Heirs, William A. (fl. 1858-1897) to Susie Carter
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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03135.05.005 Author/Creator: Heirs, William A. (fl. 1858-1897) Place Written: Macomb, Illinois Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 4 August 1859 Pagination: 4p. : envelope ; 20 x 13.5 cm.
19 January 1860
Tom Heirs to Sue Carter
...I had the honor on yesterday, of beholding the handsomest "Whig" of the world, renowned rail splitter, Abe Lincoln- President Elect of (what remains of) these United States, and although I was born in the adjoining county to where he has spent the greater portion of his life, and having lived within one hundred miles of Springfield, [inserted: for several years], and often seeing him, I never before scrutinized him so closely as I did on that occasion; and I am now fully prepared to say that he will be the ugliest Chief Magistrate that has ever presided over the destinies of "Uncle Sams" dominions-- so far as personal "beauty" is concerned. Still "handsome is that handsome does," and old Abe may not be an exception to the rule.
29 December 1860
Tom Heirs to Sue Carter
...  We think that a state has a right to "resolve" herself out of the Union if she wishes to, but if she interferes with any of the National regulation within her limits it is the duty of the President to use the force of the Government to make her "resolve" herself back again, what rights has South Carolina lost by Lincoln's election, that she cannot regain by staying in the Union. Lincoln can be no worse than old J. B. has been, and he will have a majority of both houses [inserted: of Congress] against him. He cannot form a Cabinet without the consent of a Democratic Senate, nor appoint a postmaster in any section of the Union without the same  consent. I can conceive of no greater price of foolishness than the cry raised by South Carolina politicians, that they cannot obtain their "rights" inside the Union and must of necessity, go out. The South has had exclusive control of the government, with but few intervals, for the last forty years and now that they are defeated by an opposing party, in one branch of the government only, they still retaining, the balance of power in the other two- the politicians have suddenly discovered that their rights are no longer secure, I could not have been better pleased than to have seen Lincoln defeated, and used my best endeavors to secure that and still if the principle of secession is once established by a State seceding from the Union, what is to prevent a county seceding from a state, or town from a county, and a ward from a town? And soon this powerful nation would be transformed into a lot of little "one-horse" governments, meriting and receiving the contempt of the civilized world. I do not believe there is danger of Civil War- but if it comes to that I hope that the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific may meet, forever blotting from existence every vestage [sic] of this once proud and happy land, and may their commingled waves sing a quiet reception to its departed greatness....
20 May 1861
William Andy Heirs to Sue Carter
... Shortly after the secession of Virginia, I thought it to be my duty to volunteer my services to defend my adopted country, and thereupon joined a company called the Washington Light Infantry, in Mobile. I remember the day I enlisted perfectly well, it was Friday. The following Tuesday at 11 o'clock A.M., the Company received orders to prepare ourselves to leave for Virginia at 4 that evening. My uniform was just cut and must be made or sewed together by 4 o'clock. That difficulty was soon overcome by the combined efforts of four ladies (to whom a hearftfelt thanks are due,) and a sewing machine, and at the time appointed I was prepared to take my position with the rest. We left the city on the Steamer, amidst the most uproarious applause and shouting from the citizens, and waving of kerchiefs by the ladies, who had assembled and thousands to salute and cheer us onward, wishing us God Speed with many a tearful eye. We arrived at Montgomery safe, and there with the rest of our Regiment, elected field officers. James M. Withers, "ex-Mayor of Mobile," Colonel. -- Lomax, Lt. Col.-Battle, Major. There are in the  Regiment the Mobile Cadets, Mobile Rifles, Gulf City Guards of Mobile, and Washington Light Infantry, of Mobile... The trip from Montgomery to Lynchburg, was made in boxcars, which, together with being cold and uncomfortable, were very dirty... At Lynchburg, we were encamped near the fairgrounds, nearly three days, and during that time I had abundant opportunity to see the city, and enjoy the hospitality of the citizens... we were ordered to leave next day, at 5 A. M., for Norfolk, which we did, arriving here next morning. It was a beautiful sight to behold our regiment of 11  hundred men (1100) moving down and up the hills to the depot of the south-side R.R. at Lynchburg...
27 May 1861
William A. Heirs to Sue Carter
...  I was startled and feigned to hear of the position my brother has taken in the war between the two sections of our once glorious Union. After a short study I came to the conclusion that the company to which he referred was a company of militia organized from Fire Company No. 1 (of which he was foreman), for home protection. This would materially change the face of matters, and relieve his position of the unfaithfulness to his heretofore expressed sentiment, in regard to the matters in question. While it is perfectly mature for persons to protect their homes from invasion (even by a people whose political principles do not differ  from their own), I would most certainly denounce and oppose the action of my brother in following or leading a body of men whose object was to invade and desecrate the land of a people who are using every honest effort to separate themselves peacefully from an obnoxious Government.
I suppose you have long since heard the particulars of the fight at Hampton, in which some 700 of the Federal troops are reported killed, and 50 of the Virginians. The explosion mentioned which blew up the bridge and kept the enemy at bay, was plainly heard here, and men now, while I am writing, firing can be heard distinctly in the direction of Sewells Point, and it is [rumored] in camp that another fight is in progress at that place, as we can easily distinguish the difference between the firing-- the deep quick sound of cannon, and the long, rolling sound of musketry. Our boys are only dissatisfied with their position and say with a negro in camp yesterday, that, "they dun put us so far de woods  de Yankees will never find us." However, I presume we will be in action soon enough, and too soon for a great many of us to maintain longevity to the natural term of man's existence...
2 March 1862
William A. Heirs to Sue Carter
...The Merrimac is ready now to go to sea, has her powder and ball, shell, etc. on board and is prepared and expected to go to sea tonight or tomorrow nightâ€¦.It is supposed that Norfolk will be attacked shortly, with a force of 50,000 men from various points. In this case we may be surrounded and be obliged to perform some desperate movements to prevent defeat. It is reported here that the Colonels of the 1st Louisiana, 4th Georgia, and 3rd Alabama Regiments have formed themselves and regiments into a league and in case the Confederate troops near Norfolk are surrendered to the Federals, have resolved never to surrender, but to cut their way through the enemy at the hazards...
5 April 1862
William A. Heirs to Wes
...I visited the Virginia in her dock a short time since and noticed particularly the changes being made to strengthen the Merrimac against the attacks of the iron-clad Monitor, who is now lying in Hamptons Roads waiting her approach.
Strong iron clamps 4 feet in length, are being put upon the 'eaves' of the Merrimac's roof, fastened to the top of her hull, as you see in the rough drawing. I send you. Perhaps this will give you some idea of the Merrimac as she now is, and of the points in which she is so invincible. I have only represented one door D, the portholes, but each porthole is provided with one, which closes immediately upon the discharge of the gun. The pilot-house is covered with iron, and prohibited with peep-holes. There are three ventilators on top, and inside is a steam fan, which of itself, is sufficient to drive out all impure air, and produce fresh. She has four pipes for throwing scalding water, which are not exhibited outside. It is not known outside when she will make her second trip, but it will be shortly...
6 June 1862
William A. Heirs to Wesley
...An engagement occurred yesterday on the left wing, between General Magruder, and the enemy, in which we defeated them, and captured 1200 prisoners and several pieces of artillery, loss of life trifling. Nothing new today, Jeff Davis passed our camp last evening.
There are about 20,000 troops in our immediate neighborhood...
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