[LINCOLN, Abraham (1809-1865)]. BUSHNELL, Cornelius Scranton (1829-1896). Autograph letter signed ("C.S. Bushnell") to William Osborne Stoddard. New York: 1 September 1883.

2 pages, 4to, on the stationary of his New York Law office, small tear with old tape repair to verso on 2nd leaf.

A detailed eye-witness report of Lincoln’s enthusiastic support for the Monitor: “...I take this first spare moment to write you stating what a deep interest President Lincoln took in the Original Monitor when her great power was apparent only to her great inventor and shown on paper. And how he aided me to get the Navy Department to entertain the proposal for the construction and tryal [sic] of the then so novel device.”

Bushnell exaggerates his own role in the advancement of the Monitor: “When Captain Ericsson entrusted the plan of said vessel entirely to my disposal I went immediately to Hampton where Secretary Welles was temporarily to be found and assured him I had secured what would surely save us from English intervention when the great impending calamity feared by the Administration [sic, he failed to complete this sentence]. Mr. Welles was much pleased and desired me to hasten to Washington and interest the Naval Board to whom was entrusted by Act of Congress the acceptance of the various plans to be submitted...We called on Secretary Seward who introduced us with strong recommendation to Mr. Lincoln who seemed immediately impressed favorably with the novel plan remarking that he knew but little about ships, but he did understand a flat Boat and the proposed Monitor was surely flat enough and he thought there was merit in this plan and he would meet me at the Navy Department at Eleven o’clock next day and do all he could to aid me in securing the adoption of the plan for tryal [sic].”

At the Navy Department meeting: “Well I remember the position he took and patiently listened to the opinions of many Naval men and Experts all nearly unanimous against the value and practicability of the plan...as proposed. Finally Admiral Smith the Grand Old Man Chairman of the Board turned to Mr. Lincoln and asked him what he thought. The President with most solemn gravity said ‘a simple story would give his views.’ He thought with the western Girl when she put her foot in the stocking there was something in it. All present understood his crude story." Reflecting that, "in frequent conversations which I had with Mr. Lincoln after the Monitor had more than fulfilled his hopes and faith in her power he expressed great satisfaction that he did what he could to give us a lift in the matter when we so much needed it.”

Bushnell built ships and did contribute meaningfully to the development of ironclads. However, Lincoln did not, as this narrative suggests, work for Bushnell. Early on, Bushnell and associates developed their own plan for an ironclad, a vessel later known as the Galena. Bushnell sought Ericcson’s analysis and opinion. But Ericsson already had plans and a working model for the Monitor. Bushnell was duly impressed with the Monitor plans and pushed the project through to approval in eight short days. He also pushed for its completion and readiness to face the Merrimac. Stoddard, an Illinois journalist, editor, and early supporter of Lincoln, went through a series of political appointments before becoming Assistant Private Secretary to Lincoln, an important organizational position. He published Life of Abraham Lincoln (1884) and Inside the White House in War Times (1890). Bushnell was providing grist for this mill with the spotlight focused to his advantage.

The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection Lots 79-98; 116; 138-153; and 266

Cowan's is pleased to offer the third installment of Richard B. Cohen's collection of Civil War Brown Water Navy photography. Richard was known to many in the field as a "disciplined collector who maintained a relatively narrow focus having built an important, perhaps unsurpassed collection in his area of specialization." From cartes de visite to large format photographs, this portion of the collection features a noteworthy selection of images of Brown Water Navy warships, among them, the USS BentonChoctawLafayette, and Louisville. Many important identified naval officers are also represented, including an exquisite CDV of the promising young officer, Lieutenant Commander William Gwin, who died of wounds aboard the USS Benton following an artillery duel with Confederate forces at Snyder's Bluff, and an exceptionally large war-date photograph of the controversial commander of the USS Pittsburgh, Egbert Thompson.

This auction also features a premiere selection of autographs and manuscripts from Richard's carefully curated collection. Highlights include a letter from Jefferson Davis to his distant cousin, John J. Pettus, Governor of Mississippi, dated a year before secession, conveying intricate plans for securing armaments in preparation for the war; an Abraham Lincoln signed endorsement; a letter from Admiral D.G. Farragut from New Orleans, offering excellent insight into his "political" thinking as well as his dedication to his work; correspondence from Gideon Welles, David Dixon Porter, U.S. Grant, and W.T. Sherman; and a pair of superb letters with highly descriptive accounts of the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.

Provenance:The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection

Estimate: $500 - $700
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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