System Number: 06516
Date: 3 August 1861
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler
Place: Sharon Springs
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W510
Document Type: MsL
Saturday Aug 3 1861
My own dearest Jimmie
My distress about dearest Willie made me feel, when sisters letter came yesterday with tidings of your illness, this added sorrow as more than I can bear[,] my heart ached so intensely that although dear Sis assured me Mr Traer's daily reports were encouraging, it took hours of reflection in the night watches to bring me to a right view of this discipline of our Heavenly Father to you and to me for you know how tenderly I sympathise in all your disappointments, but it is Gods will and I am submissive how He arranges to soften our sufferings[.] Cousin Julia's being here with me I am so grateful for and now darling Annie has withdrawn to a cool quiet room to write for me to you, Oh what a mercy that you had not gone to a land of strangers to be ill[.] what a blessing is Seymour's home with kind nurse to watch by your bedside[,] I have to smother a feeling of envy that she fills the place I fain would occupy that I may yield only thankfulness to God for so disposing her kindness towards you[.] I know by experience how cheering are Mr Traer's daily visits to you and I will hope you may have so profited by them that you may read this and soon be able to report yourself to me with your own pen[,] tell me all you feel and I trust you can add truly that you feel you have more to be thankful to our Heavenly Father for, than to complain of[,] it is in vain to wish you here in the very atmosphere to cure rheumatism [p. 2] or that I had not left you[.] I know not when I can have Willie or a home in his last report 1st of July at Richmond he showed me how impossible for a secessionist to travel North[,] he evidently is unhappy tho sincere in his belief that his is the righteous view[,] he comforts himself that Jemie can come over to take care of me[,] dear Willie is in a strait between his yearning to be with me and his devotion to Ida and her cause interfearing [sic] with it[,] the winding up of his letter is ever sounding from my heart "darling mother pray for me[.]" Oh how deep will be his distress when he hears that you dear Jemie are suffering from one of your attacks. since his letter the dreadful battle at Bulls Run has cossed [sic] so many lives on each side even the victorious rebels have not spirit to rejoice. their regiments being composed of their first men[,] this is the most inglorious war that ever raged I think and it seems only begun[.] it is supposed a crisis awaits us[,] a bloody struggle to ensue, but let us now dear Jemie rejoice that some hearts are prompted to soften some of the unavoidable effects of war.
I enclose you an extract sent me from a Baltimore paper of
last week[,] it is like Mr Winans to think of the poor
starving for work or because men must enlist and leave their
familys to beg, and it is a most appropriate monument to his
wifes memory, he is also building the church she wished to
have erected on their country seat[.] I shall in my next [p. 3]
letter to Willie[,] by Harndens express for we have no mail between us[,] let him know the insult to Mr T Winans is not
being brooded over by him as by Willie you enquired [sic] it was
the father Mr Ross Winans but upon suspicion only. I have
not been advised to send the etchings yet to Mr T Winans but
he knows they are in my safe keeping and in time I hope he
will write you expressive of his pleasure in receiving them.
Capt & Mrs Swift are to spend an hour soon with me in looking
at the set you gave me. and now dearest Jemie I must urge
you to make your health your chief care[,] remember it is our
heavenly Father who puts this check upon your plan for this
and he at the rod and who appoints it[.] God will bless
your submission if you will but trust in his love and
infinite wisdom do not rush off to the Continent to be
overtaken there by a relapse[,] but I hope when Mr Traer
advises country air you will avail of Mr Gellibrands hearty
wish that you make Albyns one of your homes[,] they have it in
there [sic] power and it will gratify them to do much for your
recovery[,] then there is Aunt Alicia who has leterly [sic]
written me her wish for you to visit her at Culross in
Perthshire[,] it is a most beautiful part of Scotland and
would yeild [sic] you some fine etching[.] Sis describes Whitby as
lovely in situation and I dare say your first trip will be to
see the dear circle there[,] but of course there would not be
quiet and room for an invalid[.] I cannot express how grateful
I feel at the comfortable [p. 4] accommodation in the quiet back
nursery in Sloan [sic] St. I think of all nurses gentle
attentions[,] shall I go back with Cousin Mary Ironsides to
prove by more than words all I now feel[,] God will make clear
to me what now seems so dark as to my next winters home.
I was in hopes Sharon Springs would have restored my strength but I leave here on the 7th D. V. with my right eye still closed from weakness tho I hope when I can resume tonics I shall realize that the sulphur baths and fountains have not been in vain. a letter from dear Aunt Kate received yesterday was full of messages of love when we should write you and Sis whose letter she enclosed, how sadly she will grieve for me to hear of your illness[,] if Annie and I share a week on Staten Island you shall hear of it when Annie and I reach Stonington. Jacks is now there the Misses Darrach spen[t] five weeks at the Corner house[,] they say more charmingly than my summer before in daily drives sails to Watch Hill &c.
Sis will be so glad that dear Julia R. is as she was to me and when she reads me the same daily meditations Sis uses and gave me they have value[,] how I hope Sis will write me very soon and very often of you[,] prayer only makes suspense endurable[.] Kiss all the dear children for me and my love to Seymour and Mr Traer[,] words cannot express the tender anxiety we feel about you my dearest Willie [sic] your own heart will tell you to write as soon as you can to
It is clear from the content of this letter that JW was staying at his sister's Deborah Delano Haden's house, at Sloane Street.
Dictated to her niece Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), AMW's niece, later wife of G. Stanton.
4. Sharon Springs
AMW stayed at Anthony House, a boarding house at Sharon Springs, NY, a renowned resort and health spa.
9. Cousin Julia's
Julia (Catherine) Rodewald, née McNeill, JW's cousin, married Adolphe Rodewald.
Anna Whistler Palmer (b. 1848), AMW's niece, later wife of G. Stanton.
William McNeill Whistler had joined the Confederate army as an assistant surgeon.
14. battle at Bulls Run
One of the first battles of the Civil War in the USA, started on 21 July 1861 at Manassas (Bull Run), VA. Union troops under Brig. General Irvin McDowell (1818-1885) clashed with Confederate soldiers under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891), and Brig. Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1818-1893), on the plains of Manassas. It was a sweeping Confederate victory in what Southerners called the First Battle of Manassas (the North calls it Bulls Run). See Hartford Weekly Times, 27 July 1861, CT, vol. 45, p. 1.
18. Mr Ross Winans
Ross Winans (1796-1877), locomotive manufacturer, father of JW's sister-in-law [more]. Winans's political notoriety came about in the confused period after the secession of the Southern States in 1860-61. Particularly after the fall of Fort Sumter (13 April 1861) it was most uncertain which way the border states, such as Maryland, would jump, and this led to a flurry of political and military activity. Troops from the North East needed to defend Washington could proceed most directly by way of Baltimore, but had to be transferred between two separate railway stations in that city. On 19 April 1861, this led to a riot in which the troops fired and several rioters and bystanders were killed. On the previous day, Winans (whose sympathies were with the Confederacy) had moved a resolution, adopted by a Maryland States Rights convention, which deplored the stationing of free States' militia in Southern cities or forts, and even in Washington, and called for unity to repel any invader of Maryland. Presumably for this reason, the government associated Winans with the riot. On 22 April 1861, the Baltimore American, a newspaper of strong Union views, wrote: 'At the works of the Messrs. Winans their entire force is engaged in the making of pikes, and in casting balls of every description, for cannon, the steam gun, rifles, muskets, etc.' Winans was arrested twice, on 14 May and 11 September 1861. On both occasions he managed to be released on parole. See B. F. Butler, Butler's Book, 1892, pp. 227-239; Scott Sumpter Sheads and Daniel Carroll Toomey, Baltimore During the Civil War, Linthicum, MD, 1997, p. 14.
Probably a reference to JW's A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames, 1871 (the 'Thames Set') (K.38-44, 46, 52, 66, 68, 71, 74-76, 95) (excat 4), begun in 1859. He produced approximately twenty-one etchings in 1861 including Vauxhall Bridge (K.70), Millbank (K.71), Westminster Bridge in Progress (K.72), Little Wapping (K.73) and Ross Winans (K.88). JW was probably hoping that Thomas Winans would purchase some etchings as he had previously purchased etchings from the 'French Set,' published in November 1858; see T.Winans to F. S. Haden, 20 June 1859, #07079.
20. Capt & Mrs Swift
Captain William Henry Swift (1800-1879), brother-in-law of JW's father [more], and his wife Hannah Swift, née Howard. 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, and AMW's letter to JW, 11 July 1861, #06511.
Ancient fishing port in North East England.
30. Watch Hill
Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Arthur Charles Haden (1852-1910), musician, Francis Seymour Haden (1850-1918), and Annie Harriet Haden (1848-1937), later Mrs Charles Thynne, AMW's grandchildren.
'words ... you' continues in left margin; 'my ... write' continues in right margin; 'as ... Mother' continues in top upper margin.