Apr 15, 2021 - Sale 2564

Sale 2564 - Lot 190

Price Realized: $ 1,062
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 500 - $ 750
(CIVIL WAR--NEW YORK.) Jacob J. DeForest. Manuscript history of the 81st New York Infantry. Manuscript Document Signed. 10 manuscript pages of 5 sheets, 12 1/2 x 8 inches, plus final blank leaf; bound with two fasteners on top edge, short closed repaired separations at folds, otherwise minimal wear. With full typed transcript. Np, circa late 1865?

Additional Details

An apparently unpublished history by the commander of the 81st New York Infantry, Colonel Jacob J. DeForest (1820-1904). The Oswego-based regiment saw its first heavy combat in McClellan's Peninsular Campaign of mid-1862, including Yorktown, Williamsburg, Bottoms Bridge, Savage Station, Seven Pines, Malvern Hill and Fair Oaks, where Colonel DeForest was wounded in the chest. DeForest rues the army's retreat: "Had the Commander of the Army [McClellan] pressed the enemy into Richmond instead of faltering and finally retreating back to the cover of his gun boats on the James River, the situation would have been very different." In contract, DeForest calls General Grant a "bull dog fighter." At Cold Harbor, as the 81st lost their entire color guard, and thirteen commissioned officers, with "two thirds of its numerical strength . . . swept from the ranks. . . . Lieut. J.W. Burk, standing near my side, was pierced by a ball from a sharp-shooter directly through the head between the eyes." At Fort Harrison, "81st colors were the first ones planted on the rebel fort, taking two redoubts, several pieces of artillery, large number of prisoners, and one battle flag." In Richmond in April 1865, they were "the first infantry regiment to enter the rebel Capital and its commanding officer released the Union prisoners from Libby Prison and filled it with as many rebels as it would hold, locked its doors and put the key in his pocket, and has it now in his safe keeping." He closes by noting proudly that the colors of the 81st "were never in the hands of the enemy," despite the fact that "on several occasions the color guard were swept out of existence."