Writing a book is a challenging project … finding information about the topic is also challenging … finding something to make it special is a key factor, but when you find something that’s rare and undiscovered, it makes the book outstanding!
Little did I know when I began the research for my book about Fort Myer, Virginia that I would discover a rare find - a note from Abraham Lincoln, which may have been tucked away since General Joseph G. Totten read it some nearly 150 years ago … or where and how I found it!
The first book about this historic US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple, “Images of America - Fort Myer” was published in June 2011 and on page 15 is Lincoln’s note that I found in the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
Words couldn’t express my amazement when I discovered it or where and how I discovered it!
My research at the Archives was confined to the floor dedicated to still photographs. Yet as I meticulously explored the contents of every box I requested, sandwiched between two photographs was a sheet protector containing what I first thought was a blank piece of paper … until I turned it over. At the top it read:
Executive Mansion - Washington
May 13, 1863
As I continued to read, the note (which was re-written on the 14th) appointed William Whipple, older son of General Amiel Weeks Whipple to West Point. Recognizing the relationship, it quickly went onto the scanner to be included in the book. I didn’t realize until much later how rare a find it was since no one really knew about the note or even its existence!
General Whipple was the commander of the Defenses of Washington - they were comprised of 70 forts which ultimately surrounded Washington DC during the US Civil War. He used Arlington House as his headquarters. According to other accounts located during the research of the book, President Lincoln would drive over to have lunch with General Whipple and afterward wrap his arms around Whipple’s two sons as he got the briefing. This note combined with the research established that Lincoln did visit Arlington House during the Civil War and a friendship developed between him and General Whipple.
What I found at the National Archives made the book “Images of America - Fort Myer” outstanding.
By John Michael