Sunday, April 23, 2017

Algernon Sidney Johnston to Eliza Mary Johnston, April 1850

[Algernon Sidney Johnston at Columbia, South Carolina, to Eliza Mary Johnston [at Richmond, Virginia], April, 1850. J. Ambler (James Ambler) Johnston Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Section 7. From a rough transcript I made years ago. Extra paragraph breaks inserted for easier reading. This seems to be a fragment of a letter, or the first part of a longer letter. Eliza would marry Robert William Hughes at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, June 3-4, 1850].

Dear cousin Eliza --

The Prestons (especially Tom) always begin a letter by apologizing and accounting for not having written sooner. In imitation of such august example I will explain me delay in three ways --

1st. The information you asked for had started towards Richmond before I got your letter.

-- 2d. The satisfaction with which I looked for the first time at your handwriting was naturally diminished by the circumstance that your communication was not a free will offering, but induced by a matter of business -- a mere call for information, as above mentioned.

--3rd. Your letter was no letter at all, but a note, about a third of the honest-sized sheet on which I am now writing as fast as I can. However, I am glad to hear from my fair cousin in any shape.

We are getting on very well at Hampton House, except that every thing on the place is eaten up, and we are now starving. We are as hungry as a hundred Hessians. Charity clamourously complains that she could cherr[?] a child or a cheval. Frederick is fidgety at finding neither fish nor fowl. Lanegan laments in lackadaisical language the lack of lamb or lobster in the landscape. Joe jabbers that his jaws would join joyfully upon even the joint of a Justice, a Judge, a Jesuit, or a Jew. Margaret makes a most melancholy moan for mutton, meal, meat or molasses. Shot (the setter) seems as if the smallness of the supply has so sharpened his stomach that he could swallow a sack of sausages or a shoal of shad. 

I don't know what would have become of me if an old hen about the place, moved with compassion at our destitute condition, had not begun to lay eggs most industriously. How much longer her charity may continue I can't say. 

And then, in addition to the pangs of starvation, I am in a considerable state of mental perturbation and alarm -- on the evening before her departure the Empress directed me to attend to four things. I distinctly recalled that they were four, but I can only remember what two of them are. 
Margaret Buchanan Frances Preston Hampton (source: Find a Grave)
Now when the Empress gets back and finds her orders only half performed, the consequences will be dreadful. To look at the mildness of her countenance, especially the gentle lines of that sweet mouth of the beauty of which she is so vain, you would little suspect what a passion she can get into. I am beginning to think of putting off for California -- unless you, my good cousin, can get me out of this awful scrape.

Can't you find out from her what were the four things she told me to do? Of course you can't ask her directly, for she is so dreadfully suspicious that she'd think at once I prompted you -- but you can say to her, in a kind of careless, cursory way "Empress, you must find cousin Sidney very useful about your place, he is so good and ob't I suppose you left him a great deal to [do] for you while you are away?"

"No," she will say (for she is utterly ungrateful) "He isn't of much account. I only told him to do four things -- and he had better not forget them!!" 

Then she'll mention what they were, and you can let me know. If this scheme fails I know of but one other resource (besides California) -- I will say to her on return, "Cousin Margaret, I was so afflicted by your absence that I lost half my memory, and therefore only did two of the four things you told me" -- As she is immediately fond of flattery, perhaps . . . 
Sculpture Model of Margaret Preston Hampton by Hiram Powers
[Algernon Sidney Johnston (October 17, 1801-September 22, 1852)
Margaret Buchanan Frances Preston Hampton (January 13, 1818-January 27, 1852) 
Eliza Mary Johnston (July 3, 1825-January 31, 1909), by then the lone surviving child of Charles Clement Johnston and Eliza Madison Preston Johnston.
Hiram Powers (1805-1873). His Greek Slave sculpture inspired an 1852 duel involving Algernon's brother Edward William Johnston (1799-1867). Here's a link to the above sculpture model. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Renwick Gallery.] 

[Many thanks to Sue Davis, William Myers, Mary Davy and Sally Young for their ongoing research collaboration.]  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Joseph Eggleston Johnston to Edward William Johnston, January 6, 1851

[Joseph Eggleston Johnston at San Antonio, Texas, to Edward William Johnston at [Washington City], January 6, 1851. Joseph E. Johnston Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary, Box I, folder 3. Photostat of original manuscript provided by A. W. Armour of New York City. These are my rough notes and transcription, with extra paragraph breaks for easier reading.]

My dear Edward,

The president’s message & report of the general-in-chief have just been fairly read here. It seems to be generally believed that the present congress will increase the army according to their recommendations.

In the Top’l. Corps there is no promotion, a thing I desire more than any other man in the army – besides that, I prefer serving with the troops on such a frontier as this.

The General-in-chief might & I hope will be called upon the make selections from the army for the high places in the new regiments. I do not apply to him because I think it would be indelicate to do so. He knows the relative fitness of the military candidates, & therefore they ought not to attempt to sway him by personal application. I doubt tho’ if any one else, or many others, are governed by such motives, & therefore fear I may be misunderstood, & suspected of want of respect for his influence.

As you are on intimate terms with him, I want you to prevent or remove such a misconception. Remind him too that I legally hold a Bt. Colonelcy senior to any other gained in his army.

I have every reason to believe that the general thinks well, even highly of my military qualities.

The recommendations of other eminent persons would doubtless be advantageous – you can tell any such as you may be disposed to engage in the cause, that I know the country in which at least one of these regiments must operate better than any living white man, & have 8 or 10 scars on the front of my body – most of them received in Indian warfare, & refer them to General Scott for further particulars, Gen’l Dawson of Georgia would, I think, help me with pleasure. . .

[Asks about family, whereabouts of Jane, &c.]

I was told on returning to this place in Nov. that Mr. Howard, the representative, who was here in my absence, had said that the delegation of the state would back me for a Colonelcy. I wish him & them success.
                                                                      J.E. Johnston
[Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891) 
Edward = Edward William Johnston (1799-1867)
President = Millard Fillmore (1800-1874)
General-in-chief = Winfield Scott (1786-1866)
General Dawson = probably William Crosby Dawson (1798-1856)
Jane = Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell/Michel (1811-1892)
Mr. Howard = Volney Erskine Howard (1809-1889).]

[Note: this letter establishes a close personal connection between Edward William Johnston and Winfield Scott.]

[Many thanks to Sue Davis, William Myers, Mary Davy and Sally Young for their ongoing research collaboration.]  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Beverly Randolph Johnston to Lieutenant John Preston "Pres" Johnston, March 19, 1845

[Beverly Randolph Johnston at Smithfield Plantation, Blacksburg, Virginia, to Lieutenant John Preston “Pres” Johnston, 4th Artillery, at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, March 19 (but postmarked March 25), 1845. Box 26, Folder 12, Robert Morton Hughes Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529. This is my rough transcription. Additional paragraph breaks added for easier reading.]

My dear Preston,

It relay seems to me that you are carrying the family propensity and privilege of not writing, rather far. ‘Tis now six or eight weeks since I wrote you on the subject of your proposed resignation. Since then not a line or letter from you.

But certainly, I am the last person in the world who ought to permit himself to be in a passion with another for a fault of this sort. If you have decided, it were as well, however, if you would apprize me of your choice. I have nothing to say now beyond what I have already written except as to a matter on which your means of information must be far better than mine. The chances of war.

Of course, you cannot, if there be a probability of it, think of now retiring from the army. If your wish to adopt a new profession still subsists, do not take a step which looks like resignation without consulting upon your uncle Joseph upon the propriety of doing so, in the event that the circumstances be such as to leave you in doubt.

I am just commencing my spring circuit and shall be in business to the eyes from some weeks to come. Whether you resign or not, it seems to me, that you may take a leave of absence and pay us a visit this spring. I should prefer that it were after April, as I shall not be at home one during that month. I left Eliza at home last week extremely well, but not having heard from you for a long time. What have you been about? The Inauguration perhaps.

Your aunt Jane has gone back to Liberty, so if you do visit us, come by that route, so as to see her. She is, or will be then, in the village.

This is not intended as a latter, but a hint to you to write me one/ I am a little fatigued, and a little sick, and not a little indolent at this moment, so I cannot fill my paper at all agreeably to myself. I have been rather in bad health  all this winter and at the same time more than usually occupied with business, which may serve, (if any further cause than my fixed habit were needed,) to apologize in some faint way, for my not writing oftener to you, than you do to me. Adieu
                                       Truly yours
                                           B.R. Johnston

[B. R. Johnston = Beverly Randolph Johnston (1803-1876)
Eliza = Eliza Mary Johnston (1825-1909)
Pres = John Preston Johnston (1824-1847)
Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891)
Aunt Jane = Jane Mary Wood Johnston Mitchell (1811-1892), married to Harvey Mitchell/Michel (1799-1866). Note that Jane’s third child, Sue Henry Mitchell/Michel (1845-1940), would be born in Bedford County on September 15, 1845.]

[Many thanks to Sue Davis, William Myers, Mary Davy and Sally Young for their ongoing research collaboration.]