Bradley (L.D.) Papers, 1859-1887
157 Items

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Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet:

Cite As:Bradley (L.D.) Papers, 1859-1887, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-E22a, 1-E22-b, 1-E22-c, 1-E22-d, 1-Ess-c, 1-E-ss-d

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: No

Accession Number: 1997.107

Processed by: Emily Hyatt, July 2003

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: Letters (157 items; 1859-1887) written and received by L. D. Bradley, a Freestone County, Texas soldier, document his service as a captain to the Confederate States of America. Bradley writes often to his wife, always addressing her as “My little Honey.” Most of the letters describe camp conditions and ask about news from home. A fascinating collection of letters following one man and his family from the early days of the war and continuing through his service to the State of Texas as a Texas Senator. Later letters include letters from children and relatives and give fascinating insight into Fairfield, Corsicana, and surrounding Texas cities and counties.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

The son of Francis Meriwether Bradley and Zillah Pherabe Golsby Bradley, L.D. Bradley was born on April 13, 1831 in Dallas County, Alabama. In the winter of 1854 he moved to Fairfield, Freestone County, Texas after graduating from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. On September 22, 1859 he married Mary Grayson, also of Freestone County, Texas. They would eventually have nine children: Carolyn (known as Callie and Bobolinks in his letters), Annie, Mary (Minnie), L.D. Jr., James, George, Elizabeth, Alice, and Julia. From his letters, it is clear that L.D. Bradley loved his wife deeply and cared about his family a great deal.

Bradley practiced law in Freestone County and the surrounding area from 1855 to 1861. In 1861 he volunteered in a Texas regiment raised by Col. Young, but quickly moved to the new Legion formed by Col. T.N. Waul and raised a company of his own. Bradley’s unit fought in Mississippi in defense of the city of Vicksburg in 1863 and during the siege Bradley led his company in a daring recapture of an important railroad redoubt. He was captured and paroled with the rest of the Confederate officers and returned to Texas with a remnant of Waul’s Legion. The Legion was reorganized into Timmons’s Regiment, although many men still considered themselves to be in Waul’s Legion. Bradley spent the remainder of the war on the Texas Gulf Coast, guarding against Federal invasion and assisting blockade runners. During this time he was stationed at Velasco, Galveston, and Mud Island, among other places. Bradley did not see much action along the coast, and the majority of his tenure here was spent on Mud Island, a lonely, windswept island off of Galveston, from which he wrote many letters to his wife. At the close of the war, Bradley was stationed in Galveston, where he describes the deteriorating morale and discipline of the Confederate Army, despite their leaders’ best efforts to keep spirits up. Bradley returned home after the war with depleted finances, but did not stay there for long. In 1866 Bradley’s letters indicate that he was in the Texas State Legislature in the House of Representatives, and over the next two decades or so he would serve in the State Senate and as a District Judge.

L.D. Bradley died on October 6, 1886 while still serving as a District Judge. In the various memorials given after his death, he is remembered as being six feet tall, weighing 250 lbs. and having black eyes, curly black hair, and a swarthy complexion. According to his friends he supported the development of the railroad and was a member of the Knights Templar Palestine Commandery.

Scope and Content Note

One Hundred Fifty-seven letters sent by L.D. Bradley, received by L.D. Bradley, and some third party correspondence covering the years 1859 through 1887. These letters cover the scope of his life in Waul’s Texas Legion during the Civil War and his time in the State House and Senate, including details of camp life, family life, and politics. This correspondence does not mention actual battle information or many details from specific engagements. Waul’s Texas Legion was heavily involved in the defense of Vicksburg, but this collection does not contain any letters from the siege of Vicksburg, the city’s surrender, or his capture or parole, except for a copy of his parole documents.

Sent: April 10, 1859 – April 13, 1863 This period of letters begins with Bradley’s letter of proposal to his wife on April 10, 1859, in which he pledges his love, asks her to marry him, and urges her to accept because his very life and happiness depend on it. There is a gap in time until May 14, 1860 when he writes to Minnie at home asking to have her daguerreotype taken. The next letter, on February 2, 1862, begins his correspondence while at war. All but 2 letters written by Bradley in this collection are written to his wife, Minnie, who he refers to as “Little Honey” and “Little Darling.” He is very affectionate in his letters and also very concerned about the health of his wife and children. These letters chart his progression through Texas, the organization of his regiment, his move into Waul’s Legion and its organization, and his moves through Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to the area surrounding Vicksburg. He describes the retreats from Holly Springs and Grenada, the fights at Fort Pemberton on the Tallahatchee River in attempts to keep the Federals from reaching the Mississippi and Vicksburg through the Yazoo Pass, and the sounds of the approaching Federal gunboats. The period ends with Bradley and Waul’s Legion still at Fort Pemberton, but with their move to Vicksburg and its defense imminent.

Sent: November 25, 1863 – April 16, 1865 This period of letters covers Bradley’s further involvement in the war. He was posted at various places along the Texas coast for the purpose of defending against a Federal invasion of the coast and to protect Confederate ships attempting to break through the Federal blockade. This period’s letters begin from Camp Lubbock, continue on at Velasco, Perry’s Landing, Cedar Bayou, the mouth of the Caney, Camp Sidney Johnston, Houston, Galveston, Mud Island. While these letters do not contain many battle details or army movements because the Texas Gulf Coast was not at the forefront of much of the action, they do provide an interesting look at an officer at a lonely outpost. These letters give researchers a glimpse of camp life, the struggles these soldiers faced with loneliness, bad food, poor living conditions, and a slow information flow. Bradley’s struggle between doing his duty to his cause and loving and missing his family is evident. Also evident is the phenomenon of rumors that persisted due to the slow dissemination of information, as well as the struggle against disease. Bradley speaks about rumors, politics, and his beliefs several times. His main concern, however, remained his family at home, and these letters provide an interesting look into the relationship between a soldier and his growing family.

Sent: October 16, 1866 – March 7, 1875 This last period of letters sent by Bradley covers his time in the Texas State Legislature, as a member first of the House of Representatives and then as a member of the Senate. Bradley does not mention many specifics of the business at hand, mainly confining his correspondence to home matters and asking his wife to write to him more often. Besides the one piece of legislation mentioned, the only legislation Bradley writes home about are the votes for adjournment.

Received: July 9, 1863 – N.D. This series contains correspondence received by Bradley, beginning with his parole papers from Vicksburg, and immediately continuing to his two letters received from his wife in the closing days of the war. The remainder of the correspondence covers his years in the Texas State Legislature, and all of these are from his wife, Minnie, except for the one dated January 18, 1874, which is from one of his nieces. Most of these letters cover home life, family and financial matters, and details of the relationship between this husband and wife.

Third Party: August 19, 1866 – January 19, N.Y. This series contains correspondence between family members and friends of the Bradley family, including his son Roy to his mother, L.L. Peck to his daughter Annie, an unidentified David to an unidentified Mary Ann, and Aunt Mat to Annie. These letters concern family and community matters. L.L. Peck’s letters are almost illegible, and two are not transcribed.

The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: