Item #4335 [Manuscript Commonplace Book Belonging to Josephine Carleton Grayson, Wife of an Alabama Confederate Soldier, Recording Extracts from More Than Thirty of Her Civil War-Era Letters]. Civil War, Josephine Carleton Grayson, Alabama.
[Manuscript Commonplace Book Belonging to Josephine Carleton Grayson, Wife of an Alabama Confederate Soldier, Recording Extracts from More Than Thirty of Her Civil War-Era Letters]
[Manuscript Commonplace Book Belonging to Josephine Carleton Grayson, Wife of an Alabama Confederate Soldier, Recording Extracts from More Than Thirty of Her Civil War-Era Letters]

[Manuscript Commonplace Book Belonging to Josephine Carleton Grayson, Wife of an Alabama Confederate Soldier, Recording Extracts from More Than Thirty of Her Civil War-Era Letters]

[Bashi, Clark County and Choctaw Corner, Al. 1862-1863]. [37]pp. of manuscript, plus several family-related newspaper clippings. Contemporary blank book bound in full red calf, elaborately stamped in gilt on front cover and spine, stamped in blind on rear cover, title on front cover stamped in gilt reading, "The Landscape Album." Noticeable rubbing and scuffing to boards, small flap at bottom of spine separated along front joint but holding by rear joint, spine ends scuffed, binding a bit shaken. Occasional minor dust-soiling to contents. Good. Item #4335

An informative collection of letter extracts recorded in a commonplace book owned by Josephine Carleton Grayson (1837-1866), a young wife and mother living in Clark County, Alabama. Josephine received the blank book in 1858, as the ownership signature on the front free endpaper reads, "Josephine Carleton 1858" and a presentation inscription beneath her signature reads, "Miss Josephine Carleton Presented by James S. Dickinson 1858." A few pages of manuscript entries (not included in the page count above) seem to have been made by James Dickinson, who may have been a suitor of Josephine's at the time he gifted her the blank book. If so, the courtship was not successful, as Josephine married Horatio Capel Grayson in 1860. Horatio Grayson was a lawyer, Alabama state legislator, and prominent Methodist who served as a lieutenant in the 24th Alabama Regiment during the Civil War.

The present book contains extracts for thirty-two of Josephine's letters, twenty-four of which are dated, ranging from several lines to three pages in length. The extracts are dated between May 1862 and July 1863, and cover a range of issues. Josephine writes to Horatio about her dreams, observations on current events relating to the war and other contemporary happenings, ruminations on the role of a wife, her desire to be a better Christian, and much more. She also writes about her too-brief time with their infant son Arthur Carleton Grayson, who was born in 1862 and sadly passed away on January 13, 1863. Josephine was a learned woman who was described in Horatio's obituary as "a young lady of the highest intellectual, cultural, and Christian character." Her letter extracts bear this out, as the following small sampling of excerpts from Josephine's extracts will show, providing a good idea of the overall content as well as Josephine's erudite writing style:

May 27, 1862: "One evening just about twilight I was rocking [Arthur] to sleep in the parlor. I thought of you and thought that you might at that moment be sick or weary or sad and dispirited. I quit swinging to ask God to comfort you at that moment and happening to look down I saw our little one was smiling the sweetest smile I ever saw on cherub baby's lips. He smiled again and again there asleep in that silent twilight hour and I wondered if the same God I had asked to bless you was not whispering to him too. I wondered if the same blessed angel that was whispering to him then would not fly to keep watch over you, his father."

June 4, 1862: "When I read that horrible and fiendish order of Butler's to New Orleans ladies I feel as if I could do anything -- yes everything to aid our country in its deathly struggle for freedom, and sweep from our soil the last polluting footprint of our inhuman invaders. Oh my cheek burns and my heart swells with indignation and horror at the thought of it. I sometimes almost feel that I could send the dagger of a Charlotte Corday [a folk hero of the French Revolution who assassinated Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat] to his corrupt and unfeeling heart. Are we living in a civilized country? And these things happen. Surely there has been no age so dark and depraved which produced anything more revolting. Nothing that has occurred during the whole war has so aroused my feelings & sorrow for my insulted and suffering sisters there. It is not enough that they should darken our firesides, wring out hearts to anguish and fill us with daily and torturing anxieties by calling away from us our husbands, fathers, brothers -- not enough they must crown their fiendish enormities by this last act of all others the most appalling to the purest and noblest of woman's instincts. -- Oh Heaven will not smile on a country supported by such defenders. How much more of blood and tears will we wade through before our deliverance." Josephine is reacting here to General Benjamin Butler's General Order No. 28, commonly known as the "Woman's Order," issued on May 15, 1862. In this very controversial order, Butler allowed that "when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation." In other words, unruly women in New Orleans would henceforth be treated as prostitutes might be treated. The order was roundly criticized throughout the country and the world, and contributed to Butler's reassignment by the end of the year.

August 1, 1862: "Every glimmer of happiness present and future is staked on my husband. I will not write you of my anguish of heart when I heard of your going to Chatanooga. I should have been prepared for it, but I was not. You seem so far away and my heart is with you. I had been fondly expecting to see you, and then how hard, how hard to be cut off from all hope of it. Oh my heart yearns for you tonight."

October 10, 1862: "I do not expect anything but we will be over-run but not subdued. God will yet hurl them back. Let them come. I am willing to suffer and endure all that they can inflict...I have weighed the fearful consequences. I have tasted of the hard times, and I know I am equal to what I say. Let the Yankees over-run us. I am not afraid of them. I can live in anything that will keep soul and body together. And what if I starve, I am willing. My own life is nothing. I know that the Yankees can not kill or starve me before it is God's will I should go. I know, and you must believe it too, my own husband, and then you will be better moved to fight for your country under all disaster and hardships and discouragements. Don't fear for us."

June 2, 1863: "Time is filled up with awaking and apprehensions concerning the war. I wish all the evil croaken(?) were found up in Vicksburg, for I am sure that I do not see what good they do here. Why in the name of common sense don't they shoulder their guns and rush to the defence of this country? Their country! It is not theirs while they are content to rest on their backs, whilst their brethren are groaning, struggling and bleeding. The country needs every man.... What is it that keeps them tied moaning an half asleep to the the apron strings of their wives...."

July 15, 1863: "God will surely look in pity on us in our distress. He ordered it providentially that Vicksburg capitulated and Johnston did not attack, for I think our army would have been cut to pieces. I am not dismayed for my country. My faith in our final deliverance is firm and steadfast. But we are walking towards it through fire and blood. I would that I had fifty sons to send to the rescue. I would disown forever every one that refused to fight for his country. A brand of shame blacker and deeper than that of Cain will rest upon every man who being able sits idly at home now basking in the hateful weak smiles of their weaker wives. I have got so that I positively hate to look at them. Our country would indeed be."

July 16, 1863 (last entry): "I have been thinking lately what a striking resemblance outwardly there is between true principle and worldly policy, in all times, places, & circumstances. In these times it should be (and doubtless is) the policy of many to be patriotic, while high principle would prompt the same course. I should think that if passion and principle did not drive men to sacrifices now, that selfish policy would. Why they are hugging close to the dollar while the angry flood of subjugation and destruction is boiling beneath their very feet, and they will embrace this sordid idol until they die, and their country is a wreck around them, I believe. Even in business we find men honest, forbearing and just for policy's sake. And why? Because the way of coming policy look like the Christian way, and the Christian way is the right way."

The transcriber of the letter extracts appears to have been Horatio Grayson, who may have transferred his favorite portions of Josephine's letters to him following Josephine's sudden death in 1866, at the age of 29. There is also a short passage initialed "HCG" (Horatio Capel Grayson) in the middle of the extracts, concerning one of the dreams Josephine discussed in one of her letters. We could locate no surviving letters from either Josephine or Horatio in any institution. As such, the present work likely contains the only record of Josephine's Civil War-dated letters to her Confederate husband while he was serving in the 24th Alabama Regiment. The book was definitely later maintained by one of Josephine and Horatio's descendants, as the newspaper clippings in the front include two obituaries of Horatio, who died in 1912.

Price: $4,500.00