Description

    "Justice tempered with kindness often accomplished more than the sword"

    [Maryland Secessionist John Hanson Thomas]. Union Major General John E. Wool Autograph Letter Signed to Maryland Secessionist John Thomas. Three pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8", Baltimore, December 1862. In this genial and warmhearted letter-perhaps too genial and warmhearted-General Wool, as commander of the U.S. Middle Department, informs Thomas, an advocate for the secession of Maryland, that he hopes he has made a friend of Thomas and that no "evil" should befall him-"This shall not be if I can prevent it." Smoothed folds.

    Major General Wool writes to Thomas in part: "Your letter will be preserved among the most precious mementoes which it has been my good fortune to receive. . . . I am content to have you for my friend and advocate. . . . I did not come to Baltimore as an enemy to her citizens and certainly not to those of your sex. I came as a protector and to guard the citizens against evil men, and not to punish or imprison them because they did not think with me on the existing subjects of the day. On the contrary, I came to make them friends and not enemies for, as I remarked on another occasion, in a long military career I had discovered that justice tempered with kindness often accomplished more than the sword. In pursuing this course, if I have made you my friend I shall indeed consider myself fortunate. In conclusion, I would remark that it would be a source of extreme regret to me if any evil should befall you. This shall not be if I can prevent it. Herewith I send you a copy of my printed letter by which you will perceive who my enemies are."

    The "printed letter" that Wool mentions is a long letter he wrote in defense against his "calumniators" and published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturday, November 22 [1862]; it is included with this lot. In the letter, Wool writes of his precarious situation as commander of the Middle Department with headquarters in Baltimore. According to the letter, he was severely tested by both the Maryland Unionists and Secessionists, with the constant menace of the Confederate Army ever nearby. Among the most irksome trials for Wool were the complaints lobbed by some Unionists against Wool for associating too closely with Secessionists. (This letter to Thomas seems to give some validity to that accusation.) The Unionists petitioned President Lincoln to remove Wool as Middle Department commander. Some annotations exist on the clipping, possibly by Wool.

    General John Wool (1784-1869) served his country through three wars: the War of 1812, the Mexican War (where he became well known for his military skills), and the Civil War. He was reassigned as commander of the Department of the East one month after writing Thomas. Dr. John Hanson Thomas (1813-1881) was a Baltimore, Maryland, physician and bank president. He was a member of the Maryland legislature from 1861-1865 and an advocate for the state's secession, for which he was arrested and imprisoned for six months. Also included is General Wool's calling card reading, "Maj. Gen. Wool. / U.S. Army." The card is heavily soiled with annotations on the reverse.


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