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    Robert E. Lee at Vera Cruz

    [Mexican-American War] Robert E. Lee Autograph Letter Signed as Captain of Engineers. Two pages, with integral address leaf, penned by Lee; franked "Public Service", 8.25" x 10.5", Vera Cruz, June 7, 1848. A career United States Army officer, an engineer, and among the most celebrated generals in American history, Robert E. Lee distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War as one of Winfield Scott's chief aides in the march from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. He was instrumental in several American victories through his personal reconnaissance as a staff officer, identifying routes of attack that the Mexicans had not defended because they thought the terrain was impassable.

    Four months prior to writing this letter, the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty required that Mexico cede 55% of its land to the U.S., lifted the U.S. blockade of Mexico's ports and free places captured by U.S. occupation troops, ended the war, and gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas. It also established the U.S.-Mexican border along the Rio Grande River. Engineer Robert E. Lee and a team of engineers were then ordered to begin measuring roads and evaluating their travel worthiness for the use of U.S. Army troops between the states and various locations in Mexico.

    Here, Lee writes to Major L. Thomas, Assistant Adjutant General of the Army, informing him of road conditions in Mexico. In full: "Sir, I arrived here yesterday with the Engineer Officers Company, having measured the road from the City of Mexico to this place, through Arizona & made the whole distance 245 5/8 miles. As far as Cordova the road is good & well elevated. This side of Cordova water is very scarce till you reach San Diego, & there is more between San Diego & Vera Cruz. The road between Cordova & Vera Cruz is in parts, very [illegible] & Sandy. Upon the whole, especially in reference to Water, I consider the National road the better route for the Army [illegible], men & Animals suffered much for water after leaving Cordova. Learning on my arrival here of the intelligence of the Treaty of Peace between the U.S. and Mexico, I caused the Engr. Comp. & 5 of the Officers to embark on board the Brig Helen bound for N. Orleans, she not having accommodation for more. She sailed this Sund. The rest of the Officers will embark with me in the first vessel that Sails. I have disposed of the Officers & men as recommended in the Memo presented to you." Letter is signed "RE Lee."

    Following his service in Mexico, and after serving twenty-five years with the Army's Corps of Engineers, Lee became the superintendent of West Point for a period of three years. He later fought at Harper's Ferry and in the War of Texas Secession, and was then offered a senior command (with the rank of Major General) in the expanding army to fight the Southern States that had left the Union.

    This fragile letter is moderately age toned with fold separation and minor tear repairs (minor paper loss to two letters). Docketed on address leaf. An important letter from one of the most distinguished U.S. Army officers in the conflict!


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    16th-17th Tuesday-Wednesday
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