Date: 13 Jul 1863
Today we have the extant final letter from Dr. John Randolph Traylor, Sr. to John Hill. A great deal of time has passed since the last letter (more than 2 years). It is not clear if letters had been sent but are no longer extant or if none were sent. I find the latter doubtful. I would imagine that quite a number of letters have been lost to the ravages of time.
In this letter, we see a sense of urgency among Dr. Traylor and his family to leave Louisiana. The family lacks information about friends and relatives in the war. He talks of moving to the area around Austin and passing through Waverly on his way (where John Hill lives). This is a trip he would indeed soon take, but only as far as Waverly. It is already Jul 1863 and John would die in Waverly on 16 Mar 1864.
Dr. Traylor mentions Mrs. White; this is the step-mother of his daughter Mary Louise. Dr. Traylor also mentions his poor health, but it is not known why his health was poor. He is only about 56 years old at this time.
Then Dr. Traylor reports the death of his son Francis Marion at the Battle of Chancellorsville - killed instantly by shrapnel. But, he reports another son Randolph to still be alive. And, this is something to note. In the last letter, Dr. Traylor seemed despondent about seeing his sons again. There is a report in the family that Dr. Traylor committed suicide because he thought all of his sons had died in the War. But, he was in poor health. It is impossible to know the entire story. The death of Dr. Traylor may always remain a mystery.
Finally of note, Dr. Traylor mentions whooping cough in their area.
Marion, La July 13 / 63
Col. John Hill
Waverly, Walker Co. Texas
C.T. Powell starts for your place tomorrow morning. By whoom [sic] I send you the money for the note of Mayo $804.25 after paying the collecting fees. The money has been collected for some two months I have had no opportunity to send it until now.
You will have heared [sic] before this reaches you of the fall of Vicksburg & Port Hudson & see the necessity of our getting away from this place. We have not heared [sic] certainly the particulars of the surender[sic] of Vicksburg in which we were so much interested we know nothing of the fate of our friends. There has been no news from there for more than two months. We can only hope that they are all living. The report is that the whole garison [sic] was paroled the officers going out with there [sic] side arms on we do not know that there is anything certain about it further than that it has surrendered.
You will perceive the necessity of everyone who has any thing to take care of getting away from this place. But the question is when shall we go. It would be useless to stop any where near this place, we should probably have to move again soon. If we could do it I would be glad to make our move do [sic]. I have thought of Austin & country around but do not know whether or not we shall be able to subsist there until we can make supplies. There is still another dificulty[sic]. I have no money, between 50 & 60 Bags of Cotton unsold. Move we must. If we go out about Austin through Waverly would be about as nearaway [sic] as we could go. Mrs. White is now willing to move. We are all going to fix up to that end. I have thought of the trinity country but there has been such a tide of emigration to that section that I fear it will not do for us. If we could get supplies I think it would be besto [sic] for the presend [sic] to go out beyond Austin until the war is over. Where best to go I do not know. I shall be there [sic] main dependence which is a very bad one. My health is very poor, all our mail [sic] friends are in the Army. Gus has joined a company & gon [sic].
You have no doubt heared [sic] of the sad fate of Marion's fall at Fredericksburg rather at Chancellorsvill. He was killed instantly by a piece of shell. It appears almost accidental but it was God's will & we have no wright [sic] to (?). It is said that C. Griffin fell at Vicksburg.
We hear from Randolph occasionally through him from your boys. We hear the cannon booming almost constantly in the direction of Vicksburg. We have some troops in the swamp. I do not think it is there & it is too good to hope that the report of the fall of Vicksburg is not true.
Our crops in this country are above an average. I think we plant nothing but corn, peas & potatoes &C. We do not know that we can make any disposition of them when gathered. The health of the neighborhood is good. There is whooping cough just at us. I suppose that we can not avoid getting it. This leaves us well except Miss Marthy Fuller. She has been quite sick for 10 or 12 days but is better. Love & best regards to all.