Langdon Easton by the Sea: A Story of Historical Discovery

Last month, in a small port town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I sat at a table in a coffee shop, just a block from the pier and sailboats, with five descendants of a great Civil War hero, Langdon C. Easton. They were siblings who recounted how their parents had kept this material in a small box, which they had discovered after their parents’ passing. Their pride in their ancestor’s achievements was evident throughout. 

In a scene that plays out several times each month for us at Raab, they brought out these important pieces of history, which had not been seen outside the family. The vellum documents, illustrated with images of eagles, flags, and cannons, track the military history of the future general who would serve as chief quartermaster under William T. Sherman during his March to the Sea in 1864. 

Lincoln signed military appointment Easton 1865

Starting in 1840, with a signed appointment from Martin Van Buren, through his subsequent signed appointments from James K. Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant, we walked through Easton’s military exploits. The family also had his diploma from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1838, signed by the luminaries of the military establishment of the era, along with letters from commanders who helped his career advance, like Gettysburg hero, General Winfield Scott Hancock.

To see one man’s military valor laid out all at once, conveying the accomplishments of decades, was remarkable. To be the first to see them is, in some ways, exhilarating. 

So here is his life, in one place: 

Easton’s Diploma From West Point, 1838

West Point Diploma 1838

Appointment from President Van Buren, 1840

Van Buren signed military appointment 1840

Appointment from President Polk, 1847

Polk signed military appointment 1847

Commission from President Lincoln, 1862

Lincoln signed military appointment 1862

Commission from President Lincoln, 1865

Lincoln signed military appointment Easton 1865

Appointment from President Grant, 1872

Ulysses S. Grant signed military appointment 1872

The letters from this family’s collection, including those by Sherman and Hancock, are currently in cataloging and will be available soon. Until then, here’s a preview: 

William T. Sherman Letter 1890
Winfield Scott Hancock Letter

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