Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    [Civil War]. Orlando H. Ross Archive comprised of over eighty letters, orders, field passes, diaries, photographs, receipts, and newspapers spanning the years 1861 through 1935, the bulk of which is war-dated.

    Orlando Hopkins Ross, a native of Bethel, Ohio, was born in 1835. In 1861, he was appointed assistant surveyor for the riverine port of Cairo, Illinois, before enlisting as a private in the 21st Illinois Volunteer Regiment on June 27, 1861. He never mustered into the regiment, being appointed special messenger at the headquarters of his cousin, Ulysses S. Grant. In September 1861, he was made a mail agent in the Post Office Department between Cairo, Illinois, and Paducah, Kentucky, and later was in charge of military mail for the Army of the Tennessee, at times running past enemy fortifications in an effort to make deliveries. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 20th Illinois Infantry in October 1862, and less than four months later he received a promotion to captain, serving as aide-de-camp on the staff of General Grant. He resigned his commission on September 7, 1864, and promptly left the army.

    Following his departure, he requested permission from the Treasury Department to open a military supply store in Vicksburg, with the endorsements of Generals Grant and William T. Sherman, while simultaneously pursuing a contract with the Federal government to place sleeping cars on the rail lines running throughout the Military Division of the Mississippi. He was granted authority to open a supply store at Natchez, Mississippi, and, while there, enlisted in Company G, 3rd Regiment, Enrolled Militia.

    Of note are three letters bearing the signatures of well-known Civil War generals including: William T. Sherman Autograph Endorsement Signed "W. T. Sherman." Two pages, 8" x 12.5", Washington, February 18, 1873. Sherman places his endorsement, one of many, below a letter by Captain Orlando H. Ross to his cousin and former commander, President Ulysses S. Grant, asking for an appointment to the office of recorder of deeds in Washington. Sherman gives his recommendation as to the character of Ross as follows: "Cheerfully recommended. Captain Ross served the Country faithfully in war, and is now an honorable, industrious & most worthy citizen." Nine other men have given their recommendations, among them U. S. Senator and former Union General John A. Logan, who writes: "I know Capt Ross and endorse him as a good soldier and worthy man and cheerfully concur in the above recommendation." Also, Congressman John A. Smith of Ohio, Brevet Brigadier General Allan D. Rutherford, et al. [and:] Lew Wallace Autograph Letter Signed. Two integral pages, 5" x 7.75", City Point [Virginia], September 7, 1864, to Captain Orlando H. Ross regarding his resignation. He writes, in full: "It gives me pleasure, since you feel it a duty to yr. family to leave the service, to acknowledge yr. your excellent conduct throughout the war. It is greatly to be wished that you could remain in the army. Few persons have discharged their duty with so much zeal, and energy, and so entirely to the satisfaction of yr. superiors. Whenever you wish to come back, and a recommendation of mine can be of assistance to you, let me know, and I will gladly give it to you." Smoothed folds; light toning. [and:] Ambrose Burnside Autograph Field Pass Signed "A. E. Burnside." One page with integral blank, 5" x 8", Cincinnati, July 27, 1863. In part: "Capt O H Ross of Genl Grant's staff has permission to pass and repass at his pleasure . . . in this Dept." Folds and slight wrinkling; light toning especially around the edges.

    After the war, Ross was appointed a route agent of the Post Office Department on the railway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. In the early 1870s, he received a job in the Treasury Department as a recorder of deeds. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the Freemasons. Captain Ross died in 1892 and is buried with his wife, Missouri Belle Hawkins Ross, in Arlington National Cemetery.

    More Information: Some of the pieces found in the archive include, but are not limited to:


    1865 Diary with Lincoln Assassination Content.

    Orlando H. Ross Cabinet Card. 4.25" x 6.5". March 1882.

    Daniel Arter Appointment Twice Signed "D. Arter." One page, 7.5" x 9.75", Cairo [Illinois], October 18, 1861, appointing Orlando H. Ross "my true & lawful assistant Surveyor at owens landing."

    John A. Rawlins Field Pass Signed. One partially printed page, 3.5" x 2.5", "Headquarters District Southeast Missouri," Cairo [Illinois], December 9, 1861, allowing to "Pass Mrs. Belle Ross To Cincinnati and return" per Brig. Gen. U. S. Grant.

    John A. Rawlins Field Pass Signed. One page, 7.75" x 10", "Head Quarters, Army of the Tenn. In Field," Corinth [Mississippi], June 18, 1862, ordering "Guard & Transport Steamers [to] pass O. H. Ross to and from any and every point he may wish with any Baggage &c. that he may have, until countermanded" by order of Major Gen. U. S. Grant.

    Fair Copy of Special Orders, No. 55. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", "Headquarters 13th Army Corps/Department of the Tennessee," Holly Springs [Mississippi], December 28, 1862, ordering two recently paroled Union prisoners to return to duty.

    Special Orders, No. 54. One printed page, 5" x 7.75", Young's Point [Louisiana], February 23, 1863, ordering "Steamboats in Government service on the Mississippi River, furnish Subsistence to Military Mail Messengers" and furnish them "A suitable state room, with lock and key" by order of Major General  U. S. Grant.

    [Vicksburg Campaign]. Absalom H. Markland Autograph Recommendation Letter Signed "A. H. Markland." One page, 7.75" x 9.75", Milliken's Bend [Louisiana], April 25, 1863. Writing to an unknown recipient on behalf of Orlando H. Ross, he says, in full: "Capt O H Ross is an old river boatman and a man of great energy & determination. He has managed the U. S. Mail in the lines of the Army of the Tennessee with satisfaction. I would be glad to hear that he has been entrusted with the charge of any vessel that may [be] sent by the batteries at Vicksburg." A note on the verso from Lt. Col. J. D. Bingham reads, in part: "Capt. Ross desires to run by the ememies Batteries . . . Respectfully referred to Maj. Gen. Sherman as I have no authority to pass other than the necessary employees."

    John A. Rawlins Special Orders, No. 91 (Extract) Signed. One partially printed page, 8" x 9.75", Vicksburg, July 15, 1863. In full: "Captain O. H. Ross Aid-de-Camp [sic] has permission to proceed to Cincinati [sic], Ohio. He will return to these Head Quarters upon the transaction of his business there." By order of Maj. Gen. Grant.

    Receipt for Equipage. One partially printed page, 10" x 7.75", Vicksburg, August 26, 1863, certifying the receipt of one wall tent (in good condition), one wall tent fly, and one set of wall tent poles issued to Captain Orlando H. Ross.

    Fair Copy of Two Orders. One page, 7.75" x 6.25", "Head Qr. Mil. Div. of the Mississippi In the field," Chattanooga [Tennessee], November 4, 1863, ordering "The officer in charge of Ferry boats [to] pass and repass at pleasure, Capt. O. H. Ross, A.D.C., with orderly & two horses, on the boats at this place until further orders." A second order appears at the bottom: "Any Steamboat will furnish free transportation to Capt. Ross, his orderly, horses, baggage, &c. , between this place & Bridgeport until further orders."

    Absalom H. Markland Autograph Letter of Introduction Signed "A. H. Markland." One page, 7.75" x 9.75", Nashville, November 6, 1863, to Dr. J. J. Speed. He writes, in part: "This will introduce to you Captain Orlando H. Ross, Special Agent P. O Dept. Before my arrival here Capt R had been ordered to Louisville on Military business by Maj Genl Grant. You will find him to be a young man of energy and any suggestions you may give him will be carried out."

    C. Dinsman Autograph Letter of Introduction Signed. One page, 5" x 8", Louisville, November 8, 1863, to William J. McAlpine, general superintendent of the eastern division of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. Here he writes, in full: "Allow me to introduce to you the bearer Cap O. H. Ross Aid [sic] to Gen Grant and Special Agent in the Post Office Dept. The Capt will have occasion to pass over the O & M R R on business for Maj Gen Grant. Any courtesy extended to him will be duly acknowledged by me."

    Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 5.25" x 8.25", Vicksburg, December 13, 1863, to Captain Orlando H. Ross giving news about the men remaining in the postal department.

    Edward C. Abdill Autograph Letter Signed "Ed. C. Abdill." Two pages, 5.25" x 8.5", "Office," December 13, 1863, to Captain Orlando H. Ross informing him that he is sending a photograph of himself and requesting one of Ross in return.

    Field Pass. One page with integral blank, 7.75" x 9.75", "Headquarters Military Division Miss.," Nashville, January 23, 1864, ordering "All military authorities, guards and pickets [to] pass Captain O H Ross, Aide-de-Camp on the Staff of the Major General [Grant] Commanding, thro' all lines, to and from all points in this Military Division."

    Fair Copy of a Ulysses S. Grant Letter. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", Memphis, January 24, 1864. Writing to Brig. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas, Gen. Grant is reiterating a recommendation for appointment, in part: "While commanding the 13th Army Corps, I named . . . 2nd Lieutenant Orlando H Ross 20th Ill. Vol . . . as Aide-de-Camp with the Rank of Capt. As nothing has been heard from their appointment, I would respectfully renew the recommendation." At the bottom, Ross has written a short note, most likely to his wife, reading: "This is a true copy of the letter sent tonight a kiss & good bye."

    Orlando H. Ross Autograph Letter. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", Nashville, January 31, 1864, to Brig. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas informing him that he is "still on duty as Aid-de-Camp [sic] to Maj Genl U. S. Grant, in pursuance of my appointment as such."

    Autograph Receipt Signed. One page, 7.75" x 9.75", on "Head-Quarters Military Division Miss., Engineer Department, Office Assistant Quartermaster" letterhead, n. p., February 24, 1864, certifying the receipt of one black horse from Capt. Orlando H. Ross.

    Field Pass. Two pages, 8" x 10", Nashville, March 16, 1864. Issued by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, it orders "All guards, pickets, and military authorities throughout the Army [to] pass and repass . . . O. H. Ross at all hours and without any hindrance or molestation." Furthermore, "Government steamers and military railroads will . . . furnish him free transportation . . . Quartermasters will furnish him a horse or other means of transportation whenever required." It warns that if the order is not obeyed, the transgressor will be court martialed.

    Col. W. R. Rowley Field Pass. One page, 8" x 10", Washington, March 24, 1864, ordering "Guards, Pickets, and Military authorities generally [to] pass and repass Capt. O H Ross to and from any point within the Federal lines to which he may desire to go." By order of Lt. Gen. Grant.

    Two Receipts. Both one partially printed page, 10.25" x 8", Cincinnati, April 4, 1864, for one horse in good condition from Capt. Orlando H. Ross.

    War Department Letter. One partially printed page with integral blank, 5" x 8", Washington, August 3, 1864, to Capt. Orlando H. Ross reminding him that reports are to be sent monthly to the Adjutant General of the Army. On the verso is written, by hand: "No reports have been received for the months of April, May & June 1864."

    Special Orders, No. 70. One partially printed page, 8" x 10.5", Nashville, March 16, 1864, ordering "Capt. O. H. Ross . . . [to] proceed to Cincinnati, Ohio, and await orders."

    George K. Leet Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 5" x 8", Washington, August 31, 1864, ordering Capt. Orlando H. Ross to "proceed at once to City Point, Va., and then report to Lt. Col. T. S. Bowers . . . for orders."

    Theodore S. Bowers Autograph Field Pass Signed. One page with integral blank, 5" x 8",  City Point [Virginia], September 6, 1864, allowing "O. H. Ross late Captain and Aide-de-Camp on the staff of Gen. Grant to and from all points within the Armies of the United States at pleasure."

    George K. Leet Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages with integral blank, 5" x 7.75", City Point [Virginia], September 18, 1864, to Orlando H. Ross regarding a land warrant. At the end he adds: "There is no news of interest to communicate. Nothing going on here but a little cannonading which is nothing unusual. The General [Grant] is about on a visit to Gen. Sheridan."

    Certificate of Enrollment. One page, 8" x 9.75", Natchez [Mississippi], March 11, 1865, certifying that "O. H. Ross . . . has been enrolled for service in the Militia." At the bottom is a physical description of Orlando H. Ross.

    Certificate of Membership. One page, 7.75" x 3.25", Natchez [Mississippi], March 13, 1865, certifying that "O.H. Ross is a Member of Company G, 3d Regiment, Enrolled Militia."

    Alexander W. Randall Appointment Signed "Alex. W. Randall." One partially printed page with integral blank, 13" x 8.25", Washington, April 7, 1866, appointing Orlando H. Ross "a Route Agent of the [Post Office] Department on the Rail Road line between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tenn . . . at the rate of Eight hundred dollars per annum." Alexander Randall was governor of Wisconsin until 1862, when he was appointed minister to the Vatican by Abraham Lincoln. He was postmaster general under President Johnson.

    Orlando H. Ross Autograph Note Signed. One page, 7.75" x 4.25", n. p., n. d., noting his first payment of $50 back pay from his time as special mail agent, September 1861 through December 31, 1861.

    Two Orlando H. Ross Invitations. The first is one page, 4.5" x 2.75", Washington, n. d., announcing "Capt. & Mrs. O. H. Ross, at home . . . December 21, 1870." The second, also one page, 4.75" x 6", Washington, also announcing the same.

    Robert C. Schenck Autograph Letter Signed "Robt. C. Schenck." Four integral pages, 3.25" x 6", London, March 2, 1872. A former Union general, Schenck was serving as minister to the United Kingdom for President Ulysses S. Grant when he wrote to Orlando H. Ross. Marked "Private," he writes in part: "I may tell you that, with the uniform of my military rank, which in the absence of any American diplomatic costume, I use here on court occasions . . . I always wear my Grand Army badge. The plain bronze does not glitter as gold & diamond decorations do; but no Representative of any country can be more . . . proud of any order conferred on him that I am of this emblem."

    Military Order, Loyal Legion of the U. S. Acceptance Letter. One page, 8" x 10", Washington, January 7, 1888, to Orlando H. Ross informing him of his election as "a Companion of the First Class of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion." With a second letter asking Ross to "sign and return enclosed Declaration."

    Military Order, Loyal Legion of the U. S. Phil Sheridan Memorial Booklet. Eight pages, 5.25" x 8", Washington, August 13, 1888. Giving a short account of the life of the former Union general.

    Letter. One printed page, 8" x 10.5", on Treasury Department letterhead, Washington, April 17, 1891, to Orlando H. Ross disallowing his claim for traveling allowances when he was in the service.

    Grand Army of the Republic Booklet.  Two integral pages, 6" x 8.5", Boston, May 12, 1891. From the Committee for Procuring a Presentation Badge, to members asking for donations for outgoing Commander -in-Chief Wheelock G. Veazey.

    34th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry Reunion Booklet. Four integral pages, 4.5" x 7", Washington, September 22, 1892.

    Fifteenth Army Corps Reunion Committee Booklet. Fifteen pages, 6" x 9.25", Washington, September 1, 1892.

    H. T. Holmes Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 8.25" x 11", on "James A. Garfield Post No. 6, Dep. of Missouri, G. A. R." letterhead, Jefferson City [Missouri], September 12, 1892, to Orlando H. Ross introducing "my daughter Grant who will call on you.we named her after our old beloved General."

    The Ladies Citizen's Committee Invitation. One printed page, 5.5" x 4.5", Washington, September 19, 1892, requesting the attendance of "a National Reception . . . to be held in the Rotunda of the Capitol"

    by committee members Clara Barton and Mrs. John A. Logan.

    Invitation. One page, 5.5" x 4.5", Washington, September 20, 1892, from Mrs. John A. Logan "to meet [at] The John A Logan Posts G.A.R. of the United States, The Grand Army of the Republic, and Woman's Relief Corps of Illinois."

    Official Programme for the Twenty-Sixth Annual Encampment, Grand Army of the Republic. Four integral pages, 8.5" x 11", Washington, September 19-24, 1892.

    Typed Letter Signed. One page, 8" x 10", Washington, October 14, 1892, to George P. Davis informing him that his request for a burial plot for Orlando H. Ross in Arlington National Cemetery has been accepted.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2013
    17th-18th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 761

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 September 14 - 15 Americana & Political.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,022,424