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    Jackson promises to honor a debt

    General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson Autograph Letter Signed. Two-pages, 7.5" x 9.75", Headquarters, 1st Brigade, Camp near Centreville, Virginia, August 29, 1861. A letter to Colonel Kenton Harper concerning General Robert E. Lee's authorization to purchase badly needed muskets from the residents of Harpers Ferry who had taken possession of the arms when the Harpers Ferry armory was set fire by Union soldiers, and Jackson's and Harper's efforts to raise the funds to carry out Lee's order. Harper had proposed to Jackson that he would borrow the money from a local bank on private credit. When the state indicated that it might refuse to pay Harper the discount owed him for the loan, Jackson honorably offered to pay it himself.

    "Whilst commanding officer at Harpers Ferry I received an official letter from Maj. Genl. R. E. Lee dated May 6th, 1861, in which he states 'You are authorized to offer the payment of $5 a piece for each musket that may be returned for those taken possession of by the people in and about Harpers Ferry.' No public funds had been turned over to me, and I could not procure the amount on credit. My available private funds I turned over to the ordinance officer for the purpose of securing important ordinance stores. Under great pressure for funds for the purchase of the amount contemplated in Genl. Lee's letter, I accepted of your patriotic proposition to borrow it from the Bank upon your private credit.

    Some time since you stated to me, that Virginia paid the principal, but refused to pay the discount on your note, in Bank for $2,000. At that time I gave the assurance that if the state would not pay it I would.

    This morning I received from you a statement respecting the subject from the cashier of the Bank of the Valley in Winchester. Please forward his statement with this letter to the proper officer for settlement, and if the state will not allow the amount return the officers refusal to me, and I will make good my promise.

    Signed, "T. J. Jackson / Brig. Genl. P.A.C.S."

    With a filing docket on verso in an unknown hand: "Col. Kenton Harper's claim for discounts paid on $2000 borrowed by him from Valley Bank Winchester, for the public service, under the authority of Col. Jackson, cons Harper's Ferry."

    This letter offers a fascinating insight to the character of "Stonewall" Jackson and his devotion to the Confederate cause. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (1824-1863) had rose to prominence at the First Battle of Bull Run the previous month. At the time this letter was written, Jackson was in command of the "Stonewall Brigade" at Centreville, Virginia, which served as a supply depot for the Confederate army and was near Bull Run. Jackson died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863.

    Kenton Harper (1801-1867) was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Staunton, Virginia, in his twenties, where he was employed as printer, banker, newspaper editor, and politician. Her served Staunton as mayor and served in the Virginia State Legislature. Harper served in the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War. After the war he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior during the administration of Millard Fillmore.

    When the Civil War began, Harper followed Virginia and joined the Confederate cause. On May 1, 1861, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Virginia Provisional Army, and a week later was commissioned a colonel with command of the 5th Virginia Infantry, one of the regiments that made up the famous Stonewall Brigade. Harper and his regiment fought valiantly at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. He resigned from the Confederate Army on September 11, 1861, however, due to General Joseph E. Johnston refusal (after it had been approved by General Jackson) to grant him permission to return home and care for his terminally ill wife. In fact, the day that Jackson wrote this letter, Harper had written one to Jackson informing him of his wife's serious illness and requesting leave. Harper eventually returned to Confederate service in June 1864 and served until the end of the war. Harper reportedly played a role in giving General Jackson his nickname "Stonewall."

    Condition: With the usual mail folds, and several spots of dampstaining. Bit of paper loss at the very top edge of the first page.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2016
    19th Wednesday
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