Raynors HCA 2017-06
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A great Southern sympathizer's letter illustrating the sectionalism that afflicted many families at the outbreak of the Civil War. This letter was written on April 8, 1861 (just weeks before Fort Sumter was fired upon) by William Kell Bradford to his father Augustus W. Bradford (1806-1881) who, as a staunch Unionist, served as governor of Maryland from 1862-1866. In retaliation, for his pro-Union stance and for helping draft Maryland's new constitution which abolished slavery, his former neighbor CSA General Bradley T. Johnson burned his home to the ground in July 1864 while passing through the area during Early's raid on Washington. As for his son, William Kell, he wrote this despondent letter while a member of the 53rd Maryland Infantry. He volunteered (obliviously against his father's wishes) as ADC to General Isaac Trimble in May 1861 and was appointed a lieutenant in the CSA infantry in July. There is unconfirmed belief that he first served the Confederacy as secret agent to Stonewall Jackson at Harpers Ferry in 1861. He was assigned to General Winder's staff and was placed on duty in Richmond's prison system. Later served in North Carolina on conscription and prison duty and then in Georgia on provost marshal duty until relived of command in August 1864 for "malfeasance in office." He resigned on March 9, 1865 and died in Baltimore on October 16, 1871. He was thirty three years-old. Young William Kell's heartfelt letter, reads, in part: "I received your letter last Tuesday and would have answered sooner, but held it in consideration. I acknowledge that you are in the right. I will abandon the idea of going South. As for joining the army that was merely an idea. I will come home and take the farm and try and content myself but I am subject at times to be low spirited and unhappy which causes me to act so when I make my promises it is with a good intent , but fail to keep them…then I go away and am ashamed to come back and feel at times that I do not care to live. I will try and content myself home, but you must not get angry with [me] for getting low spirited and…cannot help it. Do not scold be [me] out. Just talk to me in a kind manner and you will find that you will not have cause to complain. One find word will go farther with me than ten angry ones. I am a member of the Maryland Guards and will resign and join the Towson Cavalry so that I will not have to come in town so often…I am very fond of drilling. It drives off of me those feelings and I must have some excitement for I am such disposition that cannot do without it…I do not ask much of you. I will try and…do all I can to please you but you must make allowances for my melancholy disposition. I have tried to over come it but cannot do so. I have had it too long…your son, Wm. K. Bradford." Minor soiling, else VG
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The Son of Maryland's Pro-Union Governor Plans To Go South

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