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[Coded Letters from a Civil War Draft Dodger]

[Civil War]: [Cryptography]. HANNAN, Henry Henderson

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Price: $750.00

Pittsburgh, PA & Eden, Ontario: 1864. Two autographed letters signed, each on pages measuring about 8" by 5". The first written in pencil, and [2] pp. only on one sheet. The second written in ink on a folded sheet with additional double-sided page laid in, amounting to [6] pp. Also included is one original mailing envelope, measuring about 5" by 2.75". Overall very good plus; pages folded for mailing; ink a bit faded, but clean and readable. (Item ID: 21710)

Two letters from a young man named Henry Henderson Hannan (1844-1879) to his sister and mother. In the first, dated Oct 8, 1864, Henry begins in code to his sister: "X 0118 7TXU 75 95 N," and above this code is written a transcription of the text: "I address this to you thinking it would be safest..." Hannan describes the friends he has made in his current location (not mentioning where), and describes an arrangement with a man named Ed who will bring him correspondence from his sister. On the reverse side of this page is written a second letter from a week later ñ incidating that this sheet is likely his sister's transcriptions of two letters rather than the originals. Hannan reports feeling he'd "done wrong in staying here so long [because] drafted men went from Roane Co. to Dixie last week." He notes he's heading next to Pittsburgh. The following letter is almost certainly the original copy, written in ink in a different hand, with transcriptions in pencil in previous letters' hand. Addressed this time to his mother and beginning in normal English script, the letter is dated Oct. 23 and details his arrival in Eden, Ontario (across Lake Erie from Pittsburgh and Ohio). He explains his trip cost "only $63.65," and emphasizes that "I do not, nor do you, begrudge it since it has saved my scalp." After describing his worries about finding work (as he appears to intend to stay indefinitely), he reverts to the coded language to report news he likely deems sensitive: dates, places, and names of people who have helped him along the way. A fascinating and informative set of letters, detailing the not uncommon experience of Northern men who fled their states to escape the drafts enacted by Lincoln, which took the form of a quota for each state. Hannan's letters reveal the guilt and anxiety of this process as well as the daily events that enabled him to avoid the war. After the war ended, Hannan returned to his native Swan Creek, Ohio, where he worked as a land emigration agent.

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