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Civil War Double Breasted Frock Coat Worn by Lt. Col. Normand Smith, 13th NH

An exceptional navy blue wool seven-button double-breasted officer's frock coat having rolled black velvet collar with Smith's original pair of (detached) major's shoulder straps and red silk sash. Coat with serviceable cuffs.  Skirt is 19" to rough edge and 9" bell-shaped elbows. Lining of coat is quilted olive with white sleeves, piped inside left chest pocket. Large quilted pattern under arms. Three-seam back to center vent.  Two buttons at top and middle vent. Extra fancy straps are single border with gold oak leaves outlined in twisted silver metallic wire on dark blue (near black) field.  Sash is typical maroon silk with both cords showing some loss of color. 

Accompanying the uniform is file folder of information including an original typed letter of provenance dated "Sept. 14, 1990" signed by a Pattie S. Kaylor who wrote: My family has been in possession of this coat all my life.  I was told by my father, Ormonde Smith, that the coat was part of his father's uniform when he was a member of the 13th New Hampshire Regiment from 1861-1864.  In 1972 my father gave the coat to me to bring to Washington, D.C. to show the Smithsonian Institution where I was a volunteer docent.  As the Smithsonian declined to accept the the coat, I kept it. (signed) Pattie S. Kaylor.  

The file also contains a series of eight handwritten letters spanning 1991-1996, essentially back and forth correspondence dealing with the possible sale of the coat.  Additionally, there are copy photographs of Smith in uniform and post-war in civilian dress as well as color prints of his lonely gravestone. A compelling souvenir is a "Confederate Government Envelope from Capital April 10, 1865" recovered by Col. Smith. The 13th New Hampshire was the first regiment to enter Richmond following Davis' hasty departure. A photocopy of Smith's 1901 obituary and his Military Records from the National Archives are included.
 
Normand Smith (1832-1901) of Stewartstown joined the 13th New Hampshire as Capt. of Co. H on Sept. 27, 1862 and served with the fighting regiment for the duration. He was promoted Major on July 15, 1864 and was WIA during the fight at Fort Harrison on Sept. 29, and advanced to Lieut. Col. on Oct. 28, 1864. During his early service the regiment was part of the 9th Corps engaged at Fredericksburg, later seeing action at Drewry’s Bluff, Bermuda Hundred, Cold Harbor, the Siege of Petersburg including the Mine Explosion and the capture and defense of Fort Harrison while attached to the 18th Corps, Army of the James. The 13th New Hampshire held the honor of being the first white regiment to march into the ruined Confederate Capital. The Register of New Hampshire Soldiers and Sailors records: At daylight on April 3, 1865 they occupied Richmond finding it in turmoil, riot, ruin and fire. The flag of the regiment and the New Hampshire state flag were the first to enter the city. No colored troops were allowed to enter (although they were there first). Lt. Colonel Normand Smith was appointed first officer of the day and Provost Marshal. Immediately the 13th engaged in restoring order, putting out fires, and guarding property. Rounding up over 2,000 stragglers from the Confederate army. The regiment remained on guard duty in Richmond until April 13 until posted to camp nearby before starting for home on June 22 reaching Concord on June 27 and finally mustering out July 1, 1865 having sustained 89 battle casualties during the war.

Almost immediately after the war Normand Smith returned to Richmond where he farmed. He was later elected to the Virginia state Senate in 1869 and became an active member of the GAR joining the local Phil Kearny Post. Smith died on March 9, 1901 was buried in the city’s historic Oakwood Cemetery along with his wife.

Provenance:Descended in the Family to Howard Gosdorfer to Sylvia to Consignor 2004

Condition:Velvet lining on collar shows wear.  Lining of coat shows heavy wear and several holes. One button of coat has been repaired with the correct button, but not the same manufacturer as other buttons. Coat show signs of wear, mothing, and moth holes throughout coat.  Sleeves have moth holes and a small tear on left elbow.  Signs of wear and moth holes on back of coat.  There is a tear at the seam at top of vent.  Long tear on back left skirt coat.  Overall condition is fair.  Body of silk sash with scattered moth holes, otherwise complete and intact.

Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$4,406
05/01/2014

 

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