Eugene Blackford letter excerpt March 11, 1861

Once secession of the Lower South was a fact, the seceded states immediately began attempting to expel Federal garrisons and claim United States installations. This was successful except for a few points, most notably Ft. Pickens at Pensacola and Ft. Sumter at Charleston. Alabama and Mississippi both sent troops to assist the taking of Ft. Pickens, and a wary standoff ensured. One of the militia companies there was the Clayton Guards. Eugene Blackford remained in Clayton with his small company, where he was under considerable pressure for his anti-secession views.

The new president, Abraham Lincoln, was inaugurated on March 5, and six days later Blackford shared his feelings with his brother Launcelot.

There is a tremendous state of excitement here—now the tenor of Lincoln’s inaugural is considered a vast deal here more warlike than I can understand, and consequently everyone fears that there has already been a fight at Pickens, before which fortress the Clayton Company is encamped—every day one expects to receive a list of killed and wounded—but I for one feel well assured, from the letters of my correspondents in Ft. Barrancas, that there will be no fight, if there should be any one so rash as to attempt the destruction of Pickens, “be assured,” says my correspondent, “that there will not be one of us left to tell the tale.” How do you like the idea of Virginia forming one of the Confederate States? I am totally opposed to it, and would have enough to tell you upon the subject to fill a dozen sheets, but I will spare you. I am near enough to Montgomery to see how the wind blows in that quarter, and to see what change Virginia would have among politicians who strive to break down the Old Government in order that they themselves might come into office.

I am strongly in favor of Virginia forming a new Confederacy with the Border States, our natural allies, for I can never persuade myself that these people down here are our “natural allies” in spite of all the papers tell us. How long, think you, would Virginia stay in a Confederacy, whose almost avowed purpose is to reopen the Slave Trade? I have hardly seen one man since I have been here who has expressed him self as opposed to the measure, upon any other grounds than expediency, and very few who opposed it even on those grounds. Most people are openly in favor of it and regard it as one of the peculiar blessings to be showered upon us by the new government. I wish I could have more confidence in the Yancy gov. than I have. I have not seen enough to make me regard it in the light that I might do. I look upon the Southern Congress in very much the same manner as we used to do the grand Southern Conventions that used to assemble some years ago. Certainly there is one act that they have passed that does not suit me at all and will be likely to remind us constantly that there is such a body—namely, the new postal law, whereby I be obliged to pay 10 cents on every “single” letter I send to Virginia. But I shall not reprove them if they will only take them directly, and not keep them on the road for 10 or 15 days as they do now.


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