1861: Edward Graham to John Houston Bills

This letter was written by 39 year-old Edward Graham, a private in Co. B (the “Cut-off Guards”) of the 9th Arkansas Infantry. The company was led by Capt. Isom and was organized and mustered into State Service at Pine Bluff on 25 July 1861. The 9th Arkansas was sometimes referred to as the “Parsons Regiment” because it contained 42 ministers.

I could not find an image of Edward but here is one of a middle-aged Arkansas soldier named Thomas Bolding of Co. G, 24th Arkansas

Edward appears to have been carried in the muster rolls as present until the 19th of April 1862 when he died at Corinth of wounds received at the Battle of Shiloh. Because the company suffered so many losses in the battle where they were called upon to charge repeatedly upon the “Hornet’s Nest,” the remaining members of Co. B were transferred to other companies in the regiment. The men were spurned into action by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston himself who rode to the front and shouted, “Men of Arkansas, the enemy is stubborn. I want you to show General Beauregard ad General Bragg what you can do with your bayonets and toothpicks!”

In the 1860 US Census, Edward was enumerated with his brother Francis (“Frank”) Graham as farmers in Franklin, Desha county, Arkansas. His birthplace was given as Virginia.

He wrote the letter to Maj. John Houston Bills, a well-to-do planter who lived in Bolivar, Tennessee, not far from Nashville. Bills owned property in Tennessee as well as Mississippi.


Pine Bluff, Arkansas
August 6th 1861

Maj. John H. Bills
Bolivar, Tennessee

Dear Sir,

I am here in the service of the state for the next twelve months. Our regiment is organized but not ready to march yet and we will be here perhaps for several weeks. It is thought we will go from here to Pocahontas but no one knows as the State will offer the ten regiments now being raised to the Confederacy.

Most of the counties in this state have levied a military tax of one-quarter of one percent. I do not know that the northern counties have but they doubtless will. This tax is payable immediately and has to be collected before November. Mr. Jarius H. Hicks of Jacksonport—if he has not gone to the war—or H[enry] C[lay] Dye of Sulphur Rock, Arkansas, can give you any information you may want, or attend to paying taxes &c. I consider them reliable men.

I wish this war was closed as it has suspended all business here but tax paying.

Yours respectfully, — Edward Graham

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