Lot 536    

Mexican War Archive of Capt. E.C. Williams 2nd Pennsylvania Infantry,
2007, Historic Americana, June 6 & 7
lot of 19. Including four war dated letters to Williams; partially printed promotion document of a private Lieb to 2nd Lt., Mexico City; one manuscript letter to Williams, dated 1843; five manuscript Muster Rolls/Morning Reports 1847-48, one undated but titled Mexico and one undated and likely Mexico; four partially printed musters/equipment accounts, with war dates, General Order No. 11 dated Harrisburg, 1846; printed petition from 2nd Pa. infantry to Pa. legislature; Williams` wedding certificate, AND his wife`s Mexican War Widow document.

Two infantry regiments were raised in Pennsylvania for the war on Mexico in 1846 to 1848, both earning their laurels in hard combat. The 2nd Regiment linked up with Gen. Winfield Scott at Vera Cruz and saw action at Cerro Gordo, Jalapa, Puebla, Contreras, and Churubusco, and finally marched into the capital in September to force the capitulation of the capitol. This small collection of letters and documents from the Philadelphian Edward C. Williams, who commanded Company G throughout its service, includes five letters written by friends in the seat of the Pennsylvania legislature, Harrisburg, between Feb. and May, 1848. During the Civil War, Williams returned to the service as Col. of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Reflecting the attitudes of ardently pro-war Democrats, the letters to Williams are filled with the sort of talk that still echoes today, and with pride (and perhaps envy) at the gallantry displayed by Williams’ regiment in battle as well as with news of political affairs at home. In typical fashion, one friend of Williams’ mixes what he has heard of the exploits of the 2nd Regiment with news of the political scene at home: I see by the papers your company has been pretty well reduced having but 24 men left. This is what I anticipated in their going into that climate. You mention that peace is very nigh at hand for it seems that Jimmy Polk wants a little larger slice than they are willing to give from their country. And then he will have Catholics enough to make two or three more democratic Loco Foco states and secure the future triumphs of the party… The Whigs are making fools of themselves with H. Clay at their head in denouncing the war. The right way would have been to fought it through as soon as possible and then attack the administration for commencing the war in the manner they did. Clay and his friends are making great efforts to have him put in nomination for the Presidency, but I think they will be beat out. My impression is Gen Taylor or Scott will be nominated. I prefer Scott to all others, but will be satisfied with Taylor….

In keeping with the echoes to the present day, another friend complained bitterly of how the wrangling in Washington had affected the army: There seems to me to be an unpardonable delay in Congress in relation to raising men for the Mexican Service. The unfortunate and intemperate speeches made at Washington in relation to Mexico with the delays attending them has caused much suffering in the army and great loss of life from disease and otherwise,. I can fully appreciate opposition to the war with a Foreign power before it has commenced But after it has begun here all opposition it seems to me should cease, and every patriot who loves his country and the men who have volunteered to defend our rights I would suppose would feel himself bound to lend every means to prosecute it to a speedy termination….

Although the home front letters are excellent, the bulk of the collection comes from the war zone, consisting of an important trove of documents relating to Williams’ duties with the 2nd Pennsylvania. These range from the printed 1p. general orders no. 11 (Dec. 1846) authorizing raising the regiment to a morning report for Co. G; three highly detailed descriptive rolls for privates in the company; three partially printed returns for the company (June and Dec., 1847, May 1848) indicating unit strength; a partially printed honorable discharge for Pvt. Christian Leib, signed by Williams; and finally a war widow’s pension form, 1904. Two spectacular muster rolls crown the collection: a large printed muster roll for Williams’ company filled in for Oct.-Dec. 1847, and more notable still, an oversized hand written roll apparently recorded at the time of mustering out, listing every soldier, promotions, discharges, wounds, and deaths.

Of special note is an exceptionally scarce printed broadside petition from the officers of Company G to the Pennsylvania Senate, complaining of their ill treatment respecting pay due them for their service. The collection also includes Williams’ marriage certificate and an attractive, and exceptionally delicate, pocket watch approximately 1 inch in diameter.

A nice collection of documents and letters from a well-regarded regiment of the Mexican War. Great insight into a divisive American war and its political ramifications.

Archive includes a gold open-face key-wind lady`s lapel watch that belonged to his wife and was carried by him in both the Mexican and Civil Wars, marked Breguet, serial number 15107, with engraved silver dial, gold case has floral engraved back, 1.2" diameter.

Generally in good condition, with some tears and minor soiling. We do not guarantee working order of watches.
Sold: $1,495.00
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