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    Description

    [Ulysses S. Grant]. Albert J. Myer Letter Signed as Colonel in the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army. Three pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 10". Memphis, Tennessee; November 26, 1863. A letter to Captain J. M. McClintock, Chief Signal Officer, 16th Army Corps written during Myer's "exile" in Memphis due to a dispute with the War Department over the respective roles of the U.S. Signal Corps and the Military Telegraph Service, the latter a bureau of the War Department. Myer, as Chief Signal Officer, had on several occasions attempted to wrest control of all U.S. telegraph operations, including that of the Military Telegraph Service. As a result, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on November 15, 1863 removed Myer from his post and reassigned him to Memphis, Tennessee. In his letter to Captain McClintock, Myer courts insubordination when he claims that reports "prejudicial to the Signal Corps have been seditiously furnished to the Secretary of War." He complained that these reports were "not contradicted by other reports furnished by Generals."

    He then provides an example and a plan of action: "General Grant is reported to have said verbally to the Secretary of War that he never knew the Signal Corps of his Army to render any real service. This report has done the Corps much injury. It must be corrected or counter-balanced. You will please therefore, on receipt of this letter, endeavor to procure from the Genl., with whom you are serving, a clear expression of his views as to the value of the Corps & of its duties to him in this war, and of the conduct of its officers. The more forcible the better. And ask that this letter may be sent in duplicate, one copy addressed to the General in Chief of the Army, at Washington, and one to the Signal Office of the Army in that city... If the Corps has everywhere gained the confidence of the Generals with whom it is serving, it will come through this struggle with a greater triumph than ever before..."

    Things eventually turned out successfully for Myer. In July 1866, with the support of General Grant and President Andrew Johnson, Congress reorganized the Signal Corps and reinstated his rank as colonel. Myer was informed of this by Secretary of War Stanton.

    Condition: With horizontal mail folds; 1" separations occurring at outer edges of the upper folds, with no loss of text. There are also two pin holes where the folds intersect with the middle crease. Age-toning


    More Information:

    Albert James Myer (1828-1880) was born in Newburgh, New York, raised in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Geneva (now Hobart) College in 1842.  In 1851, he received a medical degree from the Buffalo Medical College.  After practicing medicine for a while in Florida, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a surgeon in 1854.  Interested in telegraphy since his youth, Myer devised a system of visual signaling over long distances through the use of simple codes and materials, such as signal flag during the day or a lantern or torch during the night.  Myer's system of signaling was adopted by the U.S. Army on the eve of the Civil War and was later used by both Union and Confederate forces.  In June of 1860 the U.S. Army promoted Myer to the rank of major and ordered him to organize a signal corps.  The U.S. Army Signal Corps did not become an official organization until March 1863, when Myer was promoted to colonel.  He later wrote A Manual of Signal for the Use of Signal Officers in the Field, published in 1864, and served as signal officer for the Military Division of West Mississippi and then for the Department of the Gulf. In 1865, Mayer, known to his subordinates as "Old Probabilities," received the brevet rank of brigadier general for his work in the establishment of the signal corps.  On June 16, 1880, he received a commission as brigadier general in the U.S Army. 



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    April, 2016
    5th Tuesday
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