During the Civil War, his movements from battlefield to battlefield were followed in the North and in the South nearly as closely as those of generals. He was Absalom Markland, special agent of the United States Post Office, and his work was crucial to morale in the US military. He was also an important player in strategy and intelligence work. General Grant thought he was absolutely crucial to the Union’s victory. Listen to Candice Shy Hooper explain why he’s our Man Crush Monday! Episode 518.
Candice Shy Hooper, Delivered Under Fire: Absalom Markland and Freedom’s Mail
During the Civil War his movements from battlefield to battlefield were followed in the North and in the South nearly as closely as those of generals, though he was not in the military. After the war, his swift response to Ku Klux Klan violence sparked passage of a landmark civil rights law, though he was not a politician. When he died in 1888 newspapers reported his death from coast to coast, yet he’s unknown today. He was the man who delivered the most valuable ingredient in U.S. soldiers’ fighting spirit during those terrible war years—letters between the front lines and the home front. He was Absalom Markland, special agent of the United States Post Office, and this is his first biography.
At the beginning of the Civil War, at the request of his childhood friend Ulysses S. Grant, Markland created the most efficient military mail system ever devised, and Grant gave him the honorary title of colonel. He met regularly with President Abraham Lincoln during the war and carried important messages between Lincoln and Generals Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman at crucial points in our nation’s peril. When the Ku Klux Klan waged its reign of terror and intimidation after the Civil War, Markland’s decisive action secured the executive powers President Grant needed to combat the Klan. Nearly every biography of Lincoln, Sherman, and Grant includes at least one footnote about Markland, but his important, sometimes daily interaction with them during and after the war has escaped modern notice, until now. Absalom Markland is a forgotten American hero. Delivered Under Fire tells his amazing story.