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    Clara Barton Autograph Letter Signed "Clara Barton". Two pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8", "Flying Hospital 10th Army Corps" [Aiken's Landing, Virginia]; October 16, 1864. In an emotional letter addressed to Major General Benjamin F. Butler, Barton discusses the fate of her imprisoned brother, Stephen. Clara had recently received a letter from her brother, who was ill and had been imprisoned by Union officials. He had been arrested on the suspicion of illegally selling cotton across enemy lines, and Clara was concerned about his health. She made a desperate plea to be allowed to go nurse her brother, but instead, Butler suggested that her brother be brought into his lines. The following letter is an outpouring of Clara's thanks for Butler's generosity, in full:

    "My kind and honored General - A few hours ago, I left your tent to seek sleep and rest in my own; but the 'wee small hours' have crept on, and no slumber after all these nights of waking, comes to my weary eyes. And yet, I am so happy. 'He can come to you,' still rings on my ears as sweetly and kindly as it first fell from your lips. It was so much more than I had ever hoped for, that my breath grew thick and the blessing that welled up in my heart, struggled and clogged in my throat, and scarce left me utterance. It was so much to know, that twenty-four little hours would restore to my embrace, my old, worn, exiled brother - the brother I had loved with a baby love - who had borne me playfully about the fields on his strong youthful shoulders, and carried me tenderly in his arms through the tall drifts, to school. The strange winds of eight long years have tossed his silvery locks (now white and thin) since I have looked upon him; and four years of angry war and misguided rule have swept his lonely home. Every night, his name has been woven in my prayers, every day in my thoughts. I have so prayed that he might come into your lines, and now, after all, to know that he is here, and that you will see and judge him for yourself, and permit him to come to me is more than a sensitive nature like mine shall calmly endure. I have no further boon to crave. If, upon investigation you find that my brother's course of action has been such that you can not over look it, and receive him to your confidence as a loyal man, I shall submit to your decision without a murmur. It shall not rouse in me any spirit of discontent. I will not therefor be less sacrificing, loyal, or faithful, but shall work on till the end, cheerfully, loyally, hopefully. But, if on the other hand, it prove that he can be trusted, if you can receive him back as a citizen of the United States, standing once more under the Old Flag he loved so well, God only knows the richness and fullness of joy it will bring to my heart. And unless my brother's soul is dead, and his whole nature changed, one friendly touch of your hand, one encouraging word from you, and he will water the ground at your feet, with his tears of loyal, grateful joy. Pardon this trespass General for your kindness has made me scarce myself. But so gratefully yours."

    The "exile" that Clara references was due to Stephen being trapped on his estate in Bartonsville, North Carolina as a result of the war. Stephen suffered from asthma and was unfit for travel, but he also feared that if he left, his property would be ransacked. Although a Yankee, the Confederate government allowed him to remain on the condition that he did not have contact with the Union factions in the area, which is why he had such infrequent contact with his family. Stephen was acquitted of the treason and illegal trade charges, and Clara took him up to Washington, D.C. to get further medical attention. Sadly, his illness took a turn for the worse, and he died on March 10, 1865. Following her brother's death, she founded the Missing Soldier's Office in Annapolis, where she compiled a massive list of those soldiers who went missing throughout the entire war. Her five "Rolls of Missing Men" ultimately contained 6,650 named individuals.

    Condition: Light toning throughout, with usual mail folds. Undistinguishable imprint stamp at the top left corner. Archival tape at the top center edge and at bottom corners. A few small tears along folds where paper was weakened. Light soiling at folds, else Good.


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    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
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