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294   Benjamin Butler Autograph Letter Signed  $200 $200 $220 1 You must login to place a bid.
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#294 - Benjamin Butler Autograph Letter Signed Estimate: $600+

General Butler wires Winfield Scott about an unauthorized march to Baltimore

Uncommon ALS signed “B. F. Butler,” one page, 7.75 x 4.75, no date [likely war-dated]. Brief handwritten letter set for dispatch to Lieutenant General Winfield Scott via telegram, in full: "I am en route for the Station assigned with the eighth NY Regiment." In very good to fine condition, with light creasing, a hole to the lower left, and a tear to the bottom edge. Accompanied by an engraving bearing a preprinted signature.

During 1861, Maryland’s loyalty was a question of great importance. Situated next to the nation’s capital, the slave state had not yet seceded, but its citizens were joining both Northern and Southern militias. Baltimore was particularly hostile to the Union, so much so that president-elect Lincoln was forced to travel incognito through the city on the way to his first inauguration for fear of assassination. In April, just after the outbreak of war, federal troops were attacked by Confederate mobs in Baltimore, which sought to impede their movement south. In an effort to avoid additional civilian casualties, the Governor of Maryland ordered railroad bridges leading to Baltimore burned to prevent troops from moving through the city and Confederate sympathizers cut the telegraph lines between Maryland and Washington, isolating the unprotected capital.

On April 22, 1861, Butler and several regiments arrived in Maryland by steamship and disembarked despite the governor’s protests. Butler, with Lincoln’s support and as ordered by Scott, had his men repair and secure the rail lines north. However, Butler decided to take matters into his own hands and, without orders from Scott, his superior, set out with 450 men of the 8th New York Regiment to take control of the Relay Station, an important railroad junction near Baltimore. Several days later, he took Baltimore itself, arresting Confederate sympathizers as he went, threatening lawmakers if they voted to secede and incurring the wrath of Scott who recalled him to Washington. For his success, even though heavy-handed, Butler was promoted to the rank of major general.

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