Feb 04, 2016 - Sale 2404

Sale 2404 - Lot 106

Price Realized: $ 531
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
(CIVIL WAR.) Dow, Neal. A Union general writes from Libby Prison. Autograph Letter Signed to George H. Shirley. 3 pages, 6 1/4 x 4 inches, on one folding sheet, with docketing on final blank; blank portion of final leaf excised, mount remnants on verso, minor staining to first leaf. Richmond, VA, 25 October 1863

Additional Details

Neal Dow (1804-1897) was perhaps America's best-known prohibitionist for much of the 19th century. He also served two terms as mayor of Portland, ME. When the Civil War broke out, he volunteered as colonel of the 13th Maine Infantry and was soon promoted to brigadier general. He was wounded during the siege of Port Hudson and captured in July 1863, and spent seven months in Confederate prisons. This letter was written during his stay at the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond. He writes to his longtime Portland prohibitionist colleague George Henry Shirley (1818-1904), then serving at the New York custom house: "I am very well & in excellent spirits. Think of you very often and should like to send you letter of many sheets, but cannot. Have sent home for many eatables & clothes. Wish you would send me a box or 1/2 bbl with a bushel of sound sweet potatoes. . . . I should like also 4 or 5 pounds dried beef. . . . If you should see by the papers that I am soon to be exchanged, do not send. Hamlin could have me exch'd any day for Gen. Lee or some other. He is son of THE Gen. Lee. . . . Others have been exchanged from home since I came. . . . There is no reason why I may not be exch'd at once." Dow would indeed be exchanged for William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, but it would take another four months. The time in prison weakened Dow's health, but that did not stop him from running for president in 1880 on the Prohibition Party ticket.