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Starting out

(May-June 1862)

(18 letters, 1862-3)

Letters After
Milo Grow's Death



"My dear we have postponed writing our love epistles until after marriage and after we have one son. Our correspondence is more in the style of lovers than that of matrimony. But to me it has this advantage. We now know that our words have a deep meaning and that they are now free from any pretension."


A visit to the battlefield
at Fredericksburg in 1989

Where Milo Grow fought
at Gettysburg

Sarah Catherine Baughn in 1851 at age 16 and a half, recipient of these letters from her husband Milo Grow. There is no known picture of Milo, and her letters to him have not survived.

About these letters

Scans of original letters


One of Milo's letters.

This was an age overly sure of itself in many ways, as indicated by this book of lectures, by a man, on "The Sphere and Duties of Woman."









These are the letters of a man caught between divided loyalties. An idealistic northerner educated in the same tradition that produced Emerson and Thoreau, Milo Grow moved south to Georgia shortly before the Civil War, where he taught school and practiced law.

There, he seems to have found a place among the colorful individualists of the small-town South, made friends, developed strong loyalties, and married a spirited woman in a setting where that meant marrying into a whole family, a community, and even a way of life.

These must have been difficult times for a candid, educated Yankee in the deep South. According to historian David Williams in Rich Man's War, it was a felony in nearby Alabama just to speak out against slavery. Most opponents of slavery had been run out of the region.

The region was profoundly divided about slavery. Many rugged farmers owned a slave or two, around three-fourths of the population owned no slaves, and the majority of the South (including Georgia) opposed secession.

But large planters and slaveholders dominated the economy and the legislatures, and it was not difficult for them to enlist the allegiance of non-slave-owning whites, many of whom seem to have entered the war thinking it would be a brief demonstration of superior Southern spirit and a defense of their independence as a region.

Milo did not enlist at once. In fact, he and his friends volunteered for "the Miller County Guards" only after the draft was declared in 1862. Milo must have been under pressure to enlist--to demonstrate loyalty to his friends and new family, which now included an infant son, and to protect his family from the threat of violence for harboring a Yankee. Also, as Williams points out, enlisting enabled Milo to get a fifty-dollar bonus and choose which unit to serve in.

The draft was not universal. Holders of more than 20 slaves were exempt, and anyone wealthy enough could buy his way out. The Confederate Army seems to have been populated by those with the least to gain from the war. One of Milo's letters complains that the enlisted men are treated like slaves.

The war was not universally popular in this remote region of the South. In parts of nearby counties, some men never joined the war at all. In nearby Dale County, Alabama, guerrilla bands of war resisters prevented Confederate agents from drafting men, attacked supply trains, and kept circuit court from holding sessions.

Milo's Northern family reported afterward that he had kept a diary in which he expressed his opposition to slavery and secession (mentioned in Davis, 1913). That diary has not been found.

Aura Lea
by W.W. Fosdick

A song popular at the time

When the blackbird in the spring, on the willow tree,
Sat and rocked, I heard him sing, singing Aura Lea
Aura Lea, Aura Lea, maid of golden hair,
Sunshine came along with thee, and swallows in the air.

Aura Lea, Aura Lea, maid of golden hair,
Sunshine came along with thee, And swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born, music when you spake,
Through thine azure eye the morn, sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea, bird of crimson wing,
Never song have sung to me, in that sweet spring.

Aura Lea! The bird may flee, the willows golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully, on the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see, gloom will soon depart,
For to me, sweet Aura Lea is sunshine through the heart.

When the mistletoe was green, midst the winter's snows,
Sunshine in thy face was seen, kissing lips of rose.
Aura Lea, Aura Lea, take my golden ring,
Love and light return with thee, and swallows with the spring.


 St. Johnsbury, Vermont, when Milo lived there, from an 1851 map.

"St. Johnsbury was one of the more strict villages in the mid 1800s. The straight-laced were objecting to the loosening of morals.

They did not object to baseball, roller skating, magicians, circus or exhibitions of war panoramas, but they did object to raffles, lotteries or females reading sketches or declaiming in public.

In spite of the restrictions, a dancing school was established which ended its dancing season with a ball at the St. Johnsbury House.

To register their dissatisfaction the pillars of the North and South Congregational churches, which were also town officials, shut off the water to the hotel the next day, causing it to close."

--From the Center for
Rural Studies website

Milo Walbridge Grow, writer of these letters, was born at Craftsbury, Vermont, on March 28, 1825, grew up in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Milo had moved to Georgia by 1853, when he advertised the opening of a school in Albany, Ga.

Milo moved to Colquitt, Georgia in the late 1850s and married Sarah Catherine Baughn on December 13, 1860, in Miller County, Georgia, on the eve of Lincoln's inauguration and the outbreak of the Civil War.

On December 24, Alabama voted to secede. On January 19, 1861, Georgia seceded. The Confederacy was created in February 1861. Wedding music was quickly followed by the music of war.

Milo enlisted in the Confederate Army, Company D, 51st Regiment, "Miller Guards," on March 15, 1862. Click here for a sketch of his regiment's role in the war.

Kate bore their only child--Roy Walbridge Grow, on Oct 31, 1861. Roy was five months old when his father left for the war, not to return.

According to family history, Milo was captured at Gettysburg July 3, 1863, after being wounded the previous day.

He was taken to Fort Delaware, Del., and thence to the new Northern prisoner of war camp at Point Lookout, Maryland, where he died Jan. 24, 1864.

Here is a letter to the editor lamenting the conditions at Point Lookout. Here is a website on Point Lookout. There is an organization of descendants of Point Lookout prisoners. Milo Grow's name appears in their listing of those who died there.

Milo is buried in the family plot in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Milo's name on the monument to the prisoners who died at Point Lookout.


Wooden spiceboxes from 1858, of the kind Kate probably knew.

Sarah Catherine (Kate) Baughn was born March 19, 1835 in Quincy, Florida, daughter of G. William T. Baughn and Sarah Elizabeth Jarrett Baughn.

At some time after April 2, 1876 (when Mr. Bodiford's first wife died), Kate married James H. Bodiford and became Kate Bodiford --the name that appears on her grave in Colquitt, Georgia.

In family tradition, she is known as "Mother Bodiford," and each new baby is knowingly said to have "Mother Bodiford's chin."

In the letters, Milo calls Kate by a number of terms of endearment, including Lyra and Lullie. Lyra is the constellation representing Orpheus' lyre, the mystical source of inspiration. In a touching moment in the winter at Fredericksburg, he describes looking up and seeing Lyra bright in the night sky, no doubt thinking of her.

The only definition of "lullie" given in the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is "the kidney of a cow." We can safely assume that Milo had some other meaning in mind.

1860's map showing location of Colquitt, Ga.

Map of the United States, 1853 -- showing the vast undeveloped areas of the West, in contrast to the densely settled Eastern states. (The labels are in German.)

Some people referred to in the letters.




A book many of these people might have read.

Newspaper accounts of the 1858 Lincoln - Douglas debate would have been read and hotly discussed in Colquitt and every other corner of the South, because of the potential bearing they had on the future of slavery.

Uncle Richard: Richard Jarrett, Kate's brother and a physician. Emory Jarrott of Savannah traced the Jarrott line back to Carteret County, North Carolina, around 1700.

Buly: Van Buren Baughn, Kate's brother, who later became an attorney and married Martha Sheffield.

Billy: William Baughn, Kate's brother, who was killed in the Civil War.

Leroy (Lee, Le, Roy, Leetle Lee): Roy Walbridge Grow, Milo and Kate's son, who later became a Miller County attorney and farmer and married Lou Bush.

Davis: John Davis, 26th District farmer and sheep raiser.

Mrs. Dees: Nancy Dees, tanner and weaver.

Man in regiment who lost his arm: Probably R. W. Dancer, Miller County Ordinary who married Mary Jane Clifton.

Mr. Boykin: Guilford A. Boykin, a farmer and the first Miller County postmaster, who later married Elizabeth Jarrett.

Mr. Anthony: William W. Anthony, circuit-riding Methodist preacher assigned to the Colquitt Charge.


--From The History of Miller County Georgia by Nellie Cook Davis.

Love songs gave way to songs of war:

When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah, hurrah,
We'll give him a hearty welcome then,
Hurrah, hurrah!
The men will cheer, the boys will shout, The ladies, they will all turn out, And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

The old church bell will peal with joy,
Hurrah, hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah, hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say,
With roses they will strew the way,
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah, hurrah!
We'll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah, hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow,
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny come marching home.

Let love and friendship on that day,
Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest treasures then display,
Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior's heart,
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.

Others connected with the letters

Taken mostly from John Grow of Ipswich, by George W. Davis, 1913.

This book can be ordered from UMI, University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1346.

You will need the item number: G-1217. Their phone number is 1-800-521-0600.

David Grow: Milo's younger brother, 1829-1879. Identified in the letters as a Mason, David worked as agent of the Jerome Clock Company of New York, spending much time in Europe. Later worked in Chicago with Fairbanks Greenleaf Scale Company, and was manager of the Waterbury Clock Company in New York.

Mila (Lamoille Amanda) Grow: Milo's sister: b. in Craftsbury, Vt. Feb. 27, 1871. Married Feb. 27, 1871, Charles Woodbury Thrasher (who was born in Cornish, N.H.). They settled in Springfield, Missouri, where he died in 1901. In 1913, Mila and her daughter (Alice Lamoille, b. Sept. 10, 1876) were living in Florence, Italy. Thrasher graduated from Dartmouth, class of 1856, and practiced law. He rose to Colonel in the Civil War. Was nominated for Congress in Missouri, but was defeated. (Lamoille was the name of the adjacent county in Vermont.)

Lamoille H. Grow (born Wallbridge or Walbridge in 1795) was mother to Milo, Mila, an David. Their father, Silas Grow (b. 1795) died August 29, 1862. His will did not leave his estate to his eldest son, Milo, now an enemy soldier. Milo received only payment of the notes that Silas gave for his education. The will also mentions an adoptede daughter, Jane Rawson, wife of Horace Rawson of Craftsbury. Lamoille was the name of a nearby county in Vermont.

Milo Grow's ancestors have been traced back to John Grow of Ipswich, Mass., around 1636.

Milo's connection with Dartmouth can be glimpsed in his autograph book.

Publication data

 The text of these letters was compiled by Gerald Grow from Joy Jink's transcription of the handwritten letters. I have regularized some of the spelling to make the letters easier t read, but left enough to give the flavor of the original. Some of the unusual spellings have a life of their own, like "Leetle Lee." I added most of the paragraph breaks. Where I was able to obtain the original letter, I checked this text against it.

In a few places, the order and dates of the letters are not clear, so those have been arranged in what seemed a likely sequence.

The hand-tinted photograph of Kate Baughn was discovered by Kaye Dyar among some inherited items in Virginia, with her fading signature on the back and the inscription, "to my only son, Roy Walbridge Grow."  

This edition is copyrighted as a formality to protect it. Permission is freely granted to anyone, however, to reproduce brief excerpts in not-for-profit publications, and to link to this website. Others may contact the editor at P. O. Box 4282, Tallahassee, FL 32315.

First produced for the Grow-Jinks family reunion at Lake Seminole State Park, Georgia, Thanksgiving Day, 1986.

 Some related resources

A service bell from 1863.

Selected Civil War Photographs

Civil War Songs

Civil War Songs, another site

The Civil War Prisoners

First-Person Narratives of the American South

David Williams, Rich Man's War. Univ. of Ga. Press, 1998. An excellent account of how the Civil War affected the local region that included Kate's home town of Colquitt.

Nellie Cook Davis, The History of Miller County, Georgia, 1856-1980. As of 2009, this book was available from the Swamp Gravy Institute in Colquitt, Ga.

A Timeline At the Grow-Sloan-Jinks family reunion in 2002, Joy Jinks led us in creating a timeline of events in the family and in the world since the Civil War. The people mentioned here are descendents of Milo and Kate Grow, or married to them.


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