Signed by a South Carolina officer who was severely wounded at Sharpsburg and who carried the Confederate flag of truce to General George A. Custer at Appomattox!
7 1/2 x 6, in ink.
These are Special Orders No. 59 that were issued from the headquarters of General Micah Jenkins on Sept. 9th, 1863, giving a field promotion to Lieutenant John Stewart, of Co. B, 6th Regt. S.C. Vols., to date from the 30th of June 1863. Ordered By Command of Brig. Genl. M. Jenkins. The order has been signed by R.M. Sims, as Jenkins' A.A. Genl. Light age toning and wear. Very fine, neatly written manuscript. The signature of Captain R.M. Sims on a war date document is extremely desirable by virtue of the historic role he played in the war including the surrender of General Robert E. Lee's celebrated Army of Northern Virginia, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, to the Federal forces commanded by future president of the United States, the hard fighting General Ulysses S. Grant.
The 6th Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry were active in some of the key battles of the War Between the States. Ordered from Columbia, S.C., to Richmond, Va., on July 10, 1861, they were engaged at Dranesville, under J.E.B. Stuart, then were brigaded under Generals' R.H. Anderson, Micah Jenkins, and John Bratton. The 6th fought with the Army of Northern Virginia from Williamsburg to Fredericksburg, served with General James Longstreet at Suffolk, and later moved with General D.H. Hill to North Carolina. Again serving with General Longstreet they were engaged at Knoxville, Tenn. Returning to Virginia, they participated in the conflicts at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, endured the hardships of the Petersburg trenches, and saw action around Appomattox. The regiment reported 18 killed, and 45 wounded at Dranesville, and in April, 1862, contained 550 officers and men. It lost 27 at Williamsburg and fifty-two percent of the 521 engaged at Seven Pines, then sustained 100 casualties at Gaines' Mill and Frayser's Farm, 115 at Second Manassas, 58 during the 1862 Maryland campaign, and 16 at Wauhatchie. In 1864 the unit lost 9 killed and 85 wounded during The Wilderness Campaign, and from June 13 to December 31, there were 26 killed, 176 wounded, and 16 missing. On April 9, 1865, it surrendered 30 officers and 328 men at Appomattox Court House. [Source: Units of the Confederate States Army].
Robert Moorman Sims: (1837-1898) Born in Fairfield District, South Carolina, he had quite a distinguished military career during the Civil War. He graduated from the Citadel (South Carolina Military Academy) in Charleston, S.C., in 1856. He enlisted in the Confederate army as a first sergeant in Company A, 9th South Carolina Infantry Regiment. He subsequently was commissioned first lieutenant in Company B, 6th South Carolina Infantry Regiment. He was severely wounded at the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862. Upon his return to active field duty, Sims was promoted to captain and appointed as Assistant Adjutant General on the staff of Brigadier General Micah Jenkins. Captain Sims later was wounded a second time this occurring at the battle of Wauhatchie. Sims then served on the staffs of Brigadier Generals' John Bratton and Martin W. Gray. On December 14, 1864, Captain Sims was selected to be General James Longstreet's Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General. Sims was chosen by General Longstreet and General John B. Gordon to carry a flag of truce into the Union lines in April 1865. Sims utilized his fringed towel and tied it to his sword to use as an improvised flag of truce. When Captain Sims reached the Union lines he asked to be conducted to General E.O.C. Ord. Instead he was brought to General G.A. Custer. The flag of truce was confiscated and cut in half with a portion of it given to General George Armstrong Custer's wife, Libbie. Mrs. Custer later bequeathed her towel portion of the flag to the Smithsonian Institute. After the war Captain Sims returned to South Carolina where he had a long and successful political career serving as a South Carolina State Representative & as the South Carolina Secretary of State. He died on December 9, 1898, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Columbia, South Carolina.
***The black and white illustration shown here was sketched by famous Civil War artist, Alfred A. Waud, and was used in the book, "Appomattox 1865: Lee's Last Campaign," with the caption, Confederate Captain Robert M. Sims carries a white towel on his sword as a flag of truce as he approaches General Custer in this sketch by Alfred A. Waud. In response to Sims request for a ceasefire, the Union cavalry commander replied, "We will listen to no terms but that of unconditional surrender." [Sources: Library of Congress; Appomattox 1865: Lee's Last Campaign].