2 Letters from West Point Written by Southerners Who Would Leave to Join the Confederacy – THEY FOUND THEMSELVES IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME – Cadet William O. Winston, Jr. from Alabama & Cadet Llewellyn G. Hoxton from South Carolina
In the U.S. Military Academy’s class of 1861 there were 52 cadets. Out of that group 5 would go on to receive the Medal of Honor. There were 15 General’s, and there was a 65% casualty rate. 11 of the 52 would go south and join the Confederacy. Cadet Hoxton was one of these 11. Cadet Winston would have been in the graduating class of 1863.
LETTER #1 – 7 pages in nice dark ink with original stamped envelope having a “WEST POINT, N.Y. NOV. 20, 1860” postmark. It is addressed to his sister, “Miss Maria L. Winston, Valley Head, Alabama.”
Here is the content:
• West Point, N. Y. Nov. 17th 1860. Dear Sister Maria; Duty demands that I should write to you this night. I have lately received two letters from you for which you have my thanks. Your letters cause me much joy. Because they tell me in common talk of home affairs. In reading them I fancy that I see you & hear your voice.
• The news contained in yours of the 27th ult. is of much importance. I was not surprised. God grant that your life may be one of uninterrupted sunshine & happiness. Mr. Paine has a character that will carry him successfully through the world. He is an energetic & good hearted man.
• The Prince of Wales has been here since I wrote home last. Col. Delafield gave him a grand reception. He remained here one day & night. He visited the interesting places around here, inspected the public buildings & reviewed the Corps of Cadets. He seemed delighted with his visit. He was dressed in a suit of plain grey citizen clothes. Judging from the pictures I have seen of his mother, I think he resembles her very much. I will tell you more of the Prince when I come home.
• WELL, THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS OVER & “OLD HONEST ABE” HAS BEEN DULY ELECTED BY A SECTIONAL PARTY. WE HEARD THE RESULT OF THE ELECTION THE NEXT MORNING (7TH). THE NEWS CREATED INTENSE EXCITEMENT AMONG THE SOUTHERN CADETS.
• THE MEN HERE FROM S. C. HAVE RESIGNED & WILL RETURN HOME IN A FEW DAYS. THEY GO TO AID IN THE TRAINING OF THE MILITIA.
• I apprehend stormy times. The nation is threatened with Civil War. God alone can avert such a calamity. The public men of our country have brought all this trouble upon the nation. They deserve hanging. They would not let the slavery question alone, but used it for their purpose of arraying one section of the country against the other.
• I WILL REMAIN HERE UNLESS MY STATE SECEDES. IN THAT EVENT, I WILL RESIGN FEELING THAT I HAVE NO LONGER A RIGHT TO BE A MEMBER OF THIS INSTITUTION WHEN MY OWN STATE HAS CEASED ITS CONNECTIONS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
• I have been doing well in my studies this month. Tell Pa I wish him to sign a permit of the following for me: (I wish my son William to attend the Methodist Church) & send it to me soon. An article of the Academic regulations requires the Corps of Cadets to attend Episcopal Worship in this chapel every Sunday. But they can attend either the Methodist or Catholic church if their parents desire them to do so. (The only three churches near here.) We have to march to the chapel & remain there nearly three hours which I do not like.
• I have lately had letters from Mother, Eva, George & Pa. This is an answer to them all. I have little time to write. I hope they will continue to write often. Pa sent me some money in his last for which I thank him. Tell Mother I will send her my picture before long.
• Give my love to all at home. Kiss little Sissie for me.
Your very aff.
C. U. S. M. A.
Here is what we learned from the Internet:
Here is a fascinating fact: The Winston Plantation Home near Mentone, Alabama is an operating bed and breakfast!
A truly historic letter.
#L753 – Price for letter #1: $950
LETTER #2 – 2 ½ pages in nice dark ink, Llewellyn Griffith Hoxton is writing his brother William, who was a student at William and Mary College. The stamped envelope has a “WEST POINT, N.Y. APR. 10, 1861” cancellation and is addressed to, “William Hoxton Wm & Mary College Williamsburg, Virginia.”
Here is the content:
• West Point, N.Y. April 9th 1861. My Dear Will, Being in your debt and having some leisure this evening I propose answering your last letter. I HAVE FELT MISERABLY FOR THE LAST FEW DAYS, EVER SINCE THE NEWS OF THE ACTIVE PREPERATIONS IN THE WAR & NAVAL DEPARTMENTS…
• I THINK THERE IS SCARCELY A HOPE LEFT OF OUR NOT HAVING CIVIL STRIFE AND IF LINCOLN ATTEMPTS TO COERCE THE SOUTH I SAY RESIST HIM TO THE BITTER END.
• THE NEWS TODAY IS OF A MOST STARTLING CHARACTER NAMELY THE PROBABLE REINFORCEMENT OF FORT SUMTER, A MOST ABSURD & MAD ATTEMPT IN THE OPINION OF MILITARY MEN. IT WOULD RESULT IN THE USELESS SACRIFICE OF HUMAN LIFE AND WOULD IN ALL PROBABILITY NOT SUCCEED.
• The channel leading to Fort Sumter is long & tortuous & flanked by batteries on Morris Island. The Government does not intend so the paper says to throw reinforcements in the fort unless the Confederate batteries should open fire upon the vessels sent to take provisions to Major Anderson’s command. They intend to remain on the defensive so they say & thus throw the responsibility of opening the war upon the Secessionists; after the determination too of Mr. Lincoln to evacuate Fort Sumter, to change such determination so soon is certainly strange.
• WILL I SHALL HAVE TO TAKE PART IN THIS FEARFUL STRIFE, A FOREIGN WAR I WOULD NOT MIND, BUT WAR WITH MY COUNTRYMEN IS REVOLTING. THE CAUSE OF THE SOUTH IS A RIGHTEOUS ONE & MAY GOD DEFEND THE RIGHT.
• My heart aches when I think of the dear ones at home, but our Heavenly Father will take care of them. I try to put my trust in him.
• Have you heard from Alexandria recently? I have not for some time. I am quite Anxious to get a letter. Will, it is almost bed-time so I must say goodnight. Write when you can conveniently do so. God bless you. Your Affectionate Brother, Llewellyn G. Hoxton
The story (attached) of how Hoxton got appointed to West Point is a fascinating one. At the academy his roommate was Henry DuPont! DuPont graduated 1st in the class of 1861 and Hoxton 6th. On May 25th, 1861, Hoxton resigned his military commission and was soon an Artillery Drill Master near Fredericksburg. He then went west and was Chief of Artillery in Hardee’s Corps. At the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, he commanded all the guns opposing General Schofield, remaining on horseback as much as 48 hours at a time.
His brother William to whom this letter was written, became Sergeant in the Stuart Horse Artillery.
A wonderful historic letter.
#L754 – Price for letter #2: $1,295