Three CDVs of Warships, Incl. USS Mississippi

Lot of 3 CDVs. Carte of unidentified three masted sailing frigate. Uncredited: n.d. She could be a warship representing either the Potomac-class or Sabine-class although there are only 16 guns (per side) visible, fewer than the Potomac's or Sabine's normal complement. Oddly, the becalmed ensign at the ship's stern does not appear to be the familiar stars and stripes, rather the while ensign of the Royal Navy. Still, the style of the date inked on verso, month and then day, follows the American colloquial versus English. 

The second vessel is a river side-wheeler with a tall, raked funnel in between two canted masts.  Large caliber pivot guns are visible for and aft.  The vessel is unidentified and the CDV bears neither inscription nor back mark.   

Third image is the familiar profile of the paddle frigate USS Mississippi first commissioned in December 1841.  A lengthy period pencil inscription on verso reads in part, "The old/Mississippi/blown up/March 1863/in fighting..."  Also on the back is the name "Rundlet," a four digit number, and "two prints" all written in a different hand.  A veteran of Perry's Expedition to Japan, Mississippi joined the blockade off Key West in June 1861 and was successful in capturing a schooner, later in November taking a British flagged bark in off New Orleans.  She then reported to Farragut for operations against New Orleans engaging Forts Jackson and St. Philip on March 24, 1862, and here ramming and destroying the unique Confederate turtle-ram Manassas "with two mighty broadsides."  While attempting to run Confederate batteries at Port Hudson on March 14, 1863, the deep draft Mississippi grounded and was taken under intense cannonade.  Captain Melancton Smith and his executive officer George Dewey (of later Manila Bay fame) tried valiantly to refloat her but to no avail.  Smith ordered her machinery destroyed, the guns spiked before she was fired to prevent capture, blowing up and sinking. Sixty four men were killed while 223 survived. Three of Mississippi's crew were later award the Navy Medal of Honor for their courageous actions during the ordeal.

The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection 

Lots 37, 69-98, 295 

Cowan's enthusiastically presents the second installment of collector Richard B. Cohen's matchless archive of Civil War Brown Water Navy photography. Richard was known to many in the field - indeed some of these images may resonate from a bygone transaction or "show and tell' - but to those who knew him best he'll be remembered as a "disciplined collector who maintained a relatively narrow focus having built an important, perhaps unsurpassed collection in his area of specialization." This catalogued portion of the core collection is a seamless continuation of high quality photography highlighted by an array of Brown Water Navy warships in desirable carte-de-visite format. We counted no fewer than 22 different Mississippi River vessels, some battle-weary and familiar, others obscure, but all identified with many named in period ink. Research confirmed that several of these CDVs were signed by an officer who had served aboard the ship conveying the historic connection and spirit of "wooden ships and iron men." The last of the larger format albumen warships are also included - the USS Blackhawk, Eastport, and Louisville. A fine quartet of lots feature sought-after enlisted sailors. We proceed with eight additional lots of multiple identified officer cartes, the myriad of navy rank insignia during the Civil War both complex and instructive. We think it opportune to quote a comment from a previous buyer who emailed that, "...I draw inspiration from their BWN service when known, and when not offering (him) the opportunity to reconstruct an aspect of overlooked Civil War naval history." Now comes the time to further disperse Richard B. Cohen's collection and recycle the photography to the care of the next generation, and in so doing we salute a lifelong endeavor unlikely ever to be duplicated.

Provenance:The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection


Frigate CDV with a familial ink dedication on verso, "Jane Miller/From/Thomas Miller/April 12, 1863; strong with good clarity for outdoors, corners clipped, else near EXC.  Side-wheel image hazy, overexposed with light toning/soiling on mount, VG.  Mississippi carte with above average clarity given probable period commercial copy shot format, with dented corners, VG.


Estimate: $500 - $700
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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