Description

    [George E. Pickett]. Group of Eleven Letters Written to Pickett spanning the years 1840 through 1842. At the tender age of fifteen, future Confederate General George E. Pickett found himself miles from his native Virginia, studying law under the tutelage of his uncle, Andrew Johnston, a prominent Quincy, Illinois, attorney who was friends with fellow Illinois lawyer, Abraham Lincoln.

    The letters here are from three authors: his father, Robert; his mother, Mary; and his friend, John G. Williams. Nearly all of the letters are docketed by Pickett himself. The earliest letter is from his father, dated March 16, 1840, "two weeks having elapsed since you left us," but the letter is only filled with grief, as "the almighty, in his wise dispensation, has snatched from this world of trouble, one of your dear little friends, whom you left in the bloom of youth . . . yes my dear son, your poor little friend James Lyons, is no more." In addition, he is informed that "your mother has been quite unwell for some days." A second letter from his father some months later, May 20, 1840, finds his mother better and he is instructed to look upon his uncle as an example of how to become a "respectable member of society."

    In September of that year (1840), he received a letter from his mother, who being ill again and having "been confined to the bed and sofa, almost entirely for weeks," praises him and states that she feels "satisfied, that your uncle's regular habits, will produce an insensible effect on you." Later she writes a very revealing letter to her brother, Andrew, with whom George is staying, to express her concerns regarding him, in part: "I felt that at his age demanded other companions . . . than could be provided him in Richmond. I therefore willingly acceded to his going, but as it regards the fixing him at West Point, I have never felt quite satisfied. . . . Now my dear brother, I am opposed to it, for various reasons; but were there no other cause, the state or our country at present, is sufficient."

    The final letter dates from February 18, 1842, from his mother, shortly before he left his uncle for home and then his appointment at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In the letter she warns that "the measles is . . . abroad, over every part of the country . . . you had better inquire as you proceed on home, as it would be so bad to be sick on the road . . . I have not time to tell you how I feel at the hope of seeing you." Pickett left home again later in the year to attend West Point. He graduated in 1846, last in his class. His military career began in earnest that very year, when he participated in the Mexican War, frontier duty in Texas and Washington, culminating in his feats during the Civil War. Some of the letters are damaged and detached along the folds, but are easily read. This is an endearing look into the life of the young general when he was still but a child.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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