Presentation Civil War Artillery Frock Worn by Capt. William B. Chapman, 2nd OHLA when WIA Pea Ridge

A remarkable and historic uniform, one of a few known and documented that shows the effect of a battlefield wound.  Navy blue nine-button single-breasted heavy wool artillery captain's frock coat made of a course cloth noted in other examples of early identified Ohio officer's uniforms.  Buttons are marked "Extra Quality."  Three-button serviceable cuff.  Shoulder straps are red cloth with double gold bullion border gold bullion captain bars.  The straps were clearly added to the coat after Chapman's promotion in June 1862.  Lining of coat is typical dark olive with wide quilted patterns under arms.  White muslin lining in sleeves.  Skirt is 16" to rough edge and sleeves are 8" at width. Three seams on back that lead to center vent. Vent has 2 buttons at top and middle of vent.

This coat was presented to Captain William B. Chapman by the citizens of Conneaut, Ohio and was worn by him at the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7, 1862 where he was wounded in the left hip by a spent musket ball.  Accompanying the frock coat is the original musket ball that caused the wound and the eagle button torn from the coat, both recovered by Captain Chapman and kept with the uniform.  Also included is written provenance from a Chapman family member, significant documentation, and a deteriorating 19th century scrapbook containing a wartime albumen of Lieutenant Chapman wearing the very same coat with an old ink notation further documenting the provenance.

Thirty-four year old William B. Chapman (1826-1895) was already “one of the foremost lawyers in the State” when he enlisted in the 2nd Ohio Light Artillery as 1st Lieutenant on July 20 1861. The battery was order to St. Louis where it served until October 1861 when it was attached to the Army of Southwest Missouri for field service. It participated in Fremont’s advance on Springfield before going into winter quarters at Rolla. The battery was commanded by Lieutenant Chapman when it joined General Curtis for the campaign against Sterling Price seeing heavy action at Pea Ridge, Arkansas on March 7, 1862. During the battle Chapman “attempted to repel advancing Confederate infantry who were trying to overrun his position. He was then struck in the left hip by a spent musket ball.” A synthesis of Chapman’s later account extracted from a newspaper informs us that “it (the ball) had sufficient residual force to knock him over. The impact severed the lower button of his frock coat. As the coat was a gift, he thought he had better try and retrieve the missing button. While looking for it, he spied the musket ball that had struck him still rolling on the ground. He picked up the ball and the button…

Chapman remained with the battery for just a few more months. He was promoted to Captain on June 19, 1862 when the 2nd OHLA was stationed at Helena but resigned and was discharged for wounds on October 11, 1862 ending his Civil War service.

The family provenance consists of a short note penciled on the back of an older business card presenting: “W.K. Chapman, Chief Clerk/District Freight Office/The Pennsylvania Railroad/Telephone Blackstone 5111, Akron, Ohio.” The Pennsylvania Railroad was in operation from 1846 until it merged in 1968. The note is signed by Chapman and reads: “This military coat was presented to Ca W.B. Chapman by citizens of Conneaut, Ohio in 1861—he was wearing same when he was wounded in the battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862. (signed) W.K. Chapman.” In the same clear plastic sleeve is an unknown address for “Red Barn Antiques and Paul & Olive Benton.”

An 5.25 x 7 in. oval albumen glued to a scrapbook page shows 1st Lieutenant Chapman at the time of his enlistment wearing the frock coat as well as a large hanging Masonic compass and square emblem The caption written about 1900 reads: “This is a picture of Capt. William B. Chapman taken July 1861. The coat worn was presented by the citizens of Conneaut and was pierced by an inch ball in the fight at Pea Ridge. He was a Past Master of Masonic Lodge No. 222 Evergreen Chapter at the time. The picture was taken at the request of the Masons and has hung in their hall thirty eight years.” The lead ball itself is approximately .69 showing oxidation from age, but no obvious damage. The eagle “A” button is undamaged. Both are contained in a 2.5” diameter machine turned treenware box with an orange/orange leaves painted on the lid. On judgment the common style of box dates from the late 19th century, but probably not earlier. The scrapbook with paper boards literally falling apart was compiled by Chapman’s daughter, Sarah Chapman Heyward, also contains an albumen of Capt. Chapman and surviving veterans of the 2nd OHLA at a battery reunion held at the daughter’s home in September 1897.

Another item of interest in the scrapbook is a partial edition of the March 29, 1862 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper recounting the Battle of Pea Ridge, given to Sarah Chapman Heyward. A box of informative color prints from August 1973 show both Captain Chapman’s and Sarah Chapman Heyward’s homes as they appeared in 1973. One interior view of a 1970s-decorated living room is captioned as the parlor where Captain Chapman’s body was laid out. Numerous prints of Chapman family graves are included along with photographs of an individual from North Versailles, Pa. named Bernard V. Lesniewski who we presume was the owner of the Chapman frockcoat in 1973. A published 1913 genealogy is also included.

Substantial research accompanies the Chapman material comprising several files including National Archive Military and Pension records. A file titled “Copies of Newspaper Accounts” and another rather thick file containing copies of “Conneaut, Ohio Newspaper Accounts Incl. Chapman’s Letters Home.” A testimony to the souvenir bullet was described in letter dated March 9, 1862 written from Keits House, Keitsville, Missouri in which Chapman wrote: “When the last charge was made I was struck with an once round ball, just above the hip bone, on the lefty side, which came out about five inches from where it entered. I have the ball, and will bring it home when I come.

A war hero, Captain Chapman returned to Ohio in 1862 and resumed the practice of law. In 1873 he removed to Pennsylvania and in 1877 came to Bradford. The Captain and his wife Cynthia raised five children and attained prominence living in Bradford for the remainder of their lives. Captain Chapman naturally became active in the GAR and in many social and fraternal organization that fulfilled the aspirations of well-to-do veterans in the later 19th century. The local Bradford GAR Post was named in his honor.

William B. Chapman obituary states that he died on October 28, 1895 the “result of injuries received at Buffalo Oct. 18, when he was run down on the street by a passing carriage.” Private services were held at the family residence and afterwards the deceased was memorialized in a large funeral and public procession. The remains were transported via rail to Conneaut, Ohio for interment. Some years later Cynthia Chapman followed her husband in death on July 29, 1918.

Provenance:Turner to Consignor 2005

Condition:Signs of wear and mothing on front chest, shoulders and collars. Moth holes on each sleeve.  Back of coat show signs of wear in wool, mothing and moth holes.  Hole in left hip. Lining of coat has moth holes.

Estimate: $8,000 - $10,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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