Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren Autograph Letter Signed ...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionRear Admiral John A. Dahlgren Autograph Letter Signed "J A Dahlgren." Three pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75", "Flag Steamer 'Philadelphia', off Charleston", South Carolina; November 10, 1863. Addressed to an unknown recipient, concerning his commitment to capturing Fort Sumter and Charleston, while also dispelling any rumors that he might want to give up the endeavor. The letter reads in full:
"I am exceedingly obliged for your kind note of 28 from Syracuse. Several of mine have gone to you at 5th Avenue Hotel which have no doubt reached you. Things are going quietly here except the final demolition [of] Sumter which the Shore batteries have been pegging at since 26 Oct: and to which [I] joined two Monitors with Rifled Cannon. It is now battered out of all shape, and is certainly no fort, but only a huge mass of ruin; Yet it gives shelter to the enemy & flaunts his rag, which is shot away repeatedly. You may depend on it, I will never give up Charleston, so long as it pleases the Navy Dept. and I know that my friend the Secretary has faith in me yet. My wish is, when I do go in to do my work thoroughly, and no man in the country will be more disappointed than myself if this does not come to pass before Christmas. Meanwhile I must bear foolish slanders as well as I can. Your brother's business has not escaped me, but it is a specialty of the Provision Dept and your brother had made an arrangement with the Paymaster before I knew of it. Lee is not one of the wisest men in the world, but I will try to assist him in this troubles. He sub-let and his lessee, neglected the work. The matter is now in the Bureau of Yards, it is most important to the Gov. Nothing would please me more than to see you here and to land you safely on the wharf at Charleston. You may be assured that I have never for an instant relaxed in my confidence or determination to get there - never, never - I have been [illegible] by delays I could not avoid, have labored day & night, have watched in a boat all night to keep an assault straight, when I was so sick as hardly to be able to walk across my cabin. But I have never felt like backing out for one instant. Only give me the tools."
Dahlgren (1809-1870), the "Father of American Naval Ordnance," was a career naval officer who designed several guns and artillery, amongst them the muzzleloaded, cast iron cannon known as the Dahlgren gun. He was Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance in addition to duties as commandant of the Ordnance Yard and was appointed rear admiral in the Union navy, 1862. In 1863, Admiral Dahlgren took command of the all-important South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, which assisted in implementing Winfield Scott's brilliant "Anaconda Strategy." The Union assault was ultimately a failure, largely due to a rivalry between the Army and Navy commanders. Although the bombardment had reduced the Fort Sumter to rubble, Federal troops would not re-occupy the symbolic site until Sherman's army marched through South Carolina in February 1865. From the Bret J. Formichi American Civil War Rarities Collection.
Condition: Flattened mail folds, with some separations near the edges where paper was weakened. Paper loss at three of the four corners, which appears to have cut off the "n" of Dahlgren's signature. Light soiling at the corners and folds, else good.
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