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Civil War and Reconstruction

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Former President John Tyler Makes a Last Attempt for Peace in 1861 – Two Months Before He Voted for Virginia Secession

JOHN TYLER, Autograph Letter Signed, to James G. Berret, written from Brown’s Indian Queen Hotel (at the corner of 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, where twenty years earlier, he had taken the oath of office after the death of President William Henry Harrison), February 3, 1861. 1 p., 7¼ x 9¼ in.

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In January 1861, former president John Tyler issued a call for a “Peace Conference” to resolve sectional division and avert Civil War. Here, he writes to Washington D.C. Mayor James G. Berret to thank the City Council and the Willard brothers for providing the concert hall at the Willard Hotel for the meeting. The meeting convened on February 4, 1861 with 131 representatives from fourteen free and seven slave states attended, none from the deep south. Tyler made opening remarks to the audience that included six former cabinet members, nineteen ex-governors, fourteen former senators, fifty former representatives, and twelve state Supreme Court justices. But seven southern states had already seceded, and representatives were already meeting in Montgomery to form a new Confederacy.

Item #23993.01, $5,500

Georgia Militia Incorporated
into Provisional Confederate Army

LEROY POPE WALKER, Letter Signed, as Confederate Secretary of War, to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown. Montgomery, Ala., March 8, 1861. On “Confederate States of America, War Department” stationery. Docketed, “Call for Southern Rights Meeting.” 2 pp., 9⅞ x 7⅞ in.

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The Confederate Secretary of War writes the governor of Georgia asking for state militia troops and new enlistees to be transferred to the Provisional Confederate Army. This so-called P.A.C.S. was authorized by act of the Confederate Congress on February 28, 1861, a week prior to this letter.  “The President, therefore, instructs me to express the hope that Your Excellency appreciating … the necessity for immediate military organization subject to the control of this Government - will tender, for the Provisional Army, the troops now in the service of your State.” The Civil War began in earnest a month later, with the Confederate capture of Fort Sumter on April 13th.

Item #21769, $4,250

Lincoln Raises the Flag

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Newspaper. Harper’s Weekly, March 9, 1861. 16 pp., complete, disbound.

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President Lincoln hoisting the 34-star American flag on Independence Hall, Philadelphia, with his speech. United States arsenal at Little Rock, Arkansas surrendered to the state troops. Interior of the new dome of the capitol at Washington. Front view of Fort Pickens, Pensacola. Inauguration of Pres. Jefferson Davis at Montgomery, Alabama.

Item #H-3-9-1861, ON HOLD

South Carolina Secretary of State Reports to Governor on Foreign Affairs of the “Nation”

[SECESSION]. ANDREW G. MAGRATH, Autograph Letter Signed, likely retained copy, to Francis W. Pickens, Charleston, South Carolina, March 24, 1861. 4 pp., 7⅞ x 12½ in.

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in anticipation of the Convention of the Seceding States, a common necessity should induce a common obligation on these States to share with each other, the means of defence or the dangers of attack.

Item #24671.04, $4,000

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

“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

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

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

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

Union Soldiers Recounts Conquest of Island No. 10

[ISLAND NO. 10], Amos Downing, Autograph Letter Signed, to his brother (Philip Downing). Island No. 10. [New Madrid], Missouri, April 9, 1862. 4 pp. With autograph envelope.

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A day after the Confederate surrender, Amos Downing gives his brother an exciting account of the Siege of Island No. 10 from the perspective of someone who may have served under Commodore Andrew Foote in the riverboat fleet that collaborated with General John Pope. Downing correctly identifies Fort Pillow, eighty miles to the south on the Mississippi, Memphis, and New Orleans as the next Union targets in the Mississippi Valley. His description of Confederate prisoners reveals a measure of discontent within Southern ranks. “The prisoners taken here are all Irish they say that they were force[d] in the service and are satisfied to be taken prisoner. They didnt know what to make of maters. They said first a big smoke and next a noise like thunder and next thing the devil himself would come among them and that was worst than fighting with sticks. They say the first shell killed fifteen men there lost is very heavy…

Item #21890, $750
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