Confederate States of America
Richmond, October 1st, 1862
External & Internal Criticism:
The letter is from a collection of “autographs” collected by Mrs. Eliza MacDonald during the 1870s and 80s, and placed in a scrapbook. It most likely came into her possession either by purchase (autographing collecting, like today, was a very popular hobby), or it was presented to the family as a gift by one of their several friends (Mr. MacDonald was very important within the shipping industry). Taking into account that the letter was held by William Howell Taylor, who resided in Brooklyn (see below) and that the MacDonald’s were residents of Staten Island, it is not unreasonable to assume that the letter was most likely presented to Mrs. MacDonald by Mr. Taylor himself.
Mallory served as Secretary of the Confederate Navy from March 4th, 1861 until the end of the war in 1865. The Confederate letterhead and Mallory’s signature match other documents held in other archives. The date of the document is clearly written at the top of the page placing it within the time frame of the Civil War. In addition the appearance of the letter matches the look of other letters known from that time period (see Appendix section). The letter was drafted in Richmond Virginia, which served as the Confederate capitol from May 1862 until its capture in April of 1865. The document is an official response to a letter written the previous day by George W. Munford, Secretary of the Commonwealth, concerning the Richmond Railway Company
The content of the letter concerns a “question pending between the [Confederate] government and Richmond Railway Company.” It was written in response to a letter sent to Mallory by George W. Munford, Secretary of the Commonwealth. Based on Mallory’s own statement in the letter, “Your letter of yesterday reached me this morning…” we can assume that Munford’s letter was written on September 30th, 1861. The content of the letter is straightforward, however its context is impossible to understand without Munford’s letter. The Richmond Railway Company was used by the Confederacy to transport troops and equipment from Richmond to West Point, Virginia. A final “note” is added to the bottom of the letter, indicating the date in which the letter was “captured” as a war souvenir by Union Army Chaplain, William Howell Taylor on April 4th, 1865.
The letter provides a historical look into the day-to-day working of the Confederate government. Several letters by Mallory are known to exist, three of which can be found on the Internet (see Appendix section). Of the three other letters one is addressed to the Chairmen of the Committee on Naval Affairs and the other two are addressed to Secretary of the Treasury. Chronologically, the Mallory letter is written ten months after the letter to the Chairmen of the Committee on Naval Affairs (January 10th, 1862) and three years and two months before the letter to the Secretary of the Treasury (January 23rd, 1865). The letter, coupled with the other three, provide a look at the early organizational days of the Confederacy.
Authentication:The style of writing on the October 1st letter closely matches that of other letters written by Mallory, especially one drafted by Mallory on January 23rd, 1865. The “letterhead” on both letters match:
October 1st, 1862 letter
January 23rd, 1865 letter
Mallory’s personal style of writing is also the same in all letters. He appears to have had a tendency to write with a very flourish hand, with long dark accents on several of his letters. An example of this can be seen in the letters of October 1st, 1862 and December 17th, 1861. In regards to the word “this,” note the thick and darken “t” and “s,” as well as the lack of a cross mark on each letter “t.” The second example can be illustrated with the word “the.” Once again the “t” is thick and dark, and the cross mark in both letters rest over the letter “h.”
Finally Mallory’s signature is basically the same on both letters.
Stephan Russell Mallory
Stephen Russell Mallory was born on the Island of Trinidad in 1813. Having practiced law, Mallory was elected to the United States Senate from Florida in 1851 and re-elected again in 1857. He resigned his seat in the Senate at the beginning of the Civil War and actively took part in the organization of the Southern Confederacy. Jefferson Davis appointed him Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States on February 7th, 1861, a position he held until the end of the war. Mallory single-handily was responsible for building up the Confederate Navy, including the authorization of the first Ironclad warships. He accompanied Jefferson Davis in his flight from Richmond in April of 1865, finally being captured in La Grange, Georgia on May 20th, 1865. After the war Mallory returned to his law practice until his death on November 9th, 1873. He is buried in Pensacola, Florida.
Mallory photo from Civil War Photographs: Confederate and Federal Government Officials.
George Wythe MunfordThe son of William Munford and Sarah Radford, George W. Munford (sometimes spelt Mumford) was born in Henrico Country, Virginia on January 8th, 1803. He served as the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia during the Civil War, reporting directly to Governor John Letcher, who delegated the responsibility of furnishing the Virginia state flag for military units to Munford. Some of Munford’s duties included the co-signing and imprinting (or attaching) the Virginia State Seal to government documents such as the Proclamation of Secession, dated June 14th, 1861 (see Appendix section). Munford married Lucy Singleton Taylor in 1928, having one son, Thomas Taylor Munford in 1831. After Lucy’s death, Munford married Elizabeth Thorwgood Ellis on November 29, 1838 , having 11 children. His first son, Thomas, would serve as a Lt. Col., of the 13th Virginia Mounted Infantry, and Col. of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley under “Stonewall” Jackson. Munford died on January 10th, 1883 in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Munford photo from Gloucester Country VA
The Richmond Railroad Company
The Richmond Railroad Company (full name Richmond and York River Railroad) connected Richmond to steamboats at West Point, Virginia on the York River. Incorporated by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on January 31st, 1853, it commenced actual operations in 1859. The railroad held contracts with the Confederate States government “concerning the removal of iron from the company for war purposes”. The railroad was the first to use of railway artillery in history. Confederate forces used such on June 29 and 30, 1862 at Savage’s Station. The company was sold under foreclosure on May 2nd, 1872 and was consolidated into the Southern Railway Company in 1894.
The 48th Regiment of the New York State Volunteers
The 48th Regiment NYS Volunteers at Fort Pulaski
The 48th Regiment of the New York State Volunteers was mustered into service on August 16th, 1861 in Brooklyn, New York. The regiment contained a total of 10 companies, seven from Brooklyn, one from New York, one from Monmouth County New Jersey, and one made up of troops from both Brooklyn and Monmouth Country. The regiment was active in the capture of Port Royal Ferry on January 2nd, 1862, and the siege of Fort Pulaski, Georgia in June 1862. They were the assigned garrison duty at Fort Pulaski until June of 1863, when they were order to take part in the assault against Fort Wagner in July. In December 1864, they were ordered to Fort Fisher, N.C., and were very active in the capture of the fort’s fortification in January of 1865. During its term of service 10% of the regiments personal enrolled were either killed or wounded, marking it as the third highest in causalities for New York State, and the 17th in the list of all of the regiments of the Union army in total loss. The regiment was mustered out of service on September 1st, 1865. William Howell Taylor served as a Chaplain for the 48th New York State Volunteers from May 13th, 1864, when he was commissioned into the Field & Staff division of Company “S.” He was 30 years of age, and discharged on May 14th, 1865.
Siege of Richmond
Union forces under the command of Ulysses S. Grant captured the Confederate capitol on April 4th, 1865 after an eleven-month siege. To further demoralize the citizens of Richmond “the first units of Abraham Lincoln’s army to march into the ruins of…the capitol of the…slave states were the Colored Troops regiments.” Evidence suggests that the letter was taken from the Confederate Capitol building (the Virginia State House) during the fall of Richmond. The obvious clue is contained within the letter itself:
Captured in the “Capitol” Richmond Va, April 4th, 1865 by William Howell Taylor
Chaplain 48th N.Y.S. VolunteersThe second piece of evidence comes the from Rev. Dallas Tucker, who, as a young boy, was present in Richmond when the Union Army marched into the city and entered the Capitol Building. The following excerpt is taken from a reprint of a February 3rd, 1902 article ofThe Richmond DispatchSURPRISE AND CONSTERNATION
Faith in Lee and His Men so Great That Both Citizens and Officials
Were Unprepared for Abandonment of City
…As late as Sunday morning, April 3, 1865 – that fatal day – there was hardly a thought among the people that such a thing as the evacuation of the city was either near or probable…[while attending mass] the sexton of the church was seen to walk up the aisle…He was the bearer of a message to the President of the Southern Confederacy. Gently and respectfully touching Mr. Davis on the shoulder, he handed him something, whereupon the latter immediately arose and left the church…
Tucker then goes on to describe the general mood of the city on the eve of April 4th, as well as the disorder the next morning as all law and order broke down and looting began throughout the city:
[We were] suddenly awakened in the early hours of Monday morning by a tremendous shock, which rocked the house and rattled the windows. At first we thought it was an earthquake, but very soon concluded…it must be an explosion of some kind….We [soon] learned it was, in fact, the blowing up of the government powder magazine just beyond the city limits…Richmond was on fire…in sheer despair, warehouse after warehouse was thrown open, and the gathered crowd of hungry, despairing people were told to go in and help themselves. Pell-mell they went, without regard to position in life…I and my friends, like others…went in where to some extent angels might have feared to tread. For there was some danger in doing this. I remember how several times…the cry would be raised, “this building is on fire, get out quickly,” and down we would scramble…We had all filled our hands, our pockets and our arms with such things as we could find, and when the pillaging was over, we each had a great variety of things of one kind or another.
Tucker then goes on to describe the last critical events, which took place in and around “Capitol Square”:
…the Federal advance force of occupation was coming up Main Street. This street was followed until Ninth street was reached, where a turn was made to the north in the direction of St. Paul’s Church, and just as I reached the Washington Monument, I was little less than horrified to see the troops entering [Capitol] Square through the main entrance facing Grace street…Here I stood as the soldiers swept into the Square, passed the Monument, and went on to the Capital. It was then only a few minutes later – so my memory serves me – that I saw the United States flag appear on the flag-pole above, where the Stars and Bars had floated for years.
By the Governor of Virginia
Whereas the Convention of this Commonwealth on the 17th of April 1861 adopted an ordinance to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution; and by a schedule thereto annexed, provided for taking the sense of the qualified voters of this Commonwealth upon the ratification or rejection of said ordinance and directed the Governor to ascertain the vote so taken, and without delay to make proclamation of the result stating therein the aggregate vote for and against the ratification. And whereas, the returns of several Counties have not been received & of others cannot be obtained in consequence of the presence of a hostile force in the Northwestern & the blockade in the eastern portions of the State: and, by the returns which have been received, it appears, that an overwhelming majority of the people have voted for the ratification of the said ordinance: Now, therefore, I, John Lecher, Governor, in pursuance of the authority so given, do hereby proclaim the aggregate vote aforesaid to be as follows:
For Ratification 125950
For Rejection 20373
Majority for Ratification 105577
And to the end that the entire vote of the State, as far as it can be ascertained, may be known to the people, I have estimated the vote of the Counties from which returns have not been received, taking the same from local papers & from sources believed to be correct, or nearly so, & appended it to this proclamation.
I do therefore further declare that the said ordinance has been ratified by the qualified voters of this Commonwealth, and in conformity to its provisions, I do annex hereto, a copy thereof together with the schedule accompanying the same.
And whereas, by another Ordinance, “for the Adoption of the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America,” passed on the 25th of April 1861, it is provided, that the said ordinance shall cease to have any legal operation or effect if the people of this Commonwealth upon the vote directed to be taken on the ordinance of secession, shall reject the same. And it now appearing by the said vote, that the people have ratified the said ordinance of secession, therefore I do further proclaim that the Constitution of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America ordained & established at Montgomery Alabama, on the eight day of February 1861 is now in full force in this Commonwealth & must be respected & obeyed.
Given under my hand as Governor & under the Seal of the Comth this 14th day of June 1861 & in the 85th year of the Comth.
By the Governor
George W. Munford
Secy of the Comth
November 5th, 2004
· Conducted general Internet search on “Confederate States of America.” 124,000 sites listed, including the American Civil War Research Database (http://www.civilwardata.com/) and The America Civil War Home Page (http://www.civilwarhome.com/). Access to American Civil War Research Database archives requires membership.
· Conducted a general Internet search for Confederate Secretary of the Navy. 56,000 sites listed. American Civil War Home Page (www.civilwarhome.com) listed Stephen R. Mallory as Secretary of the Navy.
· Conducted Internet Google search for “Stephen R. Mallory.” 1,380 sites listed, including a site entitled: The Navy Department Library (www.history.navy.mil/library/manuscript/mallory.htm), which featured several transcriptions of Mallory’s letters as well as actual copies of these letters; as well as a site entitled: The University of North Carolina, Southern Historical Collection: Stephen Mallory Papers (www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/m/Mallory,Stephen_R.html), which featured a listing of several papers Mallory had written as Secretary of the Navy to his wife. Unfortunately transcriptions of these letters were not posted online.
November 7th, 2004:
· Conducted an Internet search on the “Richmond Railway Company.” 11 sites listed. Most of which did not deal with the Confederate States of America. Widened search by removing quotations, found 218,000 sites with either the words “Richmond,” “Railway” or “Company” in them.
· Conducted another Internet search for “Confederate Railroads.” 322 sites listed, including Confederate Railroads (www.csa-railroads.com), which listed all of the railroads in operation during the Civil War. Richmond Railway Company not listed however. Examined some of the other sites listed but to no avail.
November 9th, 2004:
· Emailed the Webmaster of the Confederate Railroads site requesting any information on the Richmond Railway Company.
· Conducted an Internet search for biographical information on Stephan R. Mallory. Found 6 sites listed. Sites provided little information except for the biographical information listed at web page for The New Advent (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09572a.htm)
· Conducted an Internet search for biographical information on George W. Munford. Found no sites listed.
November 10th, 2004:
· Conducted Internet search for letters or transcriptions of letters of George Munford. No pages found.
November 11th, 2004:
· Conducted photo search on the Internet for “Stephen R. Mallory,” and “George W. Munford.” Found several photographs of Stephen Mallory listed at Civil War Photographs: Confederate and Federal Government Officials (http://712educators.about.com/blcwphgovt4.htm), and a single photograph of George Munford at the Gloucester Country VA site (www.gloucesterva.info/museum/HallOfFame/cgwmunford.htm).
· Heard back from David Bright, Webmaster of Confederate Railroads, said that the Richmond railway Company was a horse drawn trolley service that he no information on. Suggested examining the Library of Virginia web site for more information.
· Searched the Online Catalog of The Library of Virginia (http://www.lva.lib.va.us). Found several document referencing the Richmond Railway Company, in their Manuscript section. Unfortunately the documents were not posted on line.
· Contacted the Research Assistant for The Library of Virginia requesting any information on the Richmond Railway Company.
· Conducted Google Internet search on “48th New York State Volunteers.” 10,300 sites listed for “New York State Volunteers.”
· Searched the holdings of the New York State Archives (www.archives.nysed.gov) looking for information on the 48th New York State Volunteers. Found information listings for “The Grand Army of the Republic,” but very little on the 48th NYS Vols. Searched their Photo Gallery, found several photographs of Lincoln and Grant, but nothing on the 48th.
November 13th, 2004:
· Heard back from American Civil War Research Database indicating that membership had been activated. Searched archives for “48th New York States Volunteers.” Found history and regiment personal listings.
· Contacted Webmaster for American Civil War Research Database for information on the Chaplains for the 48th NYS Vols.
November 15th, 2004:
· Heard back from the archivists for The Library of Virginia. Said that the Richmond Railway Company mentioned in the letter was most likely the Richmond and York River Railway Company.
· Conducted manuscript search of The Library of Virginia for “Richmond and York River Railway Company.” Found several documents listed, which included papers of the company’s president, deeds agreements and contracts with the Confederate States of America.
November 17th, 2004:
· Contacted the Brooklyn Historical society for appointment to examine their archives.
· Heard back from Webmaster of American Civil War Research Database with information on the company (Company S), that listed the officers and support personal for the 48th NYS Vols.
· Examined company listings and found two Chaplains listed, William P. Strickland and William Howell Taylor. Taylor’s name is mentioned on he Mallory letter.
November 18th, 2004:
· Heard back from Brooklyn Historical Society. Unfortunately their archives are closed while the building is undergoing renovation.
· Conducted a photo search for the “48th NYS Vols. No listings found.
· Conducted a general Internet search for biographical information on “William Howell Taylor.” 48 sites listed. Most dealt with Cardinals’ baseball player William “Billy” Taylor.
· Searched the Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page (www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com) for biographical information on William Howell Taylor. Found transcript of 1904 newspaper article with photo from “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle” on Taylor. Age of the person in the article (87) compared with age of Taylor during the war (30) did not match up to bio information from American Civil War Research Database.
November 20th, 2004:
· Visited the Brooklyn Public Library to research printed material on Confederate States of America. Found several books that provided information on the Confederacy.
November 26th, 2004:
· Conducted another Internet search for biographical information on George Munford. This time searched his fill title: “Col. George Wythe Munford.” Found some biographical information listed on GenCircles website (www.gencircles.com).
· Email the Gloucester Country VA Webmaster requesting information on Munford.
November 28th, 2004:
· Emailed Webmaster for the American Civil War Research Database inquiring is biographical information on William Howell Taylor and William P. Strickland might have been switched. Biographical information on Strickland seems to match with bio info on Taylor from the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” article including age.
· Conducted an Internet search on “Chaplain William Howell Taylor.” No results found.
November 29th, 2004:
· Visited the archives at the Staten Island Historical Society. Excellent Civil War material, but nothing on Confederate States or Navy Department.
· Heard back from Brian Burchett, Applications Developer/Analyst and Web Developer/Analyst for the Gloucester Country VA Website. They have no biographical information on Munford, but did forward a copy of my request to county staff.
December 3rd, 2004:
· Received an Email from Roane Hunt of the Gloucester Country’s Public Records Office, providing census information as well as some family information on Munford.
December 5th, 2004:
· Conducted an Internet search on “Siege of Richmond.” Found two sites that contained information of use, one on the Siege of Richmond and Petersburg (www.ehistory.com) and one featuring an eyewitness account (www.civilwarhome.com) reproduced from The Richmond Dispatch of February 3rd, 1902.
December 8th, 2004:
· Conducted an Ask Jeeves (www.ask.com) Internet search on “Siege of Richmond.” Found a site entitled Old and Sold (www.oldandsold.com) listing an article originally published in 1900 entitled “McClellan’s Siege of Richmond.” Unfortunately it referred to the Seven’s Days Battle and not the 1865 attack.
December 9th, 2004:
· Nicole found a copy of the book, Who Was Who in the Civil War, which had a listing for Mumford. Unfortunately the listing was for a William B. Mumford, a confederate patriot who was executed in June of 1862 for removing the U.S. flag from the New Orleans mint after the capture of the city by Union forces in April of that same year.
December 10th, 2004:
· Conducted an Internet search on “Capture of Richmond.” 285 sites listed. One of the sites, History of Camdem County (www.historycamdencounty.com) listed an account of the “22nd US colored Troops Infantry Regiment” which provided a short account of the regiments involvement in the siege. A second site, The Civil War Home Page (www.civil-war.net) had several photographs of Richmond after the siege taken from the National Archives.
December 13th, 2004:
· Has sent the limited Bio information on George Munford to Roane Hunt of the Gloucester Country’s Public Records Office for their website. Heard back from her today that she was not aware of Munford’s son Thomas, and was wondering if it was possible that he was a son from his first marriage. Researched several sites for “Thomas Taylor Munford,” finding several references to his birth (in 1831), and several references to George Munford as his father. Munford’s first wife was Lucy Singleton Taylor.
Transcription of January 23, 1865 letter fromThe Navy Department Library
Transcription of December 17, 1861 letter fromwww.historyforsale.com
Transcription of Secession Proclamation Draft, June 14th, 1861 fromThe Library of Virginia
Special thanks to Professor Eric Ivison – History Department, The College of Staten Island (CSI)
Article and layout © 2004 John Rocco Roberto.
Mallory letter of October 1st, 1862 from the MacDonad Scrapbook collection. All documents are from the MacDonald Scrapbook compiled by Mrs. Eliza MacDonald of Clifton, Staten Island, in the 1870’s and 1880’s. Loaned to the College of staten Island in 2004 by Barbara Gardner, Great-Granddaughter of Eliza and present owner of the Scrapbook.