Shell Jacket Worn at the Battle of Gettysburg Leads Cowan's Fall Historic Firearms and Early Militaria Auction
A shell jacket worn at several important Civil War battles, including Gettysburg, is set to hit the auction block at Cowan’s Historic Firearms and Early Mililtaria Auction on November 4, 2009. The lot includes thorough documentation of the coat’s provenance, including Stone’s letter to his mother that accompanied the coat when he sent it home in which he refers to the coat as “lucky”.
Estimated to sell for $40/60,000, the Federal-blue state-issue coat, piped in faded yellow with original sergeant’s chevrons, is cut like a shell jacket and bears nine Massachusetts state seal buttons. It belonged to Sergeant Henry H. Stone, Company I., 11th Massachusetts, Army of the Potomac. It is documented that Stone wore this very same jacket at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Locust Grove. Patched on the left sleeve, the uniform shows evidence of Stone’s “slight wound” at Gettysburg where military records confirm he was grazed in the arm by a bullet on July 2nd during the Confederate assault that threw the over-extended 3rd Corps out of the Peach Orchard.
The coat survives because Henry Stone was persuaded to part with his “lucky jacket” sending it home to his mother in Charleston, Massachusetts, from winter camp near Brady Station. In an accompanying letter dated April 1, 1864, Stone wrote, “…you wish for me to send home any of my clothes that I may have worn in the Battle of Gettysburg, I will do so at once… I will send you my “Jacket” worn in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Wapping Heights—also Locust Grove.” This letter is included with several other documents as part of the provenance of the coat, which descended through the family of Sergeant Stone to the consignor.
Another item of interest is a circa 1817 Raised Carved Kentucky Rifle by John Shell, who worked in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County Pennsylvania. Estimated to sell between $35,000 and $45,000, the rifle features a brass signature escutcheon signed by John Shell, with over twenty-two pieces of silver inlaid with some silver wire work and curly maple stock with raised carvings.
A rare French Indian War powder horn with engraved map of Pennsylvania, estimated at $15/25,000, will also be featured. The map depicts the following fort plans and town halls on the road from Philadelphia to Fort Pitt, the point at Pittsburgh, including the famed "Forbes Road" built by Cols. Washington, Burd, and Bouquet under the direction of General Forbes to provide easier access for the British-American attack on Fort Duquesne. Tracing the route, principal points are labeled within simple rectangular cartouches, with adjacent buildings or forts characterizing the particular locations.
The Tiffany Armorial Hilt Sword of Colonel John Knapp of Missouri is a featured item in the auction, carrying an estimate of $20/30,000. Knapp, as Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Regiment Missouri Militia, was a particpant in the seminal Camp Jackson Massacre in 1861, the defining point in Missouri's involvement in the Civil War in which Missouri became a Union state.
During the tumultuous days after the bombardment of Ft. Sumter, the 1st Regt. Missouri Militia mustered at Camp Jackson in May of 1861, forming part of pro-Southern General Daniel Frost’s brigade of Missouri Militia. Frost, an ardent secessionist, had intended to capture the mass of government weapons and stores at the St. Louis Arsenal and bring the border state into the Confederacy. He was thwarted by the quick action taken by the audacious Captain Nathaniel Lyon supported by loyal Union militia. Lyon essentially bullied and bluffed Frost into surrendering his Missouri Militia, thereby saving the Arsenal and the state for the Union. Upon learning of the surrender, Colonel Knapp, known for his "devotion to the Union," along with other outraged officers, broke their swords in a dramatic display of military chivalry. Knapp’s broken sword is now part of the Missouri History Museum’s collection and this fine Tiffany sword is its replacement.
A Springfield Model 1855 Pistol-Carbine, .58 caliber, will be offered with an estimate of $10/15,000. It features a striking walnut stock with brass furniture.
Other featured lots include four Russian pilot's badges and leather box with Imperial Russian Coat of Arms, estimated to sell for $5/7,000; a circa 1880-1895 UMC cartridge board, estimated to sell for $8/10,000; a Cook and Brothers Confederate rifle, estimated to sell for $9/15,000; and a U.S. Military Aviator's badge in the 1913 Pattern, estimated at $5/7,000.
The online catalogue is now available. Printed catalogues will be available for purchase the first week of October. Inquiries about the auction or about consigning to future auctions can be made to Jack Lewis or Joe Moran at email@example.com.