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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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Born: December 25, 1813
Died: August 27, 1890

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