Pensacola: Jan. 20, 1847. pp., on a bifolium. Previously folded. Light staining and tanning. In a neat, legible hand. Very good. Item #1165
A.S. Baldwin was a young Lieutenant who served through the entirety of the United States Exploring Expedition under the command of Charles Wilkes on three ships of the squadron. Early in the expedition, he dueled with Wilkes Henry, the nephew of the commander. In this letter, dated January 20, 1847, he writes from Pensacola to Senator Chester Ashley of Arkansas, seeking a command in the Gulf Squadron about to depart for the Mexican-American War. He says, in part:
"If you have time and inclination to render me a service, I shall fully appreciate the inclination & prove myself worthy of your assistance should you succeed in obtaining the second idol of my heart -- I mean a command. You are already aware how earnestly I have sought employment since this Mexican War commenced. After several months closely watching the Gulf Squadron a vacancy appeared and I hastened to Washington... & asked for the vacancy in the 'Princeton Steamer'... and returned to Philadelphia, where in the course of three or four days came my orders but no recommendation to Commodore Connor to order me to the Princeton came with them. I place very great importance upon getting into this vessel during this war and at this time, having reached near that age when a man is a man."
In endorsing himself for a new commission, he relies heavily on his experience gained during the Wilkes expedition, but has little positive to say about Wilkes himself:
"I was for four years in the Exploring Expedition an humble 'worker' all for the honor & glory of Commander Wilkes who - by the by - has less - far less magnanimity - nay! less of that which 'renders unto Caesar the things that are Caesars' than he should have. I have desired no advantage from those years thus spent - from the government - and the numerous commands now necessarily assigned to officers of my grade methinks might warrant an acknowledgement of my services in that way. I understand several vessels either are already, or are about to be purchased for 'bomb vessels.' They will require commanders! Cannot - my 'dear sir' - the thing be compassed? I know that I should be much gratified and these things are easily accomplished by a Democratic Friend of the President."
An excited and somewhat desperate attempt to gain a naval command by a veteran of the first American expedition for scientific exploration.