Auction of the Week: Cowan's Auctions Treasures of the Civil War Sale



2018-10-09 13:58:45

Our featured sale of the week is the Cowan's Auctions Treasures of the Civil War Premier Auction, which takes place in Cincinnati on October 31. Here are 10 of the remarkable lots on offer:

Camp Ford Texas POW Folk Art Carved Pipe of Lincoln

Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500

This delicately carved wooden pipe depicts the head of President Abraham Lincoln.

The pipe is engraved with the words "CAMP FORD / 1863", which suggests it was carved by a Union Army POW at the Confederate Prisoner of War camp near Tyler, Texas.

Camp Ford opened in 1862 as a training camp for new Confederate recruits, and was converted to a large POW camp in August 1863. Around 5,500 Confederate soldiers passed through the camp until the final prisoners were exchanged in May 1865.

Drummer Johnny Clem, 22nd Michigan Volunteers, Autographed CDV

Estimate: $2,500-$3,000

This antique CDV depicts John Lincoln Clem, a drummer boy with the 22nd Michigan Volunteers, who found fame as a boy when he reportedly shot and killed a Rebel Colonel at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.

Clem has signed the photograph  "Johnny Clem / That shot the / Rebel, Colonel. "

His bravery at saw him promoted to sergeant, making him the youngest soldier ever to be a noncommissioned officer in the United States Army.

He continued to serve in the U.S Army until the age of 64, and upon his retirement in 1915 he was the last U.S Civil War veteran still serving in the army.

War Log with Embedded Hotchkiss Shell

Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
This 'war log' is described as perhaps originating from the battlefield at Antietam, the bloodiest day in United States history, which resulted in 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing Union and Confederate soldiers.

The log is embedded with a Hotchkiss 3" round, which would possibly match the three-inch rifles used by the Confederates at Antietam.

Rare Civil War Trepanning Set with Instructional Pamphlets

Estimate: $1,500-$2,000

This Civil War-era surgical kit was used for 'trepanning' – a process which involved cutting holes in a patient's skull to relieve pressure, remove blood clots and bullets lodged in the brain.

The kit contains a number of gruesome-looking instruments such as a large trephine drill, an exfoliative blade, a spade-shaped cutting tool and a bone dust brush.

It also contains three copies of a pamphlet titled "An Operation for the Extraction of a Pistol-Ball from the Brain Through a Counter-Opening in the Skull", which would have proven invaluable for doctors on the battlefield.

Poor quality hygene and unsterilized implements meant almost every soldier shot in the Civil war developed an infection. According to studies, the average mortality rare for those undergoing trepanning during the war was between 46 – 56%.

Sixth Plate Ambrotype of Two Young Confederates Displaying Their Arms

Estimate: $2,000-$4,000

An early Civil War-era ambrotype photograph depicting two young Confederate soldiers, posed with single-barrel percussion fowlers.

The soldier on the left is seen wearing a jacket with a fold-over collar, which suggests he enlisted in North Carolina.

54th Massachusetts Colored Troops, Exceedingly Rare Ladder Badge

Estimate: $3,500-$4,500

This highly rare ladder badge originates from the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first military unit in the Union Army to include African Americans.

Also known as the 54th Massachusetts Colored Troops, the experimental regiment featured white commissioned officers and black enlisted soldiers, and caused controversy as many believed black men should not be allowed to fight a "white man's war".

The regiment was later praised for its bravery during an attack against Confederate Fort Wagner on Morris Island in July 1863, and its members included Charles and Lewis Douglas – sons of the renowned social reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglas.

Charles E. Town Civil War Era Infantry Snare Drum

Estimate: $2,000-$4,000

This Civil War-era infantry snare drum was manufactured by Charles E. Town of Bath, Maine, who held military contracts to produce 175 drums for the U.S Army between 1853 and 1859.

Exceedingly Rare Confederate Broadside, Embalming the Dead

Estimate: $3,500 - $5,000

A highly rare broadside advertising the embalming services of Virginia Doctors Maclure and Gerhardt.

The doctors offer their skills to the families of soldiers killed on the battlefield, stating "Persons at a Distance / Desiring to have the bodies of their deceased friends, on the field of battle or elsewhere, disinterred, embalmed, disinfected, or prepared and sent home, can have it promptly attended to..."

The advert states that "The undersigned will attend in all the details to the preservation of the bodies of the DEAD entrusted to their charge, and every embalment will be conducted under the supervision of a skillful surgeon... [either at] private residences or upon the field."

This printed broadside is considered so rare that even the Library of Congress does not own a copy as part of its Union Catalog Division.

3rd Cavalry, New York State Militia "German Hussars" Flag with Regimental Bit

Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000

A beautifully embroidered silk regimental flag of the 3rd Cavalry, New York State Militia, also known as the 'German Hussars'.

The regiment was led by Captain George W. Sauer and formed mostly by German immigrants. They left the state on July 23, 1861, but the regiment was only in active service for three months, before being mustered out in November 1861.

The Hussars were a class of light cavalry soldiers originating in Hungary in the 16th century, whose distinctive attire was later appropriated by other European armies in the 17th-18th centuries.

Quarter Plate Tintype of Robert E. Lee on Traveller, by A.H. Plecker, 1866

Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000

This Quarter plate tintype photograph depicts commander of the Confederate States Army Robert E. Lee seated atop his famous horse Traveller.

The photograph was taken by A.H. Plecker in 1866, while Lee was serving as President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, where both he and Traveller are now buried and memorialized.

Just two other period copies of the tintype are known to exist, one housed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, and the image is described as "perhaps the last original photograph of Lee in private hands".

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