US civil war letter achieves $125,000 at Heritage

One of the most important letters of the US civil war has more than doubled its estimate, realising $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on October 19.  

The message is from commanding general of the Union army Ulysses S Grant to his comrade William T Sherman.

Ulysses March Sea

This letter sets in motion one of the turning points of the US civil war

It concerns Sherman’s so-called March to the Sea, one of the key turning points of the war.

Sherman’s big idea was to lead his forces through the state of Georgia, from the captured city of Atlanta to the Confederate stronghold of Savannah.

Along the way, he would disrupt and destroy Confederate supply lines.

In his letter, dated October 12, 1864, Grant gives Sherman the go ahead: “On reflection I think better of your proposition. It will be much better to go South than to be forced to come North.

“You will no doubt clean the country where you go of rail-road tracks and supplies. I would also move every wagon, horse, mule and hoof of stock as well as the negroes.

“As far as arms can be supplied either from surplus in hand or by capture I would put them in the hands of negro men, give them such organization as you can. They will be of some use.”

Grant would have handed the letter to a secretary, who transmitted it in code to Sherman. 

As Heritage states, the lot is: “One of the most significant Ulysses S. Grant letters to be offered on the market in recent memory, the communication that resulted in one of the most critical military operations of the Civil War.”

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