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    Description

    [John C. Breckinridge]. Bound Archive of Letters. A beautifully red leather bound volume, quarto, of approximately 85 letters, related to and/or endorsed by General Breckinridge. All of the letters are war dated, from circa April 1862 to December 1864. The letters range in size and length, but have been mounted onto the pages of the volumes, usually only at the lower edge on verso. The variety of letters in the collection is extensive, covering such subjects as military orders; the attacks of Bush Whackers; requests for leave of absence; authorization to raise troops; the use of Union deserters for menial labor; the disruption of local court proceedings by the noise generated by prisoners-of-war; a request to commandeer six Negroes for use in a local butcher house during the season; a warning about a potential woman spy in Kentucky; a complaint about a man who is harboring deserters, etc. The following reflect some of the letters included in the bound volume:

    Lewis Castleman, a Confederate Soldier, Letter Signed. Three pages, 6" x 8.5", Abingdon, VA; July 31, 1864. A letter to Breckinridge with great content on Lewis' famous brother-spy, John B. Castleman, who rode with Morgan and was confined with him in Ohio State Penitentiary. Castleman also asks to be allowed to form a bodyguard for Breckinridge's protection. It reads, in part:

    "You will pardon me for an intrusion on your much occupied time for a few moments. I came to this place from Dublin Depot, after leaving you, and accompanying Genl. Morgan's command into Kentucky. I saw my mother & sisters for a short time - the first time for five years. My brother John was cut off from us in Kentucky & has not since come out. We have heart of him several times since we came here & he, unless recently, is not killed or captured. He was recruiting in Ky. I will start next Monday if my life is spared into Kentucky to recruit a company & I would be glad, & the object of this letter is to ask you, to enter me on your muster rolls as belonging to your command. You had not when I saw you a 'Body Guard'. If it suits you when I get out - if I am successful - I would be glad to have the company received by you in that capacity, armed with pistols & sabers or in any other manner you might prefer. I was more than disgusted with this command & the commander in chief in KY..."

    [Senator William E. Simms]. Confederate Operative Introduction Letter. Three pages, 8" x 10", Richmond, Virginia; Nov. 17, 1864. This letter from the Kentucky senator introduces his friend James T. Harrington, with details of Harrington's service in Canada and of his escape after being captured. There is murky evidence that Harrington was a Confederate operative whose base of operation was Canada and participated in a failed attempt to burn New York City in 1864. It should be noted that Simms got Harrington's first and middle initials incorrect - He introduces him as "T. L. Harrington"!

    "This letter will be presented by my young friend T.L. Harrington of Shelbyville, Ky. He recently came to this city from Canada as a bearer of Dispatches from Major Clay Thompson our commissioner. He is a young gentleman of the highest character and worth - intelligent and in every way to be relied upon. He is a member of Genl. Morgan's Brig. - was captured and escaped from prison - and is here again to serve the cause...he desires to go into Kentucky and recruit a company...From all I have seen of Mr. Harrington and from the testimonials of character he brought with him I am satisfied that he can be of service not only in recruiting a company, but can also furnish you the most valuable information from the enemy in that quarter...I hope you will regard this letter as private, from the fact, that many applications were made here for such authority..."

    General John C. Breckinridge Draft Autograph Letter. One page, 7.75" x 12.25", no place; November 26, 1864. Addressed to Captain William J. Marshall, Breckinridge writes to outline orders to raise a new regiment in Kentucky. It is unsigned, but written entirely in his hand. It reads, in part:

    "Recommend him to Sec. of War for authority to raise a Regt in Ky of Mounted Riflemen for the war &c. from counties Owen, Henry, Harrison, Grant, [illegible], and the counties in that vicinity...if less than a complete organization raised, the men will be brought out to be distributed as they may prefer among existing organizations. He should be directed to report his progress as often as possible to Headquarters of this Depot and be subject at all times to its orders...JG Harrington private Co. H 8th Ky came (Clarkes Regt) to go with Capt Marshall at his request, and with authority to raise a company for his regt."

    Clifton R. Breckinridge Autograph Letter Signed. One sheet, front and back, 8" x 6.75", Richmond, VA; December 6, 1864. A letter to his father, asking that he be allowed to resign from the Navy. It reads, in full:

    "I have delayed writing to you or her until our examination was over. It is over now & I have failed to pass. I wrote to you once before for permission to resign & now that I have failed to hold a good position in my class & how I want to resign. I do not wish to stay in the Navy any longer. I passed a fine examination in Gunnery Seamanship History & a fair examination in Mathematics but failed in French. I never had paid any attention to the study as I did not think it was of any importance, but I find it has been the cause of my failing to pass my examinations. I am willing to go in as a private & expect nothing else. But I am not going to stay here, when I see fellows pass ahead of me that I think know less about things in general than I do. I have studied hard, & am unwilling to make an earnest effort & fail on a branch that I never paid any attention to. I tried to do well on other studies, & did stand 2nd of the class in History, 2nd of my section in Mathematics, 8th of my class in Seamanship & about 5th in Gunnery. Please send me permission without any delay. As soon as I resign I will come out to Western Va & make arrangements for my future course which I can do in five minutes conversation with you. I send much love to you, Ma & all."

    A Warning Letter Concerning a Federal Spy. Three pages, 5" x 8", Oakland, Virginia; December 15, 1864. A cautionary letter from a Mr. Woodson, relating details of a suspected female spy in Breckinridge's Department. It reads, in part:

    "...several reliable gentleman, of Montgomery and [illegible] Counties, asked me to warn you of a certain Amanda Patton supposed to be within your Department. She is a daughter of old Bob Patton, formerly of Covington, Ky.; and is here, they assent, for no good known cause. These gentlemen told me of some of her acts which aroused their suspicions, and begged me to inform you of these suspicions, that you might be on guard, and watch her carefully. Among other incidents related to me by them was this: Lieut. Saml. Grasty, of Duke's old Regt., with others, wounded last June and left in Hospital at Mount [illegible], made arrangements with the assistance of certain citizens of Mt. S for their escape from the Yankees. This Miss Patton was the only person professing Southern sympathies who was permitted to visit the wounded Rebels in Hospital at Mt. S. She gained the confidence of Grasty and his fellow [illegible], and with it, a knowledge of their plans which she immediately laid before the Federal authorities, thereby preventing their escape. After this, previous to her departure from Mt. S to your Dept. she received the attentions of a great many Federal Affairs; and acted so as to arouse the suspicions of our friends..."

    The bound volume includes numerous letters with great content, which depict a picture of the role and responsibilities that General Breckinridge had during the war.

    Condition: The contents are in generally good condition, though some examples are hard to read with fading or ink stains. There are some small separations and tears where mail folds created weaknesses.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
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