Nesbitt Memorial Library

Letters of Basil Gaither Ijams, Private in Company C, 13th Texas Infantry

Letters of Basil Gaither Ijams,
Private in Company C, 13th Texas Infantry

Basil Gaither Ijams was born in August 1846, and thus was so young that he nearly missed his chance to serve in the Confederate military during the Civil War. However, on May 7, 1864, when he was not quite eighteen, he and a few other very young men joined the 13th Texas Infantry. They were quickly deployed to Velasco, to help guard the Texas coast. Over the next year, Ijams wrote a series of letters to his family. Five of them survived, and were donated to the Nesbitt Memorial Library through Millycent Cordes by the heirs of Ethel "Essie" Hammons on May 19, 2008. They are transcribed below. The letters were directed to Ijams' parents, Basil Gaither Ijams and Louisa Hunt Cunningham Ijams, to his sisters, Margaret Jennie Ijams Cone (whom he called "Jince") and Nancy Anna Ijams (whom he called "Nollie"), and to his niece Mary Louisa Clapp. In two instances, the younger Ijams wrote to more than one person on a single sheet of paper. He is not known to have married, and died not long after the war, on February 14, 1868. His sister Jennie Cone (1839-1901) had a son, Wilson Ross Cone (1866-1913). His daughter, Ethel Kathryn Cone (1895-1976), married Basil Edward Burford. Their daughter, Ethel Burford (1926-2007), married Walter Lee Hammons. It must be supposed that each of these generations owned the letters before they were donated to the library..


1. Basil Gaither Ijams to Basil Gaither Ijams and Louisa Hunt Cunningham Ijams, June 10, 1864

Camp Velasco June 10th 1864


Dear Father and Mother I now seat my self to let you know that I have reached camps I am well and have felt better since I have reached heare than I have since I got up from sickness Well I got here yesterday morning about 9 oclock and found the boys all well I did not have a very pleasant trip off it we had to lay over 3 days on the way and it rained every where we went and Houston was the mudiest place that ever I came across and there we spent last sundy Jimmie and I went to prase meeting last night I like this place very well so no more at preasant


your obediant son



2. Basil Gaither Ijams to Basil Gaither Ijams and Louisa Hunt Cunningham Ijams, June 30, 1864

Camp Velasco June the 30th 1864


Dear Mother and Father I take this presant oportunity of writing you a fiew lines as Uncle William is go up. I received a letter from Ma, Jince, & Nollie, and was glad to hear that you all were well. I am well and getting along fine I am sorry to hear that Uncle Ellison is no better and I fear he will never have his rite mind any more, I have no news to write though. I must try to write some John Clapp has been sick ever since he got to camps but he is improveing and the Dr has assigned him for duty but he is not able to undertake to stand guard and the ordely will not put it on him. This is genneral review but I am clear of that and dont have to be exammined be cause I am on guard and the guard dont have to be exammined. I have had the luck to be on piquet at the beech evry since I have been down here and have been the third relief so you see I dont have to stand but two hours a night. They have quit issuing us flour so you see we dont have sutch good eating. dont grumble when a soldier asks you for a little milk but just give it to him for you cannot know how it is to be with out it and what a treat it is to get it. We get a pan of clobber every morning from Mrs Behrans Kiss little Cassie for me and tell her bus will make send her one little ring too to put on her little ringer. Tell Jince and Nollie that I will not write to them until after, I have writen to sis Em, as I prommised to write to her first. Give my pigs a plenty of milk and make them fat and when Jimmie comes goes up kill one and send me half baked nice. I am very sorry to hear that the storm blew so mutch off our corn down We had a storm the first night I went on guard and blew the tent down on us. Oh yes I have some news too The Yankees came in the other day mondy and gave us a fiew shots 25 the shell flew in evry direction but we made them get out of range of our guns quicker the fight occured a bout that little old schooner that I wrote you about last sunday. Charley is getting along firstrait and wants to go home since the Yanks gave us them shell it scared him very badly but I did not care for it evry body ran to where they could see I got on the fort where I could see evry thing and be out of danger. so no more you must excuse bad wrting and spelling as I am in a hurry


Your son


3. Basil Gaither Ijams to Basil Gaither Ijams and Louisa Hunt Cunningham Ijams, to Nancy Anna �Nollie� Ijams, and to Margaret Jennie �Jince� Ijams Cone, July 30, 1864

Camp Velasco July the 30th /64


Dear mother & Father I a gan seat my self to write you a fiew lines to let you know how I am getting along I am well and getting along first rate. There is no news except some excitement about moving there to two companies of our regiment ordered to Salousia [San Luis Island] and of course company C will be one though maby it wont there is no telling if we go I expect I will come by home and maby the whole Company I dont want to go down there for the yanks will get us shure for there is no chance for escape off that Island only by boates and they will be scase I received a joint letter from Jince and Nol and one from ma I was glad to hear from home and shuerly it was time. I am sorry to hear that Jimmie has been sick since he has been home I was in hopes that he would enjoy his self while at home it looks hard to think that a man cant get home but once a year and then to be sick. Ma spoke of comeing down here I dont know where you would stay for evry house is crowded and to think of camping that wont do there is to many soldiers down here that dont care for any thing I must close so good by




Velasco July the 30 /64


Miss Nollie Ijams

Dear Sister I received your letter dated July the 22and nd was eceedingly glad to hear from you and We are encamped here at Velasco and doing as well ass there is any ned for but the only thing is they are going to send some of our men of and split up our regiment I expect that we will have to go the boys are all hot about it but old Bates is still hotter he says it is a perfect man trap and I believe it. There is a great deal of sickness in camps not so mutch in our company but the flops as the boyss call them so newly organised companies from smith county and other greesy counties you say you have writen three or four letters to me I dont know when it was I think you must be mistaken or maby you wrote them and then tore them up I am sorry to hear that you eyes are not well yet you you wrote as if Bill Cumens and Sus Bosticks wedding was some thing I heard that six months ago I know what you is the matter with you you wanted him your self you say that you lay no claimes on bob J but I know better. you must lok over bad writing for I have to write in sutch a hurry that I cannot half write if you can read This you can beat me I you get this letter before Jimmie leavs send me two five cent pices if you have them Kis little Casie for me




Velasco July the 30th 64


Mrs. J. T Cone

Dear sister I must try to write you a fiew lines. I dont know what it will be but it must be some thing I recon foolishness I am sorry that I could not have come home with Jimmie I think you all would have enjoy your selves a great deal more than you did I would like to be at home to eat some of those fine watermellons that I planted but I new that I would not get any of them when I planted them I have nothing to write that would interest you bless little Cassies soul I want to see her so bad Kiss her five hundred times for me and dont let her forget that there is such a being as bus Jince I neve had such a time to think of some thing to write I am glad too that Jimmie and I are to gather but I wish that we were Cavalry but there is no use in talking about it when have you heard from Charley Brown and where is he or do you know. Write to me where Aunt Margarets post office is I am ashamed to say that I dont know what it is. Well no more to day I expect Jimmie will be gone before you get this excuse bad writing your affectionate brothe Gaither Ijams

4. Basil Gaither Ijams Jr. to Mary Louisa Clapp, May 5, 1865

Velasco May 5th 1865


Miss Mollie L. Clapp

Dear niece I will now attempt to write you a few lines. I have nothing interesting to write you but nevertheless I will try and write something. Evry thing is dull and times are hard.

I hope you had a pleasant time of it the first day of May and acted your part well. I would have been very much delighted to have been there. Your cousins are all well and getting along very well. your jularkey Jno. Pinchback is well.

Mollie try too learn now for the day may not lie far distant when you may have to work and not have the time to spend in going to school. I am fearfull that the confederacy is gone up. if so I think we are in a bad old fix but it is all right.

There is but one yankee gunboat in sight of this place. There was a heavy fireing herd all day last Tuesday in the direction of Galveston three or four guns to the half of an hour it was supposed to be a salute fired over the death of Old Abe.

I herd from your cousins Suf and Peter yesterday suf is acting adjutant I believe. they were well we are liveing very well now we get bacon beef and corn meal and a little molasses but we have up some cows which makes it a little better.

Tell Bob and Ada that I have been looking for a letter from them for a month.

Old, Ose, has gone home you will see him and he will tell you all a bout how we are getting along.

You must not eat all of the plumbs up and not think of us poor wretches down here. Your Cousin Doss will get off home in about three weeks we are furloughing tollerably fast now but how long it will last no one knows but I fear not long

I will get to come home when the war ends maybe.

Give my love to the girls and tell them that I am all right yet. I must close as I can not think of any thing else to write excuse all bad writing and spelling and all grammatical errors my love to all


you uncle

Gaither Ijams

5. Basil Gaither Ijams to Basil Gaither Ijams and Louisa Hunt Cunningham Ijams, and to Nancy Anna �Nollie� Ijams, May 15, 1865

Velasco May 15th 1865


Dear parents I will now seat my self to give you a few items of camp news. I have nothing good to write to you but all that I consider disgracefull and bad. yesterday evening every company in the regiment except ours raised a white flag and ours raised a confederate. some of the vilans from other companies talked of pulling of it down if they had undertaken it they would have had to walked over the dead bodies of very near evry man in our company. There is about 10 men in our company who rejoiced to see the white flag raised but the confederate flag waved the gongest their captains too them down and tore them up. Company F was the first to raise one that is the company that Mr. Ingram and Tom Insel belongs to.

I think we are whiped but nevertheless I say stick to them and get the best terms that we can if we throw down our arms I now we will get no terms. Well that is enough about that for it will all come out right in the long run

I have to go on fatigue again this morning they get me evry Monday. I recon Jim has got to think him self free. I do not believe that I would try to get him out of jail for it will cost you something and it will do you no good I am affraid so any how.

Mrs. Toliver and John are down here I have not seen Mrs. Toliver only at a distance I saw John and he would hardly speak to me. the reason why I do not know but there is no love lost.

I do wish that the yanks could get one good whipping before this thing ends. I must close as I have nothing more to write. Our confederate flag is flying yet The companies that raised the white flags yesterday are going to have a meeting to day so it is said. There has been about 20 men made application fr transfer to our company this morning

give my love to all the family excuse bad writing and spelling your son




Velasco May 15th 1865


Miss N. A. Ijams

Dear sister I will now try answer your very kind and highly appreciated letter which I received in due time I have nothing of interest to write you. as I have writen it all to (Pa & Ma) you must excuse bad writing (I will tell you that at first) for I am so nervous from the excitement that I can hardly write at all.

It is very hard for old people like Pa and Ma to have to go to work again and I can hardly bear to think of it. Well I thought the ranging Widow would have married befre now.

The Clapp boys are all well and getting along very well We have another man in our mess now a Mr Washington a son of Dr Washington of the Colorado he is a very good boy. Captain Herndon paid our compay his best thanks and undivided as commander of the post the boys thanked him for it but said it did not make them think any thing more of him (it was for hoisting the confederate flag.). I must close as I cannot think of any thing more too write give my love to all the family.


your brother