1861: John H. Griffin to Emma Walker (Gilmer) Breckinridge

The following letter was written by John H. Griffin whom I am not able to identify conclusively. There were a couple of soldiers by that name in the Confederate service from Virginia but there is nothing in their records that would link them to Botetourt county.

Peachy Gilmer Breckinridge

Griffin wrote the letter to Emma Walker (Gilmer) Breckinridge, the wife of Cary Breckinridge (1796-1867) of Fincastle, Botetourt county, Virginia. He wrote the letter to let her know that her “boys” had all survived the Battle of Manassas (First Bull Run). Emma had three sons who served the Confederacy in uniform. The eldest son, Peachy Gilmer Breckinridge (1835-1864) entered the service as Captain of Co. K, 28th Virginia Infantry and later transferred to the 2nd Virginia Cavalry. A second son, James Breckinridge (1837-1865) entered the service as a 1st Sergeant in the 30th Virginia Cavalry (later designated 2nd Virginia Cavalry). The third son, Cary Breckinridge, Jr. (1839-1918), entered the service as a 2nd Lieutenant with his brother in the 30th Virginia Cavalry. Cary was the only one to survive the war of the three.

All three boys participated in the First Battle of Manassas. The 28th Virginia was attached to the Fifth Brigade commanded by Col. P. St. George Cocke. The 30th Virginia Cavalry was attached to the 1st Brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. Milledge L. Bonham.


Addressed to Mrs. Cary Breckinridge, Fincastle P. O., Botetourt county, Va.

Gordonsville, [Virginia]
24 July 1861

Dear Madam,

I left Manassas yesterday & promised your brother William to perform the very pleasant duty of informing you of the safety of your Boys. I sincerely congratulate you & your family on the result & especially that they should have shared the honor of contributing to so glorious a victory—which must lead to such important results.

The property captured is estimated to be worth not less than a million of dollars ($1,000,000).

Very respectfully & truly yours, — Jno. H. Griffin

Mrs. Cary Breckinridge

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