Historical Civil War Autographs


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Naval History


ADAMS, JOHN QUINCY (1767-1848)

# 6078

Sixth U.S. President - 1825-29

U.S. Congressman John Quincy Adams submits information relating to the loss of a Seminole War troop transport in Tampa Bay, Florida

Autograph Letter Signed, 7 ½” x 9”, to “James Collier Esqr., Cohassett, Mass[achuse]tts,” with excellent early-Florida, Seminole War association.

As Congressman from Massachusetts, the former U.S. President informs Collier that he has submitted a report to Secretary of War Joel Poinsett regarding payment for the services of the schooner Rubicon in the rescue of the transport Charles Wharton, lost while carrying U.S. troops bound for service in the Second Seminole War. Congressional records state: “the ship Charles Wharton was chartered by the United States for the purpose of transporting nearly three hundred volunteer troops, with arms, provisions, baggage, and a quantity of sauer kraut from Philadelphia to Tampa Bay. While on the voyage, and so laden, about the 20th of December [1837], she grounded on a shoal near the entrance of Tampa Bay, and was found in a very perilous condition…” The same record further indicates that the crew of at least one other vessel, “…at great risk, and with much labor, aided and assisted in saving the troops, the guns, ammunition, and private property of the officers.”

Washington, 24 Feb[ruar]y 1838. Sir, I have submitted your Letter of the 6th inst[an]t to the consideration of the Secretary of War, and have received an answer from him enclosing a report from the acting Quartermaster General T[rueman] Cross of the following report: ‘In reply to the Letter of Mr. James Collier referred to me by the War Department a few days since I have the honour to state that this office possesses no information whatever in relation to the loss of the ship Charles Wharton or the services alleged to have been rendered by the Schooner Rubicon. It appears however, by Mr. Colliers own admission, that the Quarter Master at Tampa Bay, paid the Captain of the Rubicon six hundred dollars, which it is a fair presumption was the value of his services.’ The fair presumptions of the Quarter-Master General may doubtless be rebutted by positive testimony. If you have any such, I shall be happy to give any assistance in my power to exhibit the same before the proper department. I am, very respectfully, Sir, your obed[ien]t Serv[an]t, J.Q. Adams.”

Interestingly, Adams’s nephew, Thomas Boylston Adams, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and a Seminole War veteran, had died of disease at Fort Dade, Florida just two months earlier, on December 14, 1837. Also of note, Trueman Cross, the acting quartermaster general mentioned in this letter, was killed on April 21, 1846 by Mexican bandits near Fort Brown, Texas, just three days before the United States declared war with Mexico.

The sheet bears general soiling and wear.  Paper weakness and minor separation at the usual folds, along with several chips and tears in the margins, none affecting the text of the letter, have been professionally stabilized with archival backing on the reverse.


NewCAMERON, SIMON (1799-1889)

# 7846

U.S. Secretary of War – 1861-62, during the American Civil War; U.S. Senator – Pennsylvania – 1845-49, 1857-61 & 1867-77

Autograph Letter Signed, 7 ¾” x 9 ¾”. In this early letter, Cameron recommends a Dr. Charles Moswell for appointment as assistant surgeon in the U.S. Navy to Navy Secretary Mahlon Dickerson.

                                                                                                                                               Middleton, Penn[sylvani]a
                                                                                                                                                           Aug[ust] 11, 1835.


I have been requested by Mr. Jno. C. Boyd, a highly respectable citizen of North county, to write you in behalf of Dr. Chas. D. Moswell, who is an applicant for the situation [of] Assistant Surgeon in the Navy. I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with Mr. Moswell, but from the character of his connections in the State, and the representations of Mr. Boyd, I feel confident that the appointment would be a good one, and I should be much gratified if he could succeed.

                                                                                                                                                Very respectfully,
                                                                                                                                                           Simon Cameron

The integral leaf is also addressed by Cameron, to “Hon[orable] M. Dickerson, Secretary Navy, Washington C[i]ty, D.C.” In very good condition overall, the letter has somewhat heavier toning at the right edge, numerous tiny ink stains, a few nicks at the edges, and the usual folds.


EADS, JAMES B. (1820-87)

# 5225

American River Engineer & Inventor

Eads made enormous contribution to the Union cause by developing and manufacturing the iron-clad gunboats which helped in the opening of the Mississippi and other western rivers. 

Autograph Note Signed, 5” x 5”, inscribed to, and crediting, prominent Republican U.S. Senator Angus Cameron of Wisconsin for political assistance rendered in Eads’ effort to open the mouth of the Mississippi River below New Orleans to permanent navigation by installing jetties to scour sedimentation from the riverbed. Begun in 1875, entirely at his own risk - Eads would receive no payment from the government until a twenty-foot channel depth was achieved – the $5 million project was completed five years later, during which time New Orleans shipping tonnage rose by sixty-five times, making it the second largest port in the United States.

“Presented to the Honorable Angus Cameron, one of the Statesmen to whom the Mississippi Valley is indebted for an open mouth to its great river. From his friend Jas. B. Eads.”

Slightly heavier toning along right edge.


NewFARRAGUT, DAVID G. (1801-70) Union Rear Admiral – Captured New Orleans and Mobile Bay; U.S. Navy Admiral

# 7957

Original Steel Engraving, 6 ¾” x 10 ¼” overall, with a printed facsimile signature beneath a 4” x 5 ¼” image of Farragut in military uniform, imprinted “D. Appldton & Co.”

Lightly and evenly toned, with a few inconsequential stains.

Price: $25.00

FOOTE, ANDREW H. (1806-1863)

# 6852

Union Rear Admiral

WELLES, GIDEON (1802-78)  U.S. Secretary of the Navy - 1861-69

As commodore in the U.S. Navy, Foote provided naval support in the Federal operations against Forts Henry and Donelson and in the bombardment of Island #10. Promoted to rear admiral for those actions, he died shortly after being transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in 1863.

As the Country Prepares for War - Just a Month Before the Bombardment of Ft. Sumter - a Union Sailor is Detached to Await Orders

Endorsement Signed, “Forwarded by A.H. Foote…March 11/[18]61,” on the reverse of the attached leaf of a Letter Signed, 8” x 10”, by Navy Secretary Gideon Welles. In an action undoubtedly replicated throughout the military, emblematic of the nation’s preparation for the Civil War that would break out just a month later, Welles orders “3rd Ass[istan]t Engineer Oscar H. Lackey, U.S. Navy, New York,” detached from his prior assignment aboard the Crusader, to await further orders:

“Navy Department, 9 March 1861. Sir, You are hereby detached from the Crusader and you will regard yourself as Waiting Orders. I am, respectfully, Your Obed[ien]t Serv[an]t, Gideon Welles...”

The letter-sheet is lightly and evenly toned, with an old clip hole in the upper margin. The integral leaf signed by Foote bears heavier soiling and wear, and contains an extremely detailed Navy Department watermark.


HAMILTON, PAUL (1762-1816)

# 6973

U.S. Secretary of the Navy – 1809-13; Governor of South Carolina – 1804-06

Repairs for the USS Enterprise - After Service Against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean

Letter Signed, 8” x 10”, to “John Trippe, esquire, L[ieutenan]t Comm[ande]r, the Sch[ooner] Enterprise, N[ew] York.” As U.S. Navy Secretary, Hamilton conveys information relating to the repair of the Enterprise, and of her conversion to a brig. The ship was commissioned into the Navy fleet in 1799, quickly deployed in the Quasi-War with France, and soon was put into active service against pirates on the Barbary Coast. The vessel continued to patrol the Mediterranean for the next several years, returning to the United States for repair in late 1809, the preliminary details of her refurbishing being discussed in this letter.

“Navy Department, 8 Dec[ember] 1809. Sir, I have received your letter of the 2nd ins[tant] & congratulate you on your safe arrival in the United States. When the repairs of the Enterprise shall be authorized, you may convert her into a brig – but I can not at this moment determine whether to authorize her repair immediately or not – nor can I determine, until you make a particular report on the subject, stating the repairs necessary, & the expense of making them. I am respectfully Y[ou]r serv[an]t, Paul Hamilton.
Repair of the Enterprise was accomplished by early 1811, and she was refitted as a brig the following year. She saw active service against the British Navy during the War of 1812, most notably in the fierce naval battle which resulted in her capture of the British Brig Boxer, the commanders of both ships being killed in the engagement.

Born in Maryland in 1785, Lieutenant Commander John Trippe had become a midshipman in 1799, serving during the Quasi-War and in the Mediterranean, although on other vessels. He commanded the Enterprise during the year before her return to New York, but was assigned to other ships during her time in port. Lieutenant Commander Trippe died during the summer of 1810, although records differ as to whether he was aboard the Enterprise or the Vixen at the time of his death.

The letter is lightly toned, with the expected folds and light creases; several edge tears along the right edge, none affecting the text of the letter, have been repaired on the reverse, and there is a one-half inch strip of heavier paper affixed to the reverse along the left edge, presumably from past binding.


NewJONES, JOHN PAUL (1747-92) American Revolutionary War, Captain in the Continental Navy

# 7885

Original Steel Engraving, 7 ¾” x 10 ½” overall, with a printed facsimile signature beneath a 5 ½” x 7 ½” image of Jones in military uniform, imprinted “From the original painting by Chappel, in the possession of the publishers,” and dated “A.D 1861” in print below.

Lightly and evenly toned, with a light water stain in the lower right corner and two pinholes at the left edge.


LEE, SAMUEL P. (1812-97)

# 6870

Union Rear Admiral

A distant cousin of Robert E. Lee, Samuel P. Lee remained loyal to the Union when war erupted in 1861. He commanded numerous ships during the course of the war, most notably on blockade duty, from which he received more than $100,000 in prize money for the capture of Confederate blockade runners.

Letter Signed, 8” x 13 ½”. As commander of the North Atlantic Fleet in Key West, Florida, Lee directs Commodore Joseph F. Green in the use of coal for U.S. Navy vessels at St. Thomas, due to the expiration of a contract for its receipt and storage.

“U.S.S. Severn (2nd Rate), Key West, Fl[orid]a, February 13th 1871. Commodore Joseph F. Green, U.S.A., Commander of Squadron, North Atlantic Fleet, or Senior Naval Officer in Dominican Waters. Sir, The Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting under date of January 24th 1871 informs me that as it intends to discontinue its contract with Mrs. Johanna Gordon, from and after the 24th June next, (the date of its expiration) for the receiving, storing &c. of the Government coal at St. Thomas, it is desirable that the stock of Coal on hand (263 tons) as per report of 25 Dec[ember] 1870, should be used up before the expiration of the contract. Please therefore give such directions to cruisers under your command, as will accomplish this object. When the stock of Coal on hand has been used up, Coal may be bought at ‘St. Thomas,’ to the best interests of the Government, whenever required by cruisers touching at that port. Respectfully Yours, S.P.Lee, Rear Admiral Com[mandin]g N[orth] A[tlantic] Fleet.”

The letter has three horizontal folds, and there is a diagonal break, with no loss of paper, at center left. A strip of old paper backing along the left edge is still present.


NewMacDONOUGH, THOMAS (1783-1825) U.S. Navy Captain – First Barbary War & The War of 1812

# 7914

Original Steel Engraving, 7 ¾” x 10 ½” overall, with a printed facsimile signature beneath a 5 ¼” x 7 ¼” image of Macdonough in military uniform, imprinted “From the original painting by Chappel, in the possession of the publishers,” and dated “A.D. 1861” in print below.

Lightly and evenly toned, with minor staining and a few light creases.

Price: $20.00


# 8003

Original Steel Engraving, 6” x 9 ¼” overall, imprinted “Drawn by Wm. Momberger. Engraved by John C McRae. NAVAL COMBAT BETWEEN THE MONITOR & MERRIMAC. HAMPTON ROADS, MARCH 9TH 1862. Engraved expressly for Abbott’s Civil War,” with a 4 ½” x 7 ½” image of the scene.

Lightly toned, with minor staining in the margins.

Price: $50.00

NIMITZ, CHESTER W. (1885-1966)

# 7155

U.S. Navy Admiral; Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet – 1941-45

During the Final Months of World War II, Nimitz Expresses Support for a Rehabilitation Center for Wounded Veterans on Staten Island – Modeled after FDR’s Facility at Warm Springs, Georgia

War-Date Typed Letter Signed, 8” x 10 ½”, on imprinted stationery as Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet during World War II, to “Irving Geist, 1372 Broadway, New York, New York.”

Writing from his Advance Headquarters on Guam during the final months of the war, Nimitz expresses support for “constructing swimming pools, similar to those at Warm Springs,” the facility founded by Franklin Roosevelt in Georgia to treat victims of polio, for the rehabilitation of wounded World War II veterans at the Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island. He further declines to submit a statement and a photograph for publication, due to the demands of the war. A well-known New York philanthropist, Geist had committed to the task of raising the estimated $150,000 to finance the project at Halloran General Hospital the previous year.

1 June 1945.

Dear Mr Geist:

This will acknowledge your letter of 3 May 1945, which has just reached my Advance Headquarters at Guam.  You may be certain that measures undertaken for the benefit of our returning wounded veterans have my most sympathetic approval. I congratulate you and the men associated with you on your project for constructing swimming pools, similar to those at Warm Springs, for the Halloran General Hospital and I hope and believe that they will prove beneficial to the men for whose use they are intended.

The increasing momentum of the Pacific war has made so many demands upon my time that I have been obliged to adopt a policy of not making statements for publication in connection with endeavors which are not of national scope, however worthwhile such endeavors may be. Therefore I must regretfully decline your request that my photograph and a statement from me be sent for publication in the Dedication Journal.

I deeply appreciate the patriotic motive which prompted you in making the request and offer you my good wishes for the success of your endeavor.

Sincerely yours,

C.W. Nimitz,

Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy.”

Originally planned in 1938 as a treatment center for children with developmental disabilities, Willowbrook State School was renamed Halloran General Hospital after the late Colonel Paul Stacey Halloran, and served as a treatment center for returning wounded veterans from 1942 through 1947.

The letter is lightly and evenly toned, with two horizontal folds, and there are two pinholes and a light paper clip indentation in the upper margin.


NewPERRY, OLIVER HAZARD (1785-1819) U.S. Navy Commodore – War of 1812; Received a Congressional Gold Medal for Action at the Battle of Lake Erie

# 7917

Original Steel Engraving, 7 ½” x 10 ½” overall, with a printed facsimile signature beneath a 5 ½” x 7 ½” image of Perry in military uniform, imprinted “From the original painting by Chappel in the possession of the publishers,” and dated “A.D 1862” in print below.

Lightly and evenly toned, with minor staining.

Price: $25.00

NewPERRY, OLIVER HAZARD (1785-1819) U.S. Navy Commodore – War of 1812; Received a Congressional Gold Medal for Action at the Battle of Lake Erie

# 7918

Original Steel Engraving, 5” x 8 ¼” overall, with a printed facsimile signature beneath a 3 ½” x 4 ¼” image of Perry in military uniform, imprinted “Painted by J.W. Jarvis. Engraved by W.G. Jackman.’

Lightly and evenly toned, with insignificant staining in the margins.

Price: $25.00

PORTER, WILLIAM D. (1809-64)

# 5854

Union Commodore

A lifelong navy man, born in New Orleans, Porter commanded Union naval forces at Ft. Henry, Vicksburg, Port Hudson, and Baton Rouge. He held no active command after promotion to commodore and died on May 1, 1864.

War-Date Signature, with sentiment and the rank Porter held from July 15, 1862 until his death during the Civil War, “Yours Respectfully, W.D. Porter, Commodore, U.S. N[avy],” on a 1 ¾” x 3 ¼” slip of paper.

Lightly and evenly toned, with old mounting traces on the reverse.


WELLES, GIDEON (1802-78)

# 6958

U.S. Secretary of the Navy - 1861-69

Signature, as U.S. Navy Secretary, “Gideon Welles,” on a 1 ¾” x 3 ¼” slip of paper, removed from a letter.

Lightly and evenly toned, with a few small stains and a slightly irregular upper edge.


WELLES, GIDEON (1802-78)

# 7051

U.S. Secretary of the Navy - 1861-69

Signature, as U.S. Navy Secretary, “Gideon Welles,” on a 1 ¼” x 3 ¾” portion of an appointment document.

Lightly and evenly toned, with a vertical crease through the signature.


WELLES, GIDEON (1802-78)

# 7826

U.S. Secretary of the Navy - 1861-69, During the American Civil War

Civil War-Date Letter – Navy Secretary Welles devotes his attention to the Union Blockade

Letter Signed, 7 ¾” x 9 ¾”, with the closing and signature on the reverse, to “James T. Hale, Esq[uire], Washington, D.C.”  Responding to an inquiry from the Pennsylvania congressman, Welles conveys that the foreign fleet has been recalled, understandably preferring to devote all funds and resources available to the U.S. Navy to the Union blockade of the southern states, announced by President Lincoln on April 19, 1861.

“Navy Department, Sept[embe]r 21, 1861.  Sir: Your letter of the 20th inst[ant] has been received.  I have not time to revise the arrangement, at one time proposed with Mr. James McHenry, in regard to funds for our foreign squadrons, referred to by you.  It seems unnecessary, for the arrangement was never consummated by my predecessor, nor has it been recognized, at any time, by this Department.  In addition to this our squadrons have been recalled, rendering any change needless.  I am respectfully. Y[ou]r Obed[ien]t servant, Gideon Welles.”

The paper is lightly and evenly toned, with staining and a few pinholes and light creases in the margins, along with two horizontal folds.