Letter: Colonel Braxton Bragg to Elisa Ellis Bragg

Little Rock, Ark., 19th Dec., ’49.

My dear, dear wife:

I can hardly express to you the happiness I feel at being again on dry land and able to address you. And yet it will appear strange that I can be happy when away from my Elisa, my wife. Well, my dear wife, I am not as happy as I should be with you, but so much more so than I should have been had you been with me that I can almost rejoice. Of all the disagreeable and insupportable trips I have ever had, this has been the worst. And to say the truth, dearest, my greatest consolation was that you were away. Had you been along I should unquestionably have turned back, for I would have sacrificed all but my honor before you should have encountered what you could not have avoided in reaching this place. I wrote to you from Napoleon on the 13th. The next day about 4 in the afternoon I got off in a miserable little apology of a boat, with a wheel behind, dirty and ill looking in every respect. But a hope that I should be speedily through and enabled to return to my wife encouraged me, for her sake and to get back to her I could stand it. Vain hope! At the end of 24 hours we came in sight of the boat which had left Napoleon two days before us. She was hard aground on a sand bank without a hope of getting off. In taking his passengers, mail, etc., etc., we succeeded in getting into exactly the same scrape. Now I almost raved. I should be delayed and be too late to allow the court to proceed to business, and every day I delayed them, I should be abstracting from my wife. When and how we were to get away were questions no one could answer. There we lay in perfect despair: 24, 48 hours—when the next boat appears, a smaller, more miserable and dirty craft than our own. There was no alternative, go I must, for every day I lose is taken from my wife. Two days on this filthy pen enabled me to reach here today, the 19th, about 2 o’clock. I find that the members of the court are not arrived, and I may have time to prepare for them. A boat is expected down the river tonight or tomorrow, and they will probably reach here on her.

I can give you no definite answer, my dearest wife, of when I may get off. Or yet I know not what is to be done. My first thought is for you. My labors will commence tomorrow. Whatever they may be, know one thing, your husband will labor day and night to accomplish the task, and nothing but dire necessity shall keep him from you, my own sweet wife.

I have just been called on by Bishop Freeman, of this state. He is a resident of this state, being its Bishop, but I did not know he lived in this place. He was also a preceptor of my elder brothers, as well as Bishop Otey, who succeeded him at the same academy. He did not know me, as when he left my native village I was very small, but he was very cordial in his salutation and inquiries for my parents and my brothers and sisters. I feel much relieved in mind after a long and social interchange of sentiment with a sensible and good man, for a rational conversation I had not had since I left you. I shall see him and Mrs. Freeman often as they are next door to me.

Being now where my own exertions can avail me, I shall be much more happy, for I know that every hour brings me that much nearer to my wife, and what in this world can make a man so happy, especially when he possesses such a wife.

I write in great haste, Elisa, and have no time even to correct blunders. My health is very good. Preserve your own, dearest love, for which daily prayers are offered by your husband.


SOURCE: Don Carlos Seitz, Braxton Bragg, General of the Confederacy, p. 11-13