Nathaniel Lyon

General Nathaniel Lyon ALS from Nebraska Territory

Nathaniel Lyon ALS From Nebraska Territory!

NATHANIEL LYON, Autograph Letter Signed, October 3, 1856, to Henry K. Craig, Fort Lookout, Nebraska Territory. 1 p., 7.75" x 9.75"  Expected folds.


Complete Transcript:

                                                                        "Fort Lookout N. T.

                                                                        Oct 3, 1856.


Herewith enclosed I respectfully transmit a Quarterly Return of the Ordnance pertaining to this Post for the Third Quarter of 1856.

                                                                        Very Respectfully, / your Obedient Servant,

                                                                        N. Lyon

                                                                        Capt 2nd Inf’y / Com’g Post.

Col H K. Craig / Chief of Ordnance / U. S. Army / Washington, D.C.


[Docketing:] 183 / Capt N. Lyon / Fort Look-out / 3 Oct 1856

Transmits Ordnce Return of Post for 3d qr 1856. / B26

Recd 6 Nov 1856 / Ans’d 11 Dec.  "


After his graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in the summer of 1841, 2nd Lieutenant Nathaniel Lyon traveled to Florida, where he served with the 2nd U.S. Infantry in the ongoing Second Seminole War (1835-1842). After the war in Florida, the 2nd U.S. Infantry did frontier service along the Canadian border in Michigan.


Several companies of the 2nd U.S. Infantry left Detroit in mid-July 1846 by steamer for New Orleans and on to Texas for service in the Mexican War (1846-1848). After the war ended, Lyon continued to serve with the 2nd U.S. Infantry in a series of frontier posts in California, Nebraska Territory, and Kansas Territory.


Under the direction of Brigadier General William S. Harney, Lyon established Fort Lookout on the west bank of the Missouri River approximately ninety miles downstream from Fort Pierre (modern-day Pierre, South Dakota) in what is today Lyman County on July 31, 1856. In September, Lyon praised the location on an elevation gently sloping toward the river, which ran at a good speed, and provided a good landing for the river steamer Goddin, which brought supplies. Timber, fuel, and grass were “tolerably convenient,” but the nearest post office was at Sioux City, Iowa, two hundred miles downriver. Lyon wrote this letter from Fort Lookout in early October. It reached Washington a month later. In June 1857, the Army abandoned both Fort Lookout and Fort Pierre, and established Fort Randall, thirty miles above the mouth of the Niobrara River, where the modern border between South Dakota and Nebraska intersects the Missouri River.


At the beginning of the Civil War, Lyon was in St. Louis, where he took command of the federal arsenal and kept the weapons there from falling into Confederate hands by sending many of them to Illinois and arming Unionist militia. He pursued Missouri governor Claiborne F. Jackson and southern-sympathizing Missourians to Springfield, Missouri. On August 10, at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Lyon became the first general to die in the Civil War and an immediate martyr in the Union cause.



Nathaniel Lyon (1818-1861) was born in Connecticut and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1841. Upon graduation, Lyon received a commission as a second lieutenant and assignment to the 2nd U.S. Infantry in Florida. There, he served in the Second Seminole War. He also served with the 2nd Infantry in the Mexican War and in service in California and the West. Although staunchly antislavery, Lyon did not support the abolitionists. In early 1861, Lyon was placed in command of the federal arsenal at St. Louis, which he protected against southern sympathizers. Promoted to brigadier general in May 1861, he was given command of Union troops in Missouri as commander of the Department of the West. He occupied the state capital in Jefferson City in mid-June 1861, and moved southwest in pursuit of southern-sympathizing Missouri troops. Lyon encamped at Springfield, Missouri, in mid-July with 6,000 soldiers. On August 10, some 12,000 Confederate forces attacked Lyon’s forces. Lyon was killed leading a counter-attack, and the Union forces retreated. Lyon was the first Union general killed in the Civil War, and his actions are credited with saving Missouri for the Union, though the state remained a battleground throughout the war.


Henry K. Craig (1791-1869) was born in Pennsylvania and entered the Army in 1812. He commanded Fort Niagara for a time near the end of the War of 1812. He rose through the ranks to major in 1832 and was assigned to the Ordnance Corps. He served as Chief of Ordnance for General Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War. In 1851, he was appointed Chief of Ordnance with the rank of colonel. He was relieved of duty in 1861 at the age of 70, though he protested and continued for another two years in an advisory capacity. In March 1865, he was brevetted brigadier general for his fifty years of service to the army.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.



Item: 65472

Price: $1,500.00
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Nathaniel Lyon
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