Wednesday, June 9, 2010


JOHN BAYLESS of Knox Co., TN, 1830-1920

John Bayless enlisted into the US Army, March 22, 1865, at Camp Morton, IN. Shortly after that he was detached to Ft. Leavenworth, KS. In his absence, his family became destitute. The following letters were found in his Civil War service record which is available at I have transcribed these letters to the best of my ability. I have not corrected spelling or punctuation. The letter written from John Bayless to his Headquarters and the letter written by Sarah Bayless to HQ, Ft. Sedgwick, are both beautifully written and may have been written by an agent. The letter written by Sarah Bayless to her husband has different handwriting and grammar which reinforces my belief that an agent wrote the other letter for her.

The images of these letters from the National Archives and provided at as Union records of the Civil War are very faint and some words or phrases were difficult to make out. I chose not to guess as to the words and have used blanks and question marks instead.

March the 16th 1866
Benton Co. Clover Trail po

Dear husband I seat myself this eavning to answer your kind letters which I have dilaid answering. I just received a short letter from you I was glad to hear from you and would be a grait deal glader to hear that you was a cuming home for I don’t sea how we can get along much longer without you I would ____? Rote sooner vut I have bin at a grait deal of Trouble to get me a house with the willow ____? And we can stay hear til the oaner of the house comes back from ill her people is a looking for her every day and what will become of us then god only nose foridrant? Billy and Siney? W well Mary Jane is away from here she is working to get money to buy her a pair of shoes I worked out last week to get my self a pair of shoes I don’t feel very well this morning it is all I can do to sit up to have my letter rote I received the five dollars and the five stamps which you sent me John you must not think hard of me for not riting oftener for you know I cannot rite I want you to rite soon and often don’t wait for me I will rite as often as I can wee cut and carry ____? Would and sit by our oan fire and sleep in our oan beds wee eat out oan bread and meet and when we get sick we doe our oan grunting and wait on out selves till wee get well it looks like every fellow is for him self and the ____? For all the men hear has the least respect for the widows and fatherless (End of this part of the letter.)

The letter continues:

March the 17th 1866

I will finish my letter this morning well John I was very sick all night but I feal sum better this morning I was taken with a puking and purging which lasted nearly all night John I doe wish you could come home to stay or send for me and the children to come to you Mary Jane started a letter to you I doant expect you will ever get it and if you doe I expect you can read it if you get it let me now it so no oar at present but remines your affection wife an till death

Sarah S. Bayless and children
To John Bayless

Letter from John Bayless:

Head Qrts. US Forces
Kansas and Territories
Fort Leavenworth Mar. 24
Major J. P. Sherburne
Asst. Adjt. General
Dept. of Missouri
Saint Louis, Mo.

Sir, I have the honor most respectfully to request a furlough of thirty days (30) to allow me to attend to my private business and family who are sick and need my presence very much as will be seen by letter hereto attached.

I am Sir
Very Respectfully
Your Obd. Servt.
John Bayless
Pvt. Co “C” 6th US Vols.
Messenger at these Head Qtrs.

Letter from Sarah S. Bayless:

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
July 23rd 1866

Col. Potter
Comdg 6th US Vol Infantry

Sir I hope that your kindness will excuse me for the liberty I assumed by adresing you. I am so situated that I have no other means than to afily? To those in power. My husband is a member of your Regiment of Co “C” and by some misfortune preventing him from drawing pay, is unable to support his family, which consists of small and helpless children. I myself being feeble in physical activities and therefore unable to procure a livelihood by hard labor. I am living at this Garrison unable to draw any support from the Persinit? Having no evidence of my husband belonging to any Command on the Frontier. My husband John Bayless has ever to my knowledge sustained a soldiers reputation in your Regiment and in his company. I would therefore respectfully ask your influence and hurry to the resue from suffering a family in great need. By endorsing a application to the secretary of War to have my husband mustered out of the service, or should you deem it impossible, have the kindness and yourself use a Laundress certificate to inable me to draw rations.

I hope kind sir this my request will meet your due consideration, assuring you that nothing but actual need would cause me to make this request.

I am most respectfully

Sarah S. Bayless

Letters of response to this request all contained on one folded sheet of paper:

Fort Leavenworth Kas.
July 28, 1866
Bayless Sarah S.

Asks for the discharge of her husband John Bayless, Private Co. C. 6th Regm. US Vols to aid in the support of his family now in a destitute and suffering condition.

Head Quo 6 Regm. US Vols
Fort Dedgwick ____?

27 Aug. 1866

Respectfully referred to Capt. D. J. Ezekiel Commdg Co “C” 6 US Vols for his information and remarks.

These papers to be returned.

Col. C. H. Potter
Head Qrs. “C” Co 6th USV
La Porte ____? 16th Sept. ‘66

Respectufully returned to Lieut. Cye E. Sowes Adjt. 6th USV.

Private John Bayless, of this company was, when detached, furnished with a “Descriptive List” which was in possession of the a. a. a. G. of the US Forces Kansas and the Territories on the 10th of May last – I having received a letter of that date from said officer notifying me of a stoppage on the Descriptive List of said Bayless. If Bayless is to be mustered out on the plea set forth in this letter I have several other men in my company who should be included in the application to the Hon. Secty. Of War.

I have no objections to her being assigned to the Co. as a Laundress, if you see fit to appoint her as such.

D. J. Ezekiel
Capt. 6th USV
Company “C” Co.

I have reviewed the cards in this file. John Bayless enlisted March 22 (on some cards) or March 20 (on one Descriptive List) in 1865.

He was on Detached service or duty from Aug. 1865 to Sept. (or Oct.) 1866. Just prior to that his duty was Company cook starting in July 1865. His detached service was at HQ, Ft. Leavenworth, KS and the Territories where he was a messenger by Special Field Order No. 1, HQ, US Forces, KS and the Territories.

A list of papers in the file shows that John Bayless did receive a furlough, no date given in the list. I did not see a card regarding this furlough.

Card (image 24) states: "Not credited to any locality. Not entitled to any local or US Bounty."

He seems to have been in debt more often than paid. The May/June 1865 Muster Roll shows that he owed the "sutler" $3.00. A card (image No. 22) shows that in his clothing account he had drawn $18.87 and had returned from Detached Service on Oct 12, 1866. It also shows that he was overpaid $45.45.

Card (image 16) has a large section of remarks which cover the front and back of the card and explain the over payment to John Bayless:

"This soldier was paid by Maj. Shreve to include the 30th June 1865 on the 17th day of Feb. 1866. Notification was received that he again had been paid in full from Enlistment to include the 31st Dec. 1865. The mistake was no fault of the Co. Comdr. (over)"

(Continued on the back of the card)
"For at the time the Des. List was forwarded him he had not drawn his pay, but had signed the rolls. Some 15 days after the Captain comdg. the Company drew his pay and sent it to him, at the same time his notifying the officer to whom he reported of said payment, that the same could be put on his Des. List. Application has been made for the old Des. List, that a new one could be furnished with corrections. The Paymaster General of the Army has been notified of the error with a full explanation of the facts in this case."

(Image 2)


John Bayless, PVT, Co. C., 6 Reg’t U. S. Vols., Inf.
Roll dated Camp Morton Ind, Mar 22, 1865
Where born: Knoc Co., Tenn.
Age: 35 y’rs; Occupation: Farmer
When Enlisted: Mar 20, 1865
Where Enlisted: Camp Morton Ind.
For what period enlisted: 3 years
Eyes: blue; Hair: black
Complexion: dark; Height: 5 ft., 8 in.
When Mustered in: Mar 22, 1865
Muster-in to date: Mar 22, 1865
Where mustered in: Camp Morton Ind.
(Image 3)


Company C, 6 Reg’t, U. S. Vol. Inf.
Age: 35; Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Complexion: dark
Eyes: black; Hair: black
Where born: Knoxville, Tenn.
Occupation: Farmer

When: Mch 20, 1865
Where: Camp Morton, Ind.
By whom: A. J. Hearn; Term: 3 y’rs

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