COLORFUL “UNITED STATES MILITARY RECORD” FOR Co. E, 2nd NY ARTILLERY

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Item Code: 224-482

These “military” or “soldiers records,” were popular wartime service souvenirs sent home by new soldiers, something like the embroidered silk pillow covers of World War Two. This is a particularly colorful example that makes use of the conventional architectural imagery of classical columns, plinth at bottom,  mixed with foliate scrolls, military scenes, some empty cartouches for mounting photos, with the roster of particular unit printed on it (having room for comments,) and a summary of their service up to the time enough men placed orders with the salesman to justify printing them up.

This one is made out for members of Company E, 2nd NY Artillery, with the officers, NCOS, artificers, buglers, and wagoner in the column at left and the privates at right, with a flag-draped classical column between. The regiment began organizing in late July 1861, but was eventually created by consolidating two nascent artillery regiments and several batteries. They left the state in detachments from November through December and were posted in the defenses of Washington as heavy artillery, though one company saw separate service as light artillery. Drilled as infantry as well as artillery, they saw brief field service the Second Manassas Campaign in August and September 1862, but largely remained around Washington until called into the field as infantry for Grant’s all-out 1864 Overland Campaign in Virginia. As part of the 2nd Army Corps, they saw extremely heavy fighting at Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the assault on Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Deep Bottom, Ream’s Station, Hatcher’s Run, and other engagements right up to Farmville and Appomattox. They lost 5 officers and 105 enlisted men killed in action and another 5 officers and 101 enlisted men who died of wounds: a heavy sacrifice.

This was likely marketed to members of the regiment in the camps around Washington in the winter of 1862. A list of engagements at bottom includes their venture out to Manassas, with the last date being September 6, and few of the men as yet have any “remarks” printed next to their names, though one who does is Charles Johnson, listed as “dead.” He was captured and paroled during the Manassas Campaign and died of disease at Camp Parole November 11, 1862, indicating a peddler likely visited their camp taking subscriptions sometime after that.

This is still in its original gilt frame, 20” x 24”, with cedar shake backing. There is a water stain on the lower edge that comes up only to the top of the plinth as bottom, a thin brown line at upper left and some scattered foxing as shown, but retains vivid red, white, blue, and green colors with a striking eagle at top center clutching a banner reading: “NO REBEL CAN REND OUR POWERS” and “THE WHOLE UNITED STATES” superimposed upon a scene of peaceful commerce and agriculture at left, and a military camp at right. This is impressive and ready to hang.  [sr]

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