LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph endorsement signed ("A. Lincoln") as President, [Washington, D.C.]. 24 January 1865. Four lines plus date and signature on small sheet of lined paper, neatly backed, matted and in a fine giltwood frame.
EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY FOR A BOUNTY-JUMPER: "LET THIS BOY BE DISMISSED...". In late January 1865, during a relative lull in news from the war fronts, President Lincoln spent considerable time reviewing the results of army courts-martial cases, especially capital sentences, as well as pleas from ordinary citizens on behalf of men under military arrest and incarceration. (The results of these reviews, including a number of stays of execution and release orders, are published in Collected Works, vol. 8, pp. 231-236). Here, for unspecified reasons, Lincoln directs the release of a young man who had enlisted in the Union army and received the standard bonus: "Let this boy be dismissed on refund of any bounty received...."
Early in the war, the Federal government had begun to offer generous enlistment bounties. After the Enrollment Act of March 1863, conscripts and substitutes were granted $100, three-year volunteers received $300, and five-year volunteers $400. The boy ordered discharged here may have been one of the thousands of bounty jumpers who enlisted, received the bounty due them, then deserted. But it is more likely, given Lincoln's pardon, that he was underage, or that he found army life intolerable and promptly went a.w.o.l. Evidently unpublished, not in Collected Works, ed. R.P. Basler or Supplements.