The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: King, Ralph
Record 13 of 41

System Number: 06511
Date: 11 July 1861
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[1]
Place: Stonington
Recipient: JW
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W506
Document Type: MsL

"The Old Corner house[2]"

July 11th / 61

My own darling Jamie[3] -

I do not think more of you on this yr. natal day[4], than on any other day, but Auntie Kate[5] has stolen a half hour, to devote in yr service as my amanuensis - which seemed almost denied for replying to yr. letter, which Auntie Kate read with pleasure to me, & then to the family circle - all being deeply interested in you: even Donnie[6] who you left a wee boy and his two cousins Courtland and Charlie Palmer[7] - wish they could see you here again - I sent your letter to Jacks[8] to read, because in it you mentioned him so particularly, and he was so charmed with the Patriotic style, he could not resist reading it to Grandma[9] & Auntie[10], who were delighted with yr sentiments. - I am keeping it to shew to Willie[11] - tho my fears are we shall not meet this summer. You ask "is his wife[12] with him"? he went into Virginia to visit some of her relatives with her. tho it was the plan first to seek some retreat among the Mountains, they had not yet reached Farmville, when Willie last reported[13] by a private hand - his date was June 20th at Richmond - and they were then guests of Rev Mr Reed[14], the letter was to Mr King[15], tho he begged him to forward to me to read. Only think of the time in reaching here - one fortnight, via Kentucky, he and Ida seem perfectly well and happy. Ida has made Willie a thorough secessionist thus verifying the saying "A man forsakes all, for his wife[16]" Willie seems so glad to believe "Mother quite well" what a mistake. [p. 2] I almost regret his illusion will be broken when he gets my letter sent by Harnden's Express[17] the mails being stopt a few days ago, I was then suffering as much as I did last Winter - the two sisters of Doctor James Darrach[18] reported him to have taken an invalid sister up the Hudson and altho they thought he must return immediately to his practice near Phila. I telegraphed to Fishkill that he and "Uncle Palmer[19]" might consult for my relief - he travelled night & day & surely the hearty welcome he received here, refreshed him as he entered the dining room in time for our tea. We have not yet had green corn, Jamie! - but have daily enjoyed abundance of large rich strawberries from "Aunt Kate's" garden just opposite the house. You remember the corner lot, on the lane, - Irish John of Scarsdale[20] memory, is now here, & delights in furnishing the table with early fruits & vegetables. - The weather here is charming - tho in New York, & other cities, the heat is oppressive - 94 deg. in the shade. - The 4th[21] was very quiet here, only fire crackers in the day & Rockets in the evening - [p. 3] all the troops being concentrated in & around Washington. Think of Genl. Scott's[22] daily reviews there [of] two hundred thousand!! We used to feel surprised at the St Petersburgh [sic] reviews[23] of eighty thousand men. You ask after yr. friend Doct. Miller[24]: he left his large practice in the hands of his Father, to join one of the Union Regiments as Surgeon, and has not returned from Washington, he often spoke of you to dear Amos[25], who was always with him in every important case of surgery - and was a dear friend of Amos's. - Doct. Miller appreciated yr. etchings[26] and would be delighted with these I have, if he could see them. In my last I reported Capt. J. Adams[27] at the head of a thousand men!! a Regiment of his own forming! - You ask of dear Genl. and Capt. Swift[28]? they of course are Unionists. The venerable Genl. offered his services to go to Washington but he is still at home, in Geneva. I have often heard from Capt. Swift since my return, he and Mrs S.[29] invited me to journey with them to Sharon[30] this week, but as I was hoping daily the arrival of Willie to take me I declined their proposal. Now that I must not depend on Willie, I have written Jacks to be my escort, and probably we may go up the Hudson together next week.

[p. 4] July 15th

A letter from dear Jacks, has decided for our meeting on board the Albany boat early Wednesday A. M. l7th. Dear Annie Palmer[31], my juvenile companion, - and I hope Jacks will be my guest at Sharon a few days, which will refresh him after the trying scenes he endured with his dear Grandma & Aunty the past week in the death of Mrs. Henry Cammann[32] who died of Paralysis - after several weeks of illness, her remains were taken from Grandma C-s last Wednesday, to be laid in the family vault by her husband, in Trinity Cemetery. Jacks seems to be appointed to comfort all by turns, and in every way is most exemplary - a true Xtian Gentleman. I pray you my darling Jamie write me as soon as this reaches you, & tell me of all you are engaged in - do not suppose the state of our country interferes with my interest in any extracts alluding to yr works, from the papers - I regret those you intended sending have not yet come, tho I hope may yet reach me. Neither has the paper Seymour[33] was to send me for my signature. - I never have the Journals respecting our War, they are too contradictory to credit. My cousin Mrs. Genl. Clinch[34] in Savannah thinks theirs the righteous cause, "God blessing them" in a rich harvest of Corn, Wheat, Cotton & c. Our dear deluded Willie writes Mr King[35] as a stranger in a foreign land, to cheer Mr King - a resident of New York!! but he of course hears only the prejudice of the Southerners - Truly, I[36] know no North, I[37] know no South. Dear[38] Jamie excuse the many faults here displayed, - as the poor Amanuensis was very nearly asleep whilst writing.

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  The Old Corner house
The house owned by Dr George E. Palmer (1803-1868), physician, AMW's brother-in-law [more], built in 1787, situated at the corner of Main and Wall Streets at Stonington, CT.

3.  Jamie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

4.  natal day
It was JW's birthday.

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

6.  Donnie
Donald McNeill Palmer (b. 1845), JW's cousin [more].

7.  Courtland and Charlie Palmer
Charles Phelps Palmer (d. ca 1930), and Courtland Palmer (b. 1843), sons of Courtland Palmer; he was the brother of AMW's brother-in-law.

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

9.  Grandma
Maria Margaretta Cammann ('Grandma C') (1774-1862), mother-in-law of William Gibbs McNeill [more].

10.  Auntie
Catherine Julia Cammann, a relation of Dr G. P. Cammann [more].

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

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

13.  Willie last reported
William McNeill Whistler became a surgeon in the Confederate army.

14.  Rev. Mr Reed
William Bradford Reed (1806-1876), lawyer, diplomat and author [more].

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

16.  A man forsakes all, for his wife
'Wilt thou have this Woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?' The Book of Common Prayer, Solemnization of Matrimony, Betrothal.

17.  Harnden's Express
Mail company formed by William F. Harnden (1812-1845), a conductor on the Boston and Worcester Railroad in 1839. Harnden established the first messenger express between New York and Boston. He was his own messenger and purchased goods, collected drafts, notes and bills, and guaranteed the safe delivery of parcels entrusted to his care. Harnden's enterprise proved a success and within months a number of other express companies, using primarily rail and steam routes, had opened in imitation.

18.  James Darrach
James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more]. William McNeill Whistler had studied medicine with him; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 10 June 1857, #06484.

19.  Palmer
Dr George E. Palmer.

20.  Scarsdale
AMW lived at Scarsdale, NY between ca February 1852 and November 1853 in a cottage owned by AMW's friend Margaret Getfield Hill (1802-1881). The Irish John was a servant; see AMW to James H. Gamble, 27 May 1856, #06473.

21.  4th
4th July, Independence Day. President Abraham Lincoln, in a speech to Congress on 4 July 1861, stated that the war was 'a People's contest...a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men...' The Congress authorized a call for 500,000 men. See Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, New Brunswick, NJ, 1955, vol. 4, pp. 421-41.

22.  Genl. Scott
General Winfield Scott (1786-1866), Commander in chief of the Union army [more]. As the secession crisis developed during the latter part of 1860, Scott pleaded unsuccessfully with President James Buchanan to reinforce the southern forts and armouries against possible seizure. He brought his headquarters from New York to Washington, DC, so that he could oversee the recruiting and training of the capital's defence. He personally commanded Abraham Lincoln's bodyguard at the inauguration. He retired in November 1861, and died five years later at West Point.

23.  St Petersburgh [sic] reviews
AMW is probably referring to the military reviews held in the 'Admiralty,' or the 'Great Square' in St Petersburg, Russia; see AMW to JW, 11 December 1848, #06375.

24.  Doct. Miller
Dr Nathaniel Miller, physician.

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

26.  etchings
Probably Twelve Etchings from Nature, 1858 (the 'French Set,' K.9-11, 13-17, 19, 21, 22, 24); see AMW to James H. Gamble, 5 December 1858, #06502.

27.  Capt. J. Adams
Julius Walker Adams, Sr (1812-1899), civil engineer and soldier [more].

28.  Genl. and Capt. Swift
General Joseph Gardner Swift (1783-1865), first graduate of USMA, and his brother Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), JW's father's brothers-in-law.

29.  Mrs S.
Hannah Worthington Swift (m. 1844), née Howard, wife of W. H. Swift [more].

30.  Sharon
Sharon Springs, NY, was an internationally renowned resort and health spa by the early 20th century. AMW had been to Sharon Springs in the summer of 1856; see #06474. The Swift family stayed at the Pavilion Hotel, from 12 July to 13 August 1861; their bill at the hotel totalled $195.25. See the Pavilion Room Book, 13 July 1858 to 19 August 1861.

31.  Annie Palmer
Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), AMW's niece, later wife of G. Stanton.

32.  Mrs. Henry Cammann
Eliza M. Cammann (d. 1861), née Dunscomb, wife of H. Cammann [more]; see The New York Times, 13 July 1861, vol. 10, mo. 3060, p. 5.

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

34.  Mrs. Genl. Clinch
Sophia Clinch, née Gibbs, widow of Brig. Gen. Duncan Lamont Clinch (1787-1849), congressman [more].

35.  King
Ralph King was born in Darien, GA.

36.  I
Double underlined.

37.  I
Double underlined also.

38.  Dear
'Dear ... writing' written at right-angles to the main text in the top left-hand margin of p. 1.