News-Antique.com - May 25,2016 - Historical Civil War Rarities Surface and Hit the Block at Cowan’s on June 10th
CINCINNATI -- Having objects of great significance from events that still resonate around the world, the American History sale at Cowan's Auctions on June 10 offers an intriguing selection of memorabilia. Topics range from the Revolutionary War to the sinking of the Titanic, and from the White House to the California gold rush.
Headlining the auction is the presentation sword of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. Part of a 52-piece archive estimated at $100,000 to $200,000, the Model 1850 officer's sword is inscribed, "Presented by Infantry Corps Duquesne Greys, Pittsburg, Pa. To Col. E.E. Ellsworth of the U.S. Zouave Cadets, Chicago, Ills., Aug 5th 1860" and "Testimonial for Matchless Proficiency in Military Science."
A personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, Ellsworth led a small detachment on May 24, 1861, after Southern secessionists raised the Rebel flag over the Marshall House in Alexandria, Va. After taking down the enemy colors, Ellsworth was fatally shot by the hotel's owner, James Jackson, who was immediately killed by Corporal Francis E. Brownell, one of the Union soldiers. Both Ellsworth and Jackson became martyrs for their respective causes.
"The sword is very well documented," said Katie Horstman, Cowan's director of American History. "It's definitely a centerpiece of the auction."
Almost as a sidebar to the archive is a diary belonging to Brownell. It includes an 1863 entry when, as a second lieutenant, he wrote, "Went to Albany and gave the gun that Col. Ellsworth was killed with..." The diary is expected to bring $6,000 to $7,000.
Also connected to the Civil War is the archive of Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd of the 6th Michigan Cavalry. Included is a Custer valor medal in 14k gold and blue enamel. The badge was designed by General George Armstrong Custer while in the field in 1864 and produced by Tiffany. Custer was the sole arbiter of who should receive the awards, which were individually commissioned at his own expense. Also in the 23-item archive is Kidd's sword and a 14k gold GAR badge having a 6th Cavalry hanger. The grouping is valued at $80,000 to $100,000.
From the end of the war are framed souvenirs from Appomattox Court House, given to Kidd by Custer's widow, Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer. The display consists of three fragments -- wood from the desk on which the South surrendered, a swatch from a Confederate flag of truce and a piece of Gen. Custer's distinctive red necktie he wore throughout the war. They are grouped with a signed 1908 letter from Mrs. Custer to Kidd. The lot is expected to realize $20,000 to $30,000.
Other Civil War items include an oil painting of the Confederate blockade runner CSS Colonel Lamb by Samuel Walters (British, 1811-1882), dated 1864, estimated at $60,000 to $80,000; a "Stainless Banner" Confederate second national flag captured from Battery Bee at Charleston, S.C., in February 1865, one of