossed the Rappahannock River where, upon the advice of the doctor, his father, and friends, he decided to go to the hospital. He and John Devlin, afflicted with the same disease he had, "left Rappahannock Station about 11 o'clock Saturday morning and arrived at this place for breakfast Sabbath morning." The journey was very unpleasant. "We had a pretty hard time of it all day Saturday. It rained on us the whole day. Devlin, myself and about forty others were thrown in an old box car, and so much crowded that we all had to stand up. The old box car that we were in leaked worse than any old house you ever saw and the floor was covered over two inches deep with water." Two more letters followed in quick succession from the hospital. On 30 March Thomas relayed the latest military gossip to his mother-"there is no reliance to be placed in any thing you hear these days, when 'wars and the rumors' of war is the only topic of conversation." He reported on 1 April that "John Bradley, John Wilson, and John Devlin left for camp this morning. I will be very lonesome now, since they left as they were the only men here out of our company."
Thomas Bradley recovered from his illness and, by late 1862, was back in service. He addressed his mother from Adams Run on 26 January 1863 and thanked her for the box of "eatables" which had arrived in camp the previous evening. He also remarked that "our regiment has at last been converted into regular cavalry…; contrary to the wishes of the men." The regiment had been created on 19 January 1863 by reorganizing the Sixteenth Cavalry Battalion Partisan Rangers (also known as Aiken's Partisan Rangers) and renaming it the Sixth South Carolina Cavalry. Bradley was not happy with the change. "I was opposed to it," he wrote, "as I joined it with the expectation of carrying out the regular partisan system in every respect; and all the men were humbugged into it just like myself." From Camp Bee, near Ashepoo Ferry, he wrote to his father on 17 March  and continued to register his unhappiness with his situation-"If there was a chance of leaving the Regt. I would do it willingly for I am sick and tired of some of our field officers, and could not be worsted no matter where I might go." Duty on the seacoast was not to Thomas' liking. "The sandflies worry us and our horses almost to death here, especially on picket in the marshes on the rivers where we have to stay eight days at a time," he concluded.
Still in the cavalry and in the South Carolina low country, Bradley wrote his father from Camp Jenkins on 9 September 1863 that he had "a spell of the chills & fever" and although feeling better, he was "still on the sick list." In response to the news in his father's last letter that his mother had had a baby, he replied-"I am glad to learn that Ma and the baby are doing well." The baby was Rebecca Irene Bradley.
The final surviving letter from Thomas was headed "A. N. Va." [Army of Northern Virginia], dated 1 June 1864 and addressed to "My Dear Parents." The Sixth South Carolina Cavalry had been ordered northward in the spring of 1864 and had participated in the fighting around Richmond in May. Thomas reported that his regiment had left Richmond the pre-vious evening and encamped two miles above Mechanicsville, but still five miles from the front. "Our regt. passed by Kershaw's Brigade last night, but I did not know it until after it was too late, else I might have seen some of our old friends." "Our company returned their short rifles & drew the long Enfield yesterday, which reminds me a good deal of infantry. They are very inconvenient to carry on horse-back, but will answer our purpose better on foot-the way we will have to fight." Before he could finish the letter, he wrote "the bugle is sounding to saddle up. We will move nearer our lines." Thomas resumed his letter on 2 June with an account of the regiment's ride the previous evening, estimated at eighteen or twenty miles, to a point near Bottom's Bridge. Even though active in the Cold Harbor Campaign, 1-3 June, the Sixth Cavalry was not seriously engaged; however, just over a week later, on 11-12 June at Trevilian Station, the regiment suffered heavy losses. Among those killed in action was Thomas Chiles Bradley.
On 10 August 1864, Thomas' parents issued an invitation to their son's funeral. "The friends of Thomas C. Bradley are requested to attend his Funeral, at Cedar Springs tomorrow at 11 o'clock A.M."
Four other war-date letters are present in the collection. One, from Thomas C. Gray to "Dear Sister," was written from the battlefield at Bull Run about 9 a.m. the morning of 20 July 1861, the decisive day of the engagement. Gray, Capt. Patrick H. Bradley's nephew, was a member of his uncle's company. He recounted the events of the earlier battle on 18 July-"The enemy's first shell on Thursday burst right before our company, and threw dirt over Uncle Patrick's head, my head and over several of us." Also present is an undated fragment of a letter from Dr. John Wardlaw Hearst (1813-1873) written ca.12 January 1864 from Charleston while the city was under fire from the enemy. "We have had rather quiet times in the city since the night of 25 Dec.-not much firing till yesterday evening when the yanks again strew shells into the city." Hearst also related the circumstances of charges of drunkenness being lodged against Col. [Thomas B.] Roberts, First South Carolina State Troops. On orders from Colonel Rhett, Roberts was arrested and "confined within the limits of the city." A letter from a correspondent identified only as Albert to his wife, Patsy, from "Camp 7th Reg near Centerville, Va.," 18 January 1862, detailed his journey back to his company from a furlough at home. He had spent two nights and a day in Columbia, three days in Raleigh, two days in Petersburg, and two days in Richmond. "We were detained on the road on account of our boxes," he wrote. "I desire to know if you got that glass I sent with my Deguerreotype from Columbia. I had it taken there in style," he concluded. H.D. Gray wrote his cousin T.C. Bradley from Camp Leadbetter near Fredricksburg on 20 May 1862 in response to a request from Thomas. "You speake of your and Uncle Thomas [Chiles] and Brother T's [Thomas D. Gray] wanting to get into our company or some other company in this regt. Uncle John received two letters, one from your father and the other from Wade Cothran desiring to know whether you could get places in the regt…,"Gray wrote. There were spaces reserved for three in his company, or they could get into Captain Perrin's company, if they wished.
A letter from Mary Frances Bradley (1844-1914) to her mother, Jane H. Bradley, is also present. Written 5-7 February 1863 from Due West, where she was a student at Due West Female College, the letter contained news of a recent snowfall and activities associated with that occurrence- "Jennie [her friend] is well and been able to eat a good deal of snow today. I too have had my share, though I would have enjoyed it much more had I had sugar and cream to eat with it." "We had a fine time last night sliding & sleigh riding until 9 o'clock." She also requested a new pair of shoes and begged "please send some money. I am in need of some."
The post-war Bradley correspondence is limited to four letters addressed to P.H. Bradley relative to his role as vice-president of the Augusta & Knoxville Rail Road Company (previously the Greenwood and Augusta Railroad Company, chartered in 1872). R.H. Middleton, a company director, wrote from Clarks Hill, ca. 1880, about the approaching election of officers of the company and reported that "the work down here is nearly done." The work crews were "finishing the sides in the 2 cuts near here." T.J. Lipscomb, Superintendent of the South Carolina Penitentiary, wrote Bradley two letters, 26 November and 2 December 1879, about convicts leased out for work on the railroad. On 8 July 1879, A.J. Twiggs, Chief Engineer for the Augusta & Knoxville Rail Road Company, reported on the progress of construction. "The track is laid up to the Lilly Mills & we are hauling freight over it every day."
Three Morrah family items are also included in the collection. Nancy A. Morrah (1816-1888) maintained a diary for much of the year 1855. She began 1 January to record her daily activities and religious thoughts. Her entry for Sunday, 13 May, is typical-"A pleasant day. There is no preaching in the neighborhood. I went to see Mrs. Walker in the morning. The locusts keep up a continual noise. I suppose it is their mode of praise. I believe all nature & all things praise God & is more greatfull than man." The diary ended in early August 1855. A letter from Nancy A. Morrah to her husband, Samuel R. Morrah (1813-1882), dated 17 June 1863 is also in the collection. In the letter she informs him of her plans to return home from an extended visit.
| Top | 2001 Gifts to Manuscripts | Front Page | Manuscripts Division | Newsletters |
| USCAN | South Caroliniana Library | USC | Search USC web |
This page copyright © 2001, The Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.