Autograph letter signed (“AHF”), as Flag Officer, to his wife from the U.S. Flag Steamer Benton, "Off Island No. 10," 29 March 1862. Two pages is good condition with light creasing at the folds. As commander of the Mississippi River Squadron, Foote led the gunboat flotilla during pivotal battles of the Western theater. At the time of this letter, he was engaged in a campaign against Island No. 10 and had recently suffered the loss of his 13-year-old son. He begins the letter: “Asst. Sec. of War Scott arrived today and handed me a bundle of papers & letters. My eye fell on yours & I said you must excuse me Mr. Secretary while I read my poor wife’s letter, as she is so heart stricken by an affliction, the loss of our dear noble promising boy. Certainly, he replied...”
The letter continues with information about the battle plan and battle reports: “We must do something here. I do not look for the exposure to the Gun Boats we had at Henry & Donelson. If I can manage to get one gun boat even to Genl. Pope...I expect it will enable him to cross over from New Madrid and attack the rebels in the rear while we at long range attack them in front with our Gun and Mortar boats successfully. There will soon be a big fight at Corinth, probably between armies of 100,000 which must decide the fate of the Miss. river...We hear the heavy guns at New Madrid at intervals day and night. The rebel gun boats are trying to get up, but Pope drives them back and will continue to do so. Hollins is in command.”
In March 1862, Gen. Pope drove the Confederates out of New Madrid, and the focus of combat shifted to Island No. 10, which Union gun and mortar boats bombarded relentlessly for three weeks. Foote lost his son, William Leffingwell Foote on 14 March 1862, along with two daughters later in the same year. A letter with great content from one of the most important US Navy officers of the Civil War.
Inventory Number: DOC 272 / Sold