Albert S. Chalker Papers, 1864-1865

This collection contains letters between Albert Chalker and his sweetheart, Martha Ann Bardin, written while Chalker was serving in the Confederate Army.

While not incredibly detailed, these letters provide a sense of an ordinary enlisted soldier's experience of the Civil War in Florida. Chalker briefly discusses troop movements, occasional grievances with the Confederate military, and his desire to be reunited with Miss Bardin. Some of the letters include love poems, most of which Chalker copied from poets such as Bayard Taylor and Edward Everett. Several envelopes are included in the collection, as is the enlistment certificate of William Sims Bardin, Martha's father.

Chalker Poem

Biography

Albert Symington Chalker was born August 9, 1843 in Horry County, South Carolina. In 1852, he moved with his parents and siblings to Clay County, Florida. On May 16, 1863, at the age of 19, Chalker was mustered into the Confederate Army at Callahan under Captain Robert Harrison in Company K of the Second Florida Cavalry. He spent much of his time at Baldwin, Florida, and served as a courier for General Joseph Finegan. Albert Chalker was honorably paroled on May 17, 1865 after Florida's Confederate forces formally surrendered to General Edward M. McCook of the United States. He returned to Clay County and married Martha Ann Bardin in December 1865. Martha's father, William Sims Bardin, gave his Middleburg residence to the couple as a wedding gift. Albert and Martha Chalker settled and remained there for the rest of their lives. Albert Chalker served for 17 years as Middleburg's postmaster, and as tax collector for Clay County from 1881 to 1885. He was also a prominent businessman, and operated both a private ferry on the south prong of Black Creek and a general store in Middleburg.

Historic Clark-Chalker House at 3891 Main St. in Middleburg

Clark-Chalker House

Around 1890, Chalker ventured briefly out west to New Mexico, where he hoped to expand his fortune. Sometime during his stay he was diagnosed with Bright's disease, a kidney disorder, and his son George returned him to Middleburg, where he died on January 26, 1906. Albert and Martha Chalker's home, located at 3891 Main Street in Middleburg, and generally called the Clark-Chalker House, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Letters Chalker Envelope

Chalker to Bardin, May 8, 1864
Chalker describes a skirmish with Union soldiers and his loneliness

Chalker to Bardin, October 12, 1864
Chalker describes his frustration with the war, as well as friction between officers and enlisted soldiers

Chalker to Bardin, November 20, 1864
Chalker reacts to Bardin's mention of him deserting the Confederate Army

Chalker to Bardin, November 30, 1864
Chalker discusses troop movements and his health

Bardin to Chalker, January 15, 1865
Bardin scolds Albert for not writing in a while, and laments her loneliness

Bardin to Chalker, January 31, 1865
Bardin expresses her relief at hearing from Chalker

Chalker to Bardin, February 17, 1865
Chalker discusses an illness and refers to the abortive peace talks at Hampton Roads, Virginia

Chalker to Bardin, Feburary 28, [1865]
Chalker describes a skirmish between Confederate and Union soldiers near Jacksonville

Chalker to Bardin, March 15, 1865
Chalker describes a scouting expedition and the Battle of Natural Bridge

Chalker to Bardin, April 2, 1865
Chalker describes being put on a detail making shoes, and discusses matters relating to deserters

Chalker to Bardin, May 17, 1865
Chalker discusses his health and his desire to see Bardin soon

Chalker to Bardin, November 25, 1865
Chalker expresses his desire to marry Bardin

Envelopes, 1864-65

Enrollment certificate of W.S. Bardin in Arthur Roberts' Company