5 June 1863: “I think that if I was a lawyer I would argue that extortioners are beyond the law, not entitled to its protections, and every one has a right to help himself from their possessions.”

Item description: Letter, 5 June 1863, from Lafayette McLaws to his brother William Raymond McLaws (1819-1880).

Item citation: From folder 7 in the Lafayette McLaws PapersSouthern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Raccoon Ford on the Rapidan
Head Qrs. Division
June 5th/ 63 

Dear W

I send by Parris a bottle of powder and a box of caps for Willie, which you will oblige by forwarding by some safe conveyance. I also send a letter to Emily which contains a little money. Please forward that in the same way.

As you will perceive we are again on the move, our destination is still unknown, but it will be known before very long as whatever our army does next and once very shortly, and if well done it will then be a very important part in our efforts for peace and independence.

The news from Vicksburg is so meager and unsatisfactory that it carries much uneasiness. Its fall would be so discouraging and its successful defense so inspiring that everything concerning it, is looked for with the greatest anxiety.

Hugh is well, as are all my staff.

The weather is warm and dry. We need rain very much in this country as I have understood is the case in Georgia and all other Southern States. But Emily writes me that the wheat crop is excellent and being gathered. I hope it will answer all our demands, and tend to bring down prices and ruin extortioners. The army has a heavy debt to settle with them all over the country & I hope when the war is over, the returned soldiers will settle for all past grievances. I think that if I was a lawyer I would argue that extortioners are beyond the law, not entitled to its protections, and every one has a right to help himself from their possessions. It will need but the prompting to have the sentence executed, and it may be done before the end is decided. Our people are however a law abiding race, and will bear and forbear beyond the point of virtue, if pursuaded. But their reactions will be very great if they decide to be lawless. A full crop and lower prices now may prevent all difficulties. So we must hope for that.

My best regards to all with you.

My address will be “Headquarters General Longstreets Corps, Army of Northern Va.”

Good day.

Your brother
L.McLaws

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