Sep 28, 2017 - Sale 2455

Sale 2455 - Lot 73

Price Realized: $ 1,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
"OUR GREAT CAPTAIN HAS BEEN SLAIN BY THE HAND OF THE ASSASSIN" (CIVIL WAR.) Nesmith, Arthur S. An officer in Washington reports on the Lincoln assassination and the closing months of war. 13 Autograph Letters Signed as "Sid" to his sister Annie Nesmith of Franklin, NH; condition generally strong; all but one with original postmarked envelopes, either stamped or franked by Senator Daniel Clark of New Hampshire. Washington, 1864-65

Additional Details

Arthur Sidney Nesmith (1833-1877) of Franklin, NH served early in the war as a lieutenant in the 3rd New Hampshire Infantry, but contracted malaria--complications would cause his death many years later. Late in 1863 he became a captain in the United States Quartermaster's Department, based in Washington. His letters are filled with inside information on his home state's politics and regimental appointments, but most notable is the one he wrote on 15 April 1865: "The country is plunged into deep sorrow. Today our great captain has been slain by the hand of the assassin. How sudden does this fearful calamity come to us. I have no doubt Pres. Lincoln was willing to give up his life for his country, but all the vile Rebs of the South cannot atone for the loss. . . . The city is trembling with excitement. One man was shot today for saying that he did not care if the Pres was dead & the public justifies the act. All the stores & places of business have been closed. . . . Nothing like this has transpired since the Dark Ages. Fred Seward is said to be dead. . . . J Wilkes Booth is said to be the villain who committed the murder and he is reported to have been caught, but nothing can repay such a loss. The leniency that has been shown the Rebs I hope will not continue. They deserve nothing but blows until they are thoroughly subdued. . . . Everybody has the blues & I am no better, I assure you."
The next week, on 23 April, he followed up with more reflections on the tragedy: "I was at my room & had just returned when the sad news reached me. The city was in the most intense excitement during the night & for several days strong guards were placed over the Rebs in this city to prevent the people from taking them all & hanging them." He also mentions seeing General Grant at Lincoln's funeral, adding that "I had the honor to take a post as one of the staff." He describes the Grand Review of the Armies in his 24 May 1865 letter: "It was the grandest sight to me that I ever beheld. Sherman's Army disappointed everybody not fully informed for the reason that it surpassed in the general appearance . . . the pet Army of the Potomac." He mentions seeing President Johnson and 13 different generals, including Grant and Custer.
with--28 other related items, including 14 letters from sister Annie to Arthur Nesmith, 1861-66 Official medical leave of absence letter to Lieutenant Nesmith, 5 September 1862 Nesmith's commission letter as assistant quartermaster, 5 July 1864 Nesmith's commission letter as a Treasury Department agent, signed by future senator William E. Chandler, 31 May 1866 and other family papers, 1855-92.