DescriptionUlysses S. Grant War-Dated Autograph Directive Signed With a Post-war Attestation and Second Signature. One page on lined stationery, 8" x 5.75", the original communiqué in pencil with a later penned explanation on the verso. The front reads "Head Quarters & c / Markland. Special Mail Agt. Send the mail steamer as soon as possible after receiving this. All is well here but we have a powerful force. Johnson, Buckner, Floyd and Pillow are all said to be here. U.S. Grant." A verso address panel, also penciled by Grant, reads "Mr. Markland / Special Mail Agt. / Fort Henry / Tenn." and is above a dated ink endorsement: "This was written from the front of Fort Donalson the 13th or 14th of Feby/62. After the words 'powerful force' the words 'in front of us' should have followed. U.S. Grant General May 3rd 1867". Uneven lower margin, old archival tape reinforcement to folds, light creases. Overall good condition. This important missive hails from the pivotal campaign that opened the Deep South to Union invasion. The capture of Confederate Forts Henry and Donalson gave the North control of the Cumberland River, making Grant's career in the process.
Colonel Absalom Markland, a native of Kentucky, was a special agent of the Post Office Department on Grant's staff, as well as a personal friend to the general. The two had met in their early teens as classmates at Maysville Seminary in Kentucky. Prior to the Civil War, Markland had studied law and migrated to Washington, D.C., in 1849 and became a government official in the Office of Indian Affairs. Abraham Lincoln appointed him a special agent in the Post Office Department. His initial assignment was to investigate the loyalty of postmasters to the Union, but General Grant soon assigned him charge of mail delivery for his Army of the Tennessee. At Grant's urging, Markland transformed the slow, inefficient mail delivery to Grant's troops into a prompt, efficient service that consequently helped improve morale. According to Allen Thorndike Rice's book, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time (1886), Markland had the rare distinction of being "the only person besides President Abraham Lincoln and General U. S. Grant who ever had authority to pass at will through all the armies of the United States, thereby showing the confidential relations between the President, General Grant and himself" (North American Publishing Company, 629).
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