Rare war date General N.P. Banks letter from the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign to General John P. Hatch regarding the movements of his cavalry
United States Congressman from Massachusetts
Member of the President Andrew Johnson Impeachment Congress
United States Speaker of the House
Governor of Massachusetts
(1816-1894) Born at Waltham, Massachusetts. He was Speaker of the Massachusetts House, presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1853, and the same year was elected to the U.S. Congress, the first of ten terms. Elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1856, Banks showed moderation in deciding among factions during the bitter slavery debates. In 1858 he was elected Governor of Massachusetts, serving until January 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln appointed him a Major General of Volunteers after Banks offered his services. Many West Point officers could not understand this appointment considering that Banks had substandard military qualifications for the job of a field commander. He did contribute immeasurably in recruits, morale, money and propaganda to the Federal cause however. He was defeated by General Stonewall Jackson in the celebrated 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign with the loss of 30% of his force, and again by Jackson at Cedar Mountain, Va. Banks saw service during the Vicksburg campaign, and commanded the siege and capture of Port Hudson, La., and also commanded the Red River campaign. General Banks undertook a number of steps intended to facilitate the Reconstruction plans of President Lincoln in Louisiana. When Banks arrived in New Orleans, the atmosphere was somewhat hostile to the Union owing to some of General Benjamin F. Butler's actions. Banks moderated some of Butler's policies, freeing civilians that Butler had detained and reopening churches whose ministers refused to support the Union. He recruited large numbers of African Americans for the military, and instituted formal works and education programs to organize the many slaves who had left their plantations. After the war Banks returned to his political career. He died on September 1, 1894, at Waltham, Mass., at the age of 84. Fort Banks in Winthrop, Massachusetts, built in the late 1890s, was named for him. A statue of him stands in Waltham's Central Square, and Banks Street in New Orleans is named after him.
Civil War Letter Signed: 7 3/4 x 9 3/4, in ink.
Head Quarters- 21 July  9 P.M.
Brigadier General Hatch
I enclose to you important papers tonight. Undertake the enterprise if it be in human power. You will not regard of course the request for the return of a Squadron of cavalry if you start so impertinent an enterprise. Do not let any obstacles impede your march. Enclosed you will find a copy of Colonel [Henry] Anisunsel's Report received at 8:45 tonight. Keep us advised & whoever is at Culpeper should report constantly.
Very truly yours,
Excellent condition, and content! General Banks is common to find in post war letters and autographs, but rarely do you find his war date letters with any significant content in them. This is one of the best I've found to date discussing his campaign against Rebel General Stonewall Jackson during his celebrated 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Rare and very desirable!
WBTS Trivia: The recipient of this letter was General John P. Hatch who was in command of the cavalry forces of General Nathaniel P. Banks during the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Hatch would later be badly wounded in the September 1862 Battle at South Mountain, Maryland, in the Antietam Campaign.
The Colonel whose report that General Banks is talking about in this letter was Colonel Henry Anisunsel, of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry, who also saw action in the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign.