This is one of the letters I found in my father's garage a few weeks after he shot himself. (In two boxes of letters, records, photographs, and genealogies of several branches of the family, assembled in the 1910s by a maiden great-aunt Annie Granger Day.) This is the letter by which I discovered that my great-great-grandfather was a Yankee.
The letter is to Dr. Douglas Day of Zanesville, Ohio from his younger sister Jennie, of Warrenton, Virginia.
I have broken the text into paragraphs not in the original, for ease of reading:
Warrenton May 22, 1861
My Dear Brother___
We were surprised and grieved to see by a paper which (sic) was received yesterday from John Douglas, the announcement of your appointment as surgeon in one of the Ohio regiments. ____
It cannot be that you are leagued (sic) with those miserable abolitionists who thirst for our blood & will never be satisfied unless they obtain it. You cannot willingly resign your native state __ the land that gave you birth & take up arms with as merciless a foe against us.
I know your situation is a trying one, but do you not think it best to come home & try for an appointment in the Southern Army.
The southerners are so exasperated with the treatment they have received from the North, that I think it almost impossible that any good feeling can exist between them.
When do you think (?) and I could come. I want to se Annie so much __ I will send her a little flag & you must put it on a little staff for her. I would do it myself, but am afraid those vigilant “Lincolnites” might examine the contents of my letter. Tell her it is the flag under which she must march.
Warrenton is full of strangers; persons who have run away from Washington & Alexandria have taken refuge here. Troops are constantly passing through, & companies are stationed here.
The people are all alive & are ready for action; if blood the Yankees must have, they will have to pay dearly for it.
Henry has been in the regular service six weeks__Alec is very anxious to join Cap’t. (Man, Marr’s ?) company, but Ma thinks he is rather young.
I cannot believe that report is correct that you intend to go in opposition to the wishes of your dearest friends, & fight hand in hand with your brothers. There is an alternative. You must choose one thing or the other. If you have joined the Northern Army you will never be able to come here again with any satisfaction. You will be our enemy ___ Why could you not remain neutral until Jennie is able to travel& then leave Ohio forever __
Write and give us a correct account, if the information about your acceptance of the appointment is incorrect. I would like to write more, but it is time for the mail to close.
With the hope of soon hearing from you I remain as ever,
Your devoted sister,
God grant that you may chose the right side, which is ours, & (she must?) prevail.