1856 COPY OF “THE SONG OF HIAWATHA” PRESENTED & INSCRIBED BY CONFEDERATE GENERAL RALEIGH E. COLSTON

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Nice conditioned hardback copy of “THE SONG OF HIAWATHA” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow dated 1856.

Brown cloth covers are embossed with geometric shapes at center. Covers also have a tooled line along the border with laurel leaves in corners. Spine has title and publisher in gold stamping. Both covers and spine have light surface wear and dirt from age and storage. Back cover is worn through at lower corner for about an inch. Binding is good. Volume runs approx. 316 pages with 10 pages of advertising in the back of the book. Interior is clean.

Inside the front cover on the very first page is a period ink inscription that reads “MISS FANNY LEE JONES FROM HER FRIENDS, RALIEGH COLSTON.”

Born in Paris, France, Raliegh Colston was the adopted son of Maria Theresa, 2nd Duchess of Valmy and Dr. Raleigh Edward Colston. His mother had divorced her husband François Étienne de Kellermann, a famous cavalry general under Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1842, young Colston was sent to study in the United States, living with an uncle in Berkeley County, Virginia, now West Virginia. His "rigidly pious" uncle repeatedly tried to get Colston to enter the Presbyterian ministry, but the young man preferred a military career.

Colston entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1843 and graduated July 4, 1846, fourth in a class of fourteen. Following his graduation, he taught French and military science at VMI. Professor Colston and a group of VMI cadets served as guards during the November 1859 execution of John Brown following his unsuccessful raid on Harper's Ferry.

With Virginia's secession in early 1861, Colston was commissioned as the Colonel of the 16th Virginia Infantry. He commanded a district near Newport News during the historic 1862 battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia.

On December 24, 1861, Colston was appointed as a Brigadier General. He served under James Longstreet in the Peninsula Campaign in 1862, leading a small brigade. His performance at the Battle of Seven Pines elicited criticism. Becoming ill from exposure, Colston left the Army of Northern Virginia until December 1862.

In April 1863, he led a brigade under Stonewall Jackson. Because he knew Colston from the time when both were professors at VMI, Jackson recommended Colston to lead a division. At the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, Colston led one of the divisions involved in Jackson's flank attack on the Union army's right flank. His division was placed in the second line on May 3. In the two days fighting it lost 31% casualties. However, on May 3, Colston proved painfully slow in directing his men into action and General Lee relieved Colston of command of the division on May 20.

 

Colston later served under P.G.T. Beauregard in 1864 in the Siege of Petersburg. In early 1865, he was in command of the defense of Lynchburg, Virginia, guarding one of the Confederacy's last open railroads.

After the war he established a pair of military schools, including one in Wilmington, North Carolina. The first school failed and the second proved only a modest success.

In May 1873, Colston arrived in Egypt having been hired by the Khedive of Egypt as a professor of geology and a colonel in the military.

In December 1874, Colston set out at the head of an expedition to Kurdufan. He fell ill in March, but unlike his American second-in-command who returned to Cairo, Colston determined to press on due to his "soldier's pride." Soon he was unable to ride a camel and had to be carried across the desert for several weeks on a litter, during which time he expected to die. Yet, he only turned over command when another American arrived. He was partially paralyzed for nearly a year and suffered lifelong lingering aftereffects. Colston finally recovered after spending six months at a Catholic mission in El Obeid.

In 1879, he returned to the United States, where he lectured and wrote several magazine articles on his experiences in North Africa and in the Civil War. Despite being crippled, he worked as a clerk and translator in the U.S. War Department and Surgeon General's office from 1882 to 1894.

He lived the rest of his life as an invalid in the Confederate Soldiers' Home in Richmond, Virginia, where he died penniless. He was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, not far from fellow Virginia general George Pickett.

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