Envelope with postal information is not available.
Cleveland, July 11th 1862
Capt H. McD. McElrath
My Dear Sir
I returned home on yesterday, and was advised by my wife, and Mr. P.L.
Capt. Wm. L. Brown had issued an order to the effect that he was
instructed by you to impress all the mules, horses & wagons in Bradley
He also left notice that all persons not subject to military duty by
reason of their age should be subject to a tax to support the
families who were deprived of their husbands & brothers, who were
enlisted to defend the South, and one thousand dollars was
the amount required of me; I refused to acquiesce to the summary
proceeding, and he sent a force with one
Robert Hauge and took my only pair of mules from my stable in
Cleveland, which cost me _____ $ in good money. Now, Mc,
I have only one alternative; You and I have been for many years
associated in business and have ever been warm friends.
In all our social and business relations, nothing has intervened to
disparage our mutual regard for each other. Until this most
unnatural, this unholy war.
On this question you and I cant see alike, but I pray God that you may
see your error, and renounce the cause which you have so blindly
Mc for Godsake dont allow yourself to be led off by your Southern
prejudices; this furor will not last long and the North and the South
will shield their swords and become one people and one great
united nation. So be quiet Mc and be careful how you act. Your good name is worth
preserving, and be careful you do not commit some act that will attach
an odium to your good name that will be hard to obliterate.
I see very clearly that Capt. Browns impressments will be inflicted
severely uppon the Union men, and unless you interpose on
their behalf, they will be ruined.
On yesterday, I am advised, he took from Lewis Mitchell (a good Union
man) and a plain farmer, the only pair of mules he had, also his wagon &
harness. The poor fellow offerd
to surrender an equivalent amount of other property if he would leave
his only team, but it availed nothing.
So the poor fellow is left to carry his firewood on his shoulders, and
his farm will be a waste place.
Now my dear Mc, I have been talking to you verry plain &
I would not venture to make such assertions to any other officer in the
Confederate service for all my estate.
But I can trust you. I know you will not betray me. I would trust my
life in your hands, altho you and I do not agree about this War.
When it is all over, I hope you and I may be again united in all our
social & business relations.
Hoping you will act promptly in giving substantial or even temporary
relief to all the citizens in this section or in your department, I
Yours Very Truly
/s/ P.M. Craigmiles
P.S. No human being knows I have written you this letter and, Mc,
for Gods Sake dont betray me. Truly,
This letter is found in the records of the U.S. Court of Claims at the
National Archives in Washington, D.C. It is part of Pleasant
Craigmiles claim file, file 13,506 in box 1,542 of Record Group
Pleasant Craigmiles (1813-1876) was probably Clevelands wealthiest
citizen during the 1860s and 1870s. The 1860 census schedule shows
that his real estate was valued at $17,000. By 1870 this figure had
increased to $60,000, with personal estate valued at $65,000.
He was a native of Kentucky. His mansion house, built in 1866,
is now the History Branch of the Cleveland Public Library.
Transcription and Notes by Charles A.
Chuck Sherrill was an Archivist at the Tennessee
State Library & Archives in Nashville.