The National Archives benefited from the goodwill of a private dealer in historic documents who helped it recover a long-lost note by President Lincoln.
As announced Thursday by Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, an 1862 letter from three surgeons writing to Lincoln drew Lincoln's reply appointing a hospital chaplain in Hagerstown, Md., during the aftermath of the 1962 Battle of Antietam.
The documents from the Commission Branch files of the Adjutant General's Office were likely stolen from the War Department -- perhaps years before the Archives was established in 1934, an official said in a video:
A sharp-eyed current archivist spotted the letter for sale in a consignment catalog, but the consigner wouldn't cooperate. Enter Bill Panagopulos of Alexander Autographs Inc. and Alexander Historical Auctions, of Stamford, Conn. He brokered a refund and the documents' safe return to the Archives. Panagopulos is out his commission, but he gains the satisfaction of a fine partnership with the federal government's chief document steward.