Bails, E. M. Collection of Letters, 1864-1959 | Illinois History and Lincoln Collections
This collection consists of two letters belonging to E. M. Bails. It includes a letter written by H. L. Bosworth describing Abraham Lincoln’s attendance of a church service in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War and a letter from Carl Sandburg commenting on the historical value of the first letter.
Ellwyn Miller (E.M.) Bails of Rockford, Illinois, attended Oberlin College in the early 1930s and later lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Homer Lyman (H.L.) Bosworth (1834-1924) was from Otis, Massachusetts. Around 1857, he moved to Dixon, Illinois, where he taught school. He left Illinois in 1864 to enter the fifth auditing department of the U.S. government. During the Civil War, Bosworth clerked in the Fifth Auditor’s Office of the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was a poet, writer, and historian from Galesburg, Illinois. He is best known for his poetry inspired by American history and his six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes during his lifetime, including one for the second part of his Lincoln biography, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939).
This collection includes a letter from H.L. Bosworth to his cousin Mary, written on August 4, 1864, a day of national fasting and prayer as declared by President Abraham Lincoln. The letter predominantly describes a church service Bosworth attended at Second Presbyterian Church that morning, and President Lincoln's arrival at the church in the middle of service. Bosworth described Lincoln’s presence, disheveled appearance, and honorable character, and expressed his hope for Lincoln’s reelection. The letter also addresses, to a lesser extent, the topic of matrimony, a sick family member, and the training of government department clerks as reserve Union soldiers. The collection also contains an autographed letter and its accompanying envelope sent from Carl Sandburg to E. M. Bails after Bails sent Sandburg Bosworth’s letter (presumably a copy). Sandburg thanked Bails for sending the letter, praising it for providing valuable insights into Lincoln’s life. The letter, dated March 13, 1959, is typed on letterhead from Connemara Farm in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
Elizabeth Bails DuVerlie, daughter of E.M. Bails, donated this collection to the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections in 2018.