Letter from Apr. 16, 1865

Letter to his parents from J. D. McClure, April 16, 1865

  • Full Title

    Handwritten Letter to Dear Parents from J. D. McClure, April 16, 1865

  • Description

    Letter to his Dear (Unidentified) Parents from their son, J. D. McClure, April 16, 1865. McClure was in Memphis (Tenn.) setting up a business. He may have been from Iowa originally. McClure writes at first about moving to Memphis and having a tour of the town. Then he abruptly and emotionally transitions to having heard about the assassinations of President Lincoln, Seward, and Son that day from the boat coming from Cairo. He writes of the flags in town being at half-mast and draped in mourning [bunting]. McClure refers to the Secessionists as demons who will be destroyed by God. He then returns to the story of his tour of town, trying to help a lady find her husband at an unknown address, viewing the strong fortifications, battery, and garrison with lots of Union soldiers, the warm temperature and advanced state of growth in the trees and vegetables compared to those in the North, and how at present he has little business.

  • Transcription

    Page One
    Memphis, Tenn.
    April 16th, 1865
    Dear Parents:
    I am here in the
    beautiful city of Memphis in
    the far flung South. I have
    just got into the hotel from
    a walk through the city
    with a gentleman lawyer from
    Michigan who has come
    here to practice his profession.
    Being acquainted he showed
    many points of interest through
    town. But Oh! Horror to
    think of the awful calamnity [sic]
    that has befallen our city[crossed out]
    beloved country. In the assass-
    ination of Lincoln Seward
    and Son! The cold chills would
    course my blood when first the
    sad news reached my ears.
    Page Two
    2
    The news first reached here this
    morning on the boat from
    Cairo. The news flew like
    magic throughout the place
    and the flags of the city were
    hung at half mast, and
    draped in mourning. What
    horror to think our nation’s loss,
    to see our Star Spangled banner
    draped in mourning! “Whom
    God will destroy he first maketh
    mad”, and these demons, [of secession-inserted] are
    surely sufficiently mad for
    distruction [sic]. If possible I
    will drive these thoughts away
    for the present and write some-thing else. I got a carriage
    this morning for Mrs. Billings
    of Keohrels [sp?] who came down on
    the same boat to visit her
    husband. We rode for one hour
    but did not succeed in finding
    Page Three
    3
    as we had neither the name of
    the street nor its number. But
    we did see many most magnificent
    business houses, Churches and residen-
    ces. True I have not seen all
    of the place by a considerable in
    my hours ride, and two hours
    walk. I have had a faint view
    of the fortifications as I can have
    now from my window. Yet,
    Pickering is so situated as to
    deal out distruction [sic] at a tremen-
    dous rate to any foe the might
    dare to approach from below or
    above on the river, and it could
    turn its mighty power from the
    city to its utter demolition and
    very hasty too. I see the large
    guns standing upon the battery
    ready at a single moments
    warning, with its garrison of
    over 3,000 soldiers within its
    walls.
    Page Four
    Then how different the atmos-
    phere here; the Sun is almost at
    its meridian high to shining
    forth its [genial-inserted] rays of warmth and
    gladness. It is as warm here
    as in June there, yet it is neither
    sultry nor hot, but as I enhale [sic]
    the atmosphere it seems cool
    and embracing, much like we
    sometimes have North just ater [sic]
    a shower in a sultry hot
    August day or the purer are [air-sic]
    while the dew is rising in a
    summers morning.
    Then again how different
    vegetation here; when I left
    there was scarsely [sic] any of the
    tees were putting forth their leaves
    or buds, but before we reached this
    point the peach and apple trees
    had fruit put forth their blooms and
    had fallen off. And to-day
    the leaves on the oak and other
    trees are almost full ground
    and the gardens and yards are
    green with grass and vegetables.
    Page Four
    But with all this I can’t tell
    how I shall like the place.
    I may not like the climate, the
    the [sic] city, the practice to be had,
    the people, nor the manner
    of living. I do not know that
    I have any occasion to be
    discouraged unless it may be
    from the high price of living.
    It is Sunday and the most of
    business is closed of course and
    I am doing [sic] nothing in the way
    of business. It will brobably [sic]
    be one or two or perhaps three
    weeks before I shall know
    what to do. In the mean time
    I shall enquire and remain
    as contented as possible.
    I guess it is dinner time.
    I will write again when I
    get more settled in business.
    Your Affectionate son, J. D. McClure

  • Source

    Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, J. D. McClure Correspondence, 1865

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  • Cite this Item

    McClure, J. D.. "Handwritten Letter to Dear Parents from J. D. McClure, April 16, 1865". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed December 17, 2017. http://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/848