1861 April 29 University of Virginia

Dear Uncle

Excitement being on the wane just now, in these parts,
perhaps a letter from the University of Virginia, which has
now become little more than a military school, would
not be uninteresting to you: especially as I believe
John M. & Charley have not succeeded as well as myself
in throwing off what appears to me a family failing,
viz, aversion to writing. I believe my last letter was
not of the kind to meet a warm welcome from you.
At least I fear such was the case. But what I most fear
in regard to it is that you consider its sentiments and
arguments (if any) as mere gleanings & copyings from
sensation papers & speeches of the day: but I disclaim any
such origin for them. Perhaps in expression & in scope
& meaning there was some resemblance. If in expression
I did not take care & time to express myself fully and
completely. Be that as it may I am satisfied of the cor-
rectness of my conclusions. If no other state has or had
the right to withdraw from the Federal Union, Virginia
has, whenever she judges herself aggreived by said Union.
And she is the only competent judge of whether she be
aggrieved or not, & if this be denied, her sovereignty
as a state must be denied also.

I think Charley wrote you of John’s going to Harper’s
Ferry: perhaps John has written you of it himself

[page 2]
since his return. Shortly after the departure of the
two old companies, the Southern Guard, & the Sons of
Liberty, Dr Bledsoe formed another company & I am
a member thereof. We drill on the Lawn in front
of the Rotunda, an hour & a quarter every evening,
so that there can be seen three companies there
every day now. Two hundred ^’and forty’ men will not make
a poor show for the University.

Perhaps you have not heard of our flagraising. Flagraising
has become quite trite nowadays. But a flag such as that
which has been floating over our Rotunda for the past
week is not so trite & common. On one side we see the
seal of our noble old state, the “Sic semper tyranis”
with a ground of blue. On the other are seen the columns
of the Confederate States–the stars arranged in a circle
with Virginia’s in the centre.

We are all anxious to leave here & have a fight with Gen
Scotts collection from Yankeedom, Ireland, France, Spain
Germany &c, just merely to show that we boys are not
afraid to shed our blood, or get a scratch or so for the
honor of the Old Dominion. Otherwise we would like
to find some more respectable antagonists. We expect, or
at least I do, that we will have to fight a good many
battles, but not hard ones; as yankees consider man’s
first duty to be, taking care of himself; & they will
in all probability find that the cheapest & surest way to
secure that desirable end–self preservation–when
an army of Virginians come to the chargae, is to drop

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their arms & get out of the way as fast as possible.

Perhaps when Gen Scott comes to invade Virginia,
he will find that Lee is not Santa Anna, that Virginia
is not mexico, & that Yankeemen, Dutchmen, & Irishmen,
of the stamp found in the North are not exactly to be
relied on as much as Tennessee & Kentucky volunteers.
However that may be, he will find Virginians not much
inferior in courage & valour to the Britons their ancestors.

Do you hear from Uncle James? He is in a rather dangerous
position, so close to Cincinnatti.

But I do not wish to trouble you with too long a
letter & therefore close this. I have not heard from
home lately. Beleive me your affectionate nephew.

Walter C. Preston

Mr. John M. Preston, Sr.

[docketed Walter C. Preson
29 Apl. 61]

MSS 11143

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