Quantity Available: None
Item Code: 457-03
This rare and wonderful ensemble of original Civil War sharps-shooter artifacts once belonged to Captain John Saunders, commanding officer of the First Company, Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters. Captain Saunders was killed in action at the Battle of Antietam. This grouping includes Saunders' inscribed M1860 Colt Army revolver and leather flap holster, his tactics manual, his telescope, a Commonwealth certificate of service and a prized, 1880s-vintage, oversize albumen of twenty-three members of the company in uniform with their individual rifles. Also included is a photocopy of sharpshooter Private Luke Emerson Bicknell's history of the Company.
John Saunders formed his own independent company of sharpshooters in August of 1861 and led them in battle until he was 'shot through the heart' and killed in action at Antietam in September 1862. The Sharpshooter Company continued in service and was active until July 1863.
Captain Saunders's sidearm is an original, four-screw Model 1860 Colt .44 caliber, six- shot revolver that is in very good original condition. Weapon is mechanically crisp and complete with an inscription on the iron backstrap that reads "Dr. Jack Saunders, Boston, Mass." The engraving is strong save for the area where the word "Jack" appears due to rust pockmarking. Else very good. Serial # is 32787 and was produced in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 1862. Walnut grips are in fantastic shape and bear a fine cartouche on the left side. Gunmetal has been nickel-plated by the family post war. A very strong and complete original leather flap holster is part of the group and bears a clear maker's stamp of "E. GAYLORD / Chicopee / Mass." All stitching is original and tight but the exterior leather is heavily scuffed and shows moderate cracking and major flaking of the leather. Leather closure tab tightly sewn in place but is weak with the finial opening torn on one side. Brass pear-shaped finial is tight and strong, as is the copper riveted, leather belt loop on the backside. Holster even retains its original plug.
The Captain's Tactics manual is a hard bound, well used tome of over 450 pages that was printed by the J. P. Lippincott Co of Philadelphia, PA in 1861. The single volume measures 5½" high x 3¾" wide and is 1¼" thick. Front and back covers are embossed with symmetrical designs. Title on the spine reads "US INFANTRY & RIFLE TACTICS". Wraps are medium green cloth veneer covers on a pasteboard front and backing. A number of various officers' names, included Saunders' name, are handwritten in pencil on the frontis piece. Book includes everything an officer needed to run a unit, including marching discipline, bugle calls, formations, turning and oblique movements, etc. In used but not abused original condition.
The very fine condition, brass telescope is a large, three-fold device that measures 16" long when fully extended and 7¼" long when closed. Middle fold bears a wonderful wartime presentation inscription that reads "Capt. Crook, / to / Capt. Jack Saunders." To the right of the inscription is the Masonic symbol of the 'compass and the square'. Exterior body of the main scope is wrapped in a fine leather veneer cover but it suffers from a complete separation along the seam. All brass metal has acquired a fine, mellow bronze patina. Never cleaned. Glass lenses very good but light scratched from storage and use.
A large, unframed, 16" x 20" paper document referred to as a post-war certificate of acknowledgement for State service is included and bears Saunders' name and unit. Document is shrink-wrapped and back with form board for protection. A superb, large, 1880's copy photo is included that shows the 1st Company, Massachusetts Sharpshooters proudly displaying their large, scoped target rifles wearing their State issue caped greatcoats. The sepia-toned photo image also shows the men wearing the brass powder flasks around their necks and holding three distinct models of telescopic rifles. All wear forage caps, kepis and knee boots. Two men hold M1840 musician swords and two men wear rainproofs over the kepis. A stern-looking Captain Saunders stands at the far left of his company. In addition, a complete paper copy of "The Sharpshooters" by sharpshooter Luke Emerson Bicknell, 1st Company, Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters. 1883, accompanies the artifacts.
This wonderful, identified grouping is a fine collection of original 'sharpshooter' specimens that would enhance any Civil War or Massachusetts display.
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