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    First Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade 

William Bridges, 4th Kentucky Infantry

Compiled by Edison H. Thomas

BridgesWm.jpg (6752 bytes)

Born:  October 3, 1834, Maple Grove, Trigg County, Ky. Seventh child of William and Mary (Thomas) Bridges, private, Co. G., 4th Regt, and later, musician, Co. I., 4th Regt., Kentucky Brigade. brother of Cullen T. Bridges, who served in Co. D., 2nd Ky. Cavalry Regt.

William enlisted in the Confederate army July 1, 1861 at the age of 24, at Canton, Ky., along with 73 other men from Trigg County. The group marched to Camp Burnett, near Clarksville, Tenn., where, on Nov. 14,1861 he was inducted into Confederate service for a period of three years. The group was transferred to Bowling Green in December 1861, and assigned to Company G., Fourth Regiment, Kentucky Infantry.

The Confederate army abandoned Bowling Green in February 1862 and with the Ky. Brigade, headed for Nashville. They encamped at Murfreesboro, Tenn., and in March were ordered to Corinth, Miss., via Huntsville and Decatur, Ala. On April 6-7, 1862, they participated in the Battle of Shiloh.

Thompson's 1868 history of the Ky. Brigade states that William participated in the Battle of Shiloh, and Vicksburg, but it is assumed that shortly after Shiloh he was hospitalized with malaria. The Confederacy had taken over a resort hotel at Castillian Springs, near Durant, Miss., some 200 miles southwest of Corinth, and after the Battle of Shiloh, the ailing and injured soldiers were shipped there by train. Some of the men died while still aboard the train and were buried at Durant. William and others in the Brigade died at the hotel turned-hospital.

The Fourth Kentucky was with the army when it left Corinth, Miss., for the Vicksburg area. William's record, listed in the History of the Ky. Brigade, says simply:

"Fought at Shiloh and Vicksburg, died of disease at Castillian Springs, Miss., Sept. 10, 1862."

Ordinarily, this death date would be accepted as accurate, especially since it is listed as such in Thompson's Brigade History. However, in Company G, with William Bridges, was his cousin, Alfred C. Thomas who in May 1862, wrote this letter:

May 4, 1862
Corinth, Miss.

Mr. Cullen Bridges:

I take my pensil in hand to inform you that I am well at this time. I hope that when you get these few lines that they will fine you all in joying the same health. I received your letter. I find you all well.

I think that all is well that is alive. William Bridges is ded, he died in Castilian Springs & he was very sick the last time I sean him. I thought then he would die. And Bob Cohoon [another Trigg Countian in Co. G] he is ded. He died in town at Adlanter [Atlanta], Georgia. I and Bill Harrell was with him when he died. I have no more time to write.

Yours truly,

A. C. Thomas

The above letter, written by an eye-witness so to speak, places William's death prior to May 4, 1862, the date he wrote it. April 22, 1862 has been accepted by the family as the date of death. Malaria is listed as the cause.

William is buried along with a number of his Orphan Brigade comrades, in an unmarked grave in Westley Church Cemetery in Castillian Springs, Miss. In 1989, a commemorative marker supplied by the Federal government, was placed there in his memory through efforts of a member of the Thomas and Bridges families.

William Bridges was the seventh of twelve children born to William and Mary (Thomas) Bridges. They were: Orren D. Bridges; Starkie T. Bridges, Simco N. Bridges, Drew Bridges, Burnetta Bridges, James C. Bridges, William Bridges, Stanley Bridges, Mrs. Thomas A. (Mary Adeline) Hixon; Mrs. James J. (Charity) Battoe; John Bridges, and Cullen T. Bridges.

William's grandfather was Drury Bridges, who with his wife, Charity (Cohoon) Bridges and four of their seven children, had come to Kentucky from Edgecombe County, North Carolina in 1804. His life prior to joining the Confederate Army was spent in the Maple Grove community of Trigg County, Ky., helping his father on his farm. He was single.

Ref: Brigade History; T&B Story; GNB and GAB Histories; General Services Adm., National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D. C.; Thompson's Brigade history, etc.

Edison H. Thomas


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