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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A century ago this month began the war that set These unpublished letters show how one family was bitterly split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
3 The reference is to a delegation of Y.M.C.A. leaders from Baltimore, including Jabez Pran. which called on President Lincoln on April 22 to urge that no inure troops be sent through Haiti more: the spokesman for the group, the Reverend Or. R. Fuller, advised Lincoln to preserve peace by recognizing Confederate independence. Lincoln told the delegates that he had to have troops to defend Washington and that the troops had to cross Maryland to reach Washington, and he added: “Go home and tell your people that if they will not attack us. we will not attack them; but if they do attack us we will return it, and that severely.”
4 John Pratt may he referring to ex-Senator Louis T. Wigfall of Texas. a leader in the secessionist movement, ss ho later l)ecame a Confederate general. In his statement that Wigfall had sent his family to Brooklinc. Massachusetts, Pratt apparently was passing on a groundless rumor.
Baltimore, April 27, 1861 My dear Brother: I have just received yours of the 24th I wish to say that I fully appreciated your oiler ol protection made in the kindliest manner and prompted by the kindest personal feeling, and this I said in my former letter. For this I thank yon and I know that you could harbor no other feelings towards me. I wish also to say that under similar circumstances I would have done the same for you. and this you well know. That letter was written under the most intense excitement in this city, and the most of it, so far as il allée led me and mv friends and the business community, was caused by the deliberate murder (outside of the city after the cars had left for Washington) of my dear friend. Robt. VV. Davis, a merchant and one of nature’s noblemen. I saw and conversed with him a( his store an»! in the best of humor and spirits. We were starting together to go and see the soldiers pass, without the least idea of any obstruction being offered. I had to go to the office first and we palled, or I should have been with him. He was standing cniieth laughing and talking with two of his and my friends, totally ignorant of any riot or difficulties in the city, and not in any crowd for they had gone away from the city crowd, when a soldier from the platform of the car in very slow motion deliberately aimed and shot him down. 5 Then it was that the merchants and all the best citizens (not the rowdies) armed themselves to prevent more troops passing via our city, and the tide of popular feeling was aroused and a united determination of resistance went forth. The city is calm and quiet and order is restored. All the disorder we now have is from the old clubs of Tigers, Roughs, and Plugs.” who are to a man “Black Republicans,” and the only ones that we have in Baltimore. I send you a slip from the “Sun paper,” which lithe way is a strong Southern paper, which 1 want you to read. 6 You must permit me to add that while in your house as a guest last summer when the proprieties of hospitality should have restrained your family even if I had not requested it, 1 was compelled to listen to sermons on “John Krown raids” which I never can forget, and that is what I called infernal abolitionism. For myself I can hold no other than brotherly aHection though we may differ and be separated. As for being proud of Massachusetts, I long ago lost all such feelings, and if my relations could be moved from the scene I would like nothing better than to see Massachusetts and South Carolina swallow each other up, and I believe it would be a good thing for the world if it could be accomplished. I understand your eulogies on Massachusetts and do not complain of them, but I do noi unite in them. I do not wish Io argue the points with you. We do not want war, much less a war of sections, when neither side can conquer, and when if (hey could it would be the worst thing which could be done. We say nothing against the courage of Northern men although it is a notorious fad that the citizens killed were shot by the soldiers while on a run and by turning around and liring to the rear. There are brave men on all sides and it is useless to test the bravery of either. Now let me say in conclusion that reciprocate your brotherly feeling towards me, and, if as you intimated in your last letter that if you were called upon you were ready to march, I hope I may not be compelled to meet you in hostility. I would much preler (o meet you as a broiher. I don’t think you would shoot a( the next man to me, and I assure you that such would be my feelings. Of course I mean in my attempt to subjugate the South by the North. As to defending the Capitol, Lincoln toulcl ha\e got enough men in Washington to have done that, and Virginia would have done it by herself had not the declaration of war keen pronounced by him, and this is the same that I told Mr. Lincoln last Monday. But the ohjccl is not merely to defend the Capitol. But enough. Yours affectional J. D. P.
5 Robert Davis had no part in the Baltimore riot: he seems to have t)een one of a group of bystanders that set up a cheer for Jefferson Davis as the train bearing the Oth Massachusetts left Baltimore for Washington. His death «as a profound shock to the city and undoubtedly made many of its Unionists feel that the Massachusetts soldiers were responsible for the April 19 bloodshed.