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Amazing Coincidence Brings Separate Halves of Civil War Letter Together

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 29th, 2013

Two fragments of an eight page Civil War letter, authored by Union soldier Sergeant Benjamin Hughes of West Virginia, were recently brought together at the West Virginia and Regional History Center.  From two different donors and two separate donations separated by a span of three years, the restored letter of 12 November 1862 details the political opinions of Hughes during the current Congressional elections for the House of Representatives.  Even then, as now, the incumbent party lost ground as a result of mid-term elections — Lincoln’s Republicans lost 22 seats while the Democrats picked up 28 for a net swing of 27 percent of the 185 seat House membership.  Apparently a staunch supporter of the Union, Hughes expresses his anxiety over Democratic gains due to their peace agenda:

“The Leaders of this rebellion in the South know very well that if they can hold out until the new Congress gets into power they are safe because that Congress will sacrifice even every principle of virtue to carry out their boasted effort at a peace between North and South, and more than that Sir there is too much patriotism in Abe Lincoln for you peace making Democrats and the sooner they can silence him and the party the sooner they will draw a mask over their deeds of darkness.”

This Civil War letter is one of many authored by Benjamin Hughes held by the WVRHC in collections A&M 1021, 3741, and 3947.  Through his service in the West Virginia 3rd Regiment and the West Virginia 6th Cavalry, Hughes saw much of the war, so his correspondence touches on subjects such as the battle of Allegheny Mountain (1861), battle of Droop Mountain (1863), service as a scout, and opinions regarding the war, among other topics.

Letter from Benjamin Hughes

Blog entry by Michael Ridderbusch.
Connection between letter fragments discovered by Laureen Wilson.

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