Our cousin Ronald Bracewell of Cochran, Georgia has sent us these letters which were written by, and about Bracewell soldiers who entered the Civil War at Dublin, Lauren(s) County, Georgia. They were cousins to our ancestor Joseph Marion Bracewell, who entered the war from Skipperville, Dale County, Alabama, (about 25 miles north of Dothan, Alabama). Joseph Marion’s father, William, had moved the family from Laurens County to Alabama about 1850.
Joseph Marion did not fight in the areas these boys were in. The Laurens County group were under command of Robert E. Lee and fought mostly in Pennsylvania and Virginia, whereas Joseph M. was in many battles around Chattanooga and Atlanta under command of General Brixton Bragg and later General Joseph E,. Johnston, fighting against the armies of General Sherman.
The 22nd Alabama infantry, in retreat from Atlanta and en route to join forces with Lee’s army fought its last battle in Bentonville, North Carolina, on March 19th and 20th, 1965 (1865).
After Lee surrender, Joseph Marion, and the other men of his unit were “paroled” at Greensboro, North Carolina, May 1st, 1865.
Details of Joseph Marion’s service are covered in the Reunion’s booklet Joseph Marion Bracewell – A Military History.
Dear Father and Mother:
I seat myself to drop you a few lines which leaves me not well. Hope, this finds you all well.
Mother, I got wounded in the hand at the Gettysburg fight on the 3rd of July, but thank the Lord I am mending. Col. Simons of my birgate helped me to do up my hand and told me I had better get out to the rear and have my hand dressed. Mother, it was the biggest battle I have ever seen. They say Gen. Lee lost 50,000 men in 16 days. Dear Mother you couldn’t tell one cannon from another. It was a continuous roar all the time. We were lying behind a rock fence and everything was quiet. I could see the Yankees’ cannon and they were walking around them and neither side was firing. In a few minutes Gen. Lee rode up on his old gray horse and asked me to hold his horse for him. I did so. He took out his telescope and spied over at the Yankees and in a few minutes he left. I saw a courier coming with a paper in his hand, which he gave to the Captain of the cannonade. Then we fired at the Yankees and they returned it. Every now and then a ball would strike the fence. Mother, I want you to know it frightened them. I was just as afraid of the rock in the ground. Cousin Wiley Bracewell was wounded and left on the field and the Yankees got him. We could hear him calling for his brother, but it was at night and his brother was afraid to go out to him. He was at the half-way ground and his brother never saw him any more. Dear Mother, they think peace will be made soon. I hope so, for I am tired of this dreadful war, and I want it to soon close, for I want to see you all the worst I ever did in all my life. Dear Father and Mother, I want you both to pray for me, for I feel needful of your prayers. Tell all the children I want to see them and to write to me. Will close, hoping to hear from you soon.
William Sampson Asbury Bracewell Jr to Sarah Ann Bracewell
I am better of as to health now than I have been in 3 months but am not well yet I hoops this wil find you & children well I have no news to write you. I want you to take good care of your affects for I think provisions will be scarce write me what crops you have made and direct your letter to me.
Winder Hospital 1st division ward N Richmond Va. I will stay here until I get well & if I don’t get well soon I will try for a ferlough but tis a bad chance to get one my health is better than it has been in some time but I am not well yet. I would like to see you all very much but canot now our army has got so fer that it is a bad chance for me to reach them Tell all the children howdy for me. Send W. K. some sox if you please.
WIley Kinchen Bracewell to mother Sarah Ann Bracewell
Winchester Oct. 12, 1862
My Dear Mother,
As I have at last found and opportunity to write to you I have concluded to write immediately. I am now in the hospital at this place though I expect to go to the regiment in a few days. I heard that Aunt Polly Weaver was dead which I was very sorry to hear, tell the children I want to see them all very bad. Bud says he wants to see them all very bad He says he lives in hopes of going home some time ______ _______. He wants you to pray for him, I must close now give my love and respects to all the Family I want you to pray for me and if we never meet on earth again I know we will meet in heaven, you must write soon to your
John C. Bracewell was wounded in the left arm at the Battle of Mechanicsville, Virginia, June 26, 1863. He recovered, only to be captured at Petersburg April 3, 1865 as Lee began the retreat that ended at Appomattox. Jesse was released at Hart’s Island, New York Harbor, June 15, 1865, and found his way home to Laurens County, Georgia on foot.
Wiley K. Bracewell never did meet his mother again on earth. During the assaults against Cemetery Ridge July 2, 1863 Wiley received a bad leg wound from artillery fire. His brother, Jesse, was wounded in the same attack. Wiley was left behind after Lee withdrew from Pennsylvania and fell into Union hands.
His brothers comforted him until forced to leave.
W. S. A. Bracewell’s first opportunity to write home was on August 15, 1863, near Orange Court House.
William Sampson Asbury Bracewell Jr to Ridley Hilliard
Thrue the tender mercies of God I am spared to write you a few lines that will inform you that I am well at this time and you don’t know how glad I was to hear from you and to hear that you were well and you cant tel how glaid I was to hear from Wiley…I hope that he will soon be paroled and if he is I think that he will get the chance to come home and stay til he get well and I want to no whether his thigh was ambutated or not I hope it was not I hope it will get well with out being ambutated. My Dear Mother you sed that you and all the children wanted me to see me verry Bad.
Mother I no that you don’t want to see me any wars than I do want to see you and I want you to Pray for me and also for the close of the cruel war that we may be spared to meat you all again this side of the Grave and if we may meet in heaven Dearest Mother you ast me to write you all the nuse that I have I cant tell half of it as it is (unintelligible) I will tel you that our army is dermarilised wars than it ever has bin and the men is a deserten every Knight more or les and you can think of things as they are and how that it is bad times here Mother I must close fer this time by remaining your Son till Death.
W. S. A. Bracewell
|In the same envelope, W. S. A. Bracewell wrote to his brother, P. P. R. Bracewell”|
William Sampson Asbury Bracewell Jr to Ridley P Bracewell
Dear Brother P. P. R. Bracewell
It is with grat satis faction that I am permitted to write you a few lines that will in form you that I am well and I hope those lines may reach you well and enjoying you Self will I had like to have forgot the request about the boyes Jackson Spell is well and at his Co. Wm. Spell was kiled at Gettysburg, Pa and Left on the battlefield and I hered that Washington Spell has gone home and Parnes Brantley I don’t know where he is. And Tel Unkle Seburn that I haven’t herd from Perc in some time and I want him to remember me in his Praryres to the God that permits us to Live and Posiah you must be a good boy so that if we never meat on earth we may meet in heaven
W. S. A. Bracewell, though badly wounded in the left knee May 6, 1864 in the fighting in the Wilderness and captured, returned home before the end of the war. After the fighting in the Wilderness,
W. S. A. Bracewell was reported in the hospital of the 24 Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac, and subsequently exchanged.
Wiley K. Bracewell was not as fortunate. After his wounding at Gettysburg, he was hospitalized at Camp Letterman, the general hospital established by Union forces outside of Gettysburg. There August 27, 1863 Wiley K. Bracewell died. He was buried in the hospital cemetery. Attended to by Chaplain W. Burton Owen, 17th Mississippi Infantry, Humphreys’ Brigade, McLaw’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps, who stayed behind to care for the wounded, Wiley suffered from spreading gangrene, infection and blood loss, the combined effects of which led to this death. Before Chaplain Owen was sent to Fort McHenry and paroled, he was handed a letter addressed to Wiley from his mother. On December 8, 1863, Owen, while in Richmond, wrote a note to the worried mother on the back of a torn muster roll. It read:
Caplain to Sarah Ann Bracewell regarding the death of WIley Kinchen Bracewell
Dear Madam, your letter to your son, W. K. Bracewell, was rec’d at Gettysburg and now that I am within our lines again, I will give you some information concerning him. His right thigh was fractured (by a wound) and he died at the General Hospital, Gettysburg Aug. 27th…(cannot be read) Register from Richmond may be able to give you the particulars of his death. I am certain he died in peace, and that he has gone to rest. May the Lord bless & comfort all his relatives, I will be glad to hear from you that I may know that this has been rec’d direct as below.
Owen, a battlefield chaplain in every sense of the word, was himself wounded at Spotsylvania Court House in May, 1864.
Of the five Bracewell boys all returned home except Wiley. Three of the four remaining brothers returned home with wounds. With so many sons in the same regiment, the mother must have regarded herself as luckier than most with the return of all but one.
It is believed that the body of Wiley was reinterred in the Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond after the war.