Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Abraham Lincoln and His Generals

letter by James R. Doolittle with added approval by Lincoln
A while back we posted about a sheet of Abraham Lincoln's signatures on a piece of White House stationery that were authenticated by his personal secretary John Hay. Although it's hard to top that exciting find, we have another Lincoln-related item from the Codex collection that we think is also pretty amazing. In a book that has been beautifully bound in blue morocco leather with gold tooling, we have another treasure trove of autographs from the Civil War, including not only Lincoln's signature but numerous other important figures from the Union Army during that time.

The cover of the book reads, "Abraham Lincoln and His Generals | A Collection of Autographs | 1861-1865," and the contents do not disappoint. All told, there are twenty-seven pieces of correspondence or
Engraving of William T. Sherman
other paper that bear the signed names of many of the sixteenth president's generals during the war, along with engraved portraits of most of them. Most of the letters are fairly pedestrian and deal with day-to-day business or social courtesies; moreover, a lot of them were written decades after the conclusion of the war. Still, it's thrilling to see so many different hands by so many different Civil War military leaders in one place. My personal favorites are the letter signed by Lincoln, saying only "I so advise" in response to a subordinate's request for his approval (bringing our total number of Lincoln signatures up to twenty!); the pardon issued by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 for Jacob C. Clark, who apparently was arrested for selling liquor without a permit but didn't realize he was breaking the law, and the intimidating engraving of General William T. Sherman, who would go on to serve as the Commanding General of the Army (and briefly the Secretary of War) under President Grant.

To have a look through this Union gallery, come to Special Collections and ask for Codex 002120.

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