LINCOLN, Abraham. Autograph note signed ("A. Lincoln") as President, Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., 31 March 1864. 1 page, 8vo (8 1/16 x 5 in.), integral blank, small hole in blank portion, minor soiling and small discoloration at top left edge, docketed "Presdt. Lincoln's statement as to Col. Worthington's capacity."
CERTIFYING A COLONEL AS UNFIT FOR A FIELD COMMAND
An unusual statement, evidently written to confirm the dismissal of a digruntled volunteer officer. Lincoln writes: "To-day I verbally told Col. Worthington that I did not think him fit for a Colonel, and now upon his urgent request, I put it in writing. A Lincoln."
The circumstances of this highly unusual note are explained by Basler, who notes that Worthington, of the 46th Ohio Infantry, "is listed as having resigned on November 21, 1862, but from his letter to Lincoln, April 12, 1864, it seems obvious that he was dismissed." In his letter, Worthington asserted that he had "declined urging on Gen. Schenk, the reponsibility of my possible return to the service....I will never reenter the service "while that terrible and degrading law under which I have had no official notice of being dismissed continues to disgrace tha statute book...I saw something of its operation at Memphis...where a General scarcely ever clear of liqour staggered into his court room to decide on the cases of men better and abler than himself...."
The same day, Lincoln wrote to Worthington to inform him that "If Major General Schenk will say in writing upon this sheet that he believes the public service would be advanced by your being placed at the head of a regiment in the field, I will remove any legal disability resting upon you so that the Governor of Ohio may appoint you to so command a regiment." Evidently Schenk was unwilling to endorse Worthington for a field command in writing, as Lincoln perhaps suspected was the case.
Published in Basler 6:277; see p.278 for the letter to Worthington.