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Letters to the Editor

Passionate Collector Scores!

July 5, 2021

Fellow Rail Splitters,

I own an automobile dealership in NJ but my real passion is collecting history in many forms. Obviously you can relate to my passion. I have been a subscriber to your fabulous journal for many years. I have never written to you but I have a very large collection of autographs and other collectibles. I have even seen an item in your journal that I had sold many years ago that someone else brought to your attention and you guys printed a picture of· it in your “Marketplace” section. To give you an idea the variety of items I collect and sometimes get tired of and sell (usually after many years). I had sold (with legitimate provenance) the inkwell (with signed Photo) Woodrow Wilson used to sign the Treaty Of Versailles ending WWI.

AT ANY RATE, I found this amazing collection from a gun dealer and I thought you would be interested in hearing about it. With all the handwritten original documents that I own, including Lincolns, I was flabbergasted that I was able to buy this collection at all. It should be in a museum… but then again a lot of items should be in a museum! Here is the description:

ONLY TEN DAYS AFTER LINCOLN’S ASSASSINATION THE U.S. ARMY SENDS HIS PERSONAL PAPERS UNDER ARMED GUARD AND SPECIAL ORDERS TO ILLINOIS! An almost unknown, yet significant detail directly related to the events immediately following that tragedy, this unique group of historic documents includes: (1) the original penned two page letter on the printed letterhead “WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY APRIL 26, 1865” with autograph Signature of Brig. General James A. Hardie, Inspector General U.S. Army, ordering Lieut. Gilbert N. Carpenter, 18’th U.S. Infantry: “the Sec’y of War directs that you proceed to Bloomington, Illinois IN CHARGE OF THREE BOXES OF VALUABLE DOCUMENTS BELONGING TO THE LATE PRESIDENT LINCOLN and deliver same into the custody of the National Bank at that place … the receipts of the Cashier being your voucher. .. the boxes will be forwarded this evening and you will accompany them by Adams Express Co. Four enlisted men will accompany you and you are directed to keep two of these men constantly [Hardie underlined that phrase] on guard over the boxes .. . during their transit and until their final delivery. Having executed these instructions you will at once return… and report performance of the duty assigned to you.” Exc. condition. Some minor short partial tears on two folds; original stamped surcharges on top by railway stations where Carpenter stopped along the way, taken as proof of his travel. (2) “ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY… SUP’T OFFICE, EASTERN MILITARY DIVISION .. . WASHINGTON.” Fancy printed letterhead; single sheet letter boldly penned both sides April 26, 1865 from the Adams Division Chief” … To the Adams Express Company Express Agents … the bearer, Lieut. Carpenter and guard are under instructions from the Sec’y of War to accompany certain boxes belonging to our late president to their designation at Bloomington … the [railroad] car furnished here will be retained in this service … consistent with arrangements [with] connecting Railroads. When a transfer becomes necessary… see that at least equal facilities are furnished and every attention given to the lieutenant in furtherance of his sad mission. Telegraph in advance … providing against delays or obstruction … see that an Express messenger accompanies the train with the lieutenant.. .should it become necessary to enter the territory of the American Express Co. I request the same attention as though the service were to be performed by this company. Any expense will be paid by this company. THE KNOWN PATRIOTISM OF ALL EXPRESS MEN IS INVOKED to see that the service is promptly performed.” Top blank margin only a bit ragged, but not obscuring it in any way. (3) “THE NATIONAL BANK OF BLOOMINGTON” fancy letterhead. Neat penned note with signature of bank’s cashier to Lieutenant Carpenter. Acknowledges receipt from him of ” .. . three boxes of contents to us, unmarked … ” (4) “WAR DEPT., ADJ. GEN’L’s OFFICE WASHINGTON” printed letterhead May 4, 1865. Penned letter to Gen’l Hardie entirely in the hand of and signed by Lieut. Carpenter. Two pages (each blank on reverse) with details of the trip and delivery while ” … in charge of three boxes of valuable papers belonging to the late President Lincoln.” Describes his arrival time at the bank, and to whom he delivered the papers: ” … having seen them safely stored in the vault I telegraphed you of their delivery.” Requests Hardie to commend the attention given to him by the employees of the express companies” .. . in providing against any contingencies that could place at hazard the safe delivery of the property… ” Describes return to Washington and sends along the original bank receipt. (5) The original leather fold-up, russet colored three section wallet (8 x 14 overall with fastening strap) in which Carpenter kept the original orders and receipts for Lincoln ‘s papers. Shows wear; leather supple and has authentic neat penned inscription inside “G. S. CARPENTER/18TH U.S. INFANTRY” with his name similarly inscribed on the outside. (6) Original fancy printed 10 x 14 Presidential Commission appointing Carpenter as “Captain … for Gallant and Meritorious Service at the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tenn .” with signature of Stanton as Sec’y of War and, the usual stamped signature of President Johnson. Dated Sept.10, 1866. (7) Carpenter’s earlier appointment as “Sergeant” in 18’th U.S. Infantry, Feb. 1862. Printed parchment document. (8) Fancy parchment printed document 12 x 17 “Society of the Army of the Cumberland” membership to Carpenter. (9) Two piece, large brass G. A. R. anniversary medal for “Lafayette Post 140/ Dept. of NY” engraved with Carpenter’s name. The officer’s distinguished record indicates he remained in the Army through the Spanish-American War, retiring as a General in 1899. I hope you can appreciate my excitement with this collection.

Kenny Schwartz

Tinton Falls, NJ

[Editor: Can we ever! Congratulations … what a wonderful find.]