A Civil War Letter in which a Confederate Prisoner Seeks Release through an Oath of Allegiance to the United States
The letter is approximately 7-3/4 inches by 10 inches. The letter was written on March 16, 1865, by Robert W. Baylor, a Confederate prisoner of war in the Post Hospital at Ship Island, Mississippi. Baylor wrote the letter to William R. Robinson, an Assistant Surgeon of the United States Army. In the letter Baylor tells Robinson that he “never was a belligerent” and that he had been “forced to enter some branch of the Confederate service” against his will. Baylor affirms his readiness to take the oath of allegiance and “to do all that is requisite to constitute me a citizen of the United States”, and he asks for Robinson’s assistance in accomplishing this. The letter is a bit age toned, and there is some adhesive residue on one side edge where the letter was at one time affixed to another page, but the letter is intact and complete, with clear and legible handwriting. Research indicates that Surgeon Robinson was originally from New York and that he graduated from New York University Medical School in 1856, then moving to Galveston, Texas to practice. When the war broke out, Robinson joined the Texas Rangers and later became part of the Arizona Brigade, ultimately finding himself at the hospital on Ship Island where he cared for sick and injured Confederate prisoners.