[Letters of recommendation for Richard Griffith relating to his effort to secure appointment as U.S. Marshall of Mississippi.]. Samuel S. Boyd, James Whitfield.
[Letters of recommendation for Richard Griffith relating to his effort to secure appointment as U.S. Marshall of Mississippi.]
[Letters of recommendation for Richard Griffith relating to his effort to secure appointment as U.S. Marshall of Mississippi.]
[Letters of recommendation for Richard Griffith relating to his effort to secure appointment as U.S. Marshall of Mississippi.]

[Letters of recommendation for Richard Griffith relating to his effort to secure appointment as U.S. Marshall of Mississippi.]

Natchez, Vicksburg, and other locales, 1853. 5 autograph letters, 8vo (10” x 8”). 7 pp. 1 letter docketed on verso. 4 letters with original envelopes.

Five letters, all written in 1853, supporting future Confederate Brig-Gen. Richard Griffith’s (successful) effort to be appointed U.S. Marshall of Mississippi, including some Mexican War and Jefferson Davis content.

A native of Pennsylvania, Richard Griffith (1814–1862) moved to Mississippi around 1840, where he lived until the outbreak of the Mexican War, during which he served with the 1st Regt. of Mississippi Rifles and developed a close friendship with his commanding officer Col. Jefferson Davis. Upon returning from Mexico, Griffith worked as a banker in Jackson, Louisiana; served two terms as State Treasurer of Mississippi; and, as these letters document, became U.S. Marshal of Mississippi. Present when Mississippi passed the ordnance of secession, Griffith soon thereafter organized the Raymond Fencibles—a company that eventually became part of the 12th Mississippi Infantry. (Griffith was one of a number of Northern-born men who served in the Confederate military.) He was elected colonel of the regiment, which was assigned to duty in Virginia. Promoted to brigadier general in Nov. 1861, Griffith was placed in charge of a brigade of four Mississippi regiments—this promotion being a direct result of Davis’s actions. By the spring of 1862, Griffith’s brigade consisted of the 1st Louisiana Battalion; the 13th, 18th and 21st Mississippi Regts; and one battery—a total of some 2,534 men. Griffith’s brigade saw action during the Seven Days’ Battles, which resulted in Union forces under George McClellan being driven from the Virginia Peninsula. On 29 June 1862, at the Battle of Savage’s Station (during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign), Griffith was mortally wounded by Federal artillery shell that tore through his thigh, causing profuse bleeding. His funeral the next day was attended by Davis, members of the Confederate cabinet, and hundreds of other mourners.

The Letters

1. Samuel S. Boyd (1849–1894). Natchez, Mississippi. 17 Feb. 1853. To President Gen. Franklin Pierce, Washington, D.C. This letter was likely written from the famous “Arlington” mansion, home of Boyd, a Mississippi Supreme Court Judge. Boyd writes:

“Gen’l G[riffith’s].’s character and standing in this community entitle him the respect and confidence of all with whom he may become acquainted. He was adjutant of the first Miss. Rifles and served with great distinction…through the dangers and triumphs of the Mexican War. Returning [home], he was elected by the people to the responsible position of treasurer of the State. He has been raised to the office of Major General in our State Military Establishment.”

2. C[harles]. E. Hooker (1825–1914). Jackson, Mississippi. 12 Feb. 1853. To Hon. Daniel Wallace, Washington, D.C. Hooker writes:

“[Griffith] visits Washington City as an applicant for the position of Marshal of the Southern District of Mississippi. My friend is, no doubt, already known to you by reputation, as an adjutant of the 1st Miss.[issippi] Rifles under our gallant [Jefferson] Davis, and the gallantry which distinguished him on the field of battle has only been surpassed by the high character for probity and integrity which he has won for himself in civil positions.”

3. H. J. Harris. Vicksburg, Mississippi. 16 Feb. 1853. To Hon. Samuel Medary, Washington, D.C. Harris writes:

“[Griffith] is a democrat of the school to which you belong, that is to say, one who never abandons his principles. He probably has an additional claim to your good will in the fact that he was raised in Ross County in your state [Pennsylvania] and belonged to a family that were always on hand when the battles of democracy were to be fought.”

4. Henry W. Vick. Vicksburg, Mississippi. 16 Feb. 1853. To Gen. Thomas Jessup at Washington, D.C. Vick notes that Griffith was at the battles of Monterey and Buena Vista, and states that he was “elected State Treasurer of Miss.[issippi] by an immense vote of both Whig and Democrat.”

In 1839, Col. Henry W. Vick of Vicksburg, Mississippi experimented with various cotton seeds, and in the 1840s developed “One Hundred Seed.” He was described in book Cotton Culture (1868) by Joseph Lyman as “the most persevering and the most successful of all the Mississippi planters in the art of perfecting cotton.”

5. James Whitfield (1791–1875). Columbus, Mississippi. 10 Feb. 1853. To Griffith. The writer promises to arrange a letter from Judge Gholson to President Pierce. Whitfield writes:

“I had heard before the reception of your letter that Col. Davis would probably be tendered a seat in the cabinet, and most ardently desire that it may be so, as in my judgment, it would be another evidence of the sagacity and wisdom of Prest. Pierce and his advisors. “You may have heard some unfavorable accounts as to one of our clerks of this Co. [Columbus Life and General Insurance Co.] on the Bank of Louisiana. The dishonoring that clerk was an outrage upon the Company on the part of the Bank, as the clerk had funds in the Bank which must have been overlooked by their Bookkeeper, and several thousand dollars in bills running to maturity falling due shortly and over $5000 of funds from Mobile reached the Bank the day the clerk of the Columbus Co. was dishonored, but after its presentation, so that you need have no fears.”

James Whitfield (1791–1875) served as the Governor of Mississippi from 1851 to 1852. Jefferson Davis stayed at Whitfield’s Columbus, Mississippi plantation while campaigning across the state for the U.S. Senate.

REFERENCES: Losson, Christopher. Richard Griffith at mississippiencyclopedia.org

CONDITION: Old folds, very minor defects.

Item #6347

Price: $850.00

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