This letter was written by James Patrick Bambrick (1826-1875), the son of Thomas Bambrick (1794-1877) and Ann Keenan (1802-1866) of Brooke County, Virginia.
“Patrick” first worked as a school teacher, just as his father did. In 1846 he married Nancy Nettles Fariss, the widow of Edom L. Fariss of Catahoula Parish, LA and became a slave-owning planter. (Yates, 2004) Nancy was about 6 years older than Patrick, and the couple had five daughters: Mary Ann, Eliza E., Emma, Lollie Ruth and Nancy E. deClara Bambrick. (Ancestry.com, 2010) Catahoula Parish is on the Ouachita River in northeastern Louisiana.
On March 22, 1862, Patrick enlisted as a Private in Company I of the 25th Regiment of the Louisiana Infantry. This regiment completed its organization in April, 1862 and took part in Civil War campaigns from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Atlanta. (National Park Service, 2007) Patrick was present for rolls from December, 1862 to February, 1863, when he was listed as “Absent. Wounded at Battle of Murfreesboro, Dec. 31st, 1862.” He was present again for the 25th Louisiana Infantry roll call of May and June, 1863, and then “Discharged June 8th, 1863 and Final Statement Given.” He appears on the Federal Rolls of Prisoners of War Captured at Murfreesboro, Jan. 6th, 1863: “Sent to Camp Morton, Ind. Recd. at City Pt., Va., April 12th, 1863, and Exchanged.” (Booth, 1920). He was present again for the 25th Louisiana Infantry roll call of May and June, 1863, and then “Discharged June 8th, 1863 and Final Statement Given.” His name also appears on a Register of St. Mary’s Hospital in Dalton, Georgia, where he was admitted on April 24, 1863.
After being released back to the Confederates in April of 1863 James reenlisted as a sergeant with Company B of the 2nd Battalion, Louisiana Heavy Artillery. The 2nd Artillery Battalion was formed at Alexandria, LA during the Fall of 1863 and was stationed on the Red River near Shreveport until the spring of 1864. The unit was then ordered to man the heavy guns on the Ouachita River, not far from James’ home. Near the end of the war the 2nd Battery defended Alexandria, occupying Fort Buhlow near Pineville (just across the river from Alexandria), LA. The 2nd Artillery Battalion was among the last units still fighting, when on June 2, 1865, Confederate forces west of the Mississippi under General Edmund Kirby Smith and General John Magruder finally surrendered at Galveston, Texas. J. Patrick survived the war; his name appears on a list of Prisoners of War Paroled at Monroe, Louisiana on June 17th, 1865, and Louisiana war records indicate that he returned to live in Catahoula Parish.
James Patrick Bambrick was gravely injured during the war, but he was able to return to his farm in Catahoula Parish, where he died in 1875. Unfortunately, by then he had mortgaged all of his properties, and left his family with no inheritance. [Source: Ancestry.com records]
September 23d 1847
Dear Father & Mother,
I take my pen to inform you that this leaves us well and hope that this may find you enjoying the same health. I received your letter enclosing the one half of $80. It had miscarried and went to Texas; came back again about two weeks ago. We have had a very strong week as it was court week. We sold a great many goods. Cotton will [be] light this year in consequence of the heavy rains in July and August causing it to shed but there will still be an average crop. The fall has commenced here — very cool — and through until a few days back we had very hot weather. To take it in general, the season has been middling sickly and a good many deaths have occurred in our town. There has but 5 or six men besides myself escaped the fever. Aunt Eliza had this fever once or twice. The yellow fever is still raging in the city and our prospect of it decrease until there is a killing frost. The mortality has been very heavy in from 5 to 600 hundred per day. We had one case here brought by the boat. Cotton opens very lively here this season. It brings from 10 to 12½ cents. Our River has been in a very fine stage for navigation all season. It has been dry and very favorable for picking cotton for some time and it commenced raining this morning and is still raining at 5 o’clock this evening.
Uncle Joel has had a ditch dug around his farm — or what he cultivates of it — 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep. The dirt all there on the inside making a complete fence all around. On the top of the levee he is planting chickasaw rose bushes — a kind of hedge bush. In two years he will have an impenetrable fence which neither man nor beast can cross. He will make over a thousand bushels of corn this year. The ditch is nearly 2 miles long and he gives 75 per rod for digging it and boards the hands.
I traded my wild filly off for a race horse — or rather pony — and made a race on him for $25 and won it and then sold him for $75 in cash. I gave $75 for the filly in goods.
Uncle Hugh is doing pretty well. He will raise plenty of corn. ____ for him and will have wood enough to sell to pay his expenses and his stock will make him right smart next year. If he has luck, he will make right smart. Aunt Betsy’s health has improved a great deal since she came here and I think her constitution is improving a great deal. Little Samuel an Mary Elisabeth have had the chill and fever some this summer. Mary Ann can walk alone and is a mighty fine child. I wish you could see her (I think her mighty handsome). She is mighty good. Sis has been well and has not forgot Greenrod and Billy nor any of you. She says she would like to have over here make playhouses and dolls with her. I would like very much to see you all but circumstances is such that I do not know when I can. Nancy sends her love to you all and would like to see you all.
I have been appointed by Judge Baily to make 2 surveys which I can make in a day apiece, and I will get $80 dollars for them. They are mainly to determine the locality of the ground or the marker of the section. There is nothing intricate in them and in open woods on level ground. I can measure 12 miles per day. I get $4 per mile. The parties find me a compass. I could have the parish surveyorship by asking for it. Indeed, it has been offered to me but it might interfere with my business and I will not have it. I have sold about $9,000 worth of goods or more and have laid on a profit of about 50 percent. My custom is increasing and will sell a great deal more next season.
I can realize eight or ten thousand dollars in two or 3 years. I shall sell out here and go to St. Louis or New Orleans but until I can realize something handsome of my own, I shall stay here as I could not want to be more comfortably situated than I am. I can as well as I could wish and live easy. As long as myself and family enjoy health, I could ask no more. I only wish you could see us, how we are fixed, and how we enjoy ourselves. And I think [you] would wish for us no more. I have got a wife on whose face I have yet seen a frown and from whose lips I never yet heard a short word. With every comfort that we could wish, I am comparatively happy and find that there is no place like home.
I have nothing more to add with the exception I want you to write often and let me know how you get along, I suppose ere you receive this, you will have heard of the surrender of the City of Mexico.
I remain your affectionate son, — J. P. Bambrick