The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Palmer, Emma Woodbridge
Record 10 of 15

System Number: 06517
Date: 19 August 1861
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Stonington, CT
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W511
Document Type: MsL[2]

Stonington Conn

Monday. August 19th / 61

My own darling Jamie,

The delightful report[3] of yrself, of July 25th "Aunt Kate[4]["] read for me, day before yesterday, and so interested in every expression, she now puts aside all her own occupations to write for me. Emma & her Father[5] also enjoyed hearing yr letter. "Uncle Palmer[6]" fully agrees with you, in yr opinion regarding the improvements in medical treatment, objecting to bleeding[,] blistering[,] starving when they can possibly be done without - he thinks too the less medicine one takes the better. regular exercise in the open air & nourishment is better. his plan and I hope yr old friend "Sea Side" will soon establish the cure brought about by our friend Traar[7] thro his skill, & the blessing of God. I today forwarded yr cheerful letter to Millie[8] the young widow of dear Amos[9], who will be gratified by yr affectionate mention of him, & also, to enable her to report you to Dr N. Miller[10] should he have returned from the wars - he & his Father thought as highly of Amos, they always call'd him in to their aid in any very nice surgical case - so that Willie[11] knows "Nat["] Miller intimately. "Aunt Kate" has just reminded me of one of yr droll sayings, in yr days of childhood - when the greatest treat to you was "Lemon pie" which you declared you liked so much, but not as dearly, as you loved Amos Palmer! Now dear Jamie see what an influence a letter has on me [p. 2] in reviving my hopes that you will come over next summer, please God, we shall visit the old corner house[12] together, in the season for green corn & Whortle berry journey cake. and I am sure you cannot find a more jolly subject for yr canvas than "Uncle Palmer." he becomes more & more benign, & is one of the true Patriots of the Age. I wish you could listen to his clear views of our Country's restoration. they ought to be in print - I shall obtain thro Adolph Rodewald Everett's[13] speech, to send to you. & a Sermon by the Rev. Sullivan Weston[14], of Trinity Ch[urch] N.Y. - who is now visiting The Rector[15] of this Parish - our opposite neighbor - he is Chaplain of the 7th Regiment[16] and only just returned with it to N. Y. he is so devoted to his Country's cause, he was both preacher & soldier - he would go from the Pulpit to the field, & dig with pick axe & spade, the required trenches[17]. Could you know him Jamie, you would love & admire him as all who know him well, do - so noble in his look & manner, so talented. You would feel appreciate him in the pulpit, & in private but you will have an opportunity of judging for yrself, about him, when you & I, dear Jamie visit him next summer - as he spends his summer holiday here. & preached twice for us yesterday as we can ask for the sermon referred to, a graphic sketch of the military bearing of the 7th regiment. should you be absent "Sis[18]" will be as much interested in perusing it, as you, and I know will keep it, carefully till you are with her. Tell dear "Sis" how great a relief her second report of you, date 18th July, handed me, by Mr King[19] on my return from Sharon[20]. it was such a transition one short week, and touched me, with a sense of the tender mercy of God. I hoped also [for] a letter from Willie - but tho' Mr King had much to say, cull'd from Ida's[21] reports & from Richmond, as she exulted in the victory at "Bulls run[22]", - I have as yet, had no details from Willey [sic]. his last, was merely expressions of hope, that I would join him where he is, but my reply was, I could not join him south of Baltimore. - now that a proclamation has been issued by President Lincoln[23], that all communication between North & South must cease by the 1st of Sept. I shall try to get a letter off this week by Express, as a last chance, of cheering dear Willie's heart with news of yr convalescence - as in mine from Sharon there was so much to make him sad, for I am sure he deplores our separation. Willie & Ida are still the guests of Ida's uncle, & Willie not in Borogarde's[24] army, when last I heard, on my way thro Albany, we spent the afternoon with yr Aunt Hamilton[25]. She is as warm a Secessionist as ever. [p. 3] Cousin Eliza Van V.[26] & all the family were at Lake George, except Cornelia & yr Annie's[27] [Jessie?]. She played wonderfully well on the Piano - Jacks[28] met Julia[29] & me on our arrival in New York, - having shortened his visit in Stonington to render his services to us - I shall send yr letter to him, knowing how interesting will be all you have written - he often says, he wishes you would come over, for he longs to see you, I doubt not Willie feels this separation from Jacks, & Jacks sadly miss[es] him - Sis will rejoice as we do, that Foster[30] was honorably liberated on parole, leaving his wounded in good condition - We hope he is now comforting his dear old Father[31] in Geneva. - Capt. & Mrs Swift[32] are at the [Pequoit?] house now and Mary Ironsides[33] was to join them there. I should like to go and see her before she leaves for England. but have had so much neuralga [sic] this last week. Tis a year today, dear Jamie, since you & Seymour[34] welcomed me back to the Sloane st home from Russia[35] - how much care I have been to everyone since - [p. 4] Emma, "Aunt Kate["] & the Doct. joins unite [sic] with me in much love to you & dear Sis - Emma is much amused at yr offer, to take an ["]etching of her on horse back" Julie left us last week, to spend a week on board the old frigate Constitution[36], as the guest of Lt. & Mrs Rogers[37], off Fort Adams, where the Naval School now is, since it was removed from Anapolis. Jule [sic] is in her element - she is never weary talking of the Navy & of our National affairs - She declares she is no Secessionist, her sympathy & judgement are opposed in this case - she will be charmed to be descriptive of Liberty - in etching or painting, by "Whistler" the American Artist.

Post time now only admits of love to dear Aunt Alicia[38] & yr dear self, from all at the old corner house -

& yr devotedly attached Mother

Anna Whistler

[p. 5] Time does not admit of my saying half of what I feel of the brotherly kindness of dear Seymour & Mr Traar [sic]. how heartily I thank yr good kind nurse too. No pen but a Mothers can express the tender love of yrs for you. Pray write often as you can, and to dear Jacks, who will, I know, share with me, in its perusal.

Ever Yr own
dear Mother


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1.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

2.  MsLS
Dictated to Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more].

3.  report
Letter untraced. In June 1861, JW became ill and was bedridden at his sister's (Deborah Delano Haden) house in Sloane Street. His illness has never been satisfactorily diagnosed; see Gordon H. Fleming, The Young Whistler 1834-66, London, 1978, p. 169.

4.  Aunt Kate
Catherine ('Kate') Jane Palmer (ca 1812 - d.1877), née McNeill, AMW's sister [more].

5.  Emma & her Father
Emma Woodbridge Palmer (1835-1912), JW's step-cousin [more], and her father Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician.

6.  Uncle Palmer
Dr George E. Palmer.

7.  Traar
James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more] in London.

8.  Millie
Amelia ('Millie') Palmer (m. 1854), née Dyer, wife of Amos Palmer, Jr [more].

9.  Amos
Amos Palmer, Jr (1827-1861), JW's step-cousin [more].

10.  Dr N. Miller
Dr Nathaniel Allan Miller (d. 1902), physician.

11.  corner house
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer, built in 1787, situated in the corner of Main and Wall Streets at Stonington, CT.

12.  Adolph Rodewald Everett's
Adolphe Rodewald, Sr (1818-1869), husband of J. C. McNeill [more], and Edward Everett (1794-1865), statesman; the latter was considered one of the greatest orators of his day. The speech AMW refers to was probably the one called 'The Causes and Conduct of the War,' and was delivered sixty times in all, beginning at Boston in 1861, and reaching as far west as Dubuque in 1862, stopping on the way at Cleveland, Madison, St Paul, Chicago and other places. The speech stated that the war was a war of aggression on the part of the South; the right to secede was not contained in the Constitution, which was much more than a mere 'compact,' to be dissolved at will: the Federal Union was the greatest achievement in human history, and at all costs it must be preserved. See Paul Revere Frothingham, Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman, London, 1925, p. 425.

13.  Rev. Sullivan Weston
Rev. Sullivan Hardy Weston (1816-1887), clergyman and army chaplain [more].

14.  Rector
Daniel C. Weston (b. 1815), pastor of Cavalry Episcopal Church, Stonington, CT [more]; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 9 [December 1858], #06503. He was the brother of Rev. Weston of Trinity Church, NY.

15.  7th Regiment
A ninety day militia regiment which left New York for Washington, DC on 19 April 1861. Soldiers who did not re-enlist after the ninety day period were discharged at the end of July and returned to New York. On 25 April 1861 the 7th New York Regiment, which had been conveyed by water from Philadelphia to Annapolis, and after a twenty mile march had gained railway communication with Washington, entered the capital in triumph. It was closely followed by the 8th Massachusetts Regiment. See W. Birkbeck Wood and Major J. E. Edmonds, History of the Civil War in the United States, London, 1905, p. 19.

16.  Sis
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more], resident in London.

17.  Mr King
Ralph King (1801-1878), broker, father-in-law of W. McN. Whistler [more].

18.  Sharon
In July and August 1861, AMW stayed at Anthony House, a boarding house at Sharon Springs, NY. Sharon Springs was by the early 20th century known as an internationally renowned resort and health spa. AMW left the Springs on 7 August 1861; see AMW to JW, 3 August 1861, #06516.

19.  trenches
Washington DC was in danger of encirclement from the south and thus many trenches needed to be dug. The 7th Regiment was itself entrenched around Alexandria on 24 May. See George Templeton Strong, Diary, ed. by Allan Nevis and Milton Halsey Thomas, New York, 1952, vol. 3, p. 146.

20.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

21.  Ida's
Ida Bayard Whistler, née King (d. 1863), JW's sister-in-law [more].

22.  Bulls run
See AMW to JW, 3 August 1861, #06516.

23.  proclamation ... Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th U. S. President [more], declared on 16 August 1861: '... all commercial intercourse between the same and the inhabitants [of the States of Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida (except the inhabitants of that part of the State of Virginia lying west of the Alleghany Mountains and of such other parts of the State and the other States hereinbefore named as may maintain a loyal adhesion] thereof, with the exceptions aforesaid, and the citizens of other States is unlawful, and will remain unlawful ... all goods and chattels, wares and merchandise, coming from any of said States ... into other parts of the United States without the special license and permission of the President ... will be forfeited to the United States.' See James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897, Washington, 1899, vol. 6, p. 38.

24.  Borogarde's
A mis-spelling of Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1818-1893), a Confederate General [more].

25.  Aunt Hamilton
Catherine Hamilton ('Aunt Hamilton') (1788-1874), née Whistler, JW's aunt [more].

26.  Eliza Van V.
Eliza Van Vechten (b. ca 1824), née Hamilton, AMW's cousin [more].

27.  Cornelia & yr Annie's
Cornelia Van Vechten (b. 1847), and Ann ('Annie') Van Vechten (b. 1852), daughters of A. and E. Van Vechten.

28.  Jacks
Patrick T. Jackson ('Jacks') McNeill (1835-1898), accountant, JW's cousin [more].

29.  Julia
Julia Catherine Rodewald (1825-1897), née McNeill, JW's cousin, wife of A. Rodewald, Sr [more].

30.  Foster
Foster Swift (1833-1875), physician, son of General J. G. Swift. Foster joined the Union army in the Spring of 1861 as a surgeon to the 8th regiment of New York State militia, in response to the first call for troops to defend the capitol. At the battle of Bull Run he and his staff were captured. Being almost the only prisoners who were not taken in the act of hasty retreat, they were released on parole in the city of Richmond, by Gen. Beauregard, and, after a brief detention, returned on parole to their homes. See 'Memorial' to Foster Swift in Memoirs of General Joseph Gardner Swift, Worcester, MA, 1890, pp. 43-45.

31.  Father
General Joseph Gardner Swift (1783-1865), chief engineer of the US Army, brother-in-law of JW's father [more].

32.  Capt. & Mrs Swift
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more] and his wife Hanna Worthington Swift (m. 1844), née Howard.

33.  Mary Ironsides
Mary Ironsides (1826-1884), née Swift, JW's cousin [more].

34.  Seymour
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

35.  Russia
AMW had lived in St Petersburg between 1843 and 1849. She travelled to Britain on 9 May 1860 on the steamer Africa. She probably visited Russia some time in July - August of the same year; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 7 May 1860, #06510.

36.  Constitution
USS Constitution, popularly known as Old Ironsides, frigate, built in 1797 by Edmund Hartt at Boston (2,200 tons.). One of the Navy's six original frigates, authorized by Congress specifically as a counter to the Barbary corsairs in the Mediterranean. It is now maintained as a museum ship at Boston and it is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy, and the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. In 1860-1871 the USS Constitution became a school ship for midshipmen at Annapolis, MD (and Newport, RI, during Civil War). See Lincoln P. Paine, Ships of the World, Boston, 1997, pp. 120-21; Thomas C. Gillmer, Old Ironsides, the Rise, Decline, and Resurrection of the USS Constitution, International Marine, Camden, ME, 1993.

37.  Lt. & Mrs Rogers
Lt Rogers, naval officer, and his wife.

38.  Aunt Alicia
Alicia Margaret Caroline McNeill (1786-1863), JW's aunt [more].