[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
[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.]