It can be both fascinating and disturbing to learn about our ancestors opinions and decisions. Such is the case when I read Adam Bauman’s letters.
Adam was born in 1795 in Pennsylvania and was a hotel keeper in Shreveport, Louisiana from sometime after 1840 until his death. During the Civil War, Shreveport was a Confederate stronghold as well as the headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederate Army. It was during those times that two extant letters were written by Adam to his son, Albid Nigh Bauman, in Texas and these give us some of his thoughts and experiences.
I am fascinated to see Adam’s handwriting (plus add his signature to my collection) and to learn of the advice he gave his son, the outrageous costs of groceries, and of his wife and of his son Leman. I am disturbed that he purchased human beings and at his derogatory references.
Shreaveport, La August 16th 1863
We have Receipt your leter of July the 5 we are Heare
in formed that you are all well and doing well we are
all well and doing tolarable it apears that Confederate
money is plenty but dont fool it away if you have
more then you kear [care] to spent try and git interest notes
there are Hundred dollar bill that bared for cent a day
that 7 dollar and 30 cent a year on [per] hundred I have got 22 of them
and I draw the interest every six month I have got
the interest up to first July & next January I Draw again
McHenry Battle pays the Interest in this place and
somebody in Houston But I do not know his name
some person will contend that Confederate will not
be good after a wile I never saw such fools if the money
is lost the hole suthern Confederacy is gone but I am not
alarmed for we are better of[f] to day and we are have
twelve month for the north have acnolaged that
they cant whip us but they Expect that we will
give up after awile but I say never no never not
by my will for if we Ever git our Independence
we will have one of the greatest Country in the world
for we have cotton shugar Rise corn Wheet Barly
and number other things & From cole copper lead
silver & gold mines in the south therefore don’t be
alarmed for we will soon pay oure debt but the north
hath nothing to Raise money frome for we can make
our one plowes Waggons & ___ Raise our bred mead and
home then upon the hole save your money and if the
feds should come heare I will run my darkey per[-]
haps to your place for a wile but if you should
have to go to the arme let us know but I think
if you will try you can git of[f]on the acount of your
Calenor [illegible] wise your knee as you cant stand for teak [fatigue]
we Expect to forty fey [fortify] this place some are afraid
that the feds will come hear but I can’t tell but let
that be as it may that would not take the country
for the more places thay take thay have to garison
and that take thare arms and we can whip them
by deatails no more at present.
A.N. Bauman [letter sent to Albid Nigh Bauman, Adam’s son]
Yours Sc [sincerely]
Another letter from Adam to his son, Albid, though only the first page is extant.
Shreveport, La June 27th 1864
I Receipt you letter that you send with Rogers and give it
us plesure to hear that you are all well, we have not much
to complaine mother is still complaining ad[t] times and thare is
allways something among the Blacks but so fare nothing sereous
I have Bought 4 Negros within the last year for witch I payt 7800.00
dollars and have Bondit [bonded] 31 hundred dollars and I have payt 1577.50
tax and lizend [license] for sixty three  and lizand sixty foure  and now will come
the 5 percent for the [current] year that will be about 1500.00 more I Expect
tho you can Expect that we are doing tolarable well and can pay in
that said and we have still some on hand we charge 5 dollars
per meal or 40 dollars per week but I have paid a dollar pound
for beef and 3 dollars pound for bacon and hard to git and all groceries are
all very heigh corn is selling 5 dollars per Barl fede on $15 per drum __
I have some notion to sell hear if I could find some good place to farm
for our old place is too small that is the covel [surname] land and it is hard
to buy on a count the money being so plenty but take care by
next fall L. D. Bauman hath Bought him selve a place of 41
acres from Ben Stevens near sumer grove whare he will put
his tan yard and more there next fall then I Expect I will sell the
place for not wat it will fetch for the timber is gitting scarce on it
Espechely for Rails and govemend hands let the power git
out in the woods and burnd aboud 80 Rods of the fence Leman
is not cultivading any thing but the garding we are in tranged [entrenched]
thad [that] is sRound it [surrounded] nitte fortefication and all waise sorounndet
with soldiers if they stole my beer & chickens in short many more things
On the back of the page:
The war news are still favorable on our side I send you some of the news
Van Zand County
The prices that Adam referenced are astronomical. History was never my interest in school so I did a quick search today to help me understand the costs. These quotes explain it well:
“The inability of the Confederacy to coin money was compounded by hoarding of coins and massive bank failures immediately following secession. Davis, Memminger, and the government immediately turned to issuing paper money. In order to attempt to curtail inflation resulting from flat currency, the government attempted to fix official prices. As Fred Reinfeld noted, ‘…but these efforts failed miserably. Thus the ‘fixed’ price of a pound of bacon rose from $1.00 a pound (a high price to begin with, for those days) in May, 1863, to $4.00 in March, 1865. During the same period the ‘fixed’ price of a bushel of beans skyrocketed from $4.00 to $30.00.’ The result was an inflationary trap. The more paper money the Confederacy issued, the more prices rose; and the more prices rose, the greater was the pressure to print more money.”(1)
“As the war progressed, the currency underwent the depreciation and soaring prices characteristic of inflation. For example, by the end of the war, a cake of soap could sell for as much as $50 and an ordinary suit of clothes was $2,700.” (2)
Based on these letters, Adam bought Confederate bonds believing that the Confederacy would prevail. Shortly after the war, in 1866, he died in Shreveport. His wife, Elizabeth probably moved since she died at her son Albid’s home in Van Zandt, Texas the following year (1867). I wonder what Adam’s financial situation was like at the end of the war? Was he having conversations like Scarlett O’Hara and her father, in Gone With The Wind, when she learned they had no money because he bought Confederate bonds.
What kind of bonds, Pa?
Why, Confederate bonds, of course, daughter.
What good are they to anybody?
Interestingly, a family tradition indicates that Albid owned a store in Texas and only accepted Confederate currency. He lost his business as a result.
According to the Caddo Conveyences on December 7, 1879 Albid possessed some land in Caddo, Louisiana (L 1-3; 9-10). He and his siblings inherited their parent’s land. Albid hired an attorney to sell his land and at least two portions were sold for $500.00 each.
I acquired the scanned copies of these letters from Larry Johnson, another Bauman researcher. Since both of these letters were written to Adam’s son Albid I presume another of his descendants has the originals.
- Albid Nigh Bauman
- Adam Bauman – in my K Bauman Tree House database
- Eric Brock’s Shreveport — chapter on Shreveport during the Civil War