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Civil War and Reconstruction

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Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy Orders the Harriet Lane to Proceed to Charleston – Where It Would Fire the First Naval Shot of the Civil War

GIDEON WELLES, Autograph Letter Signed, Navy Department, Washington, April 5, 1861, to John Faunce, commander of the Revenue Cutter USS Harriet Lane. At the start of the Civil War, Welles orders the Harriet Lane to Charleston. With multiple emendations, possibly a retained draft. 1 p., 7¾ x 9¾ in.

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“The Harriet Lane under your command having been detached from the Collection District of New York & assigned to duty under the Navy Department You are hereby instructed to proceed to within ten miles due east from, and off Charleston…”

By April 1861, federal troops at Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, were running out of supplies. President Abraham Lincoln authorized a relief expedition, including ships with supplies and five hundred soldiers, escorted by four Navy steamers, including the former revenue cutter Harriet Lane. On April 11, the appointed arrival day, she became the first U.S. Naval ship to fire a shot at the beginning of the Civil War.

Item #24791, $17,500

Authorizing Supplies for Virginia State Forces
Three Weeks after Secession

DANIEL RUGGLES, Letter Signed, to Major James R. Crenshaw. Fredericksburg, Va., May 8, 1861. 2 pp., 7¾ x 9¾ in. Docketed on verso of integral blank.

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Ruggles, a brigadier general in the provisional state army, writes to the Commissary General of Volunteer Forces in Richmond, authorizing supplies to be purchased for the use of his volunteer unit in northern Virginia by Captain Seth French. His letter anticipates the U.S. threat to the state batteries at Aquia Creek, which were attacked later that month, on May 29. “The bearer of this communication Capt Seth B. French asst commissary of subsistence at this Head Quarters will explain to you in detail the operations in his department … I deem it proper to remark that purchases made by him are in accordance with my instructions in anticipation of the wants of the Forces authorised to be assembled here…”

Item #21771, $1,800

Mixing Religion and Politics: The Bishop of Maryland Instructs Clergy to Pray for the President and for America

[CIVIL WAR]. BISHOP WILLIAM R. WHITTINGHAM, Printed Circular Letter Signed, Baltimore, May 15, 1861, to the Clergy of the Diocese of Maryland. 1 p. With: transmittal Autograph Letter Signed and envelope addressed in his hand, bearing bishop’s seal in black wax on verso, addressed to Rev. Charles H. Hall of the Epiphany Church, Washington, D.C. 2 p.

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At the outset of the Civil War, and after Baltimore Riots on April 19, 1861, Maryland’s Legislature and Governor reaffirm allegiance to the United States.  On May 13th – just two days prior to this letter – Federal troops occupied Baltimore and martial law was declared. The dual crises prompted the bishop to insist that his brethren pray for the president and nation.

Item #20966.99, $750

“I thought Cump would advise you as to the movements here…”

THOMAS EWING, JR, Autograph Letter Signed, to Thomas Ewing, his father. Washington, May 22, 1861. Written in pencil. 6 pp., 4⅞ x 7¾ in.

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Genl Scott is in bad humor with the administration for appointing Reeder Brig Genl in regular army … We have the idea he will not favor Cump’s appt, except as Colonel…

Ewing informs his father of political machinations in Washington and early Civil War plans and appointments. He painstakingly weighs the chances of his foster brother (and brother-in-law), William T. “Cump” Sherman, obtaining a general’s commission. He also offers a sober analysis of the relative strengths of the Union and Confederate armies in the Eastern theater. “The general impression is the first battle, after Pickens, will be at Norfolk. The Govt. is not ready. Genl Scott says Genl Impatience is the only opposing General he fears. At present, it is plain the enemy can put man for man in the field anywhere in eastern Virginia with us.

Item #21772, $1,750

On the Day of the First Battle of Bull Run,
Confederate Ordnance Chief Josiah Gorgas Orders
Equipment for 100,000 Troops

JOSIAH GORGAS. [BULL RUN], Manuscript Letter Signed, to Ira R. Foster. Richmond, Va., July 21, 1861. 1 p., 8 x 9¾ in.

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Item #22393, $1,950

Letter Offers First Impressions of Service from a Young Carpenter from Massachusetts

JOSEPH W. MARDEN, Autograph Letter Signed, to his parents, George and Sarah Marden, July 28, 1861, Sandy Hook, Maryland. 4 pp.

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…the troops here expect an atact here every day; the enemy are within 6 miles of here with a large force.

Item #21265.15, $125

Future Confederate Secretary of War
Makes Recommendation to War Department

JAMES SEDDON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Secretary of War Leroy P. Walker. Sabot Hill, Virginia, September 4, 1861. With integral endorsement by Harrison. 2 pp., 5 x 7⅞ in.

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Seddon, a Confederate Congressman from Virginia, recommends Captain George Harrison, a veteran of First Manassas, for promotion.“My friend and fellow Countryman Captn. George Harrison late of the Goochland Cavalry serving at Manassas, where he had the privilege of participating in the perils and honor of our late victory.

Item #21774, $900

Union Soldier’s Letter to his Cousin from Embattled Washington

GEORGE BOWERS, Autograph Letter Signed, September 10, 1861, Washington, D.C. 3 pp., on patriotic stationery; with partial patriotic cover from Birney’s Regiment.

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Item #21265.21, $250

A Rare Broadside Song Sheet Promoting
the Confederate Cause – Issued From Baltimore

[DR. NICHOLAS GREENBERRY RIDGELY], Broadside, “Chivalrous C.S.A!” Baltimore, September 21, 1861. 5 x 9 in., 1 p.

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Rare broadside-song sheet blaring “Chivalrous C.S.A!” to the tune of “Vive La Compagnie!”

Item #22127, $695

Confederate Secretary of War Judah Benjamin Puts Promotion Controversy to Rest and Keeps General Braxton Bragg in “hateful inaction on the sands of Pensacola harbor”

JUDAH P. BENJAMIN. [CIVIL WAR], Autograph Letter Signed as acting Secretary of War, to Braxton Bragg. Richmond, Va., October 6, 1861. 4 pp., 7¾ x 10 in. On War Department letterhead.

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Writing as acting Confederate Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin denies Major General Braxton Bragg the possibility of a transfer to a more active post. Instead, Benjamin gives Bragg additional responsibilities, including defending Alabama. Bragg must have become tired of inaction, as three days after Benjamin wrote this letter, Bragg ordered the Confederate assault on Fort Pickens at the Battle of Santa Rosa Island.

Item #23285, $12,500

Charles Sumner Writes to
a Quaker Peace Advocate and Abolitionist

CHARLES SUMNER (1811-74), Autograph Letter Signed. Boston, October 27, 1861. To Joshua P. Blanchard, 1 p.

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“My dear Sir, I always read you writings with interest & sympathy. We are both arriving at the same results; for we both hate Slavery & love Peace...”

Senator Sumner of Massachusetts was a leading abolitionist, intimate of Lincoln, and radical republican. Before the Civil War, he joined the ranks of abolitionism’s martyrs when he was savagely attacked on the floor of the Senate by Congressman Preston Brooks in consequence of remarks that Sumner made about Brooks’ relative, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina. Sumner never fully recovered.

Item #20532, $850

Frederick Seward Asks Samuel Colt for Presentation Pistol Prices

FREDERICK W. SEWARD, Letter Signed, to Samuel Colt, Washington, D.C., October 28, 1861. 1 p.

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your best quality of ornamented revolvers…

President Abraham Lincoln often presented gifts to foreign heads of state or dignitaries, and Samuel Colt’s pistols were excellent examples of American ingenuity and craftsmanship.

Item #24247, $1,750

Report of Attacks on Forts Walker and Beauregard

JUDAH P. BENJAMIN, Autograph Letter Signed as Confederate Secretary of War, to President Jefferson Davis, with Davis’s endorsement. Richmond, Va., December 30, 1861. 1 p., plus docket, 7⅝ x 8⅞ in.

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Benjamin sends his official reports on the attacks on Forts Walker and Beauregard to Jefferson Davis, to be communicated to the Confederate Congress.

Item #20084, $4,500

Blistering Border State Speech
against Wartime Confiscation of Slaves

[SLAVERY]. U.S. CONGRESS, Pamphlet. Speech of Hon. John S. Carlile, of Virginia, on the Bill to Confiscate the Property and Free the Slaves of Rebels; Delivered in the Senate …, March 11, 1862. Washington: Congressional Globe Office, 1862. 13 pp.

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Item #21856.02, $450

“…we shall cross at the same place at the time of the Balls Bluff disaster… ancious to avenge the death of our many fallen comerads.”

MARK KENNEY, Autograph Letter Signed, Camp Stone, January 24, 1862. 4 pp. 8 vo. Some tears with no loss of text.

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Item #21265.05, $250

Beautiful Hand-colored Capitol Stationery; Mentioning a Deserter from Another Regiment

CHARLES E. PLACE, Autograph Letter Signed, to Frank, January 25, 1862, Headquarters, 77th Regiment, NY Volunteers, Co. K, 3 pp.

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the one that deserted his name is George Freeman of Saratoga Spa  he is in the bullston Jail  now I dont think that they will shoot him though they both belong to co K

Item #21265.14, $200

A Day After Grant’s Capture of Fort Henry, Confederate General Lovell Weakens New Orleans in a Futile Attempt to Shore Up Fort Donelson

MANSFIELD LOVELL, Autograph Letter Signed, to Albert Sidney Johnston. New Orleans, La., February 7, 1862. 1 p., 8 x 11 in.

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In February 1862, General Mansfield Lovell sends reinforcements to Albert Sidney Johnston, the chief Confederate commander in the West, so he can defend Nashville and Fort Donelson. The move was fruitless; Fort Donelson fell to Union troops a week after this letter was written.

Item #21776, $2,900

Celebrating a Report of McClellan’s Death

BENJAMIN PRENTISS (1819-1901), Autograph Letter Signed (“Prentiss”) Columbus, [Kentucky], March 4, 1862. 1 p., 7¾ x 8¾ in.

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Item #20740, $2,400

Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Autograph Letter Signed, as President, to Secretary of State William H. Seward, “Executive Mansion,” Washington, D.C., March 5, 1862. Signed at bottom by “William H. Seward,” with a note in an unidentified contemporary hand. 1 p. 4¾ x 7¼ in.

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The United States is the only nation in history to end slavery through Civil War. Nations as diverse as Russia, the British Empire, France, Brazil, and others around the world ended their reliance on slave labor through legislative means that included some form of compensation to slaveowners for their lost “assets.” Here, President Lincoln requests that Secretary of State William Seward summon a meeting of the Cabinet. The following day, the president presented a special message to Congress with his plan end slavery through compensation. There were no takers among the slaveholding border states. The brevity of Lincoln’s letter belies its far-reaching implications and the tantalizing possibilities of “what might have been.”

Item #23747, $90,000

Creating Two New Civil War Military Departments

EDWARD DAVIS TOWNSEND. [CIVIL WAR], Printed Document Signed, “General Orders No. 34.” War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, D.C., April 4, 1862. 1 p., 5 x 7½ in.

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Item #22956, $450
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