A newly discovered letter written by Abraham Lincoln providing insight into the scientific strategies the president implemented during the Civil War is up for auction and is expected to bring in a staggering $85,000.
The Raab Collection, a Philadelphia-based auction house, announced July 2 the existence of a previously unknown letter of Lincoln’s that had spent more than a century in the hands of a private collector, a press release stated. The letter, addressed to American civil engineer and Union Army Colonel Charles Ellet, Jr., showcases how Lincoln used the science available in the 19th century to protect Washington and reveals the tensions that existed, particularly between Lincoln and one of his top generals, George B. McClellan.
“Discovering unpublished, unknown letters of Abraham Lincoln is increasingly rare,” Nathan Raab, author of “The Hunt for History” and principal at The Raab Collection, stated in the press release. (RELATED: Codebreakers Find And Decipher Lost Letters Of Mary, Queen Of Scots)
— The Raab Collection (@RaabCollection) July 2, 2023
Ellet, considered to be one of the greatest American civil engineers of the era, had been lobbying the president for better funding for the Army’s Corps of Engineers. Ellet believed the Corps, with more funding, could successfully cut off Confederate supply chains by using Virginia’s terrain and infrastructure and protect northern ports by building steam-powered ram ships, the press release stated.
In the letter now up for auction, Lincoln suggests Ellet seek out the opinion of his three top generals at the time: Winfred Scott, George B. McClellan, and James Totten. The letter, dated August 19, 1861, was then carried to McClellan’s home. The general, known as Young Napoleon, refused to see Ellet over the matter, furthering evidence of McClellan’s lack of for Lincoln. That snub prompted Ellet to publish a rebuke of McClellan, which was later caricatured by newspapers.
Though some of Ellet’s advice went unheeded, he received some vindication when the Confederate ironclad ship Merrimack famously destroyed much of the Union fleet in 1862.
“This letter fills in a part of the historical record,” the press release stated.