Letter from Lincoln to Edwin M. Stanton and Gideon Welles, February 16, 1863

Searching for Better Weapons

Throughout the war, Lincoln sought better weapons to hasten victory. In this letter, Lincoln asks Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles to test “the incendiary shell & incendiary fluid” invented by Alfred Berney, a New Jersey chemist. On May 9, 1863, after receiving favorable reports, Lincoln and Stanton personally watched Berney demonstrate the shell; its effectiveness resulted in an order for 1,000 of them.