Raynors 2020-05 Putnal
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/30/2020
A rather unusual pair of Autographed Letters Signed, both 1p. 4to.and dated March 8, 1865, written back to back on the same sheet of paper, one issuing, and the other accepting, a challenge to a competition between two of the unit's under Lee's rapidly deteriorating command at Petersburg. The first letter, issued in a similar manner as if a duel was being arranged, addresses Confederate general McGowan, and reads in part: "Hd. Q. 3d Corps, March 8, 1865. General: General Heth proposes through Capt. Grimmell that you produce a regiment from his division that will beat any regiment in Wilcox's Division marching, maneuvering ...condition of arms & etc. Genl. Lee, Corps Comdr, and Genl. Gordon to be Umpires. The trial to take place at the "Madel Farm" on Tuesday or Wednesday next as may be agreed upon. Believing that a spirit of rivalry is necessary for the proper Esprit de Corps and that fostered and cultivated it will be to the good of the service, I hope it may meet your views to accept the challenge. The details can be satisfactorily arranged...R.J. Wingate, Major & A.A.G…" On the verso of this letter, General McGowan's adjutant has offered the following response:" Hd. Qrs. McGowen's Brigade, March 9, 1865: In the absence of General McGowen I would state that this matter was agitated the other night before Captain Grinnel, Riddick & myself, and I think that I can safely say that this Brigade will accept the challenge and be ready for the trial by the day discussed. C.G. Thompson, A. A. G.". At the time that this pair of letters was being written the Army of Northern Virginia, having been nine months in the trenches before Petersburg and also having received continued reports from home of Sherman's devastating marches through much of the rural South, had experienced a profound loss of its soldier's morale. In a desperate attempt to maintain discipline, restore Esprits de Corps, and keep the soldier's minds off the harsh realities of their situation, Lee had advocated such activities as this challenge, including ordering that the men be drilled an astonishing eight times a day. To the modern reader, it seems almost ludicrous to believe that having starving, chronically ill troops to engage in arduous physical competitions would strengthen their resolve to attack anyone other than their officers. In any event, within a few short weeks the Confederates were forced to abandon Petersburg, and subsequently Richmond (Perhaps now we know why!). It is possible that both letters were written by adjutant Thompson of the challenged unit, who sent along this copy of the initial challenge along with his response, as the handwriting of both letters appear similar, but the letter does seem to have actually been delivered, as it bears folds consistent with a letter sent by military dispatch. The first letter was written with iron gall ink, which has corroded through the paper at several points, effecting portions of several words of the text, but not rendering them unreadable. Otherwise, this highly unusual and very late exchange of letters is in very good condition.
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Inter-unit Competition Letter

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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $150.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $406.25
Estimate: $300 - $500
Auction closed on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
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