The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Hill, James Hoffman
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System Number: 00304
Date: 2 April 1888
Author: John Logan Black[1]
Place: Greenville
Recipient: JW
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B80
Document Type: ALS

Greenville South Carolina
U. S. A.

April 2th [sic] 1888

Mr J A Whistler

My Dear Sir

In the year 1853 - there was [sic] in the 3rd Class Cadets West Point two Cadets J A Whistler and John L Black of South Carolina - generally known amongst his fellows as "Sep" Black - I am Sept Black now an old man a father and a grandfather - We parted in Oct 1853 when I resigned & I lost sight of you until two years ago I met W R (p. 2) Boggs[2] - Adjt Corps of Cadets in 1853 who told me you were an eminent Artist in London & still living[.] I was not unprepared for the hearing of this as while I had no talent in your line I well remembered the great genius you displayed in the Drawing academy & I had never in life forgotten you - & often glanced at Nasts[3] Cartoons & thought of you -

When I left West Point I took away three or four of your sketches Ca[r]icatures and always treasured them they were destroyed in 1858 - when my dwelling was burned & I have today but one of your pieces[.] It was Lithographed as a frontispiece to a cadet class song[4] (p. 3) and if my memory serves me right was drawn by you in my room - One of the figures was (little Alick) E P Alexander[5] (who became famous in War of Rebellion & is now President of an extensive RR[6] System in SC and Georgia & the other was your own likeness[.] If you have no copy and want it will mail it to you with pleasure -

I write to you simply to renew our acquaintance and to Congratulate you on your success in life[.] A little favor you can do me & no other[.] If you have not forgotten me send me a pen and ink sketch of your self (in persona) as you now look (etched) (p. 4) and as I never had any talent in your line I must write you a sketch of myself

We parted in 53 - I came back and marrying became a large Cotton Planter - The War came and leaving Wife Children and home I fought through it for freedom and the Land that gave me birth My side - I was present at Bombardment of Fort Sunter[7] [sic] - an infantry Officer[.] Was then promoted and commanded a Reg[imen]t of Cavalry (Mounted Rifles) and fought on many fields from Charleston SC to Gettysburg & back to Charleston[.] Commanded Hardee[8] Cavalry when we gave up our old (p. 5) City by the sea (Charleston) & was present when Jo Johnston[9] surrendered & the end came - Ruined in fortune like other Southern Reb[el]s I went to work to live and support my family & have done so tho such Reb[el]s as I must and will die poor & so you have it

I fought with Beauty Stuart[10] on many hardly contested fields notably in Gettysburg Campaign - "Beauty" Stuart was magnificent on a field of Battle - Sept Green[11] my old Room mates [sic] was a Colonel in our Army & yet lives in NC (at Fayetteville)

Jno T. Mercer[12] - Pender [Lazorey?] Hill Black Hawk Davis[,] old Rum Jones[,] Jno R Chambliss (p. 6) Hood, Deshler[13] and a host of others sleep on Battle fields

Stephens D Lee[,] Sam Fergueson [sic] Little Jamie Hill[,] Custiss Lee[14] and a few other southerners yet live - But there are few of us & most all like myself suffer from Battle Wounds

I will write you no more as you may have forgotten even the men I name - But should you not have forgotten me & reply to this will be happy in our older days to pass now and then a friendly letter

Send me your likeness etched by yourself -

Your old Classmate
& friend

Jno L Black

Colonel Jno L. Black
Greenville SC
U. S. of America

A lame hand[15] from Battle wounds causes me to write badly

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  John Logan Black
Col. John Logan Black (d. 1902), army officer [more].

2.  Boggs
William Robertson Boggs (ca 1829 - d.1911), engineer, cadet and later Professor at USMA, West Point [more]. He was in the class of '53, a year ahead of Black.

3.  Nasts
Thomas Nast (1840-1902), painter and cartoonist.

4.  cadet class song
Song of the Graduates (M.108); see also Scenes from cadet life and Hugo or Dumas (M.168).

5.  E P Alexander
Col. Edward Porter Alexander (ca 1835 - d.1910), Confederate soldier, engineer, professor and railroad president [more].

6.  RR
The Railroad ('RR') was in the states of South Carolina and Georgia.

7.  Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter, named after a South Carolina Revolutionary War hero, was designed as part of a defensive system for Charleston Harbor. On 10 April 1861, Brig. Gen. Beauregard, in command of the provisional Confederate forces at Charleston, SC, demanded the surrender of the Union garrison of Fort Sumter. The garrison commander, Major Anderson, refused. On 12 April, Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort, which was unable to reply effectively, so Anderson surrendered on the following day. This was the opening engagement of the American Civil War.

8.  Hardee
In fact, William Joseph Hardee (1815-1873) was Commander of a Confederate States of America (CSA) Infantry Corps under Joseph Johnston, while Wade Hampton was Commander of the Cavalry.

9.  Jo Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891), Confederate General [more].

10.  Beauty Stuart
James ('Jeb') Ewell Brown ('Beauty') Stuart (ca 1833 - d.1864), Confederate officer [more]. He was in the class of '54 with Black (a year ahead of JW, who was in the class of '53). Stuart was a great cavalry leader, but died of wounds received at Yellow Tavern, Virginia, on 12 May 1864.

11.  Green
Possibly Oliver Duff Green (1823-1904), West Point Cadet and professional soldier. He was in the class of '54 (a year ahead of JW) with Black.

12.  Jno T. Mercer
Col. John T. Mercer (ca 1833 - d.1864), Confederate officer [more]. He was killed at Plymouth, NC, on 19 April 1864.

13.  Pender [Lazorey?] Hill Black Hawk Davis old Rum Jones Jno R Chambliss Hood, Deshler
The list includes William Dorsey Pender (ca 1834 - d.1863), fellow cadet with JW at USMA, West Point, Confederate soldier [more], who died from from wounds received at Gettysburg. Col. Benjamin Franklin Davis (ca 1832 - d.1863), Confederate officer [more]?] was killed at Beverley Ford on 9 June 1863. 'Old Rum Jones' may possibly have been Joseph Peck Jones, who did not graduate, but served in the CSA. Brig. Commander John Randolph Chambliss (ca 1831 - d.1864), Confederate officer [more], was killed at Deep Bottom in 1864. Hood may be John Bell Hood (ca 1831 - d.1879), fellow-cadet of JW at USMA, West Point, Confederate General [more], who died after the war. James Deshler (ca 1833 - d.1863), West Point cadet, later a Confederate soldier [more], was killed at Chicamauga. Chambliss, Hood and possibly Jones were a year ahead of Black, in the class of '53 (Sheridan was a graduate of this class); Pender, Deshler was in the class of '54 (a year ahead of JW) with Black).

14.  Stephen D Lee Sam Ferguson Little Jamie Hill Curtiss [sic] Lee
The list includes Stephen Dill Lee (ca 1832 - d.1908), Confederate soldier and college president [more]; Brig. Samuel Wragg Ferguson (ca 1835 - d.1917), Confederate officer, lawyer [more]; James ('Jimmie') Hoffman Hill (ca 1834 - d.1890), class-mate of JW at USMA, West Point [more]; George Washington Curtis Lee (1832-1913), army officer and University President, son of R. E. Lee [more].

15.  A lame hand..badly
The remainder of the text is in the right margin of p. 1.