Abraham Lincoln to George W. Crawford, 20 February 18501Springfield, Illinois, Feb: 20. 1850Hon: Secretary of War–Sir:
Capt Koscialowski, who will present you this letter, is an applicant for an appointment of Major in the new Regiments proposed to be raised by congress–2 I have already placed my name, among others, to a general recommendation of him, for that appointment;3 but I now desire to say, a little more specifically, that I shall be much gratified if he shall be successful in his application– He is every way a gentleman, a great favorite with his acquaintances here, and, (as I understand, without any capacity for deciding myself) has a military education, fitting him peculiarly for the position he seeks–4Your Obt Servt[Obedient Servant]A. Lincoln
<Page 2>Hon: Secretary of WarWashingtonD.C.
1Abraham Lincoln wrote and signed this letter, including the address on the second sheet, which was folded to create an envelope.
2This is a reference to General Winfield Scott’s recommendation, made in his annual report to the U.S. War Department dated November 3, 1849, that the United States nearly double the total number of enlisted men in the U.S. Army. Scott argued that “threats of hostilities” on the U.S. frontier as well as the recent acquisition of territory from Mexico necessitated this increase in U.S. military forces. President Zachary Taylor endorsed Scott’s recommendations during his annual address to the U.S. Congress, which he delivered on December 24, 1849.
On June 17, 1850, Congress passed an act to increase the rank and file of the U.S. Army and encourage enlistments. The act specifically empowered the president of the United States to increase the number of privates serving on the western frontier as well as at “remote and distant stations.” The act made no mention of an accompanying increase in the number of U.S. Army officers, however.
H.R. Exec. Doc. No. 5, 31st Cong., 1st Sess. (1849), 13, 98-99; “An Act to Increase the Rank and File of the Army, and to Encourage Enlistments,” 17 June 1850, Statutes at Large of the United States 9 (1862):438-39.
3Lincoln and twenty-one other Illinoisans signed a petition recommending Napoleon Koscialowski to Secretary of War George W. Crawford for a U.S. Army commission at the rank of major.
4Koscialowski’s name does not appear in the official registers of the officers and agents of the government for 1851 or 1853, so apparently he did not receive the appointment.
Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1851); Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1853 (Washington, DC: Robert Armstrong, 1853).
Autograph Letter Signed, 2 page(s), Lincoln Collection, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, IL).