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MAJOR GENERAL JOHN W. TURNER - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 04/17/1862 - HFSID 83859

The Union officer, later promoted to Major General, describes in detail the 1862 federal assault on Fort Pulaski, South Carolina, in a war-dated autograph letter, framed with his picture in the Gallery of History style to an overall size of 41½x31¾.

Sale Price $3,840.00

Reg. $4,800.00

Condition: lightly soiled
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JOHN WESLEY TURNER
The Union officer, later promoted to Major General, describes in detail the 1862 federal assault on Fort Pulaski, South Carolina, in a war-dated autograph letter, framed with his picture in the Gallery of History style to an overall size of 41½x31¾.
Autograph Letter signed: "Jno, W, Turner", 8p, 5½x8, front and verso. Hilton Head, S.C., 1862 April 17. Headed: "Dear Madam". In full: "My peregrinations has this time landed me here.- I am at times a little restive in being hurried about in this way and particularly at being shot off to these out of the way places.- It seems I am forever at disagreeable stations, I don't think I use to notice it so much but since I have learned to know St. Louis I always look with distrust on an order which takes me far from that place.- The hospitality of the South Carolinians is proverbial, but I fail to see any of it on this Sand spit of a place. Our command is scattered over a thousand and one Islands to learn the names of which would be worse than committing Websters Unabridged. We are in hopes soon our successes will give us a footing on the main land.- The want of sufficient force has prevented Gen Sherman the former commander of this expedition from accomplishing what was supposed to be the object of this movement.- We base our hopes in the assurance of the powers that be at Washington that Gen Hunter shall have all the troops he wants. If they fulfill their promise. I have no fears but what Gen Hunter will give us some other abiding place than these Islands. - All of this section of the State is deserted by its inhabitants.- Many of the plantations around about here are very rich, noted for their production of sea Island cotton which have yielded their owners hand some incomes.- These people are now wandering about secessia with nothing of all their wealth but perhaps one or two houshold (sic) servants.- All of the plantations negroes have been left behind, houses stand vacant just as they were left.- These are principally occupied by agents of the government, sent down here to work these plantations for government.- I don't think though, much will come from it.- The town of Beaufort just above here was a very pretty little place, one of those old places fashioned in years gone by, with quaint old houses and the village church covered with ivy which fills one so with Reverence as he silently walks around it. There is none of that tidiness and straight lined look which one observes in a New England village but this is lost sight of in the respect which its age Inspires.- Its deserted houses though, richly furnished, beautiful grounds overgrowing with weeds tells a tale fearful to contemplate, and the more so as the end is not yet. We are still highly elated at our glorious success in the capture of Fort Pulaski. It is the more glorious to those engaged particularly Gen Gillmore as the works he threw around it for its capture, was done in opposition to former experience - and against the opinion of his brother Engineer Officers. Never before were breaching batteries created at such a great distance from the work proposed to be breached, And the General is well entitled to his reward who will hazard his reputation when he does it upon principle, against the advice of men whose opinions have been heretofore leading ones. Gen Totten Chief Engineer wrote to Gillmore that it was idle to attempt the reduction of the place at the distance he was placing his batteries. Gen Lee the Rebel General assured Col Olmstead the Commander of Pulaski, that we might fire the place with in but we could never breach it.-And Yet in one day and a halfs firing a practicable breach was made. It was accomplished with rifle guns & Columbiads Our anxiety was more keenly alive from the fact that rifle guns were still an experiment.- It was indeed a glorious moment when the enemy's flag came down, assuring us of the success of our Generals enterprise.- The bombardment commenced at 7 Am Thursday morning, and the enemy showed the white flag about 2 Pm next day - Out shots utterally (sic) riddled the Fort in all directions, at the time we stopped firing they were passing through the trench and cutting their way through the revine (sic) side, nearly every gun on the parapet was disabled.- Fort Pulaski was a brick fort of about the same character as Fort Sumter, on an Island at the distance of nearly a mile from there. I was honored by having the command of one of the rifle batteries.- And I must say without any egotism it was with considerable reluctance I came back to my commissaries We are all anxious now to take a turn at Sumter - My kindest regards to Miss Mary and Rosa,- I prize their beautiful pictures highly, and am aware what obligations I am under for it, I should have redeemed my promise, but I had not time when I passed through New York.- I had the audacity of thinking of writing to them but at last did not have the presumption." Although a Captain of the commissary department, John Wesley Turner served as a Union artillery officer in the breaching of what Confederate General Robert E. Lee described as their "unbreachable" Savannah River stronghold, Fort Pulaski. In this letter, he proudly relates his part in the attack on that island Fort (April 10-11), less than week before. Serving under General David Hunter, Turner recounted his earlier belief that Hunter and General Quincy Gillmore would succeed in their plan with the proper manpower, which had prevented the previous commander, Thomas W. Sherman, an early success. Turner praised Gillmore's unusual scheme which situated the Columbiad cannons at odd angles to compensate distance placement, which the elderly Chief Engineer of the Army Joseph Totten (1877-1864) had told Gillmore was a foolhardy feat. Therefore, the Union's two-day bombardment and success were not anticipated by the Union Army or the confederates, who lost a major blockade-runner route. Although the towns that Turner commented upon seemed deserted, the spies and blockade runners who gave the Union such concern, hid within the confines of overgrown plantations. The Confederates thought the distance from the other islands, the brick and earth construction and the secret causeway for troop movement were sufficient to withstand any attack. As a fine engineer equal to Gillmore, Lee made a rare mistake in underestimating the former's cleverness in devising a way to get more power and destruction out of the available guns. Turner's vivid description of old Southern towns and deserted plantations does show a heartfelt sympathy for the people who had their homes, way of life and livelihood disrupted. The 1855 West Point graduate also expresses his fondness for St. Louis, where he would accept a military post after the War and where he settled after his army career. Besides business interests in mining, manufacturing and banking, Turner served as Street Commissioner in St. Louis (1877-1888). In May 1862 shortly after his letter, Turner was assigned to the commissary of General Benjamin F. Butler as Chief of Commissary. He spent nearly a year in New Orleans before his travels - his "peregrinations" - took him back to Hunter's staff, as a part of which he became Chief of Staff and of Artillery, participating in attacks on Forts Wagner and Sumter. For his services in these battles, he was brevetted a Major in the Regular Army and a Brigadier General of Volunteers. Turner would go on to fight at Petersburg, for which he was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel. As Chief of Staff of the Army of the James, he participated in the campaigns of 1865, which resulted in his promotion to Major General in March and Lee's surrender on April 9. Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Pinhead-size holes along crease on both sheets. Lightly soiled at top margins of pages 4 & 5. Overall, fine condition. Framed in Gallery of History style, with all pages of the letter visible in hinged display: 41½x31¾.

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