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McPherson Letters


| West Point 1851 | San Francisco 1861 | Shiloh 1862 |
| Mississippi 1863 | Vicksburg 1863 | Nashville 1864 |

San Francisco
March 19, 1861

San Francisco, Cal March 19th 1861

I can assure you my dearest friend no "command or coercion" was necessary to prompt me to reply to your very very welcome letter which I have just received. I wish indeed that you were right in your conjectures, and that this Spring would finish my tour of duty on this Coast. But Robert is correct - my four years will not be up until next fall, and in the present unsettled state of affairs there is no telling where I will be then, of one thing dearest Elizabeth you may be assured, that wherever I may be, or whatever scenes I may be called upon to pass through, I shall ever cherish with the warmest affection my remembrance of you all. Though I have been with you but very little since I left Home the first time for the Military Academy, my interest in all that concerns you has not diminished, and I anticipated my returning visit with as much pleasure as formerly. The sad news communicated in your letter, though it increases my wish to see you, and will if possible hasten the time when I can express to you in person my heartfelt sympathy, will cast a shadow on my next visit, for I shall miss the friendly, familiar countenance, kind words and good advice of one of the best friends I ever had, one whose counsels have sunk deep into my heart, and have exercised a purposeful influence in causing me, to try at least, to merit the continued friendship of one so pure and noble. Would that I was present to console with you, to express in a manner more purposeful than words how deeply and sincerely I mourn His loss. I hope however that you all bear up under this affliction with as much fortitude as could be expected, and that we all look forward to meeting him in a brighter happier land. I am at present stationed in this city & in a very short time will have done all in the Fortifications at Alcatraces Island that existing means will allow. As Congress has ajourned I believe, without making any further appropriations, I am entirely at a loss to know what will be my next duty and station, and in fact nothing definite can be known until the new administration is fairly under way. Whether the Southern States will regard President Lincoln's Inaugural as a declaration of war and commence hostilities or whether through the influence of the border states they will be induced to yield and accept "Curious propositions," which from our telegraphic reports seem to have pressed Congress by a Constitutional majority you probably know by this time or will know ere this reaches you, while we on this far off coast have to wait the arrival of the Pony. Of course the deepest anxiety prevails - and I can assure you, I am far from being an indifferent spectator. I maintain that the Gov't is in full force that the doctrine of secession is subversive of all Government and cannot under any circumstances be acknowledged, that the evident design of the founders of our Union was to make it perpetual, that the Constitution and the Laws passed in pursuance thereof are superior to all state Laws and that the duty of every good citizen, and especially army officers is first & above all to the General Government, such being my opinion I shall be ready to obey at all times the orders of my lawful superiors and to assist in supporting to the best of my ability the Government to which I have sworn allegiance. I think however some compromise ought to [be] effected. The population of this state, composed as it is of men from every state in the Union, might be taken as a fair expression of the sovereign will and judging from the debates in the Legislature, the tone of the papers & the Sentiments of the people as expressed in Conversations &c, the majority are decidedly in favor of the Union and a settlement on some basis like the Crittenden Measures. You must give my best Love to Lydia and Clemmy also to Emeline & Kate and reserve a goodly share for yourself. I will write you again in a short time, when I hope the skies will look brighter and I can give you some more definite information concerning myself.

J. B. McPherson

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