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University receives Confederate letters

The University Library Special Collections Department has received four handwritten letters from Civil War Confederate generals Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart.

The letters were donated by Robert M. Hughes, a 1951 College graduate and 1957 Law School graduate, and his wife, Jean.

Hughes is a relative of Joseph E. Johnston. Gen. Johnston wrote the letter to Hughes' grandfather, Robert M. Hughes Sr., in 1884.

Three of the letters were written during the Civil War and one was written after the war.

These letters are not the only texts of their kind at the University. The Alderman Library Special Collections Department houses 3,000 Civil War collections of documents.

Of these, 170 involve Robert E. Lee, 40 involve J.E.B. Stuart, 63 involve Stonewall Jackson and 29 involve Joseph E. Johnston.

The four letters are a valuable addition to the collections, said Mike Plunkett, Director of the Special Collections Department. "Reading the letters gives one a feeling of the generals as people and not just historical figures."

The handwritten letters reveal more about the generals than textbooks, said Melissa Norris, Public Relations Coordinator for the University Library.

In Stonewall Jackson's letter to J.E.B. Stuart that is dated 1863, Jackson quips, "I hope that you may have your itching to get hold of Milroy removed without being badly scratched by him."

Although Robert E. Lee was historically reluctant to participate in secession, in an 1861 letter he congratulates Joseph E. Johnston for a Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run.

J.E.B. Stuart also reveals a gentle nature when he addresses his wife as "Dearest One" in his 1861 letter. He also requests that his wife "kiss the dear ones" for him.

According to a press release, Hughes said he wanted to give the letters to the University so that Civil War scholars and other scholars would be able to study them.

Plunkett said he agrees that the letters should be disseminated to Civil War scholars in case they shed light on important issues.

Since the texts are a new addition to the library's collection, Norris said it is doubtful they will be included with the University's historical texts on the netLibrary Website, which has just signed an agreement with the University to make some of its collections available over the Internet.

But the texts will be described in the library's online catalog and the Special Collections staff is planning to produce a guide to the collection.

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