ALS, 2pp (approx. 7.25 x 12 in.). Albany [NY]. May 16, 1756. Benjamin Hatlin to Jonathan Trumble (later changed to Trumbull) in Connecticut regarding problems in Northern New York. Hatlin writes: "I have had as much trouble...since I came up as I could well comport with. I want of men hear & ye distrest [distressed] state of ye forts, fear by Loosing them, ye death & captivation of many of our men & ye great uneasiness of men in ye forts, som[e] of which difficulties now subside. Col. Whiting being gone to fort Edward, Col. Bagly sets out to morrow for fort Wm. Henry, & one starts to day from hence to half moon....We have heard nothing from Major Dyer and his Party since they were taken, I hope they was all taken alive & without wounds. I have not one moments time to write being going up ye River..."
Two days later (May 18) Great Britain declared war on France. The following day (May 19) France declared war on Great Britain. Yet another chapter in the battle for dominance in the New World and elsewhere between what were the superpowers of the day. What was known as the Seven Years' War in Europe ended with the Treaty of Paris (signed February 1763). The British received France's Canadian colonies and Spain's Florida territory. France kept its islands in the West Indies and Spain received Louisiana. At the beginning of the war, many Acadians were expelled from Canada and moved to Louisiana ("Cajuns") and other Gulf regions, influencing the northern Gulf populations. The debt incurred from this lengthy conflict was one reason Britain instituted various Acts in an attempt to pay down her war debt. But, of course, colonial resentment over the Stamp Act, Townshend Acts and Tea Act would eventually bring Britain more conflict.
French and Indian War material is rare. An extraordinary historical document.
The Boston Gazette and Country Journal. Boston, MA: Edes & Gill, February 11, 1771. No. 827. 4pp, 9.75 x 15.5 in. Handsome pre-Revolutionary War Colonial American newspaper with masthead containing prominent engraving of an early political cartoon designed and engraved by Paul Revere. The engraving depicts the dove of peace being set free from its cage by a female figure of “liberty,” with the skyline of the city of Boston serving as the background. The issue also features news and opinions regarding pre-Revolutionary War conflicts between the British and Colonial Americans that would lead to war only four years later.
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The Pennsylvania Evening Post. Philadelphia, PA: August 13, 1776. Vol. II. No. 244. 4pp (pp. 399-402), 8.125 x 9.75 in. Contains inside page column of text with details of the recruitment of a “Flying Camp” of soldiers from Pennsylvania to fight in the Revolutionary War. The issue also includes war news from Williamsburg, VA and Annapolis, MD, as well as a back page advertisement offering an 18-year-old African American boy for sale.
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The State Journal or, the New-Hampshire Gazette, and Tuesday Liberty Advertiser. Exeter, NH: May 13, 1777. No. 52. 2pp, 9.75 x 15.25 in. Extremely rare Revolutionary War newspaper containing two-column long, detailed report of the Danbury Raid, also known as the Battle of Ridgefield, CT.
Continental Army Generals David Wooster, Gold S. Silliman, and Benedict Arnold commanded a combined force of approx. 700 Continental Army regular and irregular local militia forces. Near the town of Ridgefield, they engaged a British invasion force of 2000 under the command of General William Tryon. The main battle was fought on April 27, 1777, and when it was over, the Americans reportedly killed or wounded 200 British soldiers and captured 40 more. Their losses included 20 killed and 80 wounded. Although the raid on Danbury and actions in Ridgefield were deemed British successes, the arrival of American forces in the area would discourage the British from ever again attempting a landing by ship to attack any inland Colonial strongholds.
The issue also contains a complete printing of a letter from British General Cornwallis to General George Washington concerning an exchange of prisoners between the two sides.
Complete, single sheet issue.
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Four 8 x 11 in. sheets of laid paper folded into booklet with 5.5 x 8 in. pages: 7pp listing sales; 3pp noting placement. "Memorandum of Horses from whome receiv'd with their Colour and Marks viz:" noted from July 2, 1777 through March 9, 1778. When one turns the book upside down, the other three pages read from the back: "Memorandum of Continental Horses to what Pasture Sent, viz:" These listings actually have as much description of each animal as the first list. They were sent primarily to Bedford and Glastonbury, sometimes with halters, also.
Among the names noted: Maj. John Bigelow – helped Ethan Allen capture Fort Ticonderoga; formed an artillery company stationed at Fort Ti.
Josiah Blakeslee – served in NYC & LI with Washington & caught in the retreat from NYC.
Daniel Brown – fought at Fort Lee & Fort Washington; fought at Monmouth.
William Bull – Minute Man in 1776; transported supplies to Fort Ticonderoga in 1775.
Jonathan Butler – later killed at Fort Griswold.
Barnabus Deane – served in the Lexington Alarm.
Joseph Farnsworth – served as commissary for Arnold’s expedition; later was commissary at Bennington, VT.
John Fish – served in the New Haven Alarm.
Daniel Goodwin – signed Oath of Allegiance (essentially enlistment contract in the Continental Army).
Stephen Guyer – transported supplies for the Continental Army.
James Marsh – served in Captain Garhart’s Company.
General Thomas Mifflin – aide-de-camp to General Washington.
Samuel Mitchell – served at the siege of Boston.
Daniel Olcott – with Washington on the retreat through NJ.
Oliver Phelps – served in the Lexington Alarm & at Fort Ticonderoga.
John Richards – served at the siege of Boston.
Jesse Root – Deputy Adj. General.
Gordon Wadsworth – transported supplies for the Continental Army.
Ebenezer Watson – served with the Light Dragoons in NY.
Capt. Charles Whitney – fought at Saratoga.
Others mentioned: Calvin Eaton; Freeman Hilburn (probably African American); Cotton Murray (possibly a freedman); John Hitchfield; Jonathan Huntington; Daniel Skinner, Jr.; William Hoskins; Doctor Butler; Edward Covenhoven; Mr. Ross (William Ross listed elsewhere); Thomas Hopkins; Captain Led. Morgan; Samuel Tibbal; Stephen Norris; William Matson; Samuel Cleveland, Jr.; Daniel Jones; Thomas Lewis; John Alden; John McKnight; William Alford; Roderick Bigelow.
ADS, 1p+, 7.25 x 12 in. December 1, 1781, n.p. Jeremiah Wadsworth and John Carter, Esq., agents for King of France and Conant Coan, John Adams, Fredrick Carter & Gabriel Pinney, blacksmiths. "That the said Coan, Adams, Carter & Pinney do hereby promis[e] and Engage to serve as Black Smiths for the French Armey [sic], and Chearfully [sic] and Willingly do all kind of Work according to the best of there [sic] abilities and follow all orders..." This contract for the term of 12 months (until Dec. 1, 1782), "unless the said Wadsworth & Carter should choose to discharge them before that time, which is allways [sic] to be at there option."
"And the said Wadsworth & Carter do hereby Engage to pay unto the said [blacksmiths] for there services and the use of two sets of tools (Which the said Coan and Adams do engage to provide at there own expence) Twelve Pounds Virginia Currancy [sic] in Specie and also the said Carter and Pinney Nine Pounds like money in Specie and do further engage to supply them with the same Ration of Good and Hoalsom [wholesome] Provision as the Artifiers receive that are employ'd in the Continental Armey..."
"The said Wadsworth & Carter further agree that all the above named Smiths shall be excused from being put under the Direction of the Conductors of the Artillery."
Rutledge, Edward (1749-1800). South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress and youngest signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Partially printed DS, 1p, 12 x 7.25 in. (sight), matted to 13 x 8.5 in., Charleston, SC. September 21, 1773.
Like his eldest brother John Rutledge (1739-1800), Edward studied law in London and returned to Charleston, where he was admitted to the bar in January of 1773. Here, he has signed a directive for the sheriffs of South Carolina to arrest "Sarah Naley" by order of King George III. Naley stood accused of "trespass[ing]" and other offenses by Thomas Dyall. Rutledge's signature appears at lower right and near center on verso.
Drayton, William Henry (1742-1779). Chief Justice of South Carolina, Continental Congressman, and signer of the Articles of Confederation. Partially printed DS as Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, "Wm. Hy. Drayton," 1 p, 11.75 x 7.75 in., "Charles Town." October 8, 1776.
Document authorizes the sheriffs of South Carolina to apprehend Jeremiah Brower so that he may appear in court to answer to charges of trespassing brought by Benjamin Taller. Originally printed prior to South Carolina's statehood, with "Colony" crossed out and "State" written above in brown ink. Drayton's signature appears in left margin, with additional period notations on verso concerning bail.
Rutledge, John (1739-1800). President and first Governor of South Carolina (1776-1782), delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Partially printed DS as President of South Carolina, the title of the state's executive office from 1776 until 1778, 1p, 7.5 x 9.5 in. "Custom-House, Charlestown." November 21, 1776.
Ship's register certifying that merchants William Price, Samuel Legare, and Nathaniel Russell of Charleston owned the sloop Active, built in Bermuda in 1771. Rutledge's signature appears in upper left margin. Nathaniel Russell (1738-1820), the most prominent of the ship's owners, settled in Charleston as a young man in 1765 and made his living exporting local staples including rice, indigo, tobacco, and cotton. He also participated in the slave trade and had mercantile connections in West Africa, the West Indies, England, continental Europe, and South America.
Heyward, Thomas Jr. (1746-1809), signed the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation as a representative of South Carolina, later served as a judge. Partially printed DS as judge, "Thos. Heyward," 1p, 12.25 x 6.75 in., "South-Carolina." August 27, 1788.
Document compels the sheriffs of South Carolina to summon John Palmer Esquire, Executor of the estate of Philip Williams, regarding money owed to John Gaillard. Heyward's signature appears boldly at left margin.
Read, Jacob (1752-1816) lawyer and politician from South Carolina. 1p, House of Representatives [Columbia]. December 19, 1793. Addressed to the State Senate: "This House have appointed Mr. Hunt, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Lance, Mr. Kershaw & Mr. Wigfall, a Committee for the purpose of burning the Special Indents, the certificates of the Members of the late State Convention, the Certificates of the Members of the Legislature and the Certificates for Scalps, now in the Treasury of Columbia. This House therefore request that your House will appoint a Committee to join our Committee for the said purpose." Signed Jacob Read, Speaker.
Read served in the South Carolina lower house for a dozen years (1782-1794, as Speaker for the last 5 of those years). He represented the state in the Continental Congress (1783-1785). He also served as US Senator from South Carolina for one term (1795-1801), serving as President pro tempore for about a month at the end of 1797.
Bonaparte, Napoleon (1769-1821). LS, 2pp, framed as a triptych, letter float framed on left, when opened the verso of the letter is visible. 28.25 x 18.5 in. (triptych closed); 56.5 in. (full width of triptych open). February 25, 1814.
This letter signed by Napoleon was written during his final campaign in north-east France in the War of the Sixth Coalition. In the aftermath of the disastrous invasion of Russia and the subsequent Great Retreat, a complex coalition of Continental powers, Great Britain, and rebelling Napoleonic subjects coalesced to challenge Napoleon’s empire. Following their victory in Leipzig at the Battle of Nations (October 16-19, 1813) and Napoleon’s rejection of the Frankfurt Proposals (November 1813) the coalition moved to invade the motherland of the Empire and advanced on Paris.
At the closing of 1813 and the beginning of 1814, two armies prepared to invade France: The Army of Bohemia (Grand Army) with 200,000-210,000 Austrian, Bavarian, Russian, and Wurttemberg troops led by Karl Philipp, Prince Schwarzenberg and The Army of Silesia with 50,000-56,000 Prussians and Russians under Prince Blücher. Napoleon himself was commanding the French resistance in the north east as his Marshals Soult and Suchet were leading troops in the south-west to combat Wellington invading through the Pyrenees.
The Six Days’ Campaign was waged between February 10 and 15, 1814 where Napoleon’s much smaller force of 30,000 routed Blücher and forced the retreat of the Army of Silesia. He then decisively turned to Schwarzenberg’s army with victories at Mormant (17 February), Montreau (18 February), and Méry-sur-Seine (21 February). This letter was written in the afterglow of these final victories to Michel Ney, 1st Duke of Elchingen and 1st Prince of the Moskva (1769-1815) and one of his original 18 Marshals of the Empire. He greets Ney affectionately, opening the letter, “Mon Cousin” and goes on to detail troop movements and locations of his various marshals including the Duke of Taranto (Jacques MacDonald, 1765-1840), Duke of Belluno (Claude Victor-Perrin, 1764-1841), Duke of Ragusa (Auguste de Marmont, 1774-1852), General Bordesoulle (Étienne Tardif de Pommeroux de Bordesoulle, 1771-1837), General Roussel (Nicolas-François Roussel d’Hurbal, 1763-1849), and General Boyer (Pierre François Xavier Boyer, 1772-1851).
Napoleon had learned that Schwarzenberg and Blücher had separated and Blücher was heading for Paris, with only Marmont in his path, he writes to Ney from Troyes (in translation), “The Duke of Ragusa has recognized, yesterday the 24th, Blücher, who was at Anglure with eight to ten thousand men. The Duke of Ragusa’s forces were not strong enough to attack; they are on observation. General Bordesoulle is at Villenauxe with one thousand horses. I have called back the division of the Dragoons of General Roussel that I shall send tomorrow at the beginning of the day to join you so you can send me back the detachment of my guard." He then specifies to Ney (in translation), “I think that at the present situation it is necessary that you take position at Arcis-Sur-Aube; that you take possession of the bridge; that you rebuild it if it is burned and that you control the two river banks.” Several more battles would ensue, but it was here at Arcis-sur-Aube on March 20-21 where the last major battle of the War of the Sixth Coalition would occur.
Not long after this letter, Marmont would betray the Empire while defending Paris, capitulating to the Allies. Ney too became disillusioned and would become the figurehead and spokesperson for the Marshal’s revolt on April 4, 1814 at Fontainebleau, demanding Napoleon’s abdication. In the famous exchange, Ney informed Napoleon that the army would not advance to Paris and when Napoleon responded that “the army will obey me!” it was Ney who answered, “the army will obey its chiefs.” After Napoleon’s subsequent abdication and exile to Elba, Ney would swear fealty to the restored Bourbon King Louis XVIII. Though Ney would initially pledge fealty to Louis upon Napoleon's return, Ney would rejoin Napoleon at Auxerre, ultimately fighting heroically at Waterloo, and subsequently be tried and executed for treason on December 7, 1815.
Letter is framed with a typed translation, facsimile map after Hyacinthe Langlois Carte Politique et Itinéraire de l’Europe et de L’empire Français en 1807, and 19th century engraving by an unknown artist titled Napoleon au Palais de Tuileries (Napoleon in the Tuileries Palace).
Partially printed note, approx. 5.375 x 7 in. 10 Dollars, 10 Piastres, 50 Shillings, from the Quebec Army Bill Office, January 1815. Serial Number 5467. Signed by Commander of the Forces, George Waters Allsopp (1769-1837), who was a businessman, politician, office holder, and militia officer. In April 1812, Allsopp became lieutenant-colonel of the Cap-Santé battalion of militia, and also served as an extra cashier in the Army Bill Office at Quebec in 1814 and 1815.
During the War of 1812, these army bills were legal tender issued by the Army Bill Office in Quebec and used for the purchase of supplies and the payment of troops. This is the last of four different dated issues listed in the Charlton book. Almost all of these notes were redeemed in 1815 because they would no longer earn interest after that year, making them very difficult to find. Classified by PMG as Choice Very Fine 35 and labeled a "Contemporary Counterfeit" note because of the "EXCHAGNE" misspelling.
Partially printed note, approx. 5.375 x 7 in. 10 Dollars, 10 Piastres, 50 Shillings, from the Quebec Army Bill Office, January 1815. Serial Number 26676. Signed by Commander of the Forces, George Waters Allsopp (1769-1837).
Allsopp was a businessman, politician, office holder, and militia officer. In April 1812, Allsopp became lieutenant-colonel of the Cap-Santé battalion of militia, and also served as an extra cashier in the Army Bill Office at Quebec in 1814 and 1815.
During the War of 1812, these army bills were legal tender issued by the Army Bill Office in Quebec and used for the purchase of supplies and the payment of troops. This is the last of four different dated issues listed in the Charlton book. Almost all of these notes were redeemed in 1815 because they would no longer earn interest after that year, making them very difficult to find. Classified by PMG as Choice Extremely Fine 45 and labeled a "Contemporary Counterfeit" note because of the "EXCHAGNE" misspelling.
Manuscript document, 1p, 7.875 x 12.875 in., Amherst, MA. February 1, 1828. This document, from the "overseers of the Poor," records the expenses of the recently deceased infant, Jerusha Douglass, who is described as "a Native of the Mohegan tribe - a wanderer upon the Earth - Seven weeks and three days..." Listed costs associated with boarding and taking care of the baby, including the price of her coffin and burial, total $21.73. "The above account is the whole of the expense of the deceased...This on behalf of the Town of Amherst and by order of the overseers of the Poor for said Town." Signed by town selectman and overseer of the poor, Thomas Hastings (1782-1858), on February 19, 1828. Verso inscription reads, "Town of Amherst / This has been allowed in another acct. / June 1828."
Originally created by English Poor Laws in the seventeenth century, the formal position of Overseer of the Poor was purposed to provide poor relief by collecting a tax from parish members and distributing the money as necessary to provide food, clothing, and shelter for the community's poor. This tradition carried over into the American colonies, with cities electing their own Overseers to administer to the impoverished among them.
Manuscript document, 1p, 8 x 13 in., Bellingham [MA]. June 4, 1829.
"We the Subscribers, Selectmen and Overseers of the poor in the Town of Bellingham in the County of Norfolk do hereby notify that there is in our Town of Bellingham an Indian woman by the name of Sarah Arinlus (?)...who is poor and now sick and stands in need of releaf [sic] ....," who is not an inhabitant of any town that they can discern. "The said Sarah is a descendant from the Narraganset tribe of Indians ...and has lived with a man by the name James Arinlus who was a Blackman and a Descendant of the Natick tribe of Indians who was a Revolutionary Pensioner, now deceased and it appears that they were never Married though lived together and have lived in diferent [sic] Towns in said Commonwealth [i.e. Massachusetts] for thirty five years or more. They came into the Town of Bellingham a few year since,...it is thought she will not live long, being about seventy years of age, ..." She had not established residency in any of the towns she had lived in, or so it appeared.
The selectmen did not make any specific recommendations, beyond "needing relief," but simply report the facts as they have been able to determine them. Signed by three Selectmen and "Overseers of the Poor," Stephen Metcalf, John Bates and John C. Scammell.
American, 19th century. A miniature portrait in watercolor and gouache on ivory, depicting Captain George W. Hutchins wearing a state militia officer's uniform, approx. 2.625 x 3.5 in., in gilt frame. Portrait verso stenciled, "BY / AMES / ARTIST / N-Y," with handwritten inscription reading, "Miniature of my father - Geo' W. Hutchins - as a young man - Cap[tain?] of a company of state militia during the Semi-nole war, in Florida. (L.M.S.)"
The US Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index, 1815-1858 lists one Sergeant G.W. Hutchins who served in Read's Battalion, Florida Volunteers, during the Second Seminole War in 1836.
Daniel F. Ames was a portrait and miniature painter active in New York City ca 1837-1858, and thereafter in Canarsie, NY. One example of his work is housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Palmetto medal in silver, 47 mm. dia., 45.2 g, engraved by William J. Keenan and struck by Gregg, Hayden & Co., 1850s. Obverse with depiction of American troops landing at Vera Cruz encircled by border featuring the names of Mexican-American War battles; reverse with central palmetto and eagle motif surrounded by the names of the Palmetto Regiment's commanders, "Dickinson," "Butler," and "Gladden," and variously placed additional text including "TO THE / PALMETTO REGIMENT," "SOUTH / CAROLINA," the name of the medal's recipient, "Sergt. Thomas Beggs," and the years "1846" and "1847," all encircled by border with legend bearing the two state mottos of South Carolina, "ANIMIS OPIBUSQUE PARATI" and "DUM SPIRO SPERO," meaning "prepared in mind and resources," and "while I breathe I hope," respectively.
The Palmetto Medal was authorized by the South Carolina Legislature in 1848 and issued in the 1850s to men who fought in the Palmetto Regiment during the Mexican-American War. The medal was struck in silver for enlisted men and non-commissioned officers, and in gold for officers. Many veterans wore their medals on watch fobs or chains, causing many of the surviving medals to be quite worn or damaged. The fine condition of this example alone makes it an impressive specimen, let alone an important piece of history.
The Palmetto Regiment of Volunteers was an infantry regiment formally organized on June 26, 1846. It contributed ten companies of men to the US forces in the Mexican War. Having numerous volunteers, the regiment was trained by cadets from the South Carolina Military Academy and was recognized as the first regiment to fly American colors over Mexico City. The regiment's landing at Vera Cruz is captured in the obverse design of the medal featured here, showing Colonel Pierce Mason Butler ready to spring from his ship with the Palmetto flag in hand. Both Colonel Butler and Lieutenant Colonel Dickinson (the names of whom appear on the medal's reverse) received fatal wounds at the later Battle of Churubusco in August of 1847.
City of New York Mexican War medal in silver, 52 mm. dia., 63.5 g, designed by Paul Duggan, Jr., and struck by Charles C. Wright, 1848. Obverse with the city coat of arms and the marginal inscription "Presented by the City of New York, to the NY Regiment of Volunteers in Mexico." The recipient’s name is engraved above, and his company’s number below the coat of arms: "C. Lawrence Strobill, Wounded at Chapultepec / Co. D." Reverse shows a female figure surrounded by stars, representing the genius of America. Her left foot rests upon a cactus while the Mexican serpent is lying flat beneath the American eagle. The walled city of Vera Cruz and American ships in the harbor are depicted in the background. The scene is surrounded by the four main battles of the war, "Vera Cruz / Cerro Gordo / Chapultepec / Cherubusco."
The Common Council of New York City adopted a resolution in 1847 ordering medals to be struck and presented to the surviving members of the 1st Regiment, New York Volunteers for their services in the Mexican War. It is believed that only around 400 of these medals were presented.
Sixth-plate, lightly hand tinted melainotype of abolitionist John Brown, housed in leather case, ca 1860. Plate marked with Peter Neff’s melainotype imprint, “Melainotype Plate / For Neff’s Pat 19 Feb 56.”
In May 1858, John Brown travelled to New York City where the original daguerreotype was taken by Martin M. Lawrence (1808-1859) at the request of D. Thomas H. Webb (1801-1866), the secretary of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. Lawrence was a well known daguerreotypist, president of the American Daguerre Association, and an early pioneer of paper photographs. The portrait he took of Brown is the last known image of Brown and the only known original image of him with the beard he began growing in 1857 as a disguise for the final preparations of the famous raid on Harpers Ferry.
A year later in May 1859, Brown travelled to the Boston studio of Whipple and Black to make a negative in order to make prints. James Wallace Black (1825-1896) was able to create the vignette negative from the original daguerreotype and it was known to be used by Black & Batchelder and reproduced often.
The image offered here was created by Neff’s melainotype process, ca 1860, after the vignette negative made by Black. Melainotype was an early tintype process patented on February 19, 1856 by Hamilton L. Smith and improved and popularized by Peter Neff, Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio. The plate bears Neff’s standard imprint used after March 1857, reading “Melainotype Plate / For Neff’s Pat 19 Feb 56.” Neff sold and distributed the iron plates with his imprint widely, so it is unclear if Neff or another printed the image.
Accompanied by Libby, Jean. John Brown Photo Chronology. Palo Alto, CA: Allies for Freedom, 2016. Report binding, 48pp. as well as research correspondence with Libby. The publication details the extant photographs of John Brown and includes the image offered here, noting that this version of the Lawrence image is previously unknown.
Scarce cabinet card of John Brown’s birthplace home in Torrington, CT, late 1860s or early 1870s. The image shows the two-story saltbox house with a pitched roof sloping in the back, down to just one story. A stone dry stack wall borders the front of the property and a fledgling tree grows on the right. A young African American boy wearing a brimmed hat sits upon the wall with his feet resting on one of the large stones. A ca 1890 image of the same home in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society shows the same tree with several decades of growth, placing this image in the late 1860s or early 1870s, consistent with other indicators. Verso inscribed in two hands, “John Brown’s Birth Place / Torrington, CT.”
Built in 1785, John Brown’s father, Owen Brown, moved to the home in 1799. John was born a year later on May 9, 1800. He spent his early childhood there before moving with his family to Hudson, OH when he was five years old. While he spent his formative and adult years in Ohio, he would return to Connecticut at 16, attending the Morris Academy for about a year in nearby Litchfield, CT.
Brown, John (1800-1859). Abolitionist; hanged after attempting to incite slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry, VA. Autographed inscription, ink on fine laid paper, 1.5 x 4 in., "Very Respectfully Your Friend / John Brown." Attractively framed and matted with a modern postcard depicting John Brown, 11 x 13 in. overall.
Anonymous, quarter plate daguerreotype, ca 1850-1860.
Though its exact provenance may never be known, this daguerreotype is believed to depict the rural Greene County, Georgia plantation of Samuel T. Gentry (1798-1873). Gentry moved to Greene County from South Carolina sometime between 1820 and 1830. By 1830 his family included six white members, and three enslaved African Americans.
While other Gentrys lived in Georgia at the time this image was taken, Federal Slave Schedules from 1850 and 1860 indicate a mere handful were slave holders. And only one -- Samuel T. Gentry -- (sometimes listed as “Saml”) owned at least 10 slaves, the number depicted in this daguerreotype. From 1850 to 1860, Gentry owned between fifteen and eighteen men, women, and children.
At the time of this writing, the Gentry daguerreotype is the only known antebellum image showing enslaved African Americans displaying cotton, the agricultural product that dominated the economy of the Southern states and elevated a land-owner class through its cultivation. While other images showing the juxtaposition of enslaved African Americans and cotton are known from the Union occupations of coastal Georgia and the Carolinas, this image predates them.
More importantly, the Gentry daguerreotype documents slavery in a far more humble setting than the large coastal plantations depicted in post-Civil War images taken by Samuel Cooley and other photographers who accompanied the Union Army. In these Sea Island plantations, hundreds of slaves were owned by a small class of planter elites, providing their families with access to luxuries only dreamed of by the vast majority of Georgians. While this is the vision most Americans have of the antebellum south, the Gentry daguerreotype depicts a different reality.
At the beginning of the Civil War, only 37% of Georgia’s free families owned slaves; about 15% of these families owned more than 20, and the vast majority owned six slaves or fewer. The 1860 Federal Slave Schedule enumerates 8,398 slaves in Greene County, with 53 slaveholders owning more than 35 slaves each (about 35% of the total). The remaining slaves were distributed among 524 owners. Gentry is listed as owning real property valued at $2,900, and personal property valued at $12,000; presumably this latter figure incorporates the value of his eighteen slaves. Samuel Gentry was no mere yeoman farmer, but neither was he a member of the upper stratum of the planter class. In a world where wealth was measured by land and slaves, Gentry was simply a man who was striving for more; he was clearly “on his way up” the socio-economic ladder.
It is probable that Gentry commissioned this photograph to document his prosperity. The photographer carefully posed the scene so that the family “wealth” is clearly on display: ten enslaved African Americans are visible in the picture, with several displaying baskets of cotton perched atop their heads. Cotton – the production of which was made possible by Gentry’s slaves – is an integral part of the tableau.
Gentry himself is believed to be the man in the top hat at the left of the plate. He leans on a cane, held in his left hand. Below his knees movement is clearly visible -- perhaps a dog jumping and straining at a leash? Such a denizen would hardly be a surprising element of plantation life, where the threat of violence was an everyday part of enslavement.
The two-story building at center also figures prominently as a symbol of the Gentry family wealth. While not an imposing mansion, it is an integral element of the scene. The end of the structure visible to the viewer lacks windows, suggesting an original two story building constructed of logs and later covered by lap board. The front and rear galleries are high and inset beneath the broken slope of the roof, the double-wing structure of which is commonly found in Georgia. The rows of tall, narrow posts on either side of the structure may have served as temporary supports for the roof, anticipating the later addition of a more elegant colonnade, or just as likely were a cost-sensitive attempt to refine the façade.
The log building in the foreground at right features half-dovetail notching, a construction technique prevalent throughout much of the south in the early and mid-nineteenth century. Short boards nailed end-to-end cover the upper logs of the exterior, suggesting an attempt to dress the cabin to match the residence, though not at the expense of using long milled boards; the lower portion of the cabin reveals its original character. This outbuilding contrasts with the main house and, whether as a smokehouse or slave cabin, adds to the rural nature of the scene.
A large well enclosed by unpainted planking is visible in the foreground indicating that the residence lacked a cistern, a means of capturing water used by homes of a grander manner. The scale of the crank mechanism is large and features two handles, indicating the well had been deeply dug to reach a water-table consistent with an upland setting. This simple but necessary feature contrasts with the residence. No attempt has been made to present it as anything other than a functional element of daily life.
The daguerreotype captures Gentry’s rural status and achievements. Between 1830 and 1860, his slave-holdings had increased from three to eighteen. This increase in wealth allowed him to cover his two-story log cabin with white painted clapboard, add a new roofline and build two large overhanging galleries supported by rudimentary columns to add dimension and vertical importance to the building’s appearance. And yet, as the log outbuilding and crude well proclaim, Gentry’s socioeconomic status was impossibly distant from the wealthiest planters.
The world that Gentry and his family occupied forever changed with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Two of Gentry’s sons, Samuel Jr. and Robert A., enlisted in the Greene Light Guards, serving in Company I of the 8th Georgia Infantry. Little is known of Samuel Jr.’s service; Robert was wounded twice and served the entirety of the war. At war’s end both returned to a much diminished economic reality. By 1870 Samuel Jr. was a tenant farmer living with a wife and daughter in nearby Hancock County with personal property valued at $375. Robert remained in Greene County, farming and caring for a family and his elderly father. By this time the family owned real estate valued at $2500 and personal property valued at $500. Samuel Sr. died in 1873.
This compelling and historically important daguerreotype was recently discovered in the Austin, Texas estate of Charles Gentry Jr. (1958-2012), who moved there from Rockmart, in Polk County, Georgia.
Numerous Gentrys have resided in the areas around Polk, Hancock, and Greene Counties, and we suspect the daguerreotype was passed from Charles Gentry Sr. to his son. How Charles Sr. came to own the image is unknown, though presumably it passed by descent through a member of his patrilineal line.
Using the Gentry family in Georgia as a starting point, Federal Census and Slave Schedules were used to pinpoint the most logical original owner of the daguerreotype. These data indicate that Samuel T. Gentry was the only Gentry in antebellum Georgia who owned enough enslaved African Americans to qualify as the subject matter of the daguerreotype.
Cowan’s also was cognizant that the architecture visible in the image might be distinctive enough to identify the location. We gratefully acknowledge discussions held with the following regional architectural historians and other professionals: Stan Deaton, Dr. Elaine B. Andrews Distinguished Historian, Georgia Historical Society; Bess Althaus Graham, Director of the Division of Architecture, Texas Historical Commission; Olivia Head, National Register Specialist, Georgia Historic Preservation Division; Mark McDonald, President & CEO, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation; Mimi Miller, Executive Director, Historic Natchez Foundation; Erick Montgomery, Executive Director, Historic Augusta; and Celeste Wiley, Visual Materials Archivist, South Carolina Historical Society. These discussions indicate the structures fall easily into the vernacular architecture of the Fall Line of Georgia, and the Carolinas.
Lot of 18 cased images, many identified to the Wiggin Family of Bangor, Maine, most notably, Captain Rinaldo B. Wiggin. Each image is housed in full leather or pressed paper case, and many include an inscribed note identifying the subject of the portrait.
Rinaldo B. Wiggin (1827-1864) was a native of Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine and had served in the pre-war Portland Light Infantry militia company before joining Company A of the two-year 2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry as 1st lieutenant on May 28, 1861. Wiggin was promoted captain on August 30 and evidently served in command of the company (without mention) in "eleven bloody and hard-fought battles" including First and Second Bull Run, Hall's Hill, Yorktown, Hanover Court House, Gaines' Mill, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville before mustering out with the distinguished regiment on June 9, 1863. The 2nd Maine was initially assigned to Porter's Division before the army was reorganized, and then briefly to the 3rd Corps before joining the 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac in May 1862 for the duration.
At home in Bangor for the summer, the stalwart New England patriot procured an early government disability pension but still saw fit to reenlist in the Veteran Reserve Corps commissioned as captain, Company A, 24th Regiment VRC on December 26, 1863. Captain Wiggin later died in service "of inflammation of the stomach and bowels" at Wisewell Barracks, Washington, DC on August 1, 1864. The captain's widow, Fannie S. (Patten) Wiggin, applied for and received a wartime pension (#62072) found online at Fold3.com, comprising a voluminous 42 pages of the usual affidavits and testimonial documentation. Other than confirming the birth of a daughter and a son before the war, Ancestry.com related nothing of Wiggin's early life in Bangor. The soldier's premature demise at age 37 is recorded in Find A Grave.com and commemorated by a spiraling Victorian obelisk in Bangor City Cemetery (Plot 3PG).
Dating around 1858 the splendid tinted quarter plate daguerreotype signed "Rinaldo B. Wiggin" across the bottom of the plate shows the letters "LI" applied in gilt on the belt plate by an unknown artist. Aside from the designation of "Light Infantry," there is nothing else in the portrait (or otherwise) that would indicate which militia company Wiggin might have been a member of before the war. By 1860 the organized Maine militia was much reduced following a brief surge in interest during the mid 1850s corresponding to the Crimean War. Wiggin most likely served in a venerable company known as the Portland Light Infantry, first organized in 1803. Period newspaper descriptions of Maine militia uniforms are virtually non-existent while the larger organization of the state militia companies underwent intermittent changes. Prior to 1860 the Portland Light Infantry was part of the 1st Regiment Light Infantry of the 1st Division, later in 1860 transferred on paper to the 2nd Division. With the outbreak of the war it is certain that Wiggin was no longer an active member of the Portland Light Infantry as he is not listed on the company roster for 1861 nor is he mentioned anywhere in Major John M. Gould's linear History of the "First-Tenth-Twenty Ninth Maine Regiment" (Portland, 1871). Without state mandated dress regulations the varied nature of Maine militia uniforms is underscored by Frederick P. Todd who wrote "...most adopted blue tailcoats, but three of fourteen we have clear record of agreed on grey coats, and one each on black, scarlet, buff and green" (Volume II, State Forces, p.867).
Wiggin's rank at the time of the daguerreotype cannot be established. The cloth epaulettes as opposed to bullion would strongly suggest that Wiggin was an enlisted man rather than an officer. The otherwise plain, straight-bladed militia sword with urn shaped pommel and cross belt attachment is more comfortably suited to an NCO or private but there are no chevrons noted in the photograph. The shako appears to be a derivative of the US M1851 Dress Cap having, presumably, a brass plate incorporating the state seal topped with a plume of flamboyant white feathers.
The war had taken its toll on Rinaldo B. Wiggin as his appearance across the progression of this incomparable military archive attests. In the daguerreotype we see a younger man still with the transient vitality of youth. Two of the later wartime tintypes (quarter plate and sixth plate) depict a mature soldier with jaunty confidence and steely demeanor. The last wartime image, a sixth plate tintype, portrays a somewhat disheveled officer now choosing to sit - thinner and resigned - probably suffering from as yet unseen symptoms of disease contracted "in the line of duty" - a scourge that would ultimately claim two thirds of the approximate 660,000 deaths during the Civil War. A sixth plate ambrotype (in poor condition) of Wiggin in civilian dress is also enclosed, along with a sixth plate portrait of an older, bearded fellow identified as "R.B. Wiggin," although he doesn't appear to be Rinaldo.
Additional images of note include four daguerreotypes (two sixth plate, two ninth plate) of Rinaldo Wiggin's wife, Fannie S. Patten, as well as a quarter plate ambrotype of the husband and wife seated together in a studio setting. The artfully posed daguerreotypes of Fannie depict the young woman between the ages of 16 and 18, one of which is a lovely portrait of Fannie seated with her sister Helen. A sixteenth plate daguerreotype of noted American silversmith, Zebulon Patten, presumably Fannie's father, accompanies the lot.
Remaining images include a sixth plate daguerreotype of a young couple identified as Samuel Plummer Jr. and his wife, Mary Plummer, ca 1843; quarter plate daguerreotype, sixth plate ruby ambrotype, and ninth plate tintype of unidentified gents sporting long beards; half plate ambrotype of an identified infant seated in a carriage; and half plate ambrotype showing an aged man wearing a patterned vest and tall boots, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He holds a long stick in both hands. A young child stands beside the curious character. Housed in full case with imprint of Newcomer's Gallery, Philadelphia, PA on velvet interior. See also Lots 26 and 280 for additional photos from the Wiggin Family of Bangor, Maine.
Quarter plate tintype featuring full standing view of a soldier holding a Hardee hat in his left hand and a British Enfield rifle with bayonet in his right hand. Another rifle can be seen leaning against a chair near the right edge of the plate. Housed in full leather case and accompanied by period inked note that identifies the subject as "Rufus Wiggin / Bangor / Went to Cal. in '49." Rufus Augustine Wiggin (1826-1885) spent the first half of his life in Maine before heading to California. He is listed as a resident of Calaveras and San Francisco between 1860 and 1880, and his occupations included "miner" and "surveyor." However, there is no indication that Rufus served in the Civil War.
Research suggests that the subject may be Rufus' brother Edward Wiggin, Jr. (1837-1912) who enlisted on January 1, 1862 at the age of 24 as a 2nd lieutenant and was commissioned into the 6th Maine Light Artillery. He resigned on May 3, 1864.
Originally obtained together with a collection of Bangor, Maine photographs identified to the Wiggin Family (see also Lots 25 and 280).
Lot of 2 half plate tintypes housed together in thermoplastic geometric Union case [Berg 3-4]. The first shows two Union privates standing together in a studio setting, wearing common nine button frock coats, with period inscription behind the image, which reads, "Presented to Malissa A. Miller / By her Husband & Brother / Taken at Madison Feb. 9th 1864 / Total Cost $4.50 / Keep this in remembrance of us Malissa Mother & David." The consignor relates that the image depicts brothers-in-law who both served with Co. A of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry. Company A had a number of soldiers with duplicate/identical last names including a pair of "Millers" who both enlisted in December 1863, including Alonzo Miller and Charles F. Miller. The second tintype shows a group of uniformed soldiers, including the same subjects presented in the first image, which both stand in the back row. In the group shot, all are protected by regulation infantry overcoats.
The 12th WI, also known at the "Marching Twelfth," was organized at Madison in the fall of 1861 and mustered out at Louisville July 20, 1865, having lost 96 men in fighting and another 227 to disease. The regiment fought mostly in the Western Theater and Sherman's March, taking part in the engagements at Vicksburg, Natchez, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Savannah, and Bentonville, NC.
Quarter plate, lightly hand-colored tintype providing a full-length portrait of a defiant African American corporal standing in front of a simple white backdrop. He is wearing a forage cap and nine button frock coat, the buttons highlighted in gold. Two cent internal revenue stamp affixed on verso. Housed in half case.
Sixth plate ambrotype of a young Ohio private wearing a kepi and "OVM" belt plate, which is exceptionally clear. The subject holds his musket with bayonet attached. Over his shoulder, he carries his cartridge box and strap. A sharp image that even captures the two holes where the soldier's breastplate once was. Most soldiers removed the breastplate, as it made a perfect target on the battlefield. Housed in full case.
Extremely sharp, sixth plate ambrotype of a Union cavalry corporal seated in a studio setting, holding his saber in his right hand. He is dressed in full uniform complete with kepi, with buttons, insignia, and belt plate tastefully highlighted in gold. Housed in full thermoplastic geometric Union case [Berg 3-176].
Sixth plate, hand-tinted ambrotype portrait of John Gassler standing in a studio setting, wearing his pack on his back. The subject's name, "Johann Gassler," is scratched into the image. Housed in full leather case. With photocopies of Gassler's service papers, death certificate, pension papers, and more.
German-born cabinet maker and Brooklyn, NY resident John Gassler enlisted on April 23, 1861 at NYC; mustered into Co. C, NY 8th Infantry; and mustered out on April 23, 1863 at Brooks’ Station, VA. He survived the war and died on April 11, 1912 at age 77.
The 8th (the 1st German Rifles) was recruited in New York City, there mustered into the US service on April 23, 1861, for two years, and left for Washington on May 27. At Miller’s farm the troops encamped and on July 10 were ordered to move toward Manassas as part of the 2nd brigade, 4th division of the Army of the Potomac. During the Battle of Bull Run the 8th was held in reserve and assisted in covering the retreat. The following winter it was quartered at Roach’s mills and Hunter’s Chapel, VA; moved to Winchester in March, 1862, and in May joined General Fremont at Petersburg, WV. It participated in the pursuit of General Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, and as part of Blenker’s division fought at the battles of Cross Keys and New Market. At Middletown, the 8th was assigned to the 1st brigade, 1st division, 1st corps, Army of Virginia, under General Pope, and with that army took part in the battles of Sulphur Springs and the second Bull Run. In September, it became a part of the 11th corps and reached Fredericksburg immediately after the battle; camped during the winter at Stafford Court House and Brooks’ Station, and was mustered out of the service at the latter place on April 23, 1863.
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