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    Archive of Letters of Philip D. Roddey, Brigadier General, 4th Alabama Cavalry, CSA. An archive of 8 letters to his wife and daughters from various places, dating from February 3, 1863 to March 9, 1888. Four of the letters were written during his service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. There is an additional fair copy of a war-dated letter in an unknown hand.

    The earliest letter in the archive, dated February 3, 1863, is written from Tuscumbia, Alabama, where Roddey's regiment, the 4th Alabama Cavalry, was organized the previous October. In this letter to his wife Margaret, Roddey's writes "I called for Genl. Bragg to allow me to report with my command to the front where there is a fight Expected-and have already got the order; and we are now moving as fast as possible. Will all be across the River by night or tomorrow and when you next hear from me, it will be with the Army now doing gallant service in our defence [sic] and if Fortune favours us I hope to return when this Strife is Ended & and not until then be it long or Short....Our cause now looks Brighter than at any future time in our history but I Expect that aspect to change most woefully for us before Spring closes, as it will in my opinion be impossible for us to withstand the heavy pressure that will be made by this overwhelming Army Now Every where in Our front & Lucky indeed will be the Man who does his duty to his Country and Still lives-but live or die I hope to do mine Satisfactorily to My Commanding General and My Countrymen." Roddey wrote this letter just as the 4th Alabama Cavalry Regiment was about to engage in attacks and raids on Union forces in Northern Alabama.

    The next letter, dated March 4, 1864, is from Dalton, Georgia, were he was leading his cavalry brigade in support of Nathan Bedford Forrest's army. He writes to his wife mostly about family and personal matters, but does admit that "although in front of Our Army I know Very little of the Enemy, & less of the Country, Around me. I fear that my ignorance of the Country will damage my usefulness Very Much." In April 1864, Roddey's brigade was transferred to the Department Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana, and provided support to General Forrest in the Battle of Brices Crossroads in Mississippi, which took place on June 10, resulting in a Confederate victory. Writing on June 6 to his wife and children from Corinth, Mississippi, on June 6, four days before the encounter, Roddey reported that Forrest telegraphed him that "the enemy were moving towards Ripley & ordered me to be ready at a Moments Warning to march if his reports are correct. The fight will commence between this & Sunday, & will be Severe, they have a very heavy force estimated at from 20 to 30,000 & we cannot oppose them with more than 7 or 8000 which makes the Odds Against us. In the Coming Contest I shall avoid no danger, but will lead when the General directs & Trust to Providence & your prayers to save me here & hereafter." Despite Forrest's victory Brices Crossroads, Roddey despaired at the number of heavy casualties suffered by Confederate forces during the summer of 1864 and longed for the war's end. In a July 8 letter to his wife from Corinth, Roddey writes that "our loss in Officers as well as Men in the last few months has been most deplorable & takes off many of the Chances of our ultimate Success. Oh how I pray for Peace & Home. I now wish, or dream of any other wish than the close of this Horrid War." In the last of his Civil War letters in the archive, written on February 25, 1865 to his oldest daughter Mary from Gilbert, Alabama, Roddey asserts that "I will endeavor to make an honorable name for you & when President Davis asks pardon of the Federal govmt. For his conduct I May do the same & when our govmt. so instructs I will lay down arms."

    There are three postwar letters in the archive written to his daughter Emma from London, where he moved for business reasons, dating from June 30, 1887 to March 9, 1888. In one of the letters, written on 30 June, 1887, Roddey mentions a dinner he attended that was hosted by the Duke of Sutherland. At his table "was another distinguished American...Col. Cody Wild Bill or 'Buffalo' 'Bill' who is really a remarkably nice gentleman."

    Condition: Letters have usual folds; many showing weakness at the intersections of the folds; One letter is silked. Overall good.

    More Information: Philip Dale Roddey (1826-1897) was a brigadier general in the army of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Born in Moulton, Lawrence County, Alabama, Roddy had little formal schooling. Before the Civil War, he worked as a tailor, a sheriff of Lawrence County, and worked in steam boating. Roddy married Margaret A. McGaughey and had a son and a daughter. When the Civil War began, Roddey, who had not supported secession, sought to remain out of it. He changed his mind and in 1861 raised a cavalry company. During the first year or so of the war, Roddy participated in semi-independent scouting missions. In October 1862, he recruited and organized he 4th Alabama Cavalry, and served during the balance of the war under both Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Joseph Wheeler, principally in Tennessee and Alabama. Roddey was commissioned a colonel in December 1862, and was later promoted to brigadier general on August 3, 1863. Roddy's cavalry unit made a number of important raids. He was active on the Atlanta campaign and in General John Bell Hood's subsequent Tennessee invasion. Roddey's command fought for the last time in April 2, 1865 at the Battle of Selma, where Forrest's men were overpowered by the more numerous and better armed Union horse soldiers. Most of Roddey command was captured at Selma, while he and Forrest escaped by swimming the Alabama River under cover of darkness. The remainder surrendered at Pond Springs (now Wheeler), Alabama, in May 1865. After the war, Roddey moved with his family to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He later relocated to New York City, where he became a successful businessman. He then moved to London, England, in the early 1890s, dying there in 1897. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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    November, 2020
    12th Thursday
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