A. C. Grimes to Lucy Glascock,
This letter was written to Grimes’ future wife, Lucy Glascock of Ralls County, Missouri, from an iron-lined dungeon beneath Myrtle Street Prison in St. Louis constructed especially to hold Grimes and prevent him from escaping again. Grimes had been arrested in Memphis a few weeks earlier, attempted to escape from Irving Block prison, was taken briefly to Alton Prison, then returned to St. Louis.
“Smith” is a Federal detective who was supposed to spy on Grimes and get information from Grimes on his activities. Instead “Smith” delivered a letter to Lucy, first letting the Union Provost Marshal copy it.
“Mrs. Vail” is Marion Wall Vail, Grimes’ aunt who had been exiled to the south for her role in Grimes’ mail smuggling organization. Bettie is Lucy Glascock’s sister.
The General in Memphis Grimes refers to is General Veatch, who reported on Grimes to General Stephen A. Hurlbut who, in his addition to Veatch’s report on Grimes, suggested he be kept in irons and close confinement for the remainder of the war. Neither had sympathy for the Rebel agent who was in Memphis to marry his sweetheart, Lucy, and then go south of the lines for the last time. The wedding would not take place for another year and a half.
I’ve broken the letter into paragraphs for easier reading, and did some minor spelling corrections. Blanks indicate words that could not be deciphered. Commentary notes inserted in [italics] .
Myrtle Street Prison
Dec 9th 1863
My Darling Lucy
Though misfortune for so many years has been my Lot Kind Providence in his mercy has suffered me already to be the recipient of many blessings & favors. One among the greatest is a prospect that I may let you hear from me & that I may once more hear from you. Through the kindness of a true friend Mr. Smith whom I hereby introduce to you, he has for several days been confined with me in this thing, which did I not so well know its purpose I would have under any other circumstances supposed it to have been made & intended for an Ice Box on some New Orleans Steamboat, not a particle of light but as for air there is plenty of it & very fresh I assure you as I freeze in here. I have a candle all the time when not asleep.
After you left Memphis or at least same day the 25 Ind reg’t left & with it our friend Henry [a Union guard who carried a message from Grimes to Lucy while in Irving Block prison in Memphis] therefore I did not receive the package you promised me please send it by my friend Mr. S. When I get out of this which will be some of there time but can’t say when, he will arrange so as I may get it.
I am not ironed, something very singular, but they upon my word did not iron me. So until all favors in this respect are denied me I upon honor am compelled to remain a prisoner without an attempt to help myself. [this promise arrangement only lasted about a week more]
My Darling Lucy sometimes I am almost persuaded to quit so that I might at last gain the pleasure of being with you through life. All our hopes so far have been vain. Why it is I cannot tell. One at a time when we thought they would soon be realized but alas. Abraham and his Confederates (or whatever they may be called) has interfered. We know but too well with the happiness we anticipated. But then Dear Lucy were I thus knock under & take the oath I fear you would not have the same love & respect for me for then I am no longer a man of truth and honor as I would be severing from my opinion of right. Your opinion must first be given & my Life, it will be respected ask as all your wishes & opinions for the last five years & all my promises I believe has been faithfully kept during that time to you. But as we so well know lack other more of this anon.
I attempted to escape from Memphis on 23rd of Nov. I believe was the cause of my being sent up the river. I was taken in Irons to Alton hand & foot. By Capt. Clark, Genl. Veatch’s Adjutant, three guards. My irons were taken off me there by order of Capt. C. who treated me well & in gratitude will I remember him. Two days I roomed in the best prison rooms but ah! a dispatch came from St. Louis & another piece of ordinance in shape of a 12 pounder was recommended. [ball & chain] A room to myself was also given for my use, ’twas not so large as to get lost in either, or so high up I could fall out of the ___ & break my neck. [the penitentiary cells at Alton were 4 feet by 7 feet by 7 feet high]
That did not seem to satisfy some of my St. Louis friends So on the third day a committee of one was sent to escort me to my native City & it happened to be Mr. Conners, the same man who arrested me in the fall of 1862. I was brought down handcuffed only & must acknowledge Mr. C. treated me well as did the balance of the Detectives although they are a set I must acknowledge I have not much love for & told them so but never the less as I am in their power I will in gratitude remember all the favor shown me by anyone. How long I must remain here I know not.
I must hear from you. I want to know particularly about some things which you must only by word of mouth communicate to Mr. S. when he see you do not write. I was hauled up before Genl V. in Memphis & I told him all the circumstances why I came up to Memphis & my name the first thing otherwise I believe I would have gotten a trial & let out in Memphis. I thought as Genl a gentleman & a soldier he might have compassion upon a poor fellow in my [?]. But all But, this is the results of depending on leniency from my enemies. He addressed of being in on at least had me if I had not been in Louisville a short time back. I said I been in Memphis two nights which was all ___ on. I told him so but told him I had been a prisoner in St. Louis in Sept 1862 & escaped & also had come within 5 mile of Memphis in Oct with Mrs. Vail & Mrs Freleigh & had come in on the 7th of Nov 1863. That was all I believe Lucy.
I must now must now close but with reluctance for I look on this as the only chance I may have to write to you for a long time & I will keep in good spirits during my imprisonment & wish you to do the same & in knowing that if the time ever does come when I may be released that I go forth with a happy heart to meet you my darling once more & may God in his mercy grant that our persecutions last but a short time & in future favor us more than of late. My Dearest Love to your Ma & Pa & Bettie & all others. I now bid you farewell hoping the war may soon end & again in peace & happiness me & all other may meet. Until then I pray that God in his mercy may protect us both & good bye
Every your devoted
Lucy say nothing about Mr. S. coming to see you at all as he is only released on bonds & only sees you ___ & me (signed) Abbie
(from NARA M322 roll 4, service records)