Telegrams relating to Abraham Lincoln’s travels outside Washington are rare! These two are related to Lincoln visiting the Pensacola, a screw steamer serving during the Civil War.
Built in 1859 at Pensacola, Florida; the ship had recently received mechanical upgrades and had been commissioned earlier that fall. Obviously, Lincoln felt it an important enough adjunct to the navy to visit it. Later, the frigate served with flag officer admiral David Glasgow Farragut’s West Gulf blockading squadron and was the second ship in line during the historic run past Confederate Fort St. Philip and Port Jackson, protecting New Orleans on 24 April 1862. The next day, four of her sailors raised the U. S. flag over the New Orleans mint.
Dahlgren, John A. (Autograph Telegram, signed “Dahlgren, J. H. / Commandant.” [Washington, DC]: 15 November [c1861], 9/30 A.M. To: The Hon. G. V. Fox, Asst. Secretary of Navy. 8vo.; 1p.
In full: “The day is rainy and chilly – will the President visit the Pensacola to-day(?) Dahlgren had originally written the letter to “Mr. Seward” as Secretary of “State,” but crossed out both.
Fox, Gustavus V. Manuscript Telegram, signed “J. V. Fox” as Asst. Secretary. Telegram / Navy Department [Washington, DC]: 15 November 1861. To: Comdr. Dahlgren, Cammdg Navy Yard, Washington. 4to.; 1p.
In response to Dahlgren (above), in full: The President will be at the Yard about half past one o’clock this P.M.” Both Fox’s Diary and the N. Y. Herald on Nov. 16 both note that in the afternoon the President and several members of the Cabinet boarded the steamer “Mount Washington” at the Navy Yard, bound for Alexandria, Va. to inspect the U.S.S. “Pensacola.” — Lincoln Day By Day.
There are five telegrams listed here. Of the other three, one is from 1864 on Lincoln’s return from visiting with General U. S. Grant; and two in 1865 during his historical 16-day visit to City Point – his last trip out of Washington while alive. Each is signed by either G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy or Samuel P. Lee, Acting Rear Admiral or J. A. Dahlgren, Commandant of the Washington Naval Yard.
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