DescriptionUlysses S. Grant Autograph Letter Signed and Stereoview. One page, 7.25" x 9.25", on Head Quarters Armies of the United States letterhead, Washington, May 19, 1865. Written to Col. Absalom H. Markland, special agent of the Post Office Department, just five and a half weeks after Lee's surrender, Grant presents to Markland his saddle, in full: "I take great pleasure in presenting you the 'Grimsley Saddle' which I have used in all the battles from Fort Henry, Tenn, in Feby 1862, to the battles about Petersburg, Va, ending in the surrender of Lee's Army at Appomattox C.H. Va. on the 9th of Apl. 1865. I present this saddle not for any intrinsic value it possesses but as a mark of friendship and esteem after continued service with you through the Great Rebellion, our services commencing together at Cairo, Ill. in the Fall of 1861 and continuing to the present day. I hope our friendship, if not our continued services together, will continue as heretofore." Mounted to a backing board of the same dimensions. Areas of light staining at the lower left corner do not detract from the overall presentation of the letter.
With the letter is a 7" x 4" stereoview of Grant's saddle from Mote Brothers of Richmond, Indiana. Plate No. 130. Grant's saddle is seen slung over the back of a chair. In 1887, Markland loaned out the saddle to the Smithsonian Institution and it was held there for over seventy years. In 1968, it was placed in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia, where it resides today.
During the Civil War, Kentucky-native Absalom Markland served as a special agent of the Post Office Department assigned to General Grant's staff. He was also a personal friend to the general, the two having met in their early teens as classmates at Maysville Seminary in Kentucky. While Grant began a career in the U.S. military, Markland studied law and migrated to Washington, D.C., in 1849, becoming a government official in the Office of Indian Affairs. During the presidential campaign of 1860, he supported Abraham Lincoln who, after his election, appointed Markland a special agent in the Post Office Department. Markland's initial assignment was to investigate the loyalty of postmasters to the Union, but General Grant soon placed him in charge of mail delivery for his Army of the Tennessee. Markland transformed the slow, inefficient mail delivery to Grant's troops into a rapid, effective service that consequently helped improve morale. He was given the honorary rank of colonel and served under Grant for most of the war, often carrying letters and messages between President Lincoln and his generals.
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