Document 16: Letter from John Pelham to Marianna Pelham Mott, 18 March 1861, Garrison Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.

Introduction

       At the time of this letter, John had been studying at West Point for nearly five years. He hoped to stay long enough to get his degree, but Alabama had already seceded and the start of the Civil War was only a few weeks away. Despite the impending war, John still wished to visit Marianna on his way to the South. (For more on John Pelham, see U.S. Civil War Photographs and Shotgun's Home of the American Civil War.)

                                                                                  West Point N.Y.
                                                                                  March 18th / Ď61

Dear Cousin,

       I suppose you will think it quite strange that I am still here--it appears strange even to me, yet is nevertheless so.

       But how much longer I will remain is quite impossible for me to say--future events will decide what course I will pursue. I am very anxious to graduate--the family, exceedingly so. Almost all the Cadets from the Seceding States have resigned.

       It has been so long since I heard from you, I am afraid your old address will not do. I would like very much to visit you again before I return to my home, both on my own account, and on my fatherís.[A] He says whenever I leave I must be sure to stop a while with you. If he had not expressed such a wish, I would have been certain to do so. When can I see you if I leave here before June? And where about the 15th of June? I will graduate in June if I remain till then.

       Give my best love to my little Cousins.[B] I love them more than any of my other cousins--far better.

       Give my respects to Mr. Mott.

                                                             Affectionately
                                                                   Your Cousin
                                                                          Jno. Pelham

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A. Johnís father was Atkinson Pelham, whom Mariannaís mother had known in Philadelphia in the 1820s.
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B. John referred to Mariannaís daughters Isabel and Emily, then 15 and 13, whom he had met on an earlier visit to Philadelphia. From remarks in a letter of his to Marianna written 1 April 1858, it appears likely this earlier visit was in 1856 or 1857.
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