Sunday, May 22, 2011

Civil War Letters: May 22, 1861

On May 22, 1861, Rebecca wrote a thank you note to her nephew-in-law Solomon Cohen, of Savannah, an enthusiastic supporter of slavery. He had sent his condolences on the recent death of her friend and companion Julia Hoffman. Thinking of Julia's death, Rebecca begins by quoting scripture:

"'The righteous are removed from the evil to come' and thus I ponder on the destiny our unhappy country torn by evils of our own creating. How many we love may be sacrificed by the coming strife! My only comfort is that we shall love and pray for each other through all changes and chances of this life."

She was determined to preserve affectionate ties within the family, and she would succeed in this. However, her dark forbodings proved true: Cohen will lose his only son in the War; Rebecca, not only this great-nephew on the side of the South, but also a beloved nephew fighting for the Union.

(Rebecca's letter is in the Miriam Gratz Moses Cohen Collection, No. 02639, the Southern Historical Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)

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