- Historic Sites
Brother Against Brother
A century ago this month began the war that set These unpublished letters show how one family was bitterly split
April 1961 | Volume 12, Issue 3
Boston, Wednesday, April 24, 1861 My dear Brother: I have just received your letter of the aoth in reply to my dispatch, and I need hardly say that I am pained at its contents. The manner in which you treat my invitation that you would send your wife and little ones to my care where they would be out of danger is cruel and unkind, and I am happy to know several persons who have kindred in your city, and betwen whom the kindliest personal relations are kept up and who have retched no Mich response to fraternal oilers of protection. The time will come, aye it Avili sooner than you believe, when you will be proud to proclaim yourself a “son of Massachusetts.” What would you have us do? Would you have us stirrendcr the National Capitol into the hands of that hand of mercenary thieves and traitors who rule the “Confederated States”? men who have stolen the puhlic property? who have violated their oaths? Shall we not defend the Capitol? Did not Gov. Hicks say in his proclamation on Friday last that he would furnish troops to do that? And was it not this simple mission and nothing more that our troops were engaged in? You speak of the South heing subjugated hy “Lincoln and his hordes.” In the first place there is no attempt to subjugate the South, hut simply to maintain the Government and that not hy “Lincoln and his hordes.” No, no. As I told you in my last, (he commander of the Massachusetts fortes was a delegate (o the Charleston convention. Caleb Cushing today offers his services to the Government. Franklin Pierce and every Demotrat in the North is willing to hear arms in this contest. 2 If Baltimore is a “yawning gulf” to bury Northern troops in, the same gulf will bury the last vestige of your beautiful city, for though it cost a hundred thousand lives and “not one stone shall remain upon another” in your city, before this contest ends a full , safe and unobstructed passage will be opened for our troops to the Capitol. We do not undervalue Southern prowess; neither can you sneer at Northern courage without proclaiming yourself to be possessed of “Coward’s Klood.” and let me assure you that vou shall have no reason to be ashamed of Massachusetts troops: as I said at the beginning, you will he proud to say, “I was born in Boston.” J. C. P.
2 Caleb Cushing was a prominent Boston Democrat who, in the 18Ro Democratic convention at Charleston, had stood firmly with the proslavcry southern delegates who opposed the nomination of Stephen A. Douglas.
Boston, 27th April, 1869 My dear Brother: Yours of the 24th with the extract from the Sun is received. I have read the account of your interview with the President and the result of your mission. 3 I have no doubt that “Old Abe,” as he is familiarly called, is a man of rough exterior, but he is an honest man, and that is better than to lune the government in the hands of polished refined knaves such as had possession under the last administration, but if he had possessed all the polish and refinement of a “Chesterfield” and had the most fastidious ideas of the dignity of his position, it must have entirely “broken down” before the spectacle of six full-grown boys on such a ridiculous mission. We read of “the seven wise men of Gotham who went to sea in a bowl.” VVe shall now have the song of the six wise men of Baltimore who went all the way to Washington to ask the President to make an infernal fool of himself, and if his boorishiiess was equal to your consummate folly and impudence, he would deserve a place in Barnum’s museum. What an astonishing piece of information it must have been to the President to be told by Dr. Fuller and then to be endorsed by yourself that peace would at once be restored if he would recognize the Independence of the Confederate States, give them up all the property they had stolen, and evacuate Washington. I wonder he had riot called his Cabinet together to consult upon the proposition, seize upon it before it “grew cold.” I wonder that instead of smiling with illconcealed contempt he had not grasped your hands and said, “Gentlemen, you have saved the country,” and you should each of you have a monument of brass erected to your memory, that being the only material to perpetuate this great event. Pardon me, my clear brother, if I treat this matter with levity, but I am surprised that you should be a party to this consummate folly. You may perhaps like to know that Gen. Wiglall has sent his family to Brookline into the arms of “iiifernal abolitionism.” 4 We are rejoiced to hear as we do this morning that there is a reaction in sentiment in Baltimore and that there is a prospect that our troops will be allowed to pass without a fight. I hope so, for it would be a terrible alternative to be obliged to apply the torch to your city and widen the streets with artillery, for there is no question thai if Maryland is obstinate in this matter, she will have to be subjugated. Her secession will amount to nothing: she will not be permitted to go: we like your people loo well to part company so easy. The North is just waking up like the “lion from his lair” as there is a force coming down through the South that will crush out, annihilate, and sweep away all before it. Let the South look out for its cherished institution, let this war continue a few months, and the whirlwind now gathering will sweep within its vortex the South and slavery, and all will perish together. I hope not, but as I have before told you, there is danger. Love lo all. Yours affectionately John C. Pratt