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John C. Birdwell Letters

Identifier: A-0116
This collection consists of typescript copies of Civil War letters between John C. Birdwell and wife Adaline Birdwell. A farmer, John Birdwell included instructions for running the farm in his absence. Her letters report the progress of crops and livestock. Both recount their hardships during the war as well as news of family and friends. John C. Birdwell describes Confederate camp conditions depicting disease epidemics, food, music, gambling, funerals, weather, and ragged condition of the troops. He was not a slaveholder and was bitter about how the slave-owners causing the war could pay substitutes to fight for them. Most of his letters were written from Camp Nelson and Camp Hope, Arkansas and contain an underlying refrain about the unreliability of mail service during the war. Biographical and genealogical materials have also been added to the collection.


  • 1862
  • Event: Donated in 1960


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.


0.15 Cubic Feet

Biographical or Historical Information

John Calhoun Birdwell, son of Allen and Luinda Ross Birdwell, was born in Lawrence County, Alabama on April 7, 1829. By 1845 the family had moved to Rusk County, Texas, where Allen Birdwell served as a State Representative to the Texas Legislature from 1853 to 1854 and from 1863 to 1864. In 1849 John C. Birdwell married Adaline Burney Cunningham, and they resided a number of years at Mount Enterprise, Rusk County before moving to Flatswood, Nacogdoches County shortly before the Civil War. John served in Company H of the 17th Dismounted Cavalry and was captured at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River. He died on January 6, 1869.

(Mitchell, Gwenneth."John and Adeline Birdwell." Rusk County History. Dallas, Texas; Taylor Publishing Company, 1982. p. 112.)


This collection has 48 items, is described in eight folders and housed with another collection in a clamshell box.

Related Materials

Birdwell Family Papers, A-221
Guide to the John C. Birdwell Letters
Pam Palmer

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository