Cox, Charles G., Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp, 40th Massachusetts Infantry,
Autograph Letter Signed Hd. Quarters, 2nd Brigade, Abercrombie’s Division, April 7, 1863, to Major William L. Burt

quarto, two pages, formerly folded, few nicks to edges, else in very good, clean and legible condition.

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Cox discusses Adjt. General Lorenzo Thomas’ prejudice against Black soldiers:

          ‘My Dear Burt,

                [Burr] Porter, upon the recommendation of Honble D. W. Gooch, has been “sent in” with an unqualified endorsement from Mr. Stanton, for a Brigadier’s nomination.

               The paper will lodge in the Adjt. Gen. [Lorenzo] Thomas’ Office, and will stay there a long time if somebody doesn’t hurry it up – Thomas hates Porter because he recommended to Secty Cameron the adoption of the negro as a soldier, and wrote him several able letters about it. Porter has now several responsive & laudatory letters from Cameron in his folio.

              If you could get the letter desired from Gov. Andrew the thing would have an impetus that would be irresistible, and then he could get out of this Division & Porter could do the Country splendid service. …”

          Porter had support from both Cameron and Stanton (who endorsed him with “great pleasure and sincerity”) but if Burt could get an additional letter of recommendation from Massachusetts Governor Andrew, “the thing would have an impetus that would be irresistible…” Porter was already putting the Brigade through rigorous training, and “it is not a sinecure to be on his staff … I am in fighting condition…”.

           Cox was a Boston lawyer who rose to Major in the Massachusetts Infantry until wounded in Virginia a year later. Porter, also a lawyer, as well as an adventurous soul, who had served in the Turkish Army during the Crimean War, was never promoted to General, though he was given command of a Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment. After the War, he joined the French Army during the Franco-Prussian conflict and was killed leading a French charge against the Germans.

              The powerful General Lorenzo Thomas, ironically, was soon sent by the War Department to recruit freed slaves for the Union Army, though this letter makes clear his prejudice against Negro troops; later “banished in disgrace” by Secretary Stanton – allegedly for defaming General Sherman as insane – President Andrew Johnson’s postwar attempt to replace Stanton with Thomas played a part in his impeachment trial by “radical” Republicans.