March 25th 1876
My dear Mr. Davis,
Can you spare a few moments of your valuable time, and will you do me the great
favor to advise me a subject that has greatly troubled me of late and on which I feel
utterly incapable of judging? So many have such different views in regard to our course
from what my husband had that I begin to doubt almost all and did not know to whom
else I could go. My eldest son has been for the past Winter at Oxford, Miss, with Genl.
Stuart. He finishes his first year at college in June. His uncle who has been paying his
expenses has written him that he cannot keep him at school any longer than that time. He
is very anxious to go on with his education and to make an engineer of himself. He
seems to have a good mind and is fond of study. He will be twenty in July, is obedient
and steady will be controled [controlled] entirely by my wishes. He has written asking
my consent to his applying for a position at West Point, would prefer Annapolis, but
thinks he is too old to enter. In writing he says "Not mother, that I wish to make a soldier
of myself or that I have any love for Yankees, but I think they have stolen enough from
the South to entitle each Southern boy to an education without feeling under any
obligations to the." He may have the proper view of it but do you think he can go to
either without not only sacrificing his own principles as a Southern boy, but his fathers?
Now Mr. Davis, if you think so, as great as the trial would be, I would rather he would do
without an education than to get it at such a sacrifice/ While I am writing I will make
another request but for another. There is a promising lawyer here who served through the
war as a private in Genl. Bragg's Army was nineteen months in one of the worst of
Northern prisons and (I should have said he is still true to his principles) he has asked me
several times the past winter to write and request your Autograph for him. So if you will
condescend to write me enclose it in the letter to this place. The children join me in kind
regards to you & Mrs. Davis and the children. It would be difficult to send all the
messages that have been given me, for you. The people here all love you and feel that
you have suffered for them. One lady sends love and says it has always been her greatest
desire to meet you here. She says she has little hopes of doing so, but hopes to meet you
in that happy home where there is no more suffering. Believe me always your friend.
Etta A. Anderson
Please direct to Mrs. Patton Anderson
Transcribed by Christopher A. Baker, University of Florida, 2008.