a large archive consisting of matched albumen photographs taken in 1861 of Colonel Ira R. Grosvenor and his wife, Sarah Alice Wood Grosvenor, 30 Civil War date letters written from Grosvenor to his wife, the Colonel's field telescope, a single silver dress epaulette with fancy embroidered eagle rank insignia, a 7th Michigan Reunion ribbon dated 1897, plus a large number of cased and paper images of the Grosvenor family, including the following: a magnificent hand-tinted salted paper image of a gentleman with a full plate daguerreian style mat; a 6 x 8.25" albumen image identified as "Aunt Sue Chapman"; a similarly sized albumen image of "Aunt Sue Chapman and Husband"; a similarly sized oval albumen image of another woman with a revenue stamp on verso; a similar sized oval albumen identified as "E.O. Grosvenor" father of Col. Grosvenor"; a framed 7 x 5.5" image believed to be Ira Grosvenor in Civilian clothes; a framed half plate ambrotype of a young woman in an oval, period gilt frame; a quarter plate and three sixth plate daguerreotypes of various men, women and children; three sixth plate ambrotypes of a man, women and children; a 9th plate tintype of a Union infantry private in a geometric Union case; a quarter plate tintype of a man; and a ninth plate tintype of a young child; PLUS an empty quarter plate case.
The oval albumens of the Grosvenors measure 8" x 10" under original gilded mats of the period, and are exceptionally well done, the Colonel's being masterfully tinted in subdued washes that impart the impression of a color photograph. Mrs. Grosvenor is not tinted, but contains much of her family's genealogy penciled on the back, clearly suggesting that the material descended from her side.
The brass-trimmed telescope with worn leather body is unmarked and extends to 13" with its original brass cover. The silver Colonel's epaulette with (correct) wide silver wire strands and exceptional embroidered large gold eagle with sequined wings bears an ante-bellum period Michigan State seal button 15mm in diameter. The button corresponds to Tice, MG205As having an elk and moose on either side of a shield with the national eagle above, no motto. The underside displays worn silk. The "Eleventh Reunion" ribbon for Dundee, Michigan, June 15, 1897 features a celluloid suspension of a camp scene with an obverse of crossed flags. The device retains the paper label of maker Whitehead & Hoag but the silk ribbon is split in three areas. The inclusion of the teeth, we think, is bizarre but not unprecedented. Ira Grosvenor was commissioned as Colonel of the 7th Michigan on June 19, 1861 and led the regiment at Ball's Bluff and on the Peninsula before resigning on July 8, 1862 due to poor health (refer to Brig. Gen. Dana's report for Fair Oaks in O.K.). The diagnosis was scurvy, and as the condition progressed, the Colonel began to lose teeth. The 7th Michigan would proceed to forge a fine record with the Army of the Potomac in subsequent campaigning.
The lot also includes a binder with family histories, newspaper clippings, and about 30 letters Grosvenor wrote home during April, May and June 1862 while engaged on the Peninsula. The early letters are from near Yorktown, and in a number of letters Grosvenor seems in awe that he is fighting at the same place Washington fought in 1781. In his letter of 19 April he notes: "We lay in the same line of rifle pits that Washington's army did in 1781 & the rebs near part of the line occupied by the British at the same time." Later he sends something home to his wife that the men made from laurel and briar roots growing in the rifle pits. While Grosvenor has some of the most difficult handwriting we have seen, his letters seem to deal primarily with the "standard" issues: commanders (mostly complaining about McClellan), weather, living conditions, morale. He felt obligated to stay with "his men" and do anything he could to keep their morale up. Typical comments such as those of his letter of 22 April: "I now have been in this siege (Yorktown) over two weeks and seem to have gained nothing of importance. The men wane in their confidence in Genl. McClellan & begin to think we must be defeated here. I keep up all the courage I can & hope to [encourage] them." Even when he began having fainting spells in early May, he refused to leave the regiment, and moved with them from Yorktown to Fair Oaks.
The letters contain a bit of battle content, most like his comment on 12 May: "I can not describe the horror of the battle field. I wish I may never see another." By the end of May, he was hospitalized for extended periods. Even here, the horrors made life unbearable. As spring progressed to summer, more and more men were becoming ill, and he notes the stench of dead, decaying bodies in camp was as horrible as the battlefield. The inactivity also took its toll. For weeks after arriving at Fair Oaks/West Point, every letter indicates that "today" or "tomorrow" they were marching to Richmond to end the war. And every day they were still in Fair Oaks. Colonel Grosvenor even began, when strong enough, to look for a secluded plantation to purchase where he could reside after the war. He decided Virginia was beautiful country. The folder also includes two letters from his wife (he mentions in one of his letters that he burned most of hers - but only after he read them!), a few letters among relatives mentioning his service, and 2 letters written after his retirement from service. There are 3 additional photographs of Mrs. Grosvenor with her letters, 1 cabinet card, 1 cdv, and one 1.5 x 2" albumen.
This lot also includes a huge assortment of family papers hundreds of photographs from albumen through early silver prints, post cards, books documents, early table top desk, programs, scrap books, land deeds, copy prints of George A. Custer & Libbie (Grosvenor’s next door neighbors in Monroe, Michigan), hundreds of letters, vernacular photo albums and so much more.