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GIDEON WELLES (1802-1878)
GIDEON WELLES (1802-1878) 
Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War

Gideon Welles (1802-1878) served as Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War.

Born in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Welles studied law but went into journalism and in 1826, became the founder and editor of the Hartford Times. At the age of 25, he entered politics and was elected to the Connecticut legislature. Welles would serve as postmaster of Hartford and chief of the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing for the Navy.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Welles was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Abraham Lincoln. Welles implemented the Anaconda plan which gradually built up a fleet that was able to guard over 3,500 miles of Southern coastline and would isolate the South from the rest of the world.

During his retirement, Welles would write several books including Lincoln and Seward in 1874 and The Diary of Gideon Welles which was published after his death in 1911. In his diary, he writes a fascinating account of the major personalities he encountered during the Civil War.

This Department of Navy document, dated April 7, 1865 is signed by Welles in his capacity as Secretary of the Navy. The document officially detaches Lieutenant Commander John G. Walker from command of the U.S.S. Shawmut. The signature of "G Welles" is slightly rubbed but otherwise strong and legible. The document is also significant as it was issued two days prior to the official surrender by General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865. $250.00


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