1889 · Lake George [New York]
"A friend has sent me the "Knoxville Journal" containing your ballad on the escape of John Sevier. It is excellent, and more over, it is time, except that you are wrong in styling him "stout old, Nolichucky Jack". He was neither stout, nor, at that time, old. He was 5 ft 11 in. high, of symmetrical frame, and weighed only 150 lbs, and having been born in 1745, was then less than 43 yrs old. Pardon me for calling your attention to this, but as your ballad will go into our permanent literature, I thought you prefer to have it
historically true." Signed and dated Lake George, August 6th, 1889, James R. Gilmore author of "John Sevier" etc.
James Roberts Gilmore (1822- 1903) was an author who sometimes used the pseudonym Edmund Kirke. Prior to the Civil War he ran a successful cotton and shipping business. As an abolitionist, after start of the war he wrote novels, war songs and ballads based on realistic portrayals of southern life, pressing for emancipation. To support this position he founded the Continental Monthly which was discontinued after the President issued his Emancipation Proclamation. In 1863 Gilmore convinced Lincoln to send a Methodist parson turned soldier, Colonel James Jaquess, as a minister of peace to persuade Confederate president Jefferson Davis to end the war. Jaquess's trip was a failure. But Gilmore knew, as did Lincoln, "that Davis would refuse even the most generous terms if they excluded the Union's recognition of the South's sovereignty and independence. Hence they plotted to use [a new] meeting (Jaquess's honorable intentions notwithstanding) to extract some such absolute, unequivocal statement from Davis, which Gilmore succeeded in doing. As a result of the trip, Gilmore quickly published Davis's implacable response first as a "card" in the Boston Evening Transcript on 22 July and then later in a much more extensive version as "Our Visit to Richmond..." [The all but destroyed the] "universal impression existing at the North that some honorable peace could be made with the South." (Vernon G. Miles: Gilmore, James Roberts: ANB article.1600626)
Perhaps Gilmore's correction took. In the later version of "The Rescue of Sevier" (published in the "New York Ledger" and later in "The Select Poems of Dr. Thomas Dunn English" (1894), Sevier is not referred to as "stout" nor "old." (Inventory #: 44139)