Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Swisher, Daniel to sister [Lydia A. Bishoff]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03523.40.17 Author/Creator: Swisher, Daniel Place Written: Bolivar Heights, near Harper's Ferry, Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 October 1862 Pagination: 4 p. ; 21 x 25.7 cm.

Summary of Content: Swisher traveled towards Winchester to follow the Rebel army. They wiped them out of Charlestown and came back to camp again. He is tired by hard marching in the rain. Swisher tells Bishoff he would come home if he could, but he can't. He then explains that he is waiting to see whether "Mr Abram" is going to put his proclamation into effect, for if he does, Swisher is "not agoing to stay." But "as long as I am Fighting for the right Cause I would Rather Die at the point of the Enemys Bayonets than to Have the name of A Deserter," he says. He and Dick are tent mates and have agreed that if "old Abraham is going to free the niggers" they "wont fight to free the niggers." He will then "Desert in spite of old Abe and all his Abolition Army." Although he "neve Could asertain what they Meant to Do intil now," he believes it can now be "Distinctly seen that they mean to free the niggers [and] if it Be The Case I am as Big a Rebel as those that Are fighting against Them," he says. Swisher tells Bishoff that it would do him good to see the children at the mill - for they are always in his mind. If he stays healthy, he believes he will be at home before many months elapse. He requests that Bishoff get her likeness taken and send it to him (by mail if no other way). He promises to pay her for it when he gets paid.


Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Civil WarUnion ForcesMilitary HistorySoldier's LetterUnion Soldier's LetterDeathDesertionConfederate States of AmericaAbolitionBattlePhotographyChildren and FamilyEmancipation ProclamationEmancipationAfrican American HistorySlaverySoldier's PayPresidentPresidential Speeches and Proclamations

Sub Era:

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources