AUTOGRAPH LETTER, DATED JUST A WEEK AFTER THE BEGINNING OF THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR, FROM WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN TO HIS COMMANDING OFFICER, TWICE SIGNED BY SHERMAN
SHERMAN, William Tecumseh. Autograph letter signed. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1846. Two sheets of light green paper (one lined), measuring 8 by 7-1/2 inches and 7-1/4 by 6 inches, both affixed to blank page. $2900.
Original signed autograph letter, written entirely in General Sherman's hand in 1846 (just days after the start of the still-undeclared Mexican-American War) to his commanding officer updating him on administrative matters in Pittsburgh, additionally signed as part of the return address on the sheet that once enclosed the letter.
The letter, dated "Pittsburgh Penn May 5, 1846," addressed "To Col Mason," and labeled on a separate sheet (originally used as an envelope) "Pittsburgh , May 5 46 Lieut W.T. Sherman 3rd Inf. Letter," reads in full: "Sir, I have the honor to report that I arrived here yesterday and have this day relieved Lieut Gen Scott 1st Infy in charge of the Rendezvous. I herewith transmit an abstract of the funds & property for which I have receipted and in a few days shall also send the abstract of orders which at first sight seem to be full & complete. I am with respect yr obt Servant—W.T. Sherman 1st Lieut 3rd Infy." This letter was written a little over a week after the Thornton Affair, in which Mexican troops killed 12 U.S. soldiers and captured 52. The Thornton Affair is often viewed as the first official engagement of the Mexican-American War (though news of the American defeat did not reach Washington for five days). While Sherman spent 1846 largely removed from the war, he was heavily involved in enlistment and recruitment. Here, he informs his commanding officer, career military officer and 5th governor of California Richard B. Mason, of his arrival in Pittsburgh and his relief of the Army's Commanding General, Winfield Scott. Pittsburgh—though distant from the border—quickly became a staging point for the war, due to its geographic suitability (the three rivers), its extant heavy industry infrastructure, and its patriotic populace. Within days, Pittsburgh transformed into a military city, utterly invested in the just-declared war. Though Sherman was eventually reassigned to a non-combat role in California, it was in Pittsburgh that he got his first glimpse of the impact of the Mexican-American War on America. Accompanied by an engraved portrait of Sherman. The letter is marked in an unknown hand: "Sends abstract of funds & property recvd—recvd May 18th." This item was bound into an extra-illustrated copy of the "History of the City of New York" circa 1872, in the possession of Emery E. Childs, and while the book—expanded to 21 volumes—has passed through several hands, this particular autograph letter has not been on the market since it was bound in, a happy circumstance that has also maintained this fragile letter in its current condition.
Only expected marks from affixture within book, original crease marks. Very nearly fine condition.