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Asks McIlvaine to accept mission to go to South and arrange for an offer concerning our prisoners. It is likely rebels will reject offer, but if you are there, it is a rejection of the service of the Christian Church.




letter, Stuart, McIlvaine, Civil War


Strictly Confidential.

December 27, 1864

Rt. Rev. Bishop C. P. McIlvaine, D.D.

Bishop: Diocese of Ohio.

Cincinnati, Ohio.

My Dear Friend:

Having heard last week, favorably, from Mr. Chamberlain with respect to your being able to go on the mission, on behalf of our prisoners, to the South, and having already lost much time in waiting for a definite reply from you, before returning the matter to our government for action: on Thursday last as soon as W. Chamberlain’s telegraph reacht me, I took the liberty to send your name, in connection with the names of the others who have consented to go to Adjutant General Townsend. The persons who have determined to go are Rev. Bishop James of the Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. Millian Adams of the N.S. Norman White Esq. of the O.S. Presbyterian Church - all of New York city - with Koratio Gates Jones, Esq. of this city of the Baptist Church.

I know that I am asking a great deal, and I regret very much the fact of your want of good health at the present time: the accident on shipboard of which I heard - I was sorry for - and yet I trust that the nature of the arrangements for the visit to the South will be of such a kind as to be teh cause of little fatigue and toil as possible. There will be a number - among those named above - of younger men upon whom the bulk of the work will rest. But yours will be a work of advice and counsel - such as will be much needed in such a delicate duty - I feel that it will be beyond all value to our noble men if you can decide to go. The weight of your name and your influence as a Bishop & your Church will be of such service that I cannot feel that we ought to lose you. The Rebel authorities - very possibly - will refuse to accept this offer we make to them: in that case, we should especially have the consciousness of having done our duty in the matter, if they refused you [with] the others, and as a defense of our National position, this rejection of the service of the Christian Church would be in the eyes of all Christendom, an argument absolutely unanswerable - and, at the same time, a tremendous weight in the scale against their assumptions and appeals for help to the civilized world. It is so likely that our offer will be rejected that I trust you will consider this especially. Again, the manual work which will ensue, in the premises, will devolve upon the prisoners who will be allowed by the rebel government to assist in the accomplishment of the objects designed by the mission: even the severest labor will be direction, advice, and counsel.

Should I not hear from you again, to the contrary I shall continue your name at Washington, and hope that the above considerations will be full enough to justify me with you. I was not authorized by Mr. Chamberlain’s despatch to use your name - nor advised to - but I concluded that it was favorable enough to warrant my using it as I have.

With hopes and kindest good wishes, I am very truly yours,

George H. Stuart

To Charles Petit McIlvaine



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