Richmond: 1862. Ink manuscript on ruled paper, 5-3/8" x 8-1/8." 8pp, each page filled with Chilton's letter. Old vertical fold with light wear, Very Good.
A Whig, Chilton was a Talladega lawyer and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Like many Southern Whigs, he opposed secession but, as his loyalty lay primarily with his State, he cast his lot with the Confederacy when Alabama seceded, and was elected to the First and Second Confederate Congresses. His Letter to Governor Shorter is a detailed expression, from an insightful and deeply worried Confederate partisan, of his many concerns about the War.
Writing to "Dear Governor" from "Ho. Rep. Conf. Congs." in Richmond, Chilton advises that "I shall be able to exempt the cadets in our university. There is however (& not without reason) a strong indisposition to extend the exemption law. Lincoln will raise his 600,000 troops, and if we are not energetic and do not put forth our entire strength, he will inflict upon us untold suffering, and devastation. Our earthly all is at stake, and we must not squabble upon small or side issues." Governor Shorter had complained to Secretary of War George Wythe Randolph that Randolph opposed exempting Alabama cadets, but supported the exemption of Virginia cadets.
"God be praised, we have just given the enemy a terrible whipping on the plains of Manassas! Truly that will become the Golgotha of America. You will see accounts of our victory before this reaches you.
"What is Bragg doing? Unless he captures Buel or flanks him and takes Louisville & reduces Tennessee & Kentucky, he will go under. He should have been at Nashville ere this.
"Now Governor is the time to put our state & others in a position for defence. Some energetic measures ought to be adopted to render the Tennessee and Alabama & Tombigbee Rivers impassible to their gun boats. It is well ascertained that their policy is to get into the heart of our cotton ginning & slave population sections, and when they once effect that, we shall see trouble...
"I am, as you know, a very hopeful man, and far from being an alarmist, but I see danger in the distance. Not that we are unable to maintain ourselves, but that we shall be reduced to suffering which is horrible to contemplate arising from OUR FAILURE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES [underlined in original]. We have the enemy under NOW. He is dispirited, demoralized and many of his troops only await a pretext to surrender as prisoners of war to be placed on parol. Why are not all our partizan rangers, our guerillas, our trained soldiers, all turned loose upon them! You see them now fall back on their Capitol. For what? Simply because they may raise the same cry which enlisted their present army- "Come to the rescue of your capitol" & "Fight for the rescue of your Capitol."
Chilton hopes that in the NORTH "the war may become unpopular and public sentiment at the north may take a turn. This will be the case, unless the abolitionists shall infuse into the masses a fanatical spirit that shall sweep every thing before it, and such is the spirit they are endeavouring to incite."
He offers Governor Shorter his advice: call the legislature into session, place a tax on cotton, get munitions to the home guard, provide for clothing and supplies to the army and the "indigent families of the soldiers, who are fighting our battles or have been killed or disabled in the service." Of greatest interest is Chilton's suggestion "To provide for the impressment of slaves for public uses." Chilton closes with expressions of concern about the ability of Alabama's wartime Constitution to adapt to possible future requirements of the War. Item #37065