Lexington, Va., January 26, 1861.
My Dear Nephew:
Your very welcome letter reached me a few days since. I was apprehensive from not hearing from any of you for so long a time that some of you might be sick. I am glad to learn that you are progressing so well in your studies, and trust that you will be able to enter the desired class in the Institute. During the present academic year the cadets have numbered between two and three hundred. I was glad to learn your father's views respecting the state of the country; I agree very much with him. In this county there is a strong Union feeling, and the union party have unanimously nominated Samuel McDowell Moore and Jas. B. Dorman as delegates to the convention,1 and I expect that they will be elected by a large majority. I am in favor of making a thorough trial for peace, and if we fail in this, and the state is invaded, to defend it with a terrific resistance. . . . I desire to see the state use every influence she possesses in order to procure an honorable adjustment of our troubles, but if after having done so the free states, instead of permitting us to enjoy the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution of our country, should endeavor to subjugate us, and thus excite our slaves to servile insurrection in which our families will be murdered without quarter or mercy, it becomes us to wage such a war as will bring hostilities to a speedy close. People who are anxious to bring on war don't know what they are bargaining for; they don't see all the horrors that must accompany such an event. For myself I have never as yet been induced to believe that Virginia will even have to leave the Union. I feel pretty well satisfied that the Northern people love the Union more than they do their peculiar notions of slavery, and that they will prove it to us when satisfied that we are in earnest about leaving the Confederacy unless they do us justice. Your aunt joins me in love to you all. Write often.
Your affectionate uncle,
1The State Convention called to meet at the capital in Richmond.
SOURCE: Thomas Jackson Arnold, Early Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson, p. 293-4