April 2nd 1864
Hon. Z. B. Vance
My dear Sir
You must excuse the liberty I take in this letter. As I am not and never will be an aspirant for any office at the election of the people, I can have nothing at stake in that way of my own, nor have I, or any of my particular friends been disturbed as I shall mention others have been. Then why do I write? I tell you, it is for your interest my friend politically, and pecuniary of others who have and no partiality for one; and I hope you will receive this letter in the same spirit in which it is written. I do hope you will not think it great presumption in me! I ask that, it shall be only between us!
Well in the first place, I want you elected Governor again, and that by as a large a majority as possible; and then I am anxious that the same men who elected you in 62 should elect you again – I want you to receive now every vote that you received then and as many more as you can get. That is what I want. Do you not desire the same?
If so, please have the kindness to read a few facts as I will state them; and if you will condescend, a thought of my own, which I believe to be well founded, and which, I trust will, strike you as worthy of consideration.
The Home guard & militia officers have been and yet all subject to your orders, then you are to some degree responsible for the lawless acts (or if not now lawless) for the shameful acts of Robery cruelty, oppression and harshness, either committed by those organizations themselves alone, or acting with squads of detailed Confederate Soldiers (and you will know they infest almost every good neighborhood in this state) upon the Citizens at their homes.
It would be idle to attempt to mention the ongoing instances of bad treatment practiced not only upon old men, but upon women & boys. Such treatment is often given without the slightest provocation, except the crime of having favored your election in 62.
Women are cursed; and terror stricken, for no wrong committed, in their own houses; their houses plundered of any article that, for chance, strikes the fancy of the greedy maw of anyone of these countless horde of worthless devils; and old men, toiling to support their grand children, while their sons, the fathers of the cold and hungry children, are offering up their lives in battle for this country, are seized and hurried from their houses, to some jail or drunken officers, at the point of a dozen bayonets, fixed by as many of these drunken demons, shouting tory upon the head of the harmless old man, and glory and triumph for arms and military power.
The people feel such things most keenly – they say we had thoughts, Gov Vance would and ought to do all in his power to protect us from such treatment – others not friendly to you, say you will do nothing in the matter, that you will subject the people to anything rather than to incur a word of disapprobation from Richmond Power. Now don’t you know that these things ought to be corrected? Don’t you know that Holden and his friends and your enemies will use all these things against you in August. Now to relieve the people from those wrongs and to cut Holden off at the knees, so far as such things might aid him.
It strikes me that the best thing you could do, would be to issue a strict order to the Home guard to protect the people from the insult and injury that those retches all want to practice upon them, and especially where they are caught robbing people under a pretense that they are impressing for the Gov’t. They should be arrested and imprisoned and sent to fight instead of stealing. You know at first thought what sort of an order would suit. How does it strike you?
Again – I have heard many clever men who have been whigs all their lives, and who will not vote for Holden, say they cannot vote for you, and when asked why? Say they will not vote with such men as Clingman; Any being & that set of men – they will not vote for any man supported by such sheets as the gassy “Confederate.” Can you not induce that great and gifted Col., who gets up the gas for that sheet, to slack off a little? Or turn his steam in some other direction, till after the election? Surely he is doing you an injury he can make a gain of anything.
That very necessary letter written the other day by one great & patriotic Brigadier General “telling the people, that he would not be a candidate for Governor, but that he intended to vote for you,” was calculated to do you harm. No good man will vote that that way, simply because he does. He need not have been so uneasy about the people forgetting him; they do and will remember all such men and they will be most certain never to elect them to any office, even if they do pin themselves to your coat tail. They are odious to the people and will be till this generation has passed away. I allude to the great man, you used to term the little “Yankey Clock Comder.”
Could you not manage to speak at Salem? You ought to talk to the people of Surry, Yadkin, Stokes, Forsyth and Davie and also Davidson
N. A. Boyders April 2, 1864
Source: Nathaniel Boyden to Zebulon Vance, Governor’s Papers, State Archives of North Carolina as found on www.ncecho.org.
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