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Lot #294
Gideon Welles

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Estimate: $200+
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Civil War-dated LS as Secretary of the Navy, two pages on two adjoining sheets, 7.75 x 9.75, July 30, 1861. Letter to future arctic hero and admiral George W. Melville, in part: "A Board of Engineers before which you recently appeared, having reported you as having passed a satisfactory examination, you are hereby appointed a Third Assistant Engineer in the Navy of the United States." In very good to fine condition, with staining to the edges.

This was Melville’s first-ever commission in the U.S. Navy in a career that spanned 42 years. He was on the tragic Jeannette expedition (1879-81) where he commanded the only long boat launched from their ship, the Jeannette, (which had been crushed by ice) to reach land safely in Siberia, leading his crew back to safety. Most of the other crew members died. For his actions Congress awarded him a Gold Medal and advanced him 15 numbers on the promotion list, making him Chief Engineer of the U.S. Navy. In 1885 he was the Chief Engineer of the Thetis for the Greely Relief Expedition, another Arctic saga. By 1900 he was Rear Admiral and Engineer-in-Chief of the U.S. Navy.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #541 - Ended December 05, 2018

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