JAMES A. GARFIELD, Autograph Letter Signed 1865
Very Rare $300 Civil War Soldier’s “Commutation” Letter To Purchase His Way Out of Army Service and Signed By The Future President of the United States James A. Garfield !
JAMES A. GARFIELD (1831 - 1881). 20th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881 until his death by assassination, a brief 200 days in office.
March 27, 1865-Dated Civil War Period, remarkable “Commutation Money” related, Civil War Autograph Letter is Signed, “J.A. Garfield,” 2 pages, 10” x 7.75”, Hiram, [Ohio], Very Fine. This original written letter is addressed to a Captain D. Caldwell, on the behalf of Nelson Raymond. Garfield writes, in full:
“Capt. D. Cadwell - Pro.(vost) Mar.(shall) 19th Dist.(rict) - Dear Sir, The bearer of this, Nelson F. Raymond of this township - was drafted in May last and paid his $300 Commutation. He is again drafted. I believe the Provost Marshal has in some instances or rather in a certain class of cases allowed the payment of Commutation to have weight in the subsequent draft. - In a telegram received from him by me on the 25th in it he says: ‘When men are drafted who previously paid Commutation - the board of Enrollment is instructed to report the facts to this office with a view his release’ - It is to avail himself of whatever relief the law and the rules of the Department may afford when Mr. Raymond calls on you. He is a worthy and reliable citizen. - Very Truly Yours, J.A. Garfield.”
Aside from a bit of light toning at the top of the letter and being slightly light, this document is in overall great condition. Garfiled’s signature measures a huge 3.5” across and the letter is written upon paper having a wonderful “Union Shield with Stars” central watermark. A very historic letter directly mentioning and relating to the highly controversial practice of payments of $300 to get out of the Union Army during the Civil War, written by a current Union officer and future President of the United States!
With the payment of a $300 “Commutation” fee, a drafted Union soldier was able to buy his way out of military service during the Civil War.