Incredible four-page Confederate surgeons letter from the beseiged city of Petersburg, Virginia.
Written in early February of 1865 in period ink, and is in fine condition.
You can tell it was obviously written by well-educated man. The letter mentions the mood in Petersburg about the "Peace Commissioners" and goes into great detail about life in the rebel army late in the war.
The content itself is incredible, as you will see below. Sadly the letter is signed "Husband", but enough Doctors names are mentioned to help with the id possibly.
An excellent. well written confederate surgeons letter at a reasonable price. See below for more scans.
$495.00 plus shipping
Here is a transcript of the letter:
Wednesday Feb 1, 1865
My Darling Wife
The same old story, no letter from you since my last. These interruptions are becoming very boring. I know that the mails cross the ______ and the delay must be caused by the inefficiency or carelessness of the Post Office department it is said that Danville is the point at which our letters stick. I should like to stir them up there A few rations kept back or a pretty strong threat of the trenches might have the desired effect. In the mean time I am left to conjecture & hope as to the condition of things at Aiken. The last newspaper accounts represent Sherman as being on the move on a line across the country that indicates his intention of striking the So Ca Rail Road between Branchville & augusta about half way. Should he succeed in reaching it he will be in unpleasant proximity to you & I suppose that the fears of your community are again excited as to his paying you a visit. With Augusta within easy reach I presume there will be very few people left in Aiken to receive him. I think that his intention is not to move in the direction of Augusta so much as it is to get into the rear of our defenses at Branchville. I trust that many things will happen to stay his progress. The people in these parts are very much Exercised on the subject of Peace, Peace commissioners & Peace rumors
An Epidemic that finds us ripe for the contagion & so it has spread very fast and Every one guesses _____ & expresses hopes. Messrs Stevens, Campbell, & Hunter left Petersburg last night again for Washington and this time were successful in passing through Grants lines it’s said that the reason for their returning a day or two ago is that Grant was absent and no one else had authority for passing them. I am afraid that if they should fail in their errand the effect will be demoralizing to our army for the rumors have created a sort of elation already that it would be almost sickening to remove from them, some of the remaining ones in Petersburg, predict a cessation of hostilities in thirty days, should this really be in prospect then something must have happened to scare that Yankees exceedingly. I understand that our commissioners “so called” are decided in listening to no terms which will not have for their case entire Southern Independence. With this knowledge, how could old Blair have invited them over unless he had good reasons for thinking that Lincoln would come down from his position. We don't know exactly “a paper in the wind“ but the fact of these three men being encouraged in their visit & old Blairs numerous visits to Richmond, give us a foundation for hoping that this “cruel war” is drawing to its close. Oh that these hopes could soon be realized what joy this would be through the land. What a double quickening it towards home, for myself. I should not await the snail movement of the Cars but try some of other means a
little faster. I wonder if you will get & comprehend my last production. I feel some curiosity to see your reply to it. I have been at home for four or five days alone get more tired of it every day. The weather is charming, but otherwise, there is no inducement for going out. Petersburg offers no attractions and the trenches less as a place for visiting. Dr. McLean has left us on a leave of absence to go to South Carolina only 21 days in all, & the younger Dr. McLean & myself are left to keep house by ourselves. By this arrangement I have the former’s work to do in addition to my own, but as the increase is very slight it makes very little difference. I have been rejoicing the hearts of some of my men by giving them furloughs, some have not been home for three years. And these men with families too. That time is so short however, that they scarcely get there before it is time for them to return. February has set in, and now there is only 3 months more of winter if this seems so intolerable to us up here what must it be to the poor fellows in the trenches! Interminable. Some of them come through here, looking as if their faces and hands had never seen water. In this desultory sort of an existence you may be sure that my thoughts are frequently with you, constantly throughout the day and I never go to sleep at night without giving you a good long thought, & praying I go to sleep & continue to think of you in my dreams. I try to imagine how my youngest daughter looks and then if Miss Edith will ever have a daughter's affection for me
I have finished the books that I borrowed and now am without any thing in that line even the newspapers have gone beyond my reach, & it is not always that I get a peep into one. All my present discomforts will make me more of a home person than ever, & I shall hang to my wife's apron strings more tenaciously ever than before.
I hope George Heyward's family have a pleasant journey it would be a terrible thing if she were to require the old woman's assistance on the road. I have heard nothing from Chester for some time. Jamie is not very rapid in answering my letters.
I suppose she has other correspondents who have to be attended to. Aunt Jane has given me up, but the fact is that I do remember exactly who wrote the last letter in our correspondence & I now have so little to write about that my letter would scarcely repay her the trouble of reading it. I shall think of you more & more now and shall follow the enemy's movements in your neighborhood with a great deal of anxiety. I trust that you may again be neglected & that your fears & mine will soon be relieved on the subject
With devoted love My Darling
I am is ever your fond & loving
Kiss my little daughter for me“
From Grant's Memoirs:
"On the last of January, 1865, peace commissioners from the so-called Confederate States presented themselves on our lines around Petersburg, and were immediately conducted to my headquarters at City Point. They proved to be Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, Judge Campbell, Assistant-Secretary of War, and R. M. T. Hunt, formerly United States Senator and then a member of the Confederate Senate.
It was about dark when they reached my headquarters, and I at once conducted them to the steam Mary Martin, a Hudson River boat which was very comfortably fitted up for the use of passengers. I at once communicated by telegraph with Washington and informed the Secretary of War and the President of the arrival of these commissioners and that their object was to negotiate terms of peace between the United States and, as they termed it, the Confederate Government. I was instructed to retain them at City Point, until the President, or some one whom he would designate, should come to meet them. They remained several days as guests on board the boat. I saw them quite frequently, though I have no recollection of having had any conversation whatever with them on the subject of their mission. It was something I had nothing to do with, and I therefore did not wish to express any views on the subject. For my own part I never had admitted, and never was ready to admit, that they were the representatives of a GOVERNMENT. There had been too great a waste of blood and treasure to concede anything of the kind. As long as they remained there, however, our relations were pleasant and I found them all very agreeable gentlemen. I directed the captain to furnish them with the best the boat afforded, and to administer to their comfort in every way possible. No guard was placed over them and no restriction was put upon their movements; nor was there any pledge asked that they would not abuse the privileges extended to them. They were permitted to leave the boat when they felt like it, and did so, coming up on the bank and visiting me at my headquarters.
I had never met either of these gentlemen before the war, but knew them well by reputation and through their public services, and I had been a particular admirer of Mr. Stephens. I had always supposed that he was a very small man, but when I saw him in the dusk of the evening I was very much surprised to find so large a man as he seemed to be. When he got down on to the boat I found that he was wearing a coarse gray woollen overcoat, a manufacture that had been introduced into the South during the rebellion. The cloth was thicker than anything of the kind I had ever seen, even in Canada. The overcoat extended nearly to his feet, and was so large that it gave him the appearance of being an average-sized man. He took this off when he reached the cabin of the boat, and I was struck with the apparent change in size, in the coat and out of it.
After a few days, about the 2d of February, I received a dispatch from Washington, directing me to send the commissioners to Hampton Roads to meet the President and a member of the cabinet. Mr. Lincoln met them there and had an interview of short duration. It was not a great while after they met that the President visited me at City Point. He spoke of his having met the commissioners, and said he had told them that there would be no use in entering into any negotiations unless they would recognize, first: that the Union as a whole must be forever preserved, and second: that slavery must be abolished. If they were willing to concede these two points, then he was ready to enter into negotiations and was almost willing to hand them a blank sheet of paper with his signature attached for them to fill in the terms upon which they were willing to live with us in the Union and be one people. He always showed a generous and kindly spirit toward the Southern people, and I never heard him abuse an enemy. Some of the cruel things said about President Lincoln, particularly in the North, used to pierce him to the heart; but never in my presence did he evince a revengeful disposition and I saw a great deal of him at City Point, for he seemed glad to get away from the cares and anxieties of the capital.
Right here I might relate an anecdote of Mr. Lincoln. It was on the occasion of his visit to me just after he had talked with the peace commissioners at Hampton Roads. After a little conversation, he asked me if I had seen that overcoat of Stephens's. I replied that I had. "Well," said he, "did you see him take it off?" I said yes. "Well," said he, "didn't you think it was the biggest shuck and the littlest ear that ever you did see?" Long afterwards I told this story to the Confederate General J. B. Gordon, at the time a member of the Senate. He repeated it to Stephens, and, as I heard afterwards, Stephens laughed immoderately at the simile of Mr. Lincoln.
The rest of the winter, after the departure of the peace commissioners, passed off quietly and uneventfully..."