Sep 29, 2022 - Sale 2615

Sale 2615 - Lot 123

Price Realized: $ 1,170
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(CIVIL WAR--TEXAS.) Discharge certificate for a Texas soldier in the Arizona Brigade in the chaotic last days of the war. Partly printed document, 10 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches; folds, minor wear and foxing. Houston, TX, 24 May 1865

Additional Details

This partly printed "Confederate States of America Soldier's Discharge" certificate was issued to a soldier in Texas more than a month after Appomattox. Printed by E.L. Cushing & Co. of Houston with a decorative border and a woodcut of a cannon, its appearance suggests an orderly demobilization of the Confederate forces which was very far from the truth. One hint of the chaos is a single overprinted line which must have been added for the final dispersal of troops: "Having remained true to his colors to the last." It is printed a few degrees off line, and partly covers another line of text.

The discharged soldier, Private Joseph Woods Bradford (1821-1894), had been a Galveston justice of the peace before serving three years with the 4th Texas Cavalry, part of the colorful Arizona Brigade. His regiment was largely disbanded by the time this discharge was issued. A portion of them had taken to freestyle marauding in northern Texas, and some of the remaining Confederate units were actually tasked with hunting them down. The discharge is signed "By order of Maj Gen Magruder" in an unknown hand. John B. Magruder, Confederate commander of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, would formally surrender what remained of his army on 2 June.

We have traced no other examples of this certificate at auction, although the dealer Eberstadt offered one in his 1963 catalog. We find a variant printing on WikiTree with a portrait of Jeff Davis instead of the cannon.