Following the destruction caused by the Civil War, numerous charges were made against the Federal and state governments for personal property that was seized or used by the contending armies. These cases would be tried in courts all across the land and drag on for many years. The presently offered document is one such example, though this one was filed soon after the close of the conflict. The document, penned in a very legible hand, is addressed “To the Honorable Probate Court of Warren County Mississippi” and details the privations visited upon the estate of a deceased individual. The document was written by “D M Legg” in his capacity as “Administrator of Estate of B. F. Johnson Decd” and is dated at the conclusion “January 2nd 1866”. Legg states that “… Being subject to military duty and compelled to serve in that capacity from May 1st 1862 till May 1st 1865 it was impossible to attend to any Business of a private nature During which time There was burned by military order (78) Seventy Eight Bales Cotton Belonging to the estate also During the same time all the personal or moveable property Belonging to said estate together with my own were destroyed or carried off by the Federal army …”. He further indicates that “… There is not one dollars worth of personal property in my hands or anywhere else Belonging to said Estate …”, but there is “… However Ten hundred and fifty acres of land …”. The land, however, is noted as “… Very much out of Repair nearly all Fencing either Burned or otherwise destroyed …”. As noted earlier, the document is signed and dated at the conclusion by Legg, with a further notation which guarantees that the information was “Sworn to & subscribed in open court This 2nd January 1866”, certified by “J C Chappell clk”. The inner pages are blank, while the back bears numerous filing notations (these feature a short description of the contents, as well as where and when it was filed with the local authorities). The results of the case are unknown to the cataloguer, though research in the records may shed some light as to the final disposition. The document measures approximately 7.50 x 12.00 inches and was executed in period ink on what was once blue lined white paper. Though we know that large amounts of personal material are lost or destroyed during war, it is a rare occurrence to find the actual documentation, especially given the circumstances of the destruction. This piece would make a great addition to any Civil War or Mississippi document collection, showing as it does the financial and physical hardships inherent in war.
Cursory research indicates that Daniel M. Legg, the writer of this document, enlisted on or about April 30, 1862 as a private in Company “G” (Cowan’s Battery), 1st Mississippi Light Artillery (other sources indicate that he enlisted as a corporal and ended the war as a private). He appears to have been captured at Blakely, Alabama on April 9, 1865 and held at Ship Island until transferred to Vicksburg for exchange on May 1, 1865 (he was subsequently exchanged on May 6, 1865 at Camp Townsend, Mississippi). He was apparently born sometime in 1827 and died in 1901 (he is listed as being buried in Warren County, though this fact is unconfirmed).
The presently offered document exhibits signs of moderate period use and subsequent long term storage. As noted earlier, this piece toning across the entire surface, imparting to it a dark beige or light tan hue to the paper. This toned color reduces the contrast somewhat, though all of the written material is fully visible and quite legible. Darker toning is noted at the lower edge, along the folds, and on the top portion of the back page (this was the outside when the piece was folded for storage). As noted, three horizontal folds are present, necessary for the document to be placed in storage. Each of these folds has weakened the integrity of the paper, with scattered separations appearing along some of the folds. Scattered soiling and minor staining mentioned for accuracy. Overall, a nice example of this rarely discussed topic, especially since the administrator was a soldier in the Confederate Army and he is now answering to a Union controlled court.
Due to the size of the document and the lack of strong contrast, only part of the piece is illustrated. A complete scan can be supplied to prospective buyers upon request.