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    President Lincoln writes on behalf of a soldier who was wounded and taken prisoner

    Abraham Lincoln Autograph Letter Signed as President. Two pages penned on recto only, 5" x 8", "Executive Mansion, Washington, July 23, 1862." With this letter, President Lincoln directs his secretary of war to pay an officer whose name was missing from the muster role due to his having been wounded and held as a prisoner of war at Richmond, Virginia.

    Addressed to Edward M. Stanton, the president's letter reads in full: "Hon. Sec. Of War Sir, It is stated to me, (I know not whether truly) that Roswell M. Shurtleff, was a Lieut. in the Naval Brigade, that before his corps was mustered into the U.S. service, he was wounded & made a prisoner while on scouting duty, and so his name was not on the role upon which the corps was afterwards mustered in; that after seven months imprisonment, he has been released and now wishes his place in the corps. If these facts be shown to the Adjutant General to be true, he should be paid at all events. Yours truly, A. Lincoln."

    On February 16, 1862, five months before this letter was written, Union Major General John E. Wool sent a communication to Major General B. Huger, then commanding at Norfolk, Virginia, regarding an exchange of prisoners, stating: "I have been requested to inquire whether A. W. Habersham, of Georgia, late of the U.S. Navy, now confined as a prisoner at Fort McHenry, Maryland, will be accepted in exchange for Mr. Roswell M. Shurtleff, who is now a prisoner at Richmond."

    It is unknown whether Shurtleff returned to his corps, but we do know that he was an important Adirondack artist beginning in 1858, who played a leading role in establishing Keene Valley as a prominent gathering place for artists. It is also unknown how knowledge of the fate of young Roswell Morse Shurtleff (1838-1915) came to the president's attention; however, action was taken on his behalf - eight years later.

    While pursuing his artistic career after the war, the question of Shurtleff's pay while still imprisoned was finally settled. On May 6, 1870, the following private resolution was approved by the War Department: "Joint Resolution for the relief of Roswell M. Shurtleff, of New York. Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the proper accounting officers of the treasury be, and they are hereby, required to audit and pay to Roswell M. Shurtleff, of New York City, as First Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Naval Brigade and Union Coast Guard, organized in May, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, by Colonel Washington A. Bartlett, of New York, the pay and emoluments of First Lieutenant and Adjutant, for military service rendered by him without having been mustered into the United States service, from May fifteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, to July twenty-third, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, deducting therefrom the amount received by him from the United States as a prisoner of war at Richmond, Virginia." Lincoln's letter is bright and clean.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
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