[Two letters of a Quaker Woman in Maryland Caught Up in the Confederate General Jubal Early’s Attack on Washington]. Margaret S. Hallowell.
[Two letters of a Quaker Woman in Maryland Caught Up in the Confederate General Jubal Early’s Attack on Washington].
[Two letters of a Quaker Woman in Maryland Caught Up in the Confederate General Jubal Early’s Attack on Washington].

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

[Two letters of a Quaker Woman in Maryland Caught Up in the Confederate General Jubal Early’s Attack on Washington].

Fulford, Maryland: 13 and 17 July, 1864. 8vo (7.75” x 9.5”). 3 pp. in ink, with original envelopes.

Two letters of a Quaker woman living in Maryland and holding down the fort in her husband’s absence, recounting to him the aftermath of the 1864 Confederate attack on Washington.

“Good news, good news,” begins the first of these two letters from Margaret Hallowell (née Stabler) to her husband James in Washington: General Early’s attack on Washington (the Battle of Fort Stevens) had failed. Writing on July 13th—a day after the actual raid—Hallowell recounts that “We heard the firing of muskets last night between 10 & 12 but did not know what it was.” It is likely that Hallowell and her family heard the “brief but violent fight” that occurred when, in the midst of Early’s retreat, “a Union brigade surged toward Confederate lines” (Vogel). In the aftermath, she reports that “The excitement … has been very great”—but not very pleasant:

Rebs going in every direction taking horses & sometimes people. Bradly Jonston [Bradley Johnson, prominent Maryland Confederate] men, two of them dressed in our uniform stopped Uncle B. on his way to fair hill yesterday morning. Asked many questions & then told him who they were & demanded his horse. He told them they could not have it. In a few moments Bradly came up with 10 or 12 hundred men.

Although “Uncle B.” was able to slip away with his horse apparently unscathed, Hallowell relates that “Every house on the road has been visited, more or less” and that “5 of Gilmores men”—also known as Gilmor’s raiders, led by Confederate and later head of the Baltimore City Police Department, Harry Gilmor—were occupying a house “waiting for Gilmore to come on.”

The second letter, also addressed to James, dated July 27th, is somewhat more calm. Hallowell’s attention is directed not to the events unfolding around her, but to the media’s reports of them. “We did & will read the papers,” she tells James, “but I think if the editors are not secessionists they are very near being so … and I for one do not like it.” Doubt adds to irritation since “The reports about the rebels are contradicted again,” and Hallowell concludes “it is hard to know what to believe and what not too [sic].” Without more fact to go on, this letter moves on to news of family and farm.

Margaret Stabler was born in 1824 in Montgomery, Maryland, to a prominent Quaker agricultural family mainly of Sandy Spring. In 1846 she married James Hallowell, also a Quaker and an important educator. During the Civil War James lived in Washington, D.C. to serve as Clerk of the Post Office Department and Superintendent of the Post Office Building. Before and after this appointment, however, he founded two female seminaries and worked as the principal of the Alexandria Boarding School, originally founded by his uncle Benjamin Hallowell (Uncle B. of Margaret’s letter?), who taught the young Robert E. Lee.

Two letters from an intelligent Maryland woman in the days following Jubal Early’s raid on Washington, reporting local events and critiquing dubious newspaper coverage.

REFERENCES: Vogel, Steve “For Gen. Jubal Early, a raid north nearly led to the capture of Washington,” April 26, 2014; on Benjamin Hallowell: Templeman, Eleanor Lee. “Benjamin Hallowell, Dedicated Educator,” Arlington Historical Society Magazine vol. 2, no. 3 (October, 1963), 24–33.

CONDITION: Very good, fragile at creases; light wear to envelopes.

Item #6296

Price: $950.00

See all items in Autographs & Manuscripts
See all items by