The Moses J. Bradford Collection

The Moses J. Bradford collection consists of forty letters written to his wife, Malissa Jane, and family. At the beginning of the war, Bradford joined the Missouri State Guard under General James H. McBride, and was appointed quartermaster. Sometime after April 1862, he left the state service, but, he remained active in the war. In June 1862, Bradford was captured by a Union patrol from Rolla. The Union soldiers stated, Bradford was “a noted guerrilla….who has caused us much trouble.” Either pardoned or paroled, Bardford returned to service. By April 1863, he was a Captain in Company G of the 10th Missouri Infantry (CSA). Bradford participated in the attack on Helena, Arkansas on July 5, 1863, and was taken prisoner.

Bradford was incarcerated with other Confederate officers at five different Union prisons: Johnson’s Island in Ohio, Camp Hammond in Maryland, Fort Delaware in Delaware, Morris Island in South Carolina, and Fort Pulaski in Georgia. Bradford had the misfortune of being captured at a time when the cartel agreement for the exchange of prisoners had broken down. Worse still, he was selected by his Union captors as one of a group of Confederate officers subjected to retaliation for abuses of Yankee prisoners of war in Confederate prisons.

Bradford endured increasingly deprived conditions as his food, clothing and mail privileges were withheld or outright denied. Prisoners at the Morris Island were intentionally placed within Confederate firing range. Physical torpor and malnutrition plagued Bradford and his fellow prisoners. Diseases began to reduce their numbers, and a few prisoners took an oath of allegiance to secure parole. Bradford was unwavering in his refusal to take an oath. He was among 44 of the initial 600 prisoners to succumb to disease and malnourishment during their imprisonment. They were dubbed “The Immortal 600.” Bradford wrote ten letters while in the Missouri State Guard and 10th Missouri Infantry. The remainder of the collection was written from the prison.


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