LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph letter signed ("Abraham Lincoln") as President, to Major General Henry Wager Halleck (1815-1872), Executive Mansion, Washington, 6 September 1862. 1¼ pages, 8vo, endorsement on blank page 4. Fine condition.
PROMOTING A CRIPPLED UNION OFFICER WHO COMMANDED AT BIG BETHEL, THE FIRST LAND BATTLE OF THE CIVIL WAR
Lincoln attempts to aid a crippled officer disgraced in command of the first land battle of the war, to obtain a promotion to Brigadier General. Lincoln succintly states the officer's unique case: "Ebenezer W. Peirce [sic], of Mass. was a Militia Brigadier General at the disaster of Big Bethel in the beginning of the war. Of course he got no credit for that affair; but soon after he served as a private for some time, when the Governor of Massachusetts, appointed him Colonel of a three years' regiment, in which he lost his right arm, at the late battle of White Oak Swamp. Please examine if he can properly be made a Brigadier General. Your truly A. Lincoln."
In June 1861, a division under command of General B.F. Butler reinforced Fort Monroe, a Union stronghold on a peninsula on the Virginia coast. Pierce, commanding his own 4th Massachusetts and other regiments, was ordered by Butler to stage a surprise night attack on a rebel outpost at Big Bethel Church, on the Federal perimeter. The attack, the first land action of the war, eight weeks after Fort Sumter, went badly awry. Two Union columns, moving toward a rendezvous in the dark, mistakenly fired upon each other, causing light casualties and tipping the Confederates off to the intended attack, which was easily repulsed after confused an uncoordinated assaults. Pierce's 4,400-man force retired in disorder. As Lincoln recounts, the unfortunate Pierce was demoted to private, then reappointed a Colonel, and served in McClellan's Peninsula campaign, finally losing an arm at White Oak Swamp (30 June 1862) during the Seven Days' Battles. It is evidently Pierce's maiming that moved Lincoln, in this letter, to recommend his appointment as Brigadier General.
Not in Basler or Supplements and presumably unpublished.