AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED AS SECRETARY OF THE NAVY TO CONFEDERATE PRESIDENT JEFFERSON DAVIS, 7 FEBRUARY 1865, CONCERNING THE BATTLE OF NEW BERN AND THE GALLANT CONDUCT OF COMMANDER JOHN TAYLOR WOOD AND LIEUTENANT LOYALL.
Richmond: 1865 [February 7]. Single leaf, printed on recto only, in neat ink manuscript [light fading, but easily legible]. Blank verso with mounting remnants at the four corners. Very Good.
Formerly a United States Senator from Florida, and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, Mallory became the Confederacy's Secretary of the Navy. After the War, Mallory was imprisoned for over a year.
His Letter to President Davis reads in full as follows:
"The President Sir, I deem it but just to the Navy and to Commander Wood, that I should invite your attention to his gallant exploit in command of the Naval portion of the expedition against Newbern in February last, -- when he cut the Federal Gunboat 'Underwriter' out from under the Enemy's guns, and to recommend his promotion to the grade of Captain in the Provisional Navy, and of his second in command -- Lieut. Loyall, to that of Commander in recognition thereof--
"I am respectfully your obt svt (signed) S.R. Mallory Secretary of the Navy."
The Battle of New Bern was an unsuccessful Confederate attempt to recapture the Town of New Bern, North Carolina. It occurred, as Mallory notes, a year earlier, on February 1-3, 1864. With Confederate hopes fading in February 1865, Mallory must have found some pleasure in turning his thoughts to a small but inconsequential Confederate victory. As Wikipedia observes, "On February 2 Commander Wood and his naval contingent surprised the crew of the USS Underwriter anchored in the Neuse River. The majority of the Underwriter's crew escaped but Wood's Confederates seized the ship and set about to sail her downriver and attack the Union Navy Yard. Union artillery from Fort Stevenson opened fire on the Underwriter setting it on fire and forcing the recent captors to flee." Item #37271