Lot 15    

Graphic CDV of Military Execution
2010, American History, Including the Civil War
Likely unpublished and rare, no backmark, captioned “The Deserters Fate” in symbolic red ink beneath dead soldier propped against a crude coffin. A disturbing photograph framing the corpse of a freshly executed boy-soldier in the foreground. Twenty paces distance from the unknown victim is the firing squad consisting of 14 armed men commanded by a sergeant — all appearing unfazed by the notoriety. The location is likewise unknown, but irregular patches of a lighter color amidst the bramble of dry grass suggest either melting snow or sand. The dead boy — displaying an illegible placard? — has been shot multiple times in the lower face, the blindfold removed and lying on the coffin revealing vacant eyes.

Robert I. Alotta’s Civil War Justice-Union Army Executions under Lincoln (1989), cites 276 military executions during the Civil War, 186 by firing squad and 90 by hanging. Multiple desertion was the leading cause with 147 soldiers formally executed in the name of deterrence.

This never-before-seen cdv bears some striking similarities to a pencil-and-chalk drawing of an early military execution that appeared in Harper’s Weekly on December 13, 1861. The scene in Virginia by artist Alfred Wordsworth Thompson captured the execution of Private William H. Johnston, Company D., 1st New York Cavalry who was illustrated wearing a light-colored shirt without military jacket. Johnston, who had been “singled out for very special treatment,” was the first Union soldier formally charged with desertion, and, as such, the court-martial proceeding received special attention from the Adjutant General and War Department. Alotta wrote that “(Johnston’s) trial and execution became a model for those that followed throughout the Civil War.”

In blatant juxtaposition to Victorian sensibilities, the anonymous photographer recorded the grisly aftermath of the sentence in detail still repellant — the Deserter’s Fate.


Condition:  
Sepia albumen with strong clarity. Mount is soiled with light wear and dented corners.
Sold: $2,467.50
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

don't miss

an opportunity to bid. You can't win if you're not in.

sign up to bid

what's it worth?

ask the experts

sell your item

start selling
Christian Barthelmess and Huffman Cabinet Photographs of Western Figures
Lot # 508 - Christian Barthelmess and Huffman Cabinet Photographs of Western Figures
Lot of 19. A diverse group of studio portraits, all with various Barthelmess or Huffman imprints on recto or verso. Includes a portrait of the Paymaster at Fort Keogh, several images of unidentified enlisted men, and several of cowboys. > Item Details
Alexander Gardner Stereoviews of the Dead at Antietam
Lot # 40 - Alexander Gardner Stereoviews of the Dead at Antietam
Lot of 5, each on yellow square corner mounts with Gardner's imprinted 1862 copyright line on recto and applied printed labels from Gardner's Photographic Incidents of the War series on verso, including: No. 551/A Contrast. Federal Buried; Confederate Unburied, Where They Fell On The Battle Field Of... > Item Details
Alexander Gardner Stereoviews of Union Soldiers at Camp
Lot # 47 - Alexander Gardner Stereoviews of Union Soldiers at Camp
Lot of 2, each on cream square-cornered mounts. Includes one view with Gardner's imprinted 1862 copyright line on recto and applied printed label from Gardner's Photographic Incidents of the War series on verso, ID'd No. 359/Group, Servants of Officers of Staff, Camp Winfield Scott, Near Yorktown, ... > Item Details
Irwin Boudoir Photograph of Geronimo Armed with Revolver
Lot # 388 - Irwin Boudoir Photograph of Geronimo Armed with Revolver
Silver photograph of Geronimo with Irwin's Chickasha, Indian Territory imprint below image on mount, ca 1890. Geronimo (1829-1909), also known as Gokhlayeh or One Who Yawns, wears a Plains Indian feather bonnet and holds a Dance & Bros. Confederate revolver. > Item Details
Confederate Broadside from West Virginia, 1861
Lot # 100 - Confederate Broadside from West Virginia, 1861
1p, 14 June 1861, 9.5 x 12.25 in. To the People of North Western Virginia. By the Governor of Virginia. A Proclamation. Signed in type by John Letcher. The announcement that Virginia has seceded from the Union with a plea for volunteers to defend her. Letcher makes an appeal on "kinship:" Men of the... > Item Details
Edward Curtis Portfolio Photogravure, <i>Diegueno House at Campo</i>
Lot # 521 - Edward Curtis Portfolio Photogravure, Diegueno House at Campo
From The North American Indian; v.15; plate 525; on tissue paper, 1924, folio, 11.5 x 15.5 in., matted and framed, 24 x 28 in. > Item Details
James Seddon, CSA Secretary of War, LS, December 1863
Lot # 73 - James Seddon, CSA Secretary of War, LS, December 1863
1p, 5 x 8 in. Confederate States of America, War Department letterhead. Richmond, VA, 14 Dec. 1863. Shipping permit: Permission is granted P.V. Daniel Esq. President of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad Company to send three thousand pounds of manufactured tobacco to be exchanged for bacon ne... > Item Details
L.A. Huffman & H.B. Calfee Stereoviews of the American West
Lot # 501 - L.A. Huffman & H.B. Calfee Stereoviews of the American West
Lot of 14, ca 1870s-1880s, on cabinet-sized mounts. Includes 7 by Huffman of scenes in an around Yellowstone, and 6 scarce views by Calfee. Of the two photographers, Huffman has gained greater notoriety, but Calfee is generally acknowledged to be one of the first to photograph the natural wonders o... > Item Details
U.S. Civil War Brass Handled Bayonets
Lot # 164 - U.S. Civil War Brass Handled Bayonets
Lot of 2. One with a 22.5" blade stamped Collins & Co. Plymouth, CT. Complete with leather brass mounted scabbard. This specimen is referred to as a Navy bayonet. And, Remington Zouave bayonet with 20" blade with a leather brass mounted scabbard. D.H. inspector's initials on the handle. > Item Details
U.S. Civil War Bayonets, Lot of Five
Lot # 165 - U.S. Civil War Bayonets, Lot of Five
Includes early Enfield bayonet stamped Reighlings Lawrence, PLUS U.S. 45-70 bayonet, PLUS 18" U.S. marked Springfield bayonet, PLUS 21.75" S&K brass handled bayonet, AND 28" Yatagan-style brass-handled bayonet with U.S. marks. > Item Details
<i>Buffalo Bill's Wild West</i> Souvenir Photographs
Lot # 515 - Buffalo Bill's Wild West Souvenir Photographs
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show made its first major international trip, complete with over 200 performers (including 97 Indians), 180 horses, and 18 buffalo, to Manchester, England in November 1887. The show was a sensation, selling out its custom built 10,000 seat arena almost nightly for five mont... > Item Details
Model 1816 Musket by A.W. Walters
Lot # 117 - Model 1816 Musket by A.W. Walters
.69 caliber, 42" round barrel with L.H. 1827 marked on the left side of barrel at breech along with an "I" in a circle and a "W". Lockplate marked A. W. Waters and dated 1826. Three barrel bands, walnut stock. Large A.N. marked on the hammer. With proper 1816 type "2" bayonet. > Item Details
Revolutionary War Document Listing Survivors of the Cherry Valley Massacre, Nov. 11, 1778
Lot # 3 - Revolutionary War Document Listing Survivors of the Cherry Valley Massacre, Nov. 11, 1778
One leaf now in 8 pieces, approx. 7.5 x 12.5 in. assembled, but a few pieces possibly missing; n.d., n.p. On the outside of a fold: A List of the Inhabitants that suffered at Cherry Valley. The list is divided with the first list being those who were In and Near Schenectday [sic]. Persons Names who... > Item Details
World War I-Era Photograph of Plains Indian in Uniform at Warrior Ceremony
Lot # 430 - World War I-Era Photograph of Plains Indian in Uniform at Warrior Ceremony
Large format silver print, 7.5 x 9.5 in. on 11.5 x 13.5 in. grey mount, no photographer identified; penciled date 1917 on mount just lower left of image. Soldier in WWI uniform holding a flag (with two large stars, similar to "son in service," but color not evident). There is a banner above that has... > Item Details
Model 1850 Foot Officer's Sword
Lot # 150 - Model 1850 Foot Officer's Sword
32" blade etched with military motifs. Shagreen and brass wire-wrapped handle. Leather scabbard with brass bands and carrying rings. > Item Details
L.A. Huffman Cabinet Photograph of <i>Lone Wolf - Crow Scout</i>
Lot # 433 - L.A. Huffman Cabinet Photograph of Lone Wolf - Crow Scout
Ca 1890 albumen cabinet photo ID'd in the negative 9-Lone Wolf, Crow Scout, with Huffman's Miles City, M.T. imprint below image. > Item Details
S.D. Butcher Boudoir Photograph of Pine Ridge, S.D., <i>Omaha Dance</i>
Lot # 429 - S.D. Butcher Boudoir Photograph of Pine Ridge, S.D., Omaha Dance
A boudoir photograph featuring hand-stamped title on verso Omaha Dance, with the following Indians identified in ink on verso: Two Strike, Left Hand, Fire Thunder, Two Bulls, Two Strikes' Son, Yellow Boy, Short Bull, Kicking Bear, Turning Bear, White Face. One of S.D. Butcher's Views of Pine Ridge, ... > Item Details
U.S. Civil War Pattern of 1857 Rifled-Musket Cartridge Box with Straps and Bull'seye Canteen
Lot # 182 - U.S. Civil War Pattern of 1857 Rifled-Musket Cartridge Box with Straps and Bull'seye Canteen
Army cartridge box with brass plate stamped SNY. Cartridge box with maker's mark J.E. Condict. Interior of box compete with tins. > Item Details
34-Star Printed Parade Flag
Lot # 191 - 34-Star Printed Parade Flag
Cotton, 10.25 x 15.75 in., printed stars arranged in two circles with large central outlined star and four stars flanking corners, on blue canton. The fly consists of 13 printed stripes, with July 29th, 1872 written on second stripe. Wooden rod hand-stitched and stapled to flag, 11.25 in. long. > Item Details
Chief Iron Tail Drawing and Signature
Lot # 469 - Chief Iron Tail Drawing and Signature
12mo book, embossed and painted leather with Poesie (Verses) on front. Autograph and drawing enclosed in the vintage autograph book with many other signatures and inscriptions, mostly poetry in German. Letter of provenance also included from the family agent in Switzerland. The original owner was so... > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20
SKIP TO PAGE: