1889 - Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman Writes to a Friend About His Sister's Fatal Illness and Plans to Participate in Benjamin Harrison's Inauguration

1889 - Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman Writes to a Friend About His Sister's Fatal Illness and Plans to Participate in Benjamin Harrison's Inauguration
Click To Enlarge

Price: $675.00


Description: Sherman wrote this letter from his home on New York City's Upper West Side in mid-February, 1889. He begins by thanking his dear friend, Margaret Middleton, for alerting him that she was going out of town "for a week or so, as I should have been disappointed in calling to find you away." He remarks that he just came back from the theatre with Mary Anna Draper, "a most cultivated & appreciative lady," whom he expects that Middleton knows. He then tells her about his dinner plans for the upcoming week, before revealing that "at this moment of time my youngest sister Mrs Moulton is lying in a most perillous state at her [?] apartments corner of 9th Ave & 68th Streets not far from us, and two of her daughters are here at our house summoned from Ohio by reason of her extreme illness. Thus you must recognise that life and death are so commingled that none of us can escape."

He switches topics briefly, to nonchalantly inform his friend that, "On the 2nd of March I must go to Washington to participate in the Inaugural of General Harrison," then confides, "Before that date my sister Fanny Moulton will be dead or out of danger. She is in her 60th year, and I fear that she cannot recover; but I will surely see you before I go to Washington. Please report to me your return from Sharon & I will call, for I value your friendship highly, and will endeavor to contribute to your happiness all I can in my irregular & busy life. I know you will make every allowance for seeming neglect. Believe me always your sincere friend." He signs off with his typical, "W. T. Sherman" 

This autograph letter signed is written on the first three pages of a sheet of ruled writing paper, measuring approximately 9.25" x 11" when unfolded. Also included here is the transmittal envelope. He did not include a return address for himself, but Middleton's New York address is written in Sherman's hand. Someone else redirected the letter to the Sharon, Connecticut address where she was staying at the time. There is a green Washington two cent stamp at the upper right, and several black ink cancellations. Item #A01114

Sherman's sister, Frances Sherman Moulton (1829-1889), was nine years younger than him, and did pass away from her illness just three days after he wrote this letter. Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) was the 23rd President of the United States, serving one term. He was inaugurated on March 4, 1889, in a rainstorm - outgoing President Grover Cleveland held an umbrella for him while he took the oath of office.

William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) served in the US military for a number of years before resigning to spend more than a decade as a banker, businessman, and superintendent of a military academy. He rejoined the military for the US Civil War, becoming one of its most famous generals for leading Union troops across the south in "scorched earth" campaigns. After the War, he continued his military career and was promoted to General of the Army, his troops primarily fighting Native Americans along the wagon trails and railroads. In retirement, he was a constant presence at New York's theatres, lectures, and galleries, and also occasionally thrilled audiences at speaking engagements.

Margaret Lee Middleton (1848-1921) was a Manhattan socialite, who was a skilled and respected genealogist and librarian for many years. She also dedicated a portion of her time to work with charitable organizations. Like Sherman, she was an aficionado of theatre and the arts. Although she was nearly three decades younger than Sherman, the two struck up a close relationship in the 1880s based on their common interests, and often attended events together. It seems they may have been introduced by mutual friend, Mary Thompson Hunt, whose 1884 death brought them closer.

Condition: Three short separations at the edges of the horizontal folds. Otherwise in very good condition, and shows an intimately personal side of Sherman while still reminding the reader that he was an enormously public figure who could be expected to participate in the inauguration of the President.