Abraham Lincoln Signed Military Commission, Dated September 9, 1861

This war-dated Army commission for Second Lieutenant Joseph Audenried is signed by Abraham Lincoln. The original commission was signed by Lincoln on September 9, 1861 and assigns Audenried to the famed 1st Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry.

Only five months after the start of the American Civil War, Lincoln signed this back-dated commission. Although it was approved September 9th, the promotion states that Audenried would have been Second Lieutenant since June 24, 1861. Exact commission dates were hotly argued among soldiers at the time. Not only did it determine how much an individual should be paid, but it also provided a clear hierarchy valuing seniority among those of the same rank. Immediately preceding this document, the Union had suffered several major losses including the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Claiming only minor battle victories, the Union was beginning to have doubts about its military leadership and the brevity of the war. The same year Lincoln wrote to a Union General, “He who does something at the head of one Regiment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred.”

The First Cavalry was an instrumental part of the Union’s advancements into Confederate territory. Organized by an act of Congress in 1861, most of the cavalry fought in the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia but also played a major role on the Rapidan Line, the Raid of Richmond, and Sheridan’s advancement through the Shenandoah Valley. The commission document signed by President Lincoln also bears the signature of Simon Cameron, then Secretary of War. A re-print photograph of Lincoln accompanies the document. Photographed by Alexander Gardner, this portrait is often referred to as the “Gettysburg Portrait,” seeing as only two weeks later, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.


This original signed document is in overall good condition for its age. The signed document shows typical indications of age including rippling and creases, as well as ink and seal transfer from where the document was folded against itself. The signature at bottom is written in ink and is legible despite minor discoloration and fading. There is some foxing along the right side and the original seal is slightly lifting. Otherwise, the document has no tears or loss.

Framed dimensions: 31 ⅞” H x 42 ½” W x 1” D


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