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Collection Title: Gary (Martin Witherspoon) Papers

Collection Number: M238

Dates: June 13, 1864

Volume: 2 items

Provenance: Donated by Ernest A. Walen to the University of Southern Mississippi in October 1969. This collection was separated from M123.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Martin Witherspoon Gary (1831-1881), a native of South Carolina, attended both South Carolina University and Harvard University and was a successful criminal lawyer prior to the Civil War. He was a leader in the secession movement and became a captain of the Watson Guards (later Co. B of Hampton's Legion). He commanded the Legion after Colonel Johnson's death and was involved in the Peninsular campaign and in other battles in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Gary was in command of the last Confederate troops to leave Richmond and of the troops who escorted the Confederate President and his cabinet south in the last month of the war.

James Alexander Seddon (1815-1880) graduated from the law school of the University of Virginia and began a successful and popular practice in Richmond. He married Sarah Bruce in 1845. During 1845-47 and 1849-51, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives until ill health led to his retirement to "Sabot Hill" in Goochland County. Returning to public life in 1860, Seddon was a Virginia delegate to the Washington Peace Conference and a supporter of peaceful secession. He voted against the CCrittenden Compromise and led cconference members in sekking assurances from the convention and Republican state delegates that there should be no war. Seddon was elected to the First Confederate Congress, and on November 21, 1862, he was named Secretary of War, a position which he held until February 16, 1865.

Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) served as the only president of the Confederate States of America. Biographical information is available in Herman Frey's biography, Jefferson Davis, and in standard biographical sources.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of two letters recommending the promotion of Colonel Martin Witherspoon Gary of South Carolina to the rank of brigadier general.

The letter from Secretary of War James Alexander Seddon, written in Richmond, Virginia, on June 13, 1864, is addressed to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Seddon recommends the promotion of Colonel Gary to "Brigadier General in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America to command a new Brigade in (the) Department of Richmond to rank from" ________ (date not entered). On the reverse side is written "Senate June 14, 1864 confirmed."

President Jefferson Davis' letter is addressed to the Confederate Senate, written in Richmond on the same date as Seddon's letter. Davis supports the recommendation of the Secretary of War and sends the nomination to the Senate for action.


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Revised: December 14, 2004