Sep 27, 2018 - Sale 2486

Sale 2486 - Lot 260

Price Realized: $ 5,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(CIVIL WAR--MARYLAND.) Papers of the McGregor family, uneasy plantation owners in Maryland and Washington. 26 letters received by college student Roderick M. McGregor, 1857-62, most from his father Nathaniel; 2 war-era cartes-de-visite of Roderick (one by Ulke and one by Brady); 3 report cards, 1860-62; and 4 miscellaneous items, 1870-1901. Vp, bulk 1857-62

Additional Details

Roderick Mortimer McGregor (1843-1903) was a student at Maryland Agricultural College (now University of Maryland) when war began to look likely. His family were slave owners with property in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and worried about war. Their family correspondence suggests a tepid loyalty to the Union and a deep concern over the passing of their plantation lifestyle. Roderick's father Nathaniel wrote from Washington on 20 November 1860: "There is great concern here about the secession movements in the southern states. I pray that God may turn aside the black storm that seems to be gathering over our country." His friend Thomas Somervell Bowie wrote from a Maryland plantation on 22 February 1861: "Excitement continues to run high, and patrol companies are being formed. The Planter's Guard will exercise today, fully equipped, for the first time."
The Union troops sometimes seemed to be more foe than friend. On 19 May McGregor reported that a Maryland uncle's neighborhood was "infested with unruly soldiers who are commiting all sorts of depredations on property." On 12 October 1861, Nathaniel seemed to hint that Union troops were spying on the family: "The soldiers have all left our neighborhood, except some dragoon scouts that occasionally worry us."
The family's slaves were a frequent topic of concern. Nathaniel McGregor reported in depth on an escaped family slave on 9 March 1861, just after Lincoln's inauguration: "George had no good clothes to go off in to Washington, where Massa Lincoln was to set them free 4th March. He went to Marlbro' to slip a suit . . . I had to give him 75 lashes in about 2 hours before he let out the truth." He adds his expectation that "all the slave holders will emigrate to the southern Confederacy & then the border states will become abolitionized." On 4 March 1862 he worried "Should Congress pass a law emancipating the slaves in the District, it will be impossible to keep them here. Consequently there will be no crop made & the enormous taxes to be paid to the government will compell a great deal of land to be sold for almost nothing." Sister Belle wrote on 11 April 1862: "Pa has got his runaway home again. He gave him a whipping at the jail." His mother chimed in with her concerns in an undated latter: "Pa would like us all to go in country before the 4th, but I think I am safer with the white folks than the black. There will be insurrection a plenty everywhere." She offered advice on 16 January 1862, in recognition of their dying way of life: "You ought to be preparing for some profession. An education can't run away, but land and niggers can."