What you will see over the next few weeks is the transcription process of an aged, faded, and a rough copy of the Letters of Samuel Camp Kelly. These letters talk about the daily life of a Confederate ranking officer, but the events are just as common as your everyday Private in the ranks. I purchased a copy of these letters from the Alabama Department of Archives and History and with the help of my sister, Katie Lambert, we are slowly making this faded legal paper document into a readable document. I hope you enjoy the process.
All the letters are much cut, for having been written to his wife they are full of personal and family affairs to the exclusion of lengthy accounts of the maneuvering of the army. Sometimes, and very often, the letters were sent by friends, so he tells her only of personal matters and refers to his friend as being able to give full information than he from being able to give exact answers to her questions. Indeed it seemed best to give the facts of the war as he lived them day by day.
Francis Marion Kelly.
Life of Samuel Camp Kelly.
Samuel Camp Kelly was born March 25, 1825, in Franklin County, Tennessee to Sims Kelly and Mary Camp, his wife.
The grandfather, William Kelly, came from Ireland in the middle of the previous century. He took part in the American Revolution in North Carolina. His wife was Mary Durham. Sims Kelly, born in Wake County, North Carolina, in 1784, married Mary Camp in Warren County, Georgia. Sims Kelly was in, "Captain Wm. Russell's Company, Russell's Separate Battalion of Mounted Gunmen, Tennessee, Volunteers," war of 1812. He removed from Pelham, Franklin County, Tennessee in 1835 and 36 to Calhoun County, Alabama.
Mary Camp was the daughter of Samuel Camp and Mary Banks, his wife. Edward Camp, a gentleman, came from Essex, England, to Salem, Massachusetts in 1630. His great grand-son, Ichabod, was ordained priest in the Episcopalian Church, and in late life moving to Louisiana, received large grants of land from the Spanish government, which resulted in an eighty-year lawsuit, the site of St. Louis being in one of the tracts. His son, Samuel was graduated from Yale, but declining to enter the ministry, was disinherited. Samuel Camp served as Commissariat in General Gabriel Penn's troops of Virginia in the American Revolution.
Samuel Camp Kelly enlisted in Co. 1 1ST Ala. Vol. and served through the Mexican War.
In January 1851, he was married to Amie Elizabeth Pace, daughter of Richard Pace, Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and Amie Bussey, his wife.
When the War Between the States began, he assisted in raising a company in Calhoun and was elected Lieutenant. He served as Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel of his regiment, and only the end of the Confederacy prevented his receiving the commission to the office, as he was and had been serving in the latter position when Johnston surrendered. Co. E went through the war in active service, always ready, never shirking, so that Col. Pettus said, "When Captain Kelly has charge, the posts are safe." His bravery was especially commented on by the officers during the battle at New Hope Church.
He moved from Ladiga to Oxford after the war closed in order to be near good schools, and helped materially in the founding of Oxford College. He was a deacon in the Oxford Baptist Church and mayor and councilman of Oxford. He was one of the Charter members of the Oxford and Anniston Street Railway Co. and took an active interest in all public enterprises.
His sons are William Pace Kelly, M.D. of Mississippi, and Richard Bussey Kelly, ex-chancellor of the North Eastern Chancery Division of Alabama, of Birmingham.Samuel C. Kelly died September 16, 1891, at Oxford, Alabama.
Mar. 19, 1862
I rode on the baggage wagon from Oxford to the camp. It was very hot and we had to walk, a mile and a quarter it was said, what seemed three to us. We slept very little the night we stayed there. Our tents were given to us about eight, and then to work to get them up and fenced off with poles laid on the ground and straw on them. We could not get wheat or oat straw, but pine needles did very well. I want a tick and not a mattress. Then it can be filled and emptied as it suits. We have hired a negro to cook and wash, --by we, I mean the four officers. It is not usual for them to mess with the men, and besides we want wood, pine, fires, water, tents put up and taken down, etc.
A company came in from Randolph this morning, (Wednesday) but we had the pleasanter time, as it was raining. There are six companies here. We are in an old field with plenty of wood and water. We had a drill this morning with Tom Leurs as instructor. He is a good officer but will not, I fear, be elected Lieutenant-Colonel,-- he is an outsider. Alexander is in the same fix. We expect to form a regiment as soon as ten companies are here, and if we do, Shelley will be Colonel. The Calhoun companies prefer Forney, but there is some risk to run and we do not wish to have a man like Shelley go on uncertainties.
March 26, 1862
We shall form a regiment in a few days, and Shelley will be Colonel. Tom Lewis, John Francis, Col. W.M. Richie, Bradford, and Tom Reynolds are the candidates for Lieutenant-Colonel. I fear Francis and Lewis will both be beaten for they divide the Calhoun vote. There are eight companies here, two Calhoun, three Talladega, one Jefferson, one St. Clair, one Randolph, and three at Talladega waiting for tents.
We have two sick this morning, John Price has mumps. John Rhodes has measles. John Wilkerson has caught cold and it seems about to end in a relapse of measles. Warren Slaton is hopping about yet. He stuck a knife into his leg before we left home. There is a hospital at Talladega, but the boys do not like to go there.