Letters From Forgotten Ancestors

Most Unnatural, this Unholy War
Bradley County Tennessee
~ 1862 ~

© 1997, Charles A. Sherrill. All Rights Reserved.

Envelope with postal information is not available.

Cleveland, July 11th 1862
Capt H. McD. McElrath
Knoxville, Ten.

My Dear Sir
I returned home on yesterday, and was advised by my wife, and Mr. P.L. Thornton that Capt. Wm. L. Brown had issued an order to the effect that he was instructed by you to impress all the mules, horses & wagons in Bradley County. He also left notice that all persons not subject to military duty by reason of their age should be subject to a tax to support the families who were deprived of their husbands & brothers, who were enlisted to defend the South, and one thousand dollars was the amount required of me; I refused to acquiesce to the summary proceeding, and he sent a force with one Robert Hauge and took my only pair of mules from my stable in Cleveland, which cost me _____ $ in good money. Now, Mc, I have only one alternative; You and I have been for many years associated in business and have ever been warm friends.
In all our social and business relations, nothing has intervened to disparage our mutual regard for each other. Until this most unnatural, this unholy war.
On this question you and I can’t see alike, but I pray God that you may see your error, and renounce the cause which you have so blindly espoused.
Mc for Godsake don’t allow yourself to be led off by your Southern prejudices; this furor will not last long and the North and the South will shield their swords and become one people and one great united nation. So be quiet Mc and be careful how you act. Your good name is worth preserving, and be careful you do not commit some act that will attach an odium to your good name that will be hard to obliterate.
I see very clearly that Capt. Brown’s impressments will be inflicted severely uppon the Union men, and unless you interpose on their behalf, they will be ruined.
On yesterday, I am advised, he took from Lewis Mitchell (a good Union man) and a plain farmer, the only pair of mules he had, also his wagon & harness. The poor fellow offerd to surrender an equivalent amount of other property if he would leave his only team, but it availed nothing. So the poor fellow is left to carry his firewood on his shoulders, and his farm will be a waste place.
Now my dear Mc, I have been talking to you verry plain & confidential.
I would not venture to make such assertions to any other officer in the Confederate service for all my estate. But I can trust you. I know you will not betray me. I would trust my life in your hands, altho you and I do not agree about this War. When it is all over, I hope you and I may be again united in all our social & business relations. Hoping you will act promptly in giving substantial or even temporary relief to all the citizens in this section or in your department, I remain
Yours Very Truly
/s/ P.M. Craigmiles

P.S. No human being knows I have written you this letter and, Mc, for Gods Sake don’t betray me. Truly,

This letter is found in the records of the U.S. Court of Claims at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It is part of Pleasant Craigmiles’ claim file, file 13,506 in box 1,542 of Record Group 123.
Pleasant Craigmiles (1813-1876) was probably Cleveland’s wealthiest citizen during the 1860s and 1870s. The 1860 census schedule shows that his real estate was valued at $17,000. By 1870 this figure had increased to $60,000, with personal estate valued at $65,000.
He was a native of Kentucky. His mansion house, built in 1866, is now the History Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

Transcription and Notes by Charles A. "Chuck" Sherrill
Chuck Sherrill was an Archivist at the Tennessee State Library & Archives in Nashville.

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