John D. Bradford AND Henry Taylor Bradford

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John D. Bradford AND Henry Taylor Bradford - Eye- Witness Describes Butiding Of The...
Eye- Witness Describes Butiding Of The 'Merrimac By PAT DONAT (TIMES Stair Writer) Mrs. Ear) Williams gave Hie TIMES a Civil War letter and its editorial staff a mystery. The letter, writter by confederate confederate soldier, James D. Bradford, Bradford, was given her by Robert E. Bradford who died at h i s home in Mount Comfort in 1943. With Bradford's death the history history of the letter writer w a s lost. A search of Goodspeed's History History of Central Arkansas r e- vealed that James D. Bradford was the son of John H. Bradford, Bradford, who came to Lonoke County, County, Ark., in 1853, John had been born in Jackson County, Ga. His father was James S. Bradford, Bradford, who lived in t h a t state from 1835, until 1880. The biographical biographical s k e t c h indicated that J a m e s was a brother of Henry Taylor Bradford, father father of the Robert Bradshaw who gave Mrs. Williams the letter. Since the letter is addressed to his grandparents In Georgia, the question arose: did James serve in an Arkansas or Georgia outfit during the war? This was answered by the Ark Ark a n s a s History Commission, whose records revealed t h a i James D. Bradford served as a private in Company A of the 23j Goorgia Infantry. Tliis information made it possible possible to trace the history of the 22d Georgia through the official records of the War of the Rebellion. Rebellion. Records a r e not available here as to when and where this Georgia Regiment was organized, organized, but, it could conceivably have been among the Confed«r- ate forces sent to Virginia May 1, 1861, when the capital was moved to Richmond. By June of that year Confederate t r o o p s were arriving there at the rate of five to six hundred a day. The Gosport, or N o r f o I k , Vaval Yards, from which t h e etter was written was considered considered so Important that in April of 1861 volunteers of Virginia prepared to take it over. Be:ore Be:ore they could do so the commander commander of the gunboat Pawnee landed a detachment, set f i r e to buildings and attempted to destroy the installation. Despite this attempt the Virginians Virginians found quantities of naval naval guns and little damage that could not be repaired. Among the warships docked there which were sunk by Union sympathizers sympathizers was the frigate Merrimac. Among the newest steam frigate frigate in the U. S. Navy, she was 283 feet long and carried 50 guns. She was transformed Into an ironclad ram, which the Confederates Confederates christened the Virginia. Masts and upperworks w e r e stripped away and an i r o n- plated structure was erected above the hull. She was described as being a "barracks roof submerged to the eaves and surmounted by a large smoking funnel." James gives an eye witness accou- f of the building of this instrument of war: Gosport Navy Yard, Virginia December 9th, 1961 Dear Grand Parents: I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines which will inform you that I am well. I hope these few lines may come safe to hand and f i n d you enjoying good health. It may rather surprise you to hear from me in this place. We left Richmond last Friday morning and arrived here o n Saturday "vening. We had very bad conveyance in coming here. We had to c o m e in baggage boxes and came from Petersburg to this place in the night and we suffered a right smart from cold. I suppose we will take up winter winter quarters at this place, or about three miles from here down the River. We are now within about 13 m i l e s of the Enemy. They have b l o c k - aded the river about 20 miles from here. We are stationed about two miles from Norfolk, We came to Norfolk and crossed the River to this place. The Elizabeth River runs within within 30 yards of where I an. setting setting n o w . The city of Portsmouth Portsmouth is within a quarter of a mile of us on this side of the river. There are about 25,000 of our troops encamped about t h i s place. This has been perhaps as fine a Navy Yard as there is in the world. If you could just see the cannon that are here i t would surprise you. I expect there are 1,000 cannon here that are fit for use. When the Yankees Yankees burnt, the place they spiked nearly all the cannon; what they did not spike they tried to spoil other ways but they g o t scared somehow and just abandoned abandoned everything and left. The wrecks of several large ships are bu.ried under tht water water here now. They have g o 1 many valuable cannon a n d things out of the wrecks since we have been here. They are building a battery here now wliich I tliink will whip the Yankees Itself. T h i s was built from the wreck of the Merrimac, a large vessel which the Yankees set on fire a n d tried to burn up, but she did not burn quite to the water's edge and went out. They have taken this b o a t and built a new deck to her, several feet thick. This, they are covering over with I r o n bars, six inches wide and one Inch thick. This, they put o n two bars thick. This, they will sink down until only just the top of the battery will be out of the water. This is round, so that if a cannon ball strikes If It just glances off never doing any damage to the vessel. They expect to finish it about the 20th of this month. It is their intention, I think, to run t h e blockade with this concern. I expect we will have a large battle here before long. It i s said the Yankees have a strong force down at Old Point, about IS miles from this place. Everything seems to be pretty pretty cheap over here. Corn is only 75 cents per b u s h e l ; wheat, $1.25; coffee $1.00 per pound; bacon and pork a r e pretty high, I expect, though we have had plenty of a 1 mo s t everything, since we have been here. Potatoes we have had plenty since we have been here; sugar and coffee plenty; fish we c a n get plenty by buying them. I haye never received no letter letter from home since I l e f t there, I would be very glad to hear from you anytime but we keep moving about so It looks like I never can get the chance to hear from you. You need not write to me until I write again. will write as soon as we get ettled down so that I can let r ou know where to direct your otters to, I suppose I must bring this to close; give my love to all my onnection and friends. So noth- ng more at present but I remain remain your affectionate grand- hild until death - J a m e s . Bradford. (Postscript) -'he -'he loss in the burning of the iosport Navy Yard was esti- lated at nine million of dollars r upwards. Three days before J a m e s vrote his letter Maj. Gen. Benamin Benamin Huger, who was c o m - mander of the Norfolk N a v a l Yards, was warned by Presl- lent Jeff Davis' headquarters to reel bomb proof batteries. The ollowing spring, April 1862, Hujer Hujer was warned to evacuate Vorfolk. Officials records indicate that at this time the 22d Georgia legiment was serving under A. Wright, a fellow Georgian, who was assigned to Huger's orces. Since these forces did n o t eave the Naval Yard until May It Is reasonable to assume that James viewed the destruction of Union ships In the harbor b y the Merrimac early In March. H Is also conceivable that h e was present for the four-hour battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor on March 9. After After a futile endeavor by b o t h ships to .win a victory the Merrimac Merrimac (or Virginia) retreated back to Norfolk and never came out again as the Monitor remained remained to watch over the ships blockading the port. James may even have been among the Confederate troops that escaped while the mayor of Norfolk held the Union forces at a long formal c e r e m o n y while he presented them t h e keys to the city. By the time Union soldiers found the navy yard, they were too late to rescue it from almost almost complete destruction. Egbert Ludovicus Viele, who was appointed military governor, governor, described the event a n d wrote "long after m i d n i g h t , with a shock that shook t h e city with such an o m i n o u s sound that could not be mistaken, mistaken, the magazine of the Merri- mac was exploded and thus, this most formidable engine of destruction went to her doom." The destruction of the Merrimac Merrimac was one of the last acts of the Confederate forces before before evacuating the area. On May 15 Huger's f o r c e s reached Petersburg and after the Battle of Seven Fines Huger Huger and Col. R. H. Jones, commanding commanding the 22d Georgia Infantry, Infantry, were both removed f r o m command. In the reorganization of the Army of Northern V i r g i n i a which took place when Robert E. Lee assumed command i n June, 1861, the 22d Georgia and Wright's brigade were assigned to Gen. Richard Heron Anderson, Anderson, one of the south's most able commanders. C o l o n e l Jones was succeeded by Maj. Joseph Wasden. Wright's Georgians, under Anderson, Anderson, made a distinguished record in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days Battle to the seige at Petersburg. Petersburg. They served in the army c o r p s commanded by G e n- cral "Stonewall" Jackson, Gen. James Longstreet and Gen. A. P. Hill and accompanied L e t into Maryland and then to Get tysburg. In the battle on Emmittsburg Turnpike at Gettysburg t h e 22d Georgia went into the tight with seven captains and c a m out with one. In the Mine bet- tie Colonel Wasden and hi* adjutant adjutant general were also killed. On the retreat from Getty** burg the regiment was among the troops that held tne lines near Wllllamsport to p e r m Lee's Army to recrosa the P tomac River. They were among the l a s troops to cross the river and tt is here that James may havt lost his life. Goodspeed's sketch relates that James D. Bradford "was drowned in the Potomac River hi 1863 having served as a soldier upwards of two years when he met his terrible death with 15 others in his company." DEMPSEY-TEGELER Co lr» Hlmbtr Ken .lock Stock ticking Joi. G. Wtlknuon. rmdent minirer Grade 'A' Large EGGS Breakfast Gem Large

Clipped from Northwest Arkansas Times25 Feb 1964, TuePage 14

Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, Arkansas)25 Feb 1964, TuePage 14
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  • John D. Bradford AND Henry Taylor Bradford

    jennjenb – 28 Dec 2013

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