Lot 35: ALS signed "A. Lincoln," one page, 5 x 8, January 25, 1864. In full: "It would not be proper to act on this case with out some knowledge of the man. I suggest to Senator Powell to refer the letter to the Rep whose District Crittenden County is, who may know, or possibly can get some knowledge of the man." Lincoln's instructions are penned at the conclusion of a letter from E. H. Bennett to Senator Lazarus W. Powell, written from prison on Johnson's Island, Ohio, January 18, 1864, in part (spelling and grammar retained): "i am a citizen of crittendon county kentucky was arrested at home on the 25th of november 1862 and sent to this place carged with aiding gurrillers with out any confermation my cace was investigated last summer by general McClain he told me he wald recommend my immediate release i wald take the oath which i never refused i have heard nothing from it since if you will get me releast so i can go home to my suffering family your charge shall be paid and your faver never forgat." Below Lincoln's statement is an endorsement by Bennett's representative Lucien Anderson, dated March 28, 1864, in full: "Don't know this man Bennett personally but Capt Finnie an undoubted Union man having recommended his release I have no doubt it is right to do so." In fine condition, with light creases and mounting remnants to the top edge.Guerrilla warfare was a primary tactic of the rebels in the border states and often conducted in Kentucky in hopes of chipping away at Union control, with notable raids carried out by the cavalry forces of Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Hunt Morgan. The prisoner in question, E. H. Bennett, had enlisted in the Confederacy's 1st Kentucky Cavalry when it was formed in October 1861 but was discharged eight months later after suffering a gunshot wound. Arrested by federal forces shortly after this discharge, Bennett was sent to Johnson's Island prison. Although it was built specifically to house Confederate prisoners of war, they were relatively well treated and had the standing opportunity to be released upon signing a loyalty oath. Part of this process was officially applying for the oath, something that Bennett had probably neglected to do during the summer. Most of those imprisoned were fiercely loyal to the rebel cause—anyone applying for an oath was isolated for his own protection—and only about fifty men of the thousands imprisoned had taken the oath by February 1865. With superior content concerning both Confederate military tactics and the Union's prisoner policies, this is an outstanding Lincoln document of exceptional historical interest.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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