• CIVIL WAR-DATE Grant Letter: Orders Steamer Swallow Engaged as Hospital

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    ULYSSES S. GRANT was the eighteenth President of the United States (1869-1877).  He served in the Mexican War but made his mark in the Civil War, winning the Union’s first significant victory at Fort Donelson. As Shiloh, he took heavy losses but won and in July 1863, forced Vicksburg to surrender.  He fought Lee throughout Virginia, including the Wilderness and Petersburg and accepted his surrender at Appomattox. He won the 1868 Presidential election and in office continued Reconstruction, signed a gold currency law and saw the Panic of 1873.  His administration was riddled with scandals though Grant was never involved.  He was bankrupt in business but finished his memoirs a week before he died.  Only days after he captured Paducah, Kentucky, Grant ordered a riverboat to be used as a hospital ship for Fort Holt.

     

    WAR-DATE Autograph Letter Signed, “U.S. Grant Brig. Gen Com.,” one page, 8 x 9 ¾, Cairo [Illinois], September 10, 1861, to Major Hatch, the brigade quartermaster ordering him to engage a riverboat for use as a hospital ship,

     

    “You will please engage the steamer Swallow as a Hospital for the use of troops at Fort Holt and have her towed there at once. I understand the steamer can be had for twenty-five dollars pr. day. More should not be paid.”

     

    Fort Holt was located opposite Grant’s headquarters at Cairo, Illinois, protecting the mouth of the Ohio River.

     

    Only four days earlier, on September 6, 1861, Grant led the successful and bloodless capture of Paducah, Kentucky, which solidified Union control of the mouth of Tennessee River, cutting off an important route into the Confederate interior. He would use the Tennessee River in early 1862 to capture the important forts of Henry and Donelson.

     

    The steamer Swallow had already seen some federal service. In April 1861, the riverboat was used to capture the steamer C.E. Hillman, bound from St. Louis for Nashville laden with 1,000 pounds of gunpowder.

     

    Expected folds and toning.  Very fine letter and highly desirable as WAR-DATE written and signed by Grant as Brigadier General.

     

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