This letter was written by Corporal Burr J. Caldwell (1831-1917), a farmer from Pontotoc, Mississippi, who served with the Rodney Guard (Company D), 22nd Mississippi Infantry. Burr was the son of Joseph Caldwell (1797-1870) and Margaret Worthington (1808-1888). He was married to Sarah (“Sallie”) Rebecca Mounce (1835-1915) in November 1854.
From the letter we learn that the 22nd Mississippi was marched to LaGrange, Georgia to try to intercept Union raiding parties that were sent by General Sherman to tear up the tracks of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad. The railroad served as a supply line to Atlanta from the southwest and its destruction, with others, was calculated to cut the city off and force its surrender. The company arrived too late to do any good, however.
Near LaGrange, Georgia
75 miles southwest of Atlanta on Chattahoochee River
July the 22nd 1864
I once more take my seat tonight to write you a few lines though I don’t feel like writing as we have been doing some very hard marching day & night to stop a raid of yanks down in the Alabama but they was gone before we got to them. They tore up right smart of the railroad & went back.
I am well & as hardy as a shoat & you don’t know how thankful I feel for it & I do hope these lines may reach & find you & all of the rest enjoying the same. There has been right smart sickness in our company but none dangerous as I know of. There is several of the boys gone to the hospital — Martin [Thomas], Tom Lillard, Alfred Baker, Jim Shorty, Daniel Smith, Jim Hourd, Jack Gill. The most of the sickness has ben diarrhea. John Mounce has been right poorly with it. He was left behind last Monday when we started on this march with Capt. Smith. The captain has been right bad off for 3 weeks from a fall from his horse which broke 3 or 4 of his ribs but he will soon be able to take command of the company again.
We are getting plenty to eat. We draw bacon meal sometimes, a little coffee, sugar, rice & tobacco, but those things don’t come every day. We have not drawn any money yet but we get along very well without it for the citizens is just as clever as they can be. I & one of the boys taken some flour & bacon & went out the other night to get cooked for the company. We got to a man’s house between 11 & 12 o’clock. We called him up & told him we wanted to get his negro to cook for us. He said it was all right & in place of charging for it, he had 2 shoulders of bacon & about 30 pounds of flour cooked besides what we [had] taken & give to us. He said if everyone on his place had to stay up & cook until the next night, it was nothing to what we had to go through. He was one of the cleverest men I ever saw.
I have not heard from Martin [Thomas] yet. Watty Allbritton was sent to the hospital yesterday. He told me he would enquire for him & write to me.
Sally, I thought I would write some to the old folks but you must show this to them & it must do for all of you for it only lacks a few minutes of twelve o’clock & I have not slept but very little for several nights. So you must all excuse me for I don’t expect to have a chance to write any in the morning. I am sorry to hear that the yanks have been through our country again but I hope they have left you all enough to live on yet. No more.
I remain yours truly — B. J. Caldwell