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Mallory, Stephen R. to his Wife Angela - Richmond, Va. - Transcript

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Mallory, Stephen R. to his Wife Angela - Richmond, Va. - Transcript
Series Title:
Stephen R. Mallory Papers
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Subjects / Keywords:
Civil War
History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- United States
Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America

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University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
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Resource Identifier:
Mallory7jc

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Richmond, 31 Aug. [18]62


My beloved wife,
I reed. [received] a letter from you seven days ago, which greatly distressed me. I was
rendered very unhappy, could neither rest, eat nor sleep, and was so depressed that I
could do nothing. Had I been a woman I might have wept; as it was my heart sunk within
me & an aching void & unutterable wretchedness took its place. As for replying to it I
could not. I could not argue with you upon your want of faith in God, your weakness,
cowardice & unpatriotism. I could only deplore them.

Yesterday morning I received a different letter from you, frankly admitting and
apologizing for all that I complain of, & today another precious letter, inclosing [sic] a
slip from a Georgia paper.

My love for you is so unselfish, so pure & devoted, my confidence in your affection so
fixed and lasting, that you could say & do nothing to me, I mean that you are incapable of
saying or doing anything to me which I am not ever ready to forgive & forget, so far as
my weak human nature will permit. I readily attribute your repinings to their proper
cause, & feel that no small portion of them result from our separation.

My constant occupation has alone prevented me from writing to you oftener, & I hope
my beloved wife, my sincere friend, that you may never be able to cite against me any
graver evidence of neglect than an occasional falling off in this respect; for, with all my
embarrassments & want of time & spirits, I still find time to write to you often, though
not so often as I could wish.

I have on my table some one hundred and fifty private letters now awaiting answers; & as
I am known to be prompt in this respect, my correspondents will probably attribute my
silence to anything but the proper cause.

Of this I care but little, conscious that my vindication will be certain to come.

So soon as Mr. Conrad [Charles Magill Conrad] made his attack in the House, I wrote to
three friends in the House, Hilton [Robert Benjamin Hilton], Boyce [William Waters
Boyce], & Garnett [Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett], telling them that much that was
done in my Department, had necessarily to be kept secret; that without this our plans of
building, fitting out & purchasing abroad would be defeated; that this very secrecy
rendered me liable to misrepresentation which I was unwilling to endure; & that they
must demand for me a Committee of investigation. This was promptly done. The
debates are not reported, as only a skeleton of them are taken, and Hilton, Barksdale
[Ethelbert Barksdale], Garnett, Lyon [Francis Strother Lyon], & others threw down the
glove at once & demanded that the House should not listen to vague & idle opinion, but
should investigate the condition & conduct of the Navy Dept. Mr. Barksdale of Miss
[Mississippi], who introduced the Resolution for this Committee, spent the previous
morning with me & marked out the course.










I wrote officially to to [sic] Maxwell [Augustus Emmett Maxwell] in the Senate
demanding that a Committee should be appointed there also. My friends in the Senate, &
a large majority of them are, were unwilling to raise such a Committee; but I urged them
to do it as the best means of meeting my enemies, confident that my administration of
this Department must be triumphantly vindicated. I am perfectly satisfied with both
Committees, & glad that Foote [Henry S. Foote] is at the head of the one in the House.*

I have much to be proud of & nothing whatever to regret in my administration. My aims
have been large and high. Knowing that the enemy could build one hundred ships to our
one, my policy has been to make such ships, so strong and so invulnerable, as would
compensate for the inequality of numbers. Thus the Merrimac, the Arkansas, the
Mississippi, Louisiana, &c &c [etcetera]. I revolutionized the naval warfare of the world,
astonished all people by showing what could be done, and the destruction of these
vessels-by no fault of mine-just as everybody saw their gigantic power and the
consequences thereof, brings upon my head the rage of the ignorant the rabble & the
prejudiced who always constitute the majority of mankind.

I profess to know something of naval affairs in the largest sense of the word. The
condition & history of all the navies of the world are known to me; my time and study
have been turned to the subject, and be my knowledge and ability much or little, I have
faithfully devoted them to the cause of my country, & fear not the judgment of impartial
men, or the verdict of history. I am determined that this Committee shall demand of
Foote & Conrad their charges, of which they are careful to specify none; & that the entire
history of the Dept. shall be known and vindicated. Both in House & Senate I challenged
& defied the closed sessions / closet sessions [?] & declared that (to all my friends) rather
than not have it, I would make Foote & Conrad the only Committee & abide by their
report of facts.

Conrad's hostility is personal, Foote is a fool & is crazy besides, & hates the
administration & the President with an intense hatred. I feel rejoiced at this Committee.
Nous verons [Nous verrons].

As to our future, I read what you say, and will apprise you of what I did. I gave Mrs. H.
notice that I would like to keep her house longer, & she replied that she regretted that she
could not rent it longer & had ordered it sold. I replied (she is off in the country at a
distance) that as I had given notice a month in advance of the expiration of the lease, I
was not aware that any further steps were necessary. No reply has come as yet. I did this
to have the option of remaining in the house if I wanted it.

In the meantime I confess that affairs are not sufficiently settled here to remove my
family here now. If they were I would like you all to come at once. If she insists upon
having her house I will of course not contend with her, & if you all come, will board at
the Arlington, and board there or somewhere else by myself if you don't & adopt your
suggestions as to Zack & Petarch. I had to give $15 for a pair of shoes for Zack last









week, & all things are in this ratio of price. Upon this subject I will write again in a day
or two.

Crigler [?] has leased some property in Aldband [?], mining property & expects to go
into the business of making war, & desires to hire my negros [negroes]. What do you
think of it?

You ask me if I can send a letter to Mag [eldest daughter Margaret]. Of course I can, & I
write to her quite often, and wrote to her at great length last week.

So you think Senac an instable [?] man do you? Did you ever know him otherwise? &
yet I fancy that he would be surprised at this estimate of him. His wife, I fancy has long
since made this discovery.

I long my darling wife to be in your arms again, & but for the fatigue and endless trials of
the journey would ask you to come & see me for a sudden visit.

I intend to order Senac here for a few days & Old Left [?], and they could be your escort,
leaving all your children except perhaps, Ruby, behind you. I never before felt your
absence so much; & as years advance, like the bark of the oak that hardens & clasps more
firmly, all [weather?], my affection for you becomes more & more the characteristic of
my life.

You wish me to speak of our prospects politically, & I cheerfully do so, because I regard
them as bright. We are stronger today than we have ever been, while our enemy is
weaker. As our people have become firmly bound together for this war, those of the
North have become disconnected, & discord is now the dominant in their counsels.

Lincoln's cabinet dread a defeat & hence their armies are everywhere retreating. We are
daily expecting a battle in Tennessee and here in Va. [Virginia]; & if we shall defeat
Pope [Union General John Pope] decidedly, the backbone of the war will be over, for the
opposition to the abolition party would shear it of its strength.

Disinterested and determined devotion are exhibited upon all sides by our people; & the
philosophy which men & women raised in affluence & possessed of wealth have
sacrificed or have been deprived of all they had, bear their losses, and the spirit they
display is wonderful.

Mr. Wm. [William] Allen, owner of Claremont, the most beautiful estate in Va. spent a
couple of hours with me a few evenings since. He was as blith [blithe] & cheerful as
every, & yet he has lost about two million if [in] property, & from being the wealthiest he
is among the poorest of Virginian planters, and is a Captain in the army.

Refugees from comfortable &, in many cases, splendid homes are here with nothing, &
yet this patriotism burs brightly as ever.









Abroad our cause has steadily advanced the war upon the confidence & esteem of
nations, while that of our foes has become contemptible.

The work of recruiting at the North is slow & distasteful, & murmurs are heard upon all
sides against the war. Political parties & distinctions are there being formed, and the
issues, be they what they may, must ensure [?] to our benefit.

Lincoln at last quailed before the fear of driving off the border states, and has declared
that the negro is not an essential element of the war, but is secondary to the Union. This
will bring the ultras of his party upon him, while his British friends, the abolitionists
abroad, who see no propriety or sense in the war outside of freedom to the slave, will
abandon him.

Love to the children, Mann [?], Mr. Senac, Mr. Sanders [?], & the young ladies, & a
thousand kisses to yourself.

God bless you
S.R. Mallory

Mrs. S.R. Mallory


Transcribed by Nicole J. Milano, University of Florida, 2009

*Note: Refers to an investigation after the loss of New Orleans when critics of Mallory
proposed to abolish the office of Secretary of the Navy and merge naval operations under
the Army.




Full Text

PAGE 1

Richmond, 31 Aug. [18]62 My beloved wife, I recd. [received] a letter from you seven da ys ago, which greatly distressed me. I was rendered very unhappy, could neither rest, eat nor sleep, and was so depressed that I could do nothing. Had I been a woman I might have wept; as it was my heart sunk within me & an aching void & unutterable wretchedne ss took its place. As for replying to it I could not. I could not argue with you upon your want of faith in God, your weakness, cowardice & unpatriotism. I could only deplore them. Yesterday morning I received a differe nt letter from you, frankly admitting and apologizing for all that I complain of, & today another precious letter, inclosing [ sic ] a slip from a Georgia paper. My love for you is so unselfish, so pure & devoted, my confidence in your affection so fixed and lasting, that you coul d say & do nothing to me, I mean that you are incapable of saying or doing anything to me which I am not ever ready to forgive & forget, so far as my weak human nature will permit. I readily attribute your repini ngs to their proper cause, & feel that no small portion of them result from our separation. My constant occupation has alone prevented me from writing to you oftener, & I hope my beloved wife, my sincere friend, that you ma y never be able to cite against me any graver evidence of neglect than an occasional falling off in this respect; for, with all my embarrassments & want of time & spirits, I still find time to write to you often, though not so often as I could wish. I have on my table some one hundred and fifty private letters now aw aiting answers; & as I am known to be prompt in this respect, my correspondents will probably attribute my silence to anything but the proper cause. Of this I care but little, c onscious that my vindication will be certain to come. So soon as Mr. Conrad [Charles Magill Conrad] made his attack in the House, I wrote to three friends in the House, Hilton [Robert Benjamin Hilton], Boyce [William Waters Boyce], & Garnett [Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett], telling them that much that was done in my Department, had necessarily to be kept secret; that without this our plans of building, fitting out & purchasing abroad woul d be defeated; that this very secrecy rendered me liable to misrepresentation which I was unwilling to endure; & that they must demand for me a Committee of invest igation. This was promptly done. The debates are not reported, as only a skeleton of them are taken, and Hilton, Barksdale [Ethelbert Barksdale], Garnett, Lyon [Francis Strother Lyon], & others threw down the glove at once & demanded that the House s hould not listen to vague & idle opinion, but should investigate the condition & conduct of the Navy Dept. Mr. Barksdale of Miss [Mississippi], who introduced the Resolution for this Committee, spent the previous morning with me & marked out the course.

PAGE 2

I wrote officially to to [ sic ] Maxwell [Augustus Emmett Maxwell] in the Senate demanding that a Committee should be appointed there also. My friends in the Senate, & a large majority of them are, were unwilling to raise such a Committee; but I urged them to do it as the best means of meeting my enemies, confident that my administration of this Department must be triumphantly vindi cated. I am perfectly satisfied with both Committees, & glad that Foote [Henry S. Foote] is at the head of the one in the House.* I have much to be proud of & nothing whatever to regret in my ad ministration. My aims have been large and high. Knowing that th e enemy could build one hundred ships to our one, my policy has been to make such ships, so strong and so invulnerable, as would compensate for the inequality of numbers. Thus the Merrimac, the Arkansas, the Mississippi, Louisiana, &c &c [etcetera]. I revolutionized the naval warfare of the world, astonished all people by s howing what could be done, a nd the destruct ion of these vesselsby no fault of minejust as ever ybody saw their gigantic power and the consequences thereof, brings upon my head the rage of the ignor ant the rabble & the prejudiced who always consti tute the majority of mankind. I profess to know something of naval affair s in the largest sense of the word. The condition & history of all the navies of th e world are known to me; my time and study have been turned to the subj ect, and be my knowledge and ab ility much or little, I have faithfully devoted them to the cause of my country, & fear not the judgment of impartial men, or the verdict of history. I am determined that this Committee shall demand of Foote & Conrad their charges, of which they are careful to specify none; & that the entire history of the Dept. shall be known and vindica ted. Both in House & Senate I challenged & defied the closed sessions / closet sessions [?] & declared that (to all my friends) rather than not have it, I would make Foote & Conrad the only Committee & abide by their report of facts. Conrads hostility is personal, Foote is a fool & is crazy besides, & hates the administration & the President with an intense ha tred. I feel rejoiced at this Committee. Nous verons [Nous verrons]. As to our future, I read what you say, and will apprise you of what I did. I gave Mrs. H. notice that I would like to keep her house longer, & she replie d that she regretted that she could not rent it longer & had or dered it sold. I replied (she is off in the country at a distance) that as I had given notice a month in adva nce of the expiration of the lease, I was not aware that any further steps were necessa ry. No reply has come as yet. I did this to have the option of remaini ng in the house if I wanted it. In the meantime I confess that affairs are not sufficiently settled here to remove my family here now. If they were I would like you all to come at once. If she insists upon having her house I will of course not conte nd with her, & if you all come, will board at the Arlington, and board there or somewher e else by myself if you dont & adopt your suggestions as to Zack & Petarch I had to give $15 for a pair of shoes for Zack last

PAGE 3

week, & all things are in this ratio of price. Upon this subject I will write again in a day or two. Crigler [?] has leased some property in Aldband [?], mining property & expects to go into the business of making war, & desires to hire my negros [negroes]. What do you think of it? You ask me if I can send a letter to Mag [eldest daughter Marg aret]. Of course I can, & I write to her quite often, and wrote to her at great length last week. So you think Senac an instable [?] man do you? Did you ever know him otherwise? & yet I fancy that he would be surprised at this estimate of him. His wife, I fancy has long since made this discovery. I long my darling wife to be in your arms again, & but for the fatigue and endless trials of the journey would ask you to come & see me for a sudden visit. I intend to order Senac here for a few days & Old Left [?], and they could be your escort, leaving all your children except perhaps, Ruby, behind you. I never before felt your absence so much; & as years advance, like the bark of the oak that hardens & clasps more firmly, all [weather?], my affection for you b ecomes more & more the characteristic of my life. You wish me to speak of our prospects politi cally, & I cheerfully do so, because I regard them as bright. We are stronger today than we have ever been, while our enemy is weaker. As our people have become firmly bound together for this war, those of the North have become disconnecte d, & discord is now the domin ant in their counsels. Lincolns cabinet dread a defeat & hence thei r armies are everywhere retreating. We are daily expecting a battle in Tennessee and here in Va. [Virginia]; & if we shall defeat Pope [Union General John Pope] decidedly, the backbone of the war will be over, for the opposition to the abolition party would shear it of its strength. Disinterested and determined devotion are exhibited upon all sides by our people; & the philosophy which men & women raised in affluence & possessed of wealth have sacrificed or have been deprived of all they had, bear their losses and the spirit they display is wonderful. Mr. Wm. [William] Allen, owner of Claremont, the most beautiful estate in Va. spent a couple of hours with me a few evenings since. He was as blith [blithe] & cheerful as every, & yet he has lost about two million if [in] property, & from being the wealthiest he is among the poorest of Virginian planters, and is a Captain in the army. Refugees from comfortable &, in many cases splendid homes are here with nothing, & yet this patriotism burns brightly as ever.

PAGE 4

Abroad our cause has steadily advanced the war upon the confid ence & esteem of nations, while that of our foes has become contemptible. The work of recruiting at the North is slow & distasteful, & murmurs are heard upon all sides against the war. Political parties & distinctions are there being formed, and the issues, be they what they may, mu st ensure [?] to our benefit. Lincoln at last quailed before the fear of driving off the border st ates, and has declared that the negro is not an essent ial element of the war, but is secondary to the Union. This will bring the ultras of his party upon him, while his British friends, the abolitionists abroad, who see no propriety or sense in the war outside of freedom to the slave, will abandon him. Love to the children, Mann [?], Mr. Senac, Mr. Sanders [?], & the young ladies, & a thousand kisses to yourself. God bless you S.R. Mallory Mrs. S.R. Mallory Transcribed by Nicole J. Mila no, University of Florida, 2009 *Note: Refers to an investigation after th e loss of New Orleans when critics of Mallory proposed to abolish the office of Secretary of the Navy and merge naval operations under the Army.