Description

    General Ulysses S. Grant Autograph Letter Signed. One and one-quarter pages on one leaf, 7.75" x 9.75", City Point, Virginia, February 26, 1865, to Lt. Col. John E. Mulford, "Agt. of Ex. Jones Landing [Virginia]." In this letter regarding the exchange of prisoners of war, Grant tells Mulford, who was in charge of prisoner exchanges, that he only deliver the same number of Rebel prisoners as the number of Union prisoners he receives. Interestingly, Grant also insists on delivering to the Confederacy 200 prisoners-the number of Union prisoners who had recently escaped to Union lines. Age toned with smoothed folds. Only minor stains. The letter reads in full:

    "Please inform me how the matter of Exchange is coming on. We do not want to deliver faster than we receive. When deliveries stop on James River, we will stop until it is known that deliveries are to be made elsewhere. Two of my Staff Officers have returned from Wilmington. They say that [Confederate General Robert F.] Hoke sent a Flag of Truce proposing to exchange a certain number of prisoners without saying it was an agreement with me and before Schofield received my order. Schofield was advancing on Wilmington at the time and could not have stoped to receive them. About 200 of our prisoners escaped and came into our lines. Whatever the number escaping in that way will be credited to the enemy and will be furloughed until exchanged. Why was it no prisoners were sent to us yesterday when they were still able to receive them? [Signed] U. S. Grant / Lt. Gen."

    For much of the Civil War, prisoners were usually exchanged, rather than left to suffer in prison camps. This system broke down when the Union began using black troops. (The Confederacy refused to treat black prisoners the same as white prisoners.) Because the South relied on exchanges more than the North (the South suffered a much larger shortage of manpower), Grant, beginning in 1864, began refusing to exchange for Rebel prisoners, hoping that this would decrease the numbers of Confederate troops. As a result, POW camps in both the North and South burgeoned with prisoners, many of whom died while held. The exchange of prisoners was renewed after January 1865 when the Confederate government met many of Grant's exchange requirements. On both sides, prisoners were prepared for exchange, most from a particular point in Virginia. General Grant relied on Mulford to implement the exchanges and report on their status. According to our research, this is the first time this letter has been offered at auction.


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    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    12th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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