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    [Battle of Fort Donelson]. Ulysses S. Grant Autograph Letter Twice Signed "U.S. Grant." Two pages, 8" x 4", in pencil, [Fort Donelson, Tennessee], [February 13 or 14, 1862]. Addressed to Absalom Markland during the Battle of Fort Donelson, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, recently arrived from Fort Henry, writes, in full: "Send the mail steamer as soon as possible after receiving this. All is well here but we have a powerful force. [Bushrod] Johnson, [Simon Bolivar] Buckner [John B.] Floyd and [Gideon J.] Pillow are all said to be here. [signed] U.S. Grant." Five years later, Grant, having been shown this letter by Markland, added a note with additional information, this time in ink: "This was written from the front of Fort Donelson the 13th or 14th of Feb.y /62. After the words 'powerful force' the words 'in front of us' should have followed. [signed] U.S. Grant / General / May 3d 1867." Separation of both folds has been repaired with tape on the verso. Scattered spots of foxing.

    On February 12, Grant, with his Army of the Tennessee, began the twelve mile march from Fort Henry (which had fallen to Union forces six days earlier) toward Fort Donelson to begin a joint ground and naval assault. Union gunboats attempted to pound down the walls of the fort, but were forced to retreat due to heavy fire from Donelson's batteries. The following day, Confederate forces under the command of Gen. John B. Floyd surprised Grant's army and tried to open a way for escape, but Grant countered and the rebels fled back to the safety of the fort. Knowing they were beaten, Floyd and Gen. Gideon J. Pillow both relinquished command of the fort to Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, who, on February 16, accepted Grant's terms of surrender. The Battle of Fort Donelson was one of the first great victories for the United States and, coupled with the surrender of Fort Henry ten days earlier, was a disaster for the Confederacy, opening Tennessee up for a Federal invasion. Grant was promoted to major general of volunteers and he had gained the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

    During the Civil War, Kentucky-native Absalom Markland (1825-1888) served as a special agent of the Post Office Department assigned to General Grant's staff. He was also a personal friend to the general, the two having met in their early teens as classmates at Maysville Seminary in Kentucky. While Grant began a career in the U.S. military, Markland studied law and migrated to Washington, D.C., in 1849, becoming a government official in the Office of Indian Affairs. During the presidential campaign of 1860, he supported Abraham Lincoln who, after his election, appointed Markland a special agent in the Post Office Department. Markland's initial assignment was to investigate the loyalty of postmasters to the Union, but General Grant soon placed him in charge of mail delivery for his Army of the Tennessee. Markland transformed the slow, inefficient mail delivery to Grant's troops into a rapid, effective service that consequently helped improve morale. He was given the honorary rank of colonel and served under Grant for most of the war, often carrying letters and messages between President Lincoln and his generals.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    12th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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