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Richard J. Oglesby

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Oglesby sends copies of his memorial address for deceased Missouri Senator Lewis V. Bogy

to Bogy’s successor, Missouri Senator David Hartley Armstrong

Richard James Oglesby, 1824–1899.  Union Major General, American Civil War, 1861–1864; Governor of Illinois, 1865–1869, 1873, 1885–1889; United States Senator from Illinois, 1873–1879.  Autograph letter signed, R. J. Oglesby, one page, 5” x 8”, on blind-embossed stationery of the United States Senate Chamber, Washington, [D.C.], December 19, 1878. 

Writing to “Mr. Merchant,” Oglesby requests delivery of copies of his address memorializing Missouri Senator Lewis V. Bogy, who had died during his term of office the previous year, to Bogy’s successor, Senator David Hartley Armstrong.  He writes, in full:  “Please deliver to Senator Armstrong all copies of Memorial address upon the death of Late Senator Bogy of Mo and oblige . . . ”

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Oglesby, a member of the Illinois Senate who had served as a lieutenant in the Illinois volunteers during the Mexican War, was appointed colonel of the 8th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  He commanded troops in the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, important Union victories under the leadership of Ulysses S. Grant that forced the Confederates out of southern Kentucky and middle and western Tennessee and opened a path into the Confederate heartland.  Following those battles, Oglesby was promoted to Brigadier General.  He commanded troops during the Siege of Corinth and was severely wounded during the Battle of Corinth in October 1862. 

At President Abraham Lincoln’s request, Oglesby resigned his military commission in 1864 in order to run as a Republican for Governor of Illinois, an election that he won.  He was in the room at the Peterson House in Washington, D.C., when Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet on April 15, 1865.

This letter is a beautiful example of Oglesby’s hand.  Oglesby has written and signed in black steel-nib pen.  The letter appears never to have been folded.  It is expertly laid into an 8” x 11⅜” album page cut like a mat so that both sides of the letter show.  The letter has mostly erased pencil notations identifying Oglesby and a light penciled “X” across the middle touching text and the first two letters of the signature.  There is also a pencil notation on the back.  The penciling is not obtrusive but could be further erased.  The album page into which the letter is laid is frayed at the left margin from being removed from the album, and it is slightly irregularly trimmed at the bottom.  The letter is in fine condition and would be very fine but for the penciling. 


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