A Kentuckian's Forgotten Gift, Mary Todd's Rifles

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
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Frank Leslie depicted ' Kentucky ', in a memorable spread early in the war. Union flags fly on these steam boats despite the state's turmoil over loyalties.

Mary Todd Lincoln really couldn't win. Raised in a wealthy, slaveholding family with roots reaching deep inside the new Confederacy , beautifully educated, groomed to be a belle, Mary Todd married the enemy-est enemy of all. Not just a Yankee, THE Yankee to whose apparently Machiavellian tendencies all the problems facing the South were ascribed. Arriving in Washington, DC she discovered herself rejected by darkly suspicious Northern socialites, too- she was Southern.

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Here's what we have from a remarkable woman- a lock of hair, some dresses in museums. In the same collection is a gift she made for her neighbor and friend, that's about it. Her gift to the Union and her native state? Forgotten.

Unsurprisingly, Mrs. President's efforts to prove herself loyal failed. In 1861 she was still hopeful, poor thing. Despite their pre-war, Illinois address Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln were Kentuckians, ' born and bred ', a state with loyalties so divided, over 100,000 men marched in blue, 35,000 ( or so ) put on gray. Mary Todd Lincoln drew her line in the sand, publically donating thousands of guns to her native state. Called ' Lincoln's Guns ' by disunionists, badly needed in war's scramble to arms, the gift mostly ignored by Northerners, the story went nowhere in a big hurry- and seems to have stayed there.

We hear of Mary's elaborate dresses, shrewish temper, wild spending and weirdly, all about how she clung to the South, only the first being true. ( why it would be remarkable a Southern woman knew how to dress is baffling ). The true stuff? Mostly lost.

The story of those rifles is long and pretty crazy, worthy of yet another Hollywood saga- tough to find! A big yawn of a thread gets into it here,
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-lincoln-guns-guns-for-kentucky.98664/#post-857807, taken from an 1868 book. The single mention in the press ( or anywhere else )- here.

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It wasn't just the Southern papers, Mary Todd was accused of Southern loyalties by Northern papers, too. A lot. She was sometimes praised in the press, too, we just seem to like to forget.

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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Just love the Leslie illustration.


Weren't these artists amazing? It was a brilliant idea, illustrating the news, Leslie and Harper's both sent artist/journalists to war. For some reason Waud is the name most famously associated with war sketches but there were quite a few.

How good is this illustration, did he capture ' Kentucky '?
 
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