"THE IMMEDIATE ISSUE AFTER CHANCELLORSVILLE WAS WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE ARMY OF THE POTOMAC": FINE 1863 ABRAHAM LINCOLN AUTOGRAPH NOTE ON "ENEMIES WORKS" SIGNED AS PRESIDENT DURING A CRITICAL JUNCTURE OF THE CIVIL WAR TO MAJOR GENERAL DANIEL BUTTERFIELD
LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph note signed. Washington: May 11, 1863. One leaf of ruled paper (7-1/2 by 3-1/4 inches), handwritten on recto for one page, "Washington City" and "186_" printed upper right. Matted and framed with a photograph of lincoln, entire piece measures 21 by 14 inches.
Fine Abraham Lincoln autograph note signed, penned entirely by Lincoln while President at a critical moment during the Civil War. Following a Union loss at Chancellorsville, President Lincoln requests from General Joseph Hooker's chief of staff, Major General Daniel Butterfield, additional details regarding the President's personal visit to northern Virginia only a few days after the defeat.
In the wake of yet another failed Union effort to dislodge Confederate forces from Fredericksburg, Virginia, Lincoln traveled by railroad to Falmouth, on the northern side of the Rapidan River to observe the enemy's lines. Following his return to Washington, on May 11, 1863 he penned this note to ask Major General Butterfield—General Hooker's chief of staff—who had assisted the President on his inspection tour, "About what distance is it from the observatory we stopped at last Thursday, to the line of enemies works you ranged the glass upon for me?" To this Butterfield replied the same day, "About two miles in a direct line" (Basler).
"News of the battle of Chancellorsville was slow in reaching Washington. Highly optimistic predictions after the first day's fighting withered as more and more bad news came in… In mid-afternoon of May 6, holding a telegram in his hand, he came into the room in the White House where Dr. Henry and Noah Brooks were talking… At no other time, Brooks thought, did the President appear 'so broken, so dispirited, and so ghostlike.' As Brooks and Dr. Henry read of Hooker's defeat and his retreat across the river, Lincoln paced up and down the room, exclaiming, 'My God! my God! What will the country say! What will the country say!
"The weeks after the battle of Chancellorsville were among the most depressing of Lincoln's presidency… Failure of Union arms led to renewed protests against the war and to demands for peace negotiations… The downward spiral of events during the past six months finally convinced the reluctant President that he had to exert more active leadership… The immediate issue after Chancellorsville was what to do about the Army of the Potomac… Immediately he set about determining responsibility for the disaster, and on May 6, accompanied by Halleck, he went to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth, Virginia. Pleased to discover that the 'troops are none the worse for the campaign,' he let it be known that he was 'agreeably surprised with the situation'" (Donald, Lincoln, 435-38). Ultimately, however, Lincoln would have to demote Hooker, installing General George Meade as commander of the Army of the Potomac just three days before the decisive Battle of Gettysburg.
Fine condition. Scarce and desirable.