Lot of over 400 items, featuring: Medal of Honor recipient Captain George E. Albee's daily journal written during his service in the Indian Wars in 1869, containing approx. 44 pp with entries, several describing battles against the Comanche and buffalo hunts. Included with the journal is a small hand-drawn map and other miscellaneous documents as well as approx. 480+ letters, photographs, newspaper articles, invitations, and documents pertaining to or written to Albee. The Library of Virginia has Albee's daily diary documenting his Civil War service, and authors have used it several times in their research. However, it appears that the journal offered here has never been published.
George Albee (1845-1918) began his military career at the bottom. At 17, he enlisted as a private in the US Volunteers, 1st Sharpshooters, Co. G, on June 25, 1862. After serving two months, he was wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run and discharged from service. Instead of remaining at home, Albee enlisted again, this time as a private in the 3rd Wisconsin Light Artillery, Co. F, on December 23, 1863. He received two promotions in the 36th Wisconsin as a 2nd lieutenant on March 11, 1864, and 1st lieutenant on October 18, 1864. The enemy captured Albee on August 25, 1864 at Reams' Station, VA. He served as a POW at Libby Prison until he was detached from service at David’s Island, NY in December 1864. Undeterred, he returned to his post in March of 1865 and stayed with his men until he mustered out of service a few months later. Remarkably, Albee enlisted a third time as a 2nd lieutenant of the 36th Wisconsin Infantry, Co. B, on September 18, 1865, mustering out of service on July 12, 1865. However, the end of the Civil War was not the end of his military service.
Albee accepted a commission in the regular service as a 2nd lieutenant in the 36th US Colored Infantry and 2nd lieutenant, 41st US Infantry. While serving with the 41st, Albee sporadically kept a daily journal. Although he did not write often, he recorded the most important events of his service as well as some of the remarkable sights he saw at Fort Clark in Texas. He thinly scrawled in any available surface about his battles with the Comanche. Excerpts of his entries at Middle Fork read:
Marched 14 miles am during one stop 6 Indians appeared near camp Capt. Heyl(?) with 6 men started after and I followed with 20 men ran them 7 miles. Were push going into camp for the night when a party of about 30 appeared on a hill Capt. Conwell(?) went out and fired several shots…Had a running fight 6 miles 5 Indians supposed to be wounded 2 mortally better of 13 wounded and 1 horse captured, abandoned 2 (Wednesday, September 15 and Thursday, September 16, 1869).
With a humble spirit, Albee did not mention that he drove eleven Indians with only two men and succeeded in reclaiming the country in the presence of a large body of Indians.
Several months later, Albee and his men encountered the Comanche again. A portion of his excerpts reads: Hooker went with B and C to old battle ground returning at noon with no fresh sign [of Indians].4 p.m. Comanche appeared close to camp Bacon with “G” started I followed with Lt. Smith...found about 4 or 5 hundred Comanche in a line who came as a [illegible] fight for two hours (October 28, 1869). Anticipating an attack, Albee waited on horseback until 3 a.m. It did not come. The next morning as he and his men packed away their tents, a large band of Indians surprised them. The hills suddenly filled with Comanche again went for them and they dispersed and started for the creek…killed 5 warriors captured 7 prisoners Squaws and children(?) rest escaped, wrote Albee (Friday, October 29, 1869).
Albee’s superiors noted his gallant efforts at both battles, which earned him the Medal of Honor. Brevet Major-General J.J. Reynolds wrote, “[Albee] has been among the very foremost in zeal, enterprise and dedication to duty, especially conspicuous for the number of Indian expeditions in which he has since engaged...[he] is among the most deserving young officers in this Department” (Charles Augustus Stevens, Berdan’s United States Sharpshooters in the Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865, 1892, p. 533). Beyond his encounters with Indians, he also recorded a fatal stampede, a case of mistaken identity, and several buffalo hunts.
Albee served in the West until 1878. He retired from the US Army and became captain of the "National Blues" Co. D, 2nd Regiment Connecticut National Guard in 1891. Shortly thereafter, the governor promoted him to major and Brigade Inspector of Rifle Practice of the Connecticut National Guard. His notoriety and high rank earned him many impressive friends who wrote to him often, either asking him to visit or discussing news in Washington.
A small sample of the letters written to Albee and offered in the lot include: March 18, 1901 TLS from Medal of Honor-winning Major General William T. Shafter who writes of two of the Spanish American War commanders, I doubt if Sampson and Schley get through with anything more then they have. They are making a disgusting exhibition of themselves before the public and it is not an interesting spectacle; another TLS from Major General William Shafter written in 1898. A portion reads: Lawton is allright; whatever he did down at Santiago the President has forgotten and forgiven it; but I tell you he must not make another mistake in this administration...I feel about as you do about it and hope he won't [make another mistake]. He is too good a man to go to the devil...; 2 TLsS of introduction signed by Henry Corbin, both dated August 24, 1904. One is a specific introduction to U.S. Grant's son, and a portion reads, I am very glad that you are going to be at Manassas, and hope that I shall see something of you while there. I certainly want to look into your honest eyes again before going to my new station across the sea; and an ALS written by Major John Mosby Bacon to Albee in 1895 concerning a gun. He writes, the carbine has arrived...it is a thing of beauty and far exceeds my most extravagant expectations...its accuracy and power is something rarely marvelous.
Albee's lifelong passion for shooting became an occupation when he took a position with the Winchester Rifle Company. Working as both a designer and sharpshooter, he won several shooting exhibitions and received at least two patents pertaining to a magazine for a pump action rifle and a sight which accompanies the Volcanic Arms No. 2 Navy lever action pistol. After a long career serving his country and working with weapons, Albee died in 1918 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to his wife.
Provenance: Property of N. Flayderman & Co.
The journal is in very good condition with some surface wear on the cover and toning of the pages. The binding towards the beginning is somewhat worn. The letters and photographs range in condition but they are overall very good. All documents are separated, ordered into separate file folders, and include supplementary research.
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