Tomb Case 2

MS-1865.04.21 – Robert resigns commission

Robert the Patriarch

Robert Todd Lincoln spent most of the Civil War studying at Harvard, but he felt called to serve his country. His parents resisted but Robert finally prevailed in early 1865 and earned commission as an officer on Ulysses S. Grant’s staff. This put him behind the lines—which kept Abraham and Mary from feeling too anxious—but also perfectly placed to witness Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

Shortly thereafter, Robert came to Washington to visit his family. Little did he realize that would position him close to another one of the Civil War’s most significant events—the assassination of his father. In its aftermath, Robert became his family’s patriarch and soon found himself helping manage the response to the shooting, his family’s welfare, the funeral train, and the Lincolns’ eventual relocation to Chicago. None of this left time for a military career, so Robert wrote this letter to begin the process of resigning his commission.

Label Audio

Letter Transcription:

Robert Lincoln to Lorenzo Thomas, 21 April 1865

Washington, D.C. April 21st 1865


I have the honor to tender to you the resignation of my commission as Captain and Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, and respectfully request that it be accepted-

Very respectfully
Your obedient servant
Robert T. Lincoln
Captain & A.A.G Vols.

To the
Adjutant General.


Hd Qrs. Armies of the U. States,
Washington D.C. Apl. 30th /65

In approving the resignation of Capt. Lincoln it affords me pleasure to testify to the uniform good conduct of this young officer and to say that by his course in the performance of his duties, and in his social intercourse, he has won the esteem and lasting friendship of all with whom he has come into contact.

U. S. Grant
Lt. Gen.

Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War, and recommended for acceptance.

1 May ‘65

S. F. Chaplin,
asst. adjt. Genl.

Letter Audio

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