From the National Republican (Washington, DC), 5/25/1877, p. 2, c. 3
THE RICHMOND POST OFFICE.
The report of the removal of Miss VAN LEW from the Richmond post office has stirred up the Union soldiers, and an intense feeling on the subject has been excited in the breasts of such as had the misfortune to be prisoners at Libby and Belle Isle. We have received a large number of letter earnestly protesting against the removal. These letters come not only from Union soldiers who are now in the Departments here, but from Republicans in Virginia. The communication published below is a fair specimen of what we have received on the subject. We may add that the rumor that Col. MOSBY had an agency in making the change has tended to increase the feeling. The letters referring to him breath the kindest spirit on account of his honorable political course since the close of hostilities, but our correspondents do think that he should not have meddled in the matter of securing Miss VAN LEW’s removal:
WASHINGTON, May 24, 1877.
EDITOR REPUBLICAN: All who are at all familiar with her record will thank you for the brave words in behalf of Miss LIZZIE VAN LEW (late postmistress in Richmond, Va.) that appear in an editorial in your issue of yesterday. The article in the Star of last evening is such an utter misrepresentation of the facts in the case that I feel it my duty to ask you, in justice to Miss VAN LEW, to publish the following:
As a Simon-pure republican, and in full accord with the policy of the present Administration, I am not disposed to question that, general speaking, President HAYES has exercised the greatest care in regard to appointments and removals; it will be hard, however, to convince those who know Miss VAN LEW, either personally or by reputation, that it was not exceedingly unwise to remove her from the position she had so well and ably filled, and that it was, indeed, an act of the greatest injustice to her. She was not a “spy during the war,” nor did Gen. GRANT reward her with the Richmond post office in recognition of such service, as the Star would make it appear; this I know and fearlessly affirm. (By the way, will the Star look at the United States Official Registrar for 1875, and see if “Col.” W. W. FORBES, late registrar in bankruptcy at Richmond, does not therein appear as a native of New York? How, then, can he be “a native Virginian?”) I know, moreover, that no man or woman in all Virginia is deserving of greater consideration at the hands of the Government than this same noble little woman, because of the invaluable service she rendered us during the dark days of the rebellion. This the late soldier-President knew and appreciated, and President HAYES should be in possession of the facts which will sustain my assertion.
Living quite alone with her dear, good mother (God bless her!) in the rebel capital, surrounded on every hand by those who were plotting to destroy the Government she loved so well and served so faithfully, she was outspoken and unswerving in her loyalty, her mother and herself continually ministering to the comfort and necessities of our brave men who were then languishing in the prisons of Libby and Belle Isle, and this, too, although they had at times scarcely food sufficient to sustain their own lives; all of this, and more, (as a staff officer of Gen. M. R. PATRICK, then provost marshal general of the “armies operating against Richmond.”) I knew long before – in April, 1865 – it was my privilege to take them by the hand. In my subsequent service in Richmond (until February, 1866,) in a like capacity with Gen. JNO. W. TURNER, commanding the “district of Henrico,” I found that the distinguished officers then serving in the Department of Virginia entertained the same high regard for Miss VAN LEW, and recognized the value of the services she had rendered.
Of these officers I recall the names of several who still survive, and to whom I can confidently refer in support of my statement, as follows: Maj. Gen. SCHOLFIELD and Brig. Gens. ORD and TERRY, U. S. A.; Gen. M. R. PATRICK, (now a resident of Manlins, N. Y.;) Gen. GEO. H. SHARPE, now surveyor of customs, port of New York; Gen. N. M. CURTIS, (address not known;) Paymaster T. H. STANTON and Capt. GEO. Q. WHITE, U. S. A.; Maj. ALEX. SHARP, (Miss VAN LEW’s immediate predecessor as postmaster of Richmond,) now post paymaster in this city; Mr. D. B. PARKER, (formerly United States Marshal at Richmond, now on duty in the Post Office Department in this city.) There are at least a score of others whose names would not, however, be as familiar.
Finally, Mr. Editor, allow me to say that for ten years past I have neither seen nor spoken to the lady in question, who knows nothing of my whereabouts, and may not even remember my name, that no friend of hers has asked me to aid in securing her retention or reinstatement – a service that I would have cheerfully performed; that what I have written is simply a tribute to her great worth – brought out, in fact, by the reading of the articles herein before referred to.
I trust that you may see fit to give it a place in your columns, and most sincerely hope that it may serve, in some degree, to influence the President to reconsider he action and reinstate Miss VAN LEW.
Very truly, &c.
of 80th N. Y. Volunteers