1863 Ulysses S. Grant Letter
Appraised Value: $10,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (3:05)
Arms & Militaria
Shiloh Civil War Relics
GUEST: This is a letter that a great-aunt of mine got from U.S. Grant. Her ward was Mary Vick of Vicksburg.
GUEST: Whose family the city was named after. And this lady was her guardian, and she decided to go down and make sure those Yankees were going to be nice to her. So she went through the blockades somehow, got down to Grant's camp, went in to see Grant, and got this letter guaranteeing the plantation.
APPRAISER: So this little lady in this picture went through all of those soldiers, straight to the big dog, and got this letter.
GUEST: She was about four-feet five, and you didn't say no to her.
APPRAISER: I know a few ladies like that myself. (laughs)
GUEST: When they got the safe conduct, she used it to go to the plantation. She came over the hill in her carriage just as the Yankees were getting ready to burn the plantation down. This stopped them.
APPRAISER: It's written, "June 4, 1863," and that's important because one month to the day, the city of Vicksburg fell to the Union forces. The locals in the Vicksburg area were so traumatized by what they'd went through in the siege and the battle that raged around Vicksburg that they didn't celebrate the Fourth of July for 82 years.
GUEST: I would believe it.
APPRAISER: It took World War II to make them celebrate it again. It was such a horrible time in Vicksburg that they actually dug into the sides of the hills and lived in the hills. This letter is what saved them. It says, "The plantation of Miss Mary B. Vick, "the only surviving heir of Colonel H. Vick, "loyal citizen of the United States, "is hereby protected from all depredations of the soldiers of the U.S. Army." When they came up and they were wanting things, all she had to do was show this letter. When we turn the letter over... you have the beautiful signature of U.S. Grant. And there are a lot of signatures out there, because he was not only one of the most important Civil War generals...
APPRAISER: ...he was also the president, so he signed a lot of things. And everybody wanted a signature of Grant. This one has his rank. It's all in his hand. A lot of the letters you see are written by other people and signed either for him or by his order. This one's all by the man himself. Vicksburg is the battle that made Grant. It propelled him from being a general to being the leader that Lincoln had hoped for.
GUEST: They broke through at Vicksburg.
APPRAISER: They broke through, and that gave them full run up and down the Mississippi River. Most of the Grant letters are a few thousand. This one is special. And it's special to anybody, either side. I would insure this letter for $10,000.
GUEST: That's a lot of money.
APPRAISER: That's a fact.
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