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Lot #325
William T. Sherman

A compassionate Sherman endorses a war-dated request from a farmer

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A compassionate Sherman endorses a war-dated request from a farmer

Union general renowned for burning Atlanta during his relentless March to the Sea. Fantastic war-dated handwritten endorsement signed “W. T. Sherman Maj. Gen. Cmdg,” on the reverse of a letter from a “grey haired man near Sixty years of age, and withall a law abiding citizen.” Farmer John Colby wrote Sherman, begging for redress and compassion. In full, “A Forage Master with twenty-five wagons entered my field yesterday, and took from me twenty-five loads of corn and fodder without any previous notice to me. He said he was acting under orders from the Quartermaster. I am a dairy man living on rented land, owing no real estate in the South, and paying a very high rent. I owe the rent and a large portion of the hire for labour in cultivating this corn, having no servants. I run a milk wagon twice a day to Memphis, and supply both citizen and Soldiers with milk. By this loss I know not how I am to feed my cows and keep up my dairy through the coming winter, without the corn and fodder are restored, or its equivalent, to buy more with. I am a grey haired man near Sixty years of age and withall a law abiding citizen. I trust, General, you will consider my case and relieve me from my embarrassment from this loss… PS My dairy is a mile and a quarter from Memphis.” Sherman writes a seven line autograph endorsement, rescinding the confiscation of Colby's goods: “Refer to Caps…No private property should be taken without consent of owner unless on a written order of a Brig Genl. W. T. Sherman Maj. Gen. Cmdg.” During the Civil War, both the Confederate and Union governments tried to punish the enemy by confiscating private property. On August 6, 1861, a federal law was passed authorizing Union seizure of any property put to hostile use. A second act, passed July 17, 1862, just months before this man's property was seized, designated local, state, and Confederate officials, both civil and military, as classes of citizens whose property was subject to seizure. Intersecting folds, a bit of scattered light toning, and a trivial area of paper loss along one fold, otherwise fine condition. Auction LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #333 - Ended May 14, 2008