AUTOGRAPH LETTER BY GRANT MENTIONING HIS PLANS FOR HIS FIRST VISIT TO GETTYSBURG.
Although Gettysburg, Pennsylvania towers over the Civil War in importance, by 1867 - a full two years after the war ended - General Grant, the Commanding General of the Union Forces, had never visited the site of the bloodiest battle of the war. (During the Battle of Gettysburg, Grant, then commander of the Army of the Tennessee, was in the midst of conducting his historic siege of Vicksburg.) Grant was, of course, eager to see the historic grounds, but other obligations always prevented him from doing so.
In this letter, Grant writes to his good friend George W. Childs, the publisher of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, turning down an invitation to a dinner on June 20, 1867, celebrating the dedication of the Ledger’s new headquarters, noting that he will be at Gettysburg on that day.
The letter, dated June 18, 1867, and written on “Head-Quarters Armies of the United States” stationery, reads in full:
“I regret that an engagement to be at Gettysburg, Pa. the very day for which I am indebted to you for a most cordial invitation to dine with you in Philadelphia will prevent my acceptance. With great respect…”
[Signed] U.S. Grant / General
Grant would indeed arrive at Gettysburg on June 20, touring the battlefield the following morning with Major-General Samuel W. Crawford, Major-General John White Geary, and Brigadier-General Porter.
The recipient, Childs, was close to Grant, owning an adjacent seaside cottage to the Grant's. In 1864, he purchased the failing Philadelphia Public Ledger, turning it into one of the leading journals in the country. The new building for the headquarters referred to in Childs’s invitation was hailed by the New York Times as “the finest newspaper office in the country.”
WITH: Accompanying letter (on the same stationery) to Childs by Grant’s aide-de-camp, Horace Porter. Porter served the Union with great distinction in the war, becoming an important member of Grant’s staff and rising to the rank of brevet brigadier general. In his letter he offers apologies for Grant’s delayed response and offering regrets at his inability to attend. Porter's letter is dated September 17, 1867, so it seems he was late in getting Childs Grant's letter.
Octavo, one page. Washington, D.C.: June 18, 1867. On “Head-Quarters Armies of the United States” stationery. Published in full in The Public Ledger Building, Philadelphia: with an Account of the Proceedings Connected with its Opening June 20, 1867. Framed together with Porter’s letter and an engraving of Grant from the first edition of his Memoirs.
The text of Porter’s letter, dated Sept. 17, 1867:
“An absence from the city has prevented me from answering your letter of the 11th sooner. The General was very glad to have an opportunity of writing you the enclosed letter, which I hope will be satisfactory. Had there been a little better management on the part of the Committee, at Gettysburg, he could have visited that place and been present at your dinner also. I feel greatly obliged to you for the information communicated in your letter, and appreciate very highly the interest you take in my Chief I assure you. Hoping you will not hesitate to command me if I can be of any service to you in Washington. I am very truly yours…” .
Price: $5,000 .