Civil War-dated ALS signed "U. S. Grant Maj. Gen," one page, 7.75 x 9.75, April 21, 1863. Letter to Colonel Reynolds. In full: "The Qr. Mr. Sgt. of the 29th Ill. Vols. ordered to report to you for duty yesterday can be made very useful by aiding in superintending the building of the store sheds at the mouth of the Canal and as Shipping Clerk & c. From such store sheds through the canal." In very good to fine condition, with a split to the end of one fold, a short edge tear, and light staining and toning.
In 1863, Vicksburg was the only Confederate stronghold left on the Mississippi. If the town fell, the Union would have control of the river and split the Confederacy in two. In April 1863, Grant launched his second campaign to take Vicksburg, considered his greatest achievement during the war. His letter to Colonel Charles A. Reynolds refers to an earlier project, Grant's Canal, an unfinished man-made waterway on the Mississippi across from Vicksburg. Its purpose was to circumvent the confederate guns in the town and ideally change the river's course. Grant set his men to work on the canal in January of 1863, but abandoned the project in March after a dam gave way and the canal prematurely flooded. Days before he wrote this letter, he had successfully moved the bulk of his army down the west side of the Mississippi and ferried them to the eastern banks, laying the groundwork for the Siege of Vicksburg. The 29th Illinois Volunteers would serve with distinction during the siege. An historically significant letter penned at a decisive moment in Grant's military career.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.