George Patton Sr.

A large and significant archive of letters from George S. Patton Sr., Confederate officer and grandfather of General George S. Patton Jr. Including lengthy, detailed letters chronicling the 1863 Jones-Imboden raid on West Virginia, "The Confederate flag has been carried where it never floated before, great damage has been done to an important avenue of the enemy's communication..."

A substantial archive of material (46 pieces total, 1851 - 1892), including a significant cache of Civil War date letters from George S. Patton (1833 - 1864), the Confederate officer killed in action at Winchester who was also the grandfather of General George S. Patton, Jr. (1885 - 1945). The archive also includes early love letters by Patton to his then future wife, Susan Thornton Glassell (1835 - 1883), together with related letters from her and other members of Patton's family including Confederate Naval hero William T. Glassell (1831 - 1879); Susan's brother, her father, and hence George S. Patton Jr.'s great grandfather, Andrew Glassell (1793 - 1873); and Thomas Buren Brown, a Los Angeles attorney who married Susan Thornton Glassell Patton's daughter Eleanor Thornton Patton (1857 - 1937); as well as other members of the Glassell and Thornton families.

Of tremendous interest are a series of Civil War date letters from George S. Patton I (1833 - 1864) written to his wife, describing in vivid detail, the daring 1863 Confederate raid into West Virginia led by generals William E. "Grumble" Jones and John D. Imboden. Patton, an 1852 Virginia Military Institute graduate, enlisted as a private on May 5,1861 but within a month had secured a commission as a captain in the 22nd Virginia Infantry. By the time Patton joined the Jones-Imboden Raid, he had been promoted to full colonel, was wounded twice in battle and had served some time in a Union P.O.W. camp. In this portion of his correspondence, Patton describes the arduous campaign in a series of seven letters dating between April 14 and May 15, 1863, which read, in part: "[14 April will join Imboden's forces at Huntington[? and will be too strong for any force the Yankees are likely to have at Beverly - we hear … that they have 150 contraband soldiers there - our boys all intent[? on getting a body servant … [28 April We have been maneuvering so as to assist Gen Jones (of the Valley) in his attack on the Railroad - I have now every reason to believe from the movements of the enemy - that has been entirely successful - The Yankees have evacuated both Philippse & Buckhannon and we advance on the Carter place in a few minutes - The prospect now is very bright and and we have certainly put the …[Union in a great pickle… Tell Andrew that Pa has got him a pretty Yankee hat with a feather &c." On the 30th April, in camp near Buckhannan [W.V., Patton had sufficient time to describe the campaign in great detail in a lengthy letter giving a day-by-day account of his movements, and reads, in part: "… On Sunday night, I got orders by special courier form Gen Imboden -- to proceed to Join him by way of Kentucky … passing Huntersville[? ruined & desolated by both armies & particularly burned by the Yankees . A more perfect picture of the horror[? of war could not be conceived- Once a flourishing country village of several hundred souls - now deserted save by three families - fences destroyed horses pillaged …" His regiment marched on to Hightown "where the rest of the expeditionary force had assembled - took on my self - to see the General - was rec'd very cordially & liked him much as a man - What he has as a General remained to be proved … " The force, now numbering 3,500 continued their northward march into the Allegheny Mountains, "It was 18 miles across the mountains, and but one inhabited home on the road - got to camp just before dark crossing the Green briar river - at the scene of the action there - Rain still increasing - camped on the wet ground - without shelter or supper, as our wagons did not come up - except some crackers ... everybody was hungry and cold - thursday 23 No wagons came up few crackers for breakfast - started at 7 A.M. to cross celebrated cheat mountain ... 18 miles across 9 up and 9 down - Road in miserable order ... At the top of the mountain passed the Yankee intrenchments [sic which are quite strong, and rendered almost impregnable by position ... camped at the foot of the mountain having marched nearly 20 miles - no supper as the wagons were still behind ... Friday 24th started at 7.A.M. ... took a foot path through the woods to avoid crossing the river twice, and marched our way to Beverly - I heard from country people that the Yankees had no idea of our approach - and that they were only about 1200 strong & would not give us a fight - An advance pushed on & about 2 o'clock in the rear heard the boom[? of a cannon - ranks were immediately closed & we pushed on - as we came around the bend of the road almost a mile from town, we were seen by the enemy, who [was shelling us … one shell bursting a few feet from the 22nd & slightly wounding a Lieutenant- not enough to stop him - I was met by an aid, who ordered me, to shelter my men from the cannonade & await orders, I did so. In a few minutes , I was advanced to another position & finally to a third - where my orders were to wait until the other troops became engaged & then to charge the battery - We were all ready to do the work - but the Yankees gave us no dance, retreating before there was any engagement. We pursued them several miles - as we passed through town - many ladies waved their handkerchiefs &c but the Union element was very visible - The Yankees burned in retreating their stores, and the store of a man of Secession proclivities - he was in town not a few moments, and our men broke into and pillaged a sutlers establishment - and the store of the Union Sheriff of the county - I did not feel very much envy for the owner, but I regretted the demoralization it must necessarily cause - Peter got in the streets, and Yankee camp quite an assortment but did not go in to any store. I am afraid that Imboden is no disciplinarian & many of his officers certainly are not ... Saturday 25th... left camp at about 8 ... marched across the bridges, and took the road to Buckhannon, crossing Rich mountain, and night on the battle ground... Sunday 26th ... crossing the west fork of the Valley River ... equidistant from Philippi & Buckhannon, thus threatening them … there we heard of reinforcements to the enemy - and as of yet Gen Jones had not communicated with us in regard to his movements in the Batlo & Ohio RR.d. He was to have communicated at Beverly and we had been advancing hoping to hear form him every moment. It was obviously unsafe for us to proceed any further without his cooperation as to attack either place would … expose our communications, and both our flanks - Gen. Imboden then determined to fall back to Beverly until he could hear from Gen Jones - … Tuesday - 28th. During that night the Gen got information from Gen Jones - which showed that altho' not successful in destroying the Cheat river Viaduct, he had destroyed some smaller bridge and was in the country - so today we started for Buckhannon - heard that the Yankees had evacuated that place in haste … Wednesday 27th Marched to Buckhannon - found that the Yankees 4000 strong with four pieces of Artillery had retreated in great haste …" Reflecting on the looting by Confederate soldiers at Beverly several days before, Patton lamented, "Same disgraceful scenes occurred here as at Beverly - I soon got disgusted & came to camp where I have been ever since … " On the 15 of May, Patton gave a final report to his wife: "… The day after I wrote you [last … we took up the line of march for Weston … 23 miles from Clarksburg, and found that the enemy had concentrated a large force at the latter place too strong for us to cope with - in these entrenchments we remained at Weston offering them fight for three days, but they did not accept … Our provisions were giving out and we found it impossible to procure any breadstuff Gen Jones & Imboden therefore agreed as follows Gen Jones with his cavalry Brigade marched to attack the North-Western Va R. Rd. while Imboden took up the line of march towards Summersville so as to threaten the Kanawha Valley Gen Jones performed his work most successfully destroying several Bridges & a tunnel - Gen Imboden met the greatest physical difficulties it rained in torrents for three days and nights the roads were perfect quagmires and it was with great difficulty & hard work that we made four or five miles a day … we then advanced on Summersville but the place was evacuated before we could get there - Imboden's cavalry … pursued, and captured a train of 30 wagons - loaded with corn & hard meat[? &c &c and 180 fine mules - At Summersville Gen Jones again arrived us - and there, against may my earnest desire, and advice, it was determined to retire to our lines - instead of pursuing our success, and driving the enemy out of the Kanawha Valley - Which I believed we could have done .. thus ends the raid into Western Virginia - Characterized by great boldness and meeting with great success - altho' I think that some golden opportunities were lost and that if Gen … Jones had cooperated we could have redeemed Western Va. - As it is the fruits of the expedition are many & important - 2500 or 3000 good beef cattle & 12 or 1500 horses have been driven out - The Confederate flag has been carried where it never floated before, great damage has been done to an important avenue of the enemy's communication … The trip had been one of great exposure & privation - We have been almost constantly marching for nearly five weeks - in a very difficult country … "

The raid was proved a tremendous military success -- the raiders managed to destroy numerous railroad bridges disrupting rail traffic on the critical Baltimore and Ohio railroad. However the raid was a political failure in that the raid did not dampen enthusiasm in western Virginia to form a new state. Patton continued his service in command of the of the 22nd Virginia into 1864 but was fatally wounded at the 3rd Battle of Winchester (Opequon) on September 19, 1864. Following the war, his widow moved to Los Angeles where her brother Andrew was a prominent attorney. She later married her late husband's first cousin, Col. George H. Smith who commanded the 25th Virginia Infantry during the war and saw action at Gettysburg, New Market, Second Bull Run and Cedar Creek.

Patton's dissatisfaction with Jones grew as 1863 progressed and by the end of the year, he had concluded that the general was thoroughly incompetent. On December 23, 1863 he sent his wife a lengthy update, disparaging Jones' behavior: "…We have had a most terrible campaign, so far as hardship and exposure go … Soon after i last wrote you - the news was brought to us that Avrill … was on his way to the Sweet Springs. I proposed … that we should at once march to meet the enemy - or if he had passed us to follow him … and eventually force him to fight. Gen [W.E. 'Grumble' Jones … decided otherwise, and ordered us to march to the Salt Sulphur Springs & cook two days rations - During that night the news came that the enemy had passed theSweet Springs mountain in the direction of the Rail road - My opinion was asked, and I again urged going to the Sweet Springs & beyond and in the direction of the enemy - Gen Jones after great indecision ordered to send Echols' Brigade in that direction, and McCauslands to Newport in giles county - thus dividing a force which was not as strong as Avrill's into two portions - we marched that day 15 miles, and encamped. During the night a winter storm of rain & sleet came up to which we were exposed without any shelter & suffered much - The next morning, the storm continued & we marched about 7 miles & encamped - Gen Jones being in the rear at a comfortable house, and sending word, that as he was somewhat unwell - he would not come out that day, unless absolutely necessary & there he staid [sic - he spent another miserable night - and the next day went to the tip of the Sweet Springs mountain, an excellent position which we were ordered to fortify, and there we staid for three days, and nights - suffering greatly from the intense cold - The position was very strong, and as long as there was a great probability of the enemy's coming that way, was the proper place for the troops - but on Saturday afternoon we got reliable information that the enemy had [moved? to the left … and gone in the direction of Covington - We ought then as I thought to have moved at once to Callaghan - where we would certainly have intercepted the enemy but we staid, at the old position - posturing[?, I suppose, to Jenks[?[? burning the bridges in Jenkins river which he did not do - and the enemy passed him … The troops from the East were all too late, and Avrill escaped- He ought to have been captured … Jones is utterly incompetent, and as long as he has the direction of affairs - we will have nothing but disaster and dispair [sic here. That Avrill should have been allowed to escape - after being delayed for two days, but high water, in the heart of the state - is a burning shame and disgrace - The army out here are entirely disgusted -- I write these things to you and the family only, for no good can be effected, by giving them publicly ..."

Another significant component of the archive features three love letters from a young George S. Patton to Susan Glassell asking her to obtain her father's permission for them to wed. On September 26, 1854, he wrote: "…Should your father approve our engagement I hope that my future life will not make him regret his consent, or you me your preference - And now may i ask another favor from you to add to the many, which you have been so kind as to grant me? Please seek an early opportunity to inform him of my suit, and request his assent. For until that assent is obtained I shall feel blessed with a knowledge of your preference … It is to me a very novel feeling 'to be in love' You are the first whom I have ever loved - my fancy has frequently been captivated, my heart has never been touched before- and what an 'aching void' does Love fill-: a deep yearning for affection is every mans portion [? - and he can need be happy until the hearing is satisfied …" Apparently there was no word from Andrew Glassell and on October 17 George wrote Susan, "… You cannot imagine how anxious I am to know, if you have heard from your father on the subject near to my heart, and I would … hope, to yours also. You can readily imagine the awkward , and constraining position in which I am placed. For while I have given you every assurance of love; you have, with very proper maidenly delicacy, never given me the promise of your hand - Now while I can but acknowledge the propriety of your course - yet I am often retrained in what I should like to say by the thought, that you might think, that I was pressuring - Did I now have the most perfect and unquestioning confidence in you I should be very unhappy - As it is I am very uneasy - altho I am sure that my little lady would not disappoint me …" Susan's father finally gave his assent to the proposed union, and the couple wed on September 8,1855. These letters are not only touching and emotional, but extraordinarily pivotal in light of the fact that this union made possible the eventual birth of one of the most important military men of the twentieth century.

The archive also includes several letters by William T. Glassell (1831 - 1879) of the U.S. Navy and later of the Confederate Navy who holds the distinction of serving as one of the world's first combat submariners when he led a crew on the torpedo boat David in a failed attempt to destroy the USS New Ironsides in 1863. Glassel had been a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy since 1855 and was in China when the Civil War erupted in 1861. Upon his return to the United States in 1862 he refused to swear the oath of allegiance and was imprisoned at Fort Warren for eight months before being exchanged. The Confederate Navy immediately conferred a lieutenant's commission upon him with command of the ironclad Chicora at Charleston Harbor. Of particular interest is a war date ALS by Glassel, one page, Charleston, S.C., September 18, 1863 to his sister, Mrs. George S. Patton writing, in part, "… My last to Father was from this place; and I informed him of my having coming on to take part in the fight for Charleston, which I much prefer to remaining idle in Wilmington. Limited as you know are my means and power, I hope yet to strike a blow with the aid of Almighty God, that even our powerful foe will not disperse. Should it please God that I perish in the effort, His will be done! Should I never return, I have directed that what funds I possess shall be sent to Mr. Jno L. Bacon, for your use …" Only two weeks later on the night of October 5, 1863, Glassel and a crew of three piloted the torpedo boat David in an attempt to destroy the ironclad, New Ironsides. The torpedo's explosion extinguished the David's fires rendering her inoperable in a hail of small arms fire. The crew abandoned ship, and while the pilot and firemen were eventually able to re-board the boat and relight the engine, Glassell was captured and sent once again to Fort Warren. New Ironsides, originally presumed unhurt, was in fact leaking so badly it was out of service for nearly a year. For his bravery, Glassell was promoted to commander. The letter is complimented by a scarce, privately printed account by Glassell of his exploits in Charleston Harbor: W. T. Glassell and the little torpedo boat 'David' (Los Angeles: Privately Printed, 1937) 30pp. octavo. illus. with 3 plates (Bound in blue cloth boards titled in gilt on red leather. Dampstains and rubbing to boards and spine). Compiled by his niece, Eleanor Banning MacFarland and inscribed by her on the flyleaf, “ To Hobie / With love from / Eleanor.”

Overall, this substantial archive of unpublished letters delivers much valuable information not only for Civil War scholars interested in the Jones-Imboden, but also to those researching the family history General George S. Patton Jr. Sanders price guide 7th edition lists the elder Patton letters at $3750 to $7500 each.

Item: 54563

Price: $22,000.00
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