To a prominent Virginia lawyer who served in the 12th Virginia Light Artillery during the war!
War date Confederate envelope with a very nice pair of 5 cents Jeff Davis (Scott #7) postage stamps, tied on with a Richmond, Va. postmark, the month is indistinct, but the 8th day, and the year 1862 are very solid. Beautifully addressed to James M. Donnan, Esq., Petersburg, Virginia. Light crease near the top, not affecting the content. There are a couple of small stains on the reverse. Very fine and quite desirable Confederate war date cover.
James M. Donnan was born on May 6, 1824, in Amelia County, Virginia. He commenced the study of law in the office of his elder brother Alexander in 1842. James worked in his brother's law partnership of (Judge William T.) Joynes and Donnan until 1854, when the brothers formed their own practice under the firm name of Alexander & James M. Donnan, practicing law in Petersburg until 1878.
James fought in the Mexican War, serving in Captain Archer's Company of the 1st Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Hamtramck. He was honorably discharged with the regiment at Fort Monroe, Va. in 1848.
Prior to the War Between the States, he was a member of the Whig Party, whose bitterest foes were the Democrats, so after the war Donnan would have nothing to do with the Democratic Party, and he allied himself very strongly with the Republican Party.
The Donnan Brothers law firm were the most sought after lawyers in Petersburg for many years, and they were very active during the antebellum and war years handling all kinds of slavery cases in the Petersburg area.
During the War Between the States, James M. Donnan served in Co. B, 12th Virginia Light Artillery, in 1864-65. He signed an Oath of Allegiance to the United States government on June 24, 1865.
He was appointed to be United States Consul to Belfast, Ireland, serving from 1873 to 1880, when he returned to Virginia.
He died on January 14, 1893, and is buried in Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Va.
James M. Donnan was known to be an exceptionally upright man, strong in his convictions, unflinching in his position, and noted for his courage and firmness of character.