Abraham Lincoln
Washington, DC, July 1, 1864
Abraham Lincoln Signs Commission for Ordnance Officer Who Turned Down Confederate Command
Partially printed DS
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Partially Printed Document Signed, Commission of Robert H. K. Whiteley as Lieutenant Colonel in the Ordnance Department, July 1, 1864. 1 p., 15" x 18.5"; framed to 40" x 30.5". Also signed by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Blind embossed paper seal; matted and framed with a lithograph of Lincoln by J. C. Buttre from a photograph by Mathew Brady. Expected folds; very good.

President Abraham Lincoln signed this commission for Robert H. K. Whiteley as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Ordnance Department on July 1, 1864, effective on June 1, 1863. Whiteley was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel in the Ordnance Department of the Regular Army to replace Lieutenant Colonel George D. Ramsay, who had been promoted to colonel. On December 31, 1863, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton proposed Whiteley's promotion among scores of other appointments and promotions to President Abraham Lincoln, who forwarded them the same day to the U.S. Senate with his approval. The Senate finally consented to Whiteley's promotion, among those of many others, on May 28, 1864.

"Know Ye, That reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity, and abilities of Robert H. K. Whiteley I have nominated, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, do appoint him Lieutenant Colonel in the Ordnance Department in the service of the United States: to rank as such from the First day of June eighteen hundred and Sixty three. He is therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Lieutenant Colonel by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging."

Historical Background
Built in 1814 from a design by Benjamin Latrobe, the Allegheny Arsenal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, contained a military store, stables, a powder magazine, an arms magazine, a blacksmith shop, officer's quarters, barracks, and assorted other buildings by the mid-1930s. In December 1860, Secretary of War John B. Floyd issued a controversial order to Major John Symington at the Allegheny Arsenal to ship one hundred 20-pound cannon to two gulf forts under construction at Biloxi, Mississippi, and Galveston, Texas. The local Pittsburgh Gazette declared on December 25, 1860: "These facts go to show conclusively the treasonable purpose of the administration. Every Northern Arsenal has been stripped of arms and ordnance, and every Southern Arsenal crammed full and left in such condition as to give the Secessionists a chance to capture them, and provide themselves thoroughly with the accoutrements of war, at the expense of the government.... The traitors of the South are thus being furnished by a government in league with them with all the ammunitions of war." A mass meeting decided to inform President James Buchanan of the proposed shipments, and Buchanan countermanded the order. An enraged Floyd resigned on December 29 and later joined the Confederacy as a general.

When the war began, the Allegheny Arsenal was under pressure to increase production. When matches were discovered repeatedly among the bundles of cartridges, Symington dismissed some two hundred "boys" working there and replaced them with "females."

On September 17, 1862, the same day as the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, two explosions ripped through one of the laboratories at the Allegheny Arsenal where cartridges were being loaded. In the worst civilian disaster of the Civil War, 78 people, mostly teenage girls, were killed, and many more were injured. Among those killed was thirteen-year-old Catherine McBride, the daughter of the supervisor of the munitions laboratory. At the time of the explosions, 156 people were working in the laboratory, and approximately 1,100 were working at the Allegheny Arsenal overall.

In February 1863, Major Robert H. K. Whiteley reported that two presses at the Arsenal could produce 40,000 bullets per day. However, the manufacture of small arms cartridges would have to cease soon for "want of storeroom." He reported that he had at that moment 8 million cartridges "stored in a leaky frame shed, by no means safe from accident by fire."

Late in 1864, while Lieutenant Colonel Whiteley was on leave, a captain and some supervisors told the employees of the Allegheny Arsenal that anyone who voted for McClellan over Lincoln was a traitor and would be subject to dismissal the day after the election. Fourteen employees sent a letter of protest to a local newspaper.

Manufacturing at the Allegheny Arsenal ceased a few years after the Civil War ended, but the Arsenal remained in operation until 1926.

Robert Henry Kirkwood Whiteley (1809-1896) was born in Maryland and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1830. That same year, he married Hester Dodson (1808-1886), with whom he had at least eight children. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the 2nd Artillery and served during the Seminole War in Florida. In 1838, he escorted a detachment of Cherokee from northern Alabama, via water, to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), in what became known as the Trail of Tears. He was promoted to captain in 1842. During the Mexican War, he served in the ordnance department at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and armed regiments on their way to Mexico. After the Mexican War, he commanded the arsenal at San Antonio, Texas, until the beginning of the Civil War. He was offered a command in the Confederate Army but declined it and instead worked arsenals in the North throughout the war. He was promoted to major on August 3, 1861, commanded the New York Arsenal until October 1862, and transferred in November 1862 to the Allegheny Arsenal, which he commanded until retiring from the army in 1875. In addition to this promotion to lieutenant colonel in 1864, he was promoted to colonel in 1866. He retired with the rank of brevet brigadier-general. He moved to Baltimore, where he lived for the remainder of his life.

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.


  • Dimensions:
  • 15 x 18 1/2 in. (38.1 x 47 cm.), Frame: 40 x 30 1/2 in. (101.6 x 77.5 cm.)
  • Artist Name:
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Medium:
  • Partially printed DS

Accepted Forms of Payment:

ACH, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


Unless otherwise indicated, we do our own in-house worldwide shipping!

Applicable shipping and handling charges will be added to the invoice. We offer several shipping options, and remain one of the few auction houses who proudly provides professional in-house shipping as an option to our clients. All items will ship with signature required, and full insurance. Most items are sent via Federal Express, with P. O. Box addresses being sent through USPS. We insure through Berkley Asset Protection with rates of $.70 per $100 of value, among the lowest insurance rates in the industry. Our shipping department cameras document every package, both outgoing and incoming, for maximum security. In addition, we compare our shipping and handling rates against those of other auction houses, to ensure that our charges are among the lowest in the trade.

Upon winning your item(s), you will receive an invoice with our in-house shipping and handling fees included. ***We will ship to the address as it appears on your invoice. If any changes to the shipping address need to be made, you must inform us immediately.***

International shipments: In order to comply with our insurance provider, all international shipments will be sent via Fed Ex and customs paperwork will show a value of $1.00. International buyers should contact our office directly with any questions regarding this policy.

Third Party Shipping Option: If a third party shipper is preferred, the buyer is responsible for contacting them directly to make shipping arrangements. For your convenience, we have provided some recommended shippers. For your protection, we will require a signed release from you, confirming your authorization for us to release your lots to your specified third party Please copy and paste this following link into your browser: At that point, our responsibility and insurance coverage for your item(s) ceases. Items picked up by third party shippers are required to pay Connecticut sales tax. Items requiring third party shipping due to being oversized, fragile or bulky will be denoted in the item description.

Please see our full terms and conditions for names of suggested third party shippers.

After payment has been made in full, University Archives will ship your purchase within 10 business days following receipt of full payment for item.

Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping costs from University Archives' offices in Wilton, CT to the buyer's door. Please see full Terms and Conditions of Sale.

April 10, 2024 10:30 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000