• [Slave Owner] Confederate Officer, Johnsons Island Prisoner, Felt Punished By Girfriend

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    LT. JAMES SELBY PLATTENBURG, ALS, from Johnsons Island, a Confederate prison camp for officers, Blk 12, Co. 29, March 19th, to Miss Maggie Warren of Dover, MO, single page, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8

    Plattenburg was a soldier in the 5th Regiment of the Missouri Cavalry.  He was with General Shelby when he conducted raids from Arkansas into Missouri.  Plattenburg was captured by Federal Troops on the road to Lexington.

    “...I guess that we lose the brightest part of our prison enjoyment when your winged messengers fail to arrive. I expect they stray aside to a more congenial clime and to a more pleasing abode but to a less delighted audience. I am truly rejoiced that you have discovered your mistake. I thought that I must be under a ban of punishment as I rec’d no letters from you. You speak of the ‘acknowledgement of the receipt’ of your photograph as if it was a debit and credit transaction. I beg you will send the others soon. I confessed my sins and thought that you had absolved me of my sins. I will have to make you my confessor. I know then that you will infuse a part of your own sublime spirit into my erring nature. But I am not yet prepared to stand before the judge of the ‘pure and adulterated friendships’ for the want of a talisman to dull your discernment but do not think that I am not true.  Love to all, J. Selby Plattenburg”

    Folds. Overall excellent condition.

    The 5th Cavalry Regiment, also known as the Lafayette County Cavalry, was organized during the late spring of 1862.  The unit was assigned to General Shelby’s Brigade in the Trans-Mississippi Department. It skirmished between Missouri and Arkansas, served in Marmaduke’s Missouri expedition and was part of the operations against Steele’s expedition from Little Rock to Camden. The unit was later active in Price’s Missouri’s operations.

    During the 1850s, Judge Plattenburg was among several business owners listed as operating in the town of Dover, and remained so by the close of the Civil War. By 1860, the Plattenburg family owned $36,000 in personal property and real estate, which included 7 slaves living in 1 slave house. During his life James was also engaged in the lucrative local coal business and owned the Plattenburg Coal Company near Lexington, which was a thirty-five-acre tract. He also practiced law and was appointed as Judge in Lafayette County.


    In late 1861, Johnson’s Island was selected as a prison camp for up to 2,500 captured Confederate officers.


    Over 15,000 men passed through Johnson's Island until it was closed in September 1865. About 200 prisoners died due to the harsh Ohio winters, food and fuel shortages, and disease. Two hundred six were buried in the Confederate Cemetery located on the island. The cemetery was purchased in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Cincinnati. Johnson's Island had one of the lowest mortality rates of any Civil War prison. Confederates made many escape attempts, including efforts by some to walk across the frozen Lake Erie to freedom in Canada, but only a handful of escapes were successful.


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