BRIGADIER GENERAL MILLEDGE BONHAM - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 11/23/1864 - HFSID 290449
As Governor of South Carolina, he writes Confederate Secretary of War
James Seddon, requesting that a South Carolina cavalryman serving in Virginia be
returned home to stand trial for murder. Docketing reports that this letter was
sent on to General Robert E. Lee.
Autograph Letter signed: "M. L. Bonham" as Governor of
South Carolina, 1 page, 8x10. Columbia, South Carolina, 1864 November 23.
On official letterhead to Hon. James H. Seddon, Secretary of War, Richmond,
Virginia. In full: "Enclosed I send you a copy of the proceedings of a
Coroner's Inquest held at Darlington District in this State [Item not
included.], by which it appears that one Daniel McDonald is charged with the
murder of William Waters. I learn from J. R. Shaw Esq., the acting coroner, that
McDonald is now in Captain Whitner's Company, 4th regiment S. C. Cavalry. I
therefore request that said Daniel McDonald may be delivered to myself as the
Executive of the State, in order that he may be brought to legal trial for the
offense with which he stands charged. Very respectfully yours". Docketing
on verso includes military instructions to comply with this request, and also
this notation: "For information to Genl. R. E. Lee, by order J. A.
Campbell." Milledge Luke Bonham (1813-1890) gained his first military
experience an infantry colonel in the Mexican War, serving on campaign in
there. He was elected to the US Congress in 1857, succeeding his cousin, the
recently deceased Preston Brooks. Brooks was honored in the south, notorious
in the north, for his caning of anti-slavery Massachusetts Senator Charles
Sumner (1856). Bonham resigned from the US Congress when South Carolina
seceded, and he traveled to other southern states urging them to leave the
Union. Appointed Commander of the Army of South Carolina, he was a
brigade commander at the First Battle of Manassas (July 1861). He served
as Governor of South Carolina from December 1862 to December 1864,
prohibiting distilling of alcoholic beverages and urging the diversion of land
from cotton to food production. Returning to the Confederate Army in 1865, he
performed recruiting duties until war's end. After the war he resumed the
practice of law, ran an insurance company, and was serving as the State's
railroad commissioner at his death. When Bonham signed this letter, the
Confederacy's military situation was growing desperate. Union General
Sherman, having captured Atlanta, was marching to the sea (reached December 13),
and would soon cut his swath of devastation into South Carolina. President
Lincoln had been re-elected three weeks before this letter was written, soldiers
were starting to desert the Confederate Army, and President Jefferson Davis had
proposed arming slaves to bolster its shrinking ranks. Nevertheless, civil
government continued as best it could, as evidence by this letter. It is
interesting that, despite the enormous stresses brought on by Civil War,
civilian supremacy was never seriously challenged in either North or South.
Horizontal fold creases, notched at edges. ½" tear 1½" down from upper left
corner. Toned and lightly soiled. Minor show-through front to verso.
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BRIGADIER GENERAL MILLEDGE BONHAM
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