MILITIA UNIFORM, PHOTOS, DOCUMENTS FROM MEMBER OF 38TH MASSACHUSETTS

$3,500.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 389-04

This group is a wonderful collection from Nathan Russell who served in a militia unit (the Read Guard) and later in the 38th Massachusetts Infantry from 1862 to 1865.

Russell was from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Born in 1836, he was a 25-year-old clerk in 1862 when he enlisted in the 38th Mass. After the Civil War he relocated to northern New Jersey where he formed Nathan Russell Real Estate. He died in 1917 at the age of 81.

Offered here is Russell’s militia uniform and a binder of photographs and documents. The militia uniform consists of a jacket and a pair of trousers.

The jacket is of the short, waist length style. It is made of dark blue wool with four bright red details. These red details are located on each cuff and two at the collar. Each of these “details” features a scalloped edge and three small (6mm) brass “ball” buttons. The collar and cuffs are also piped in red. The jacket is closed with eight medium-sized (13mm) brass “ball” buttons on the front. The collar was closed with hook and eyes. There is a 3” wide, angled pocket on the left breast. The back panel of the jacket is unlined while the two breast panels are lined with a dark, lined polished cotton. Sleeves are also unlined except for the cuffs which are lined with about 2 ¾” of black polished cotton. There is one button-up “belt loop” in the back. The loop is lined with thin leather and held closed at the top by a single large (16mm) “ball button”. There is no evidence of there ever being any others. There are scattered moth holes, mostly small, overall. The largest is about 5mm in diameter, located on left sleeve between the armpit and shoulder. Overall, the jacket is in very good condition.

The trousers are made of bright red wool. A brown stripe adorns the outside of each leg. These stripes taper slightly, being 1 ¾” wide at the waist and 1 ½” wide and the cuff. Pants are unlined except for a 1 ¾” wide band of white cotton around the waist. On this cotton waist band is marked in ink “N.R. / ____ 38th”.  There are two brass fly buttons, marked “NE PLUS ULTRA”. Additionally, there are seven buttons around the waist; four are bone, one tin (MODE DE PARIS), and two more of the brass (NE PLUS ULTRA). Condition of the trousers is overall good. There are a few small holes (not from mothing) and a 2” long area that was unprofessionally repaired (luckily on the back).

A 3-ring binder contains 18 documents from the 38th Mass, 16 photographs, and two uniform buttons. The documents show water damage and often, severe paper loss. All documents, except one, are regimental quartermaster returns and abstracts from when Russell was the quartermaster. The other document is very interesting as it is a handwritten “Bill of Fare” for the 1863 Thanksgiving dinner for the regiment’s staff officers. Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a federal holiday in 1863!  This menu has significant damage but the tasty treats listed are mostly visible…as is a drawing of the mess tent.

Of the photographs, there is one carte de viste of Russell in full uniform with sword. All others are of him in later life, of his family, and of his various homes.

Also tucked into the front pocket of the binder is a small manila envelope containing a coat and cuff eagle “I” buttons from Russell’s blue, regulation uniforms. These were provided by another collector who owns Nathan Russell’s other uniforms.

The 38th was mustered into service between July and August, 1862. The regiment was sent to Baltimore, Md.  From there the 38th was sent to New Orleans as a part of the Banks Expedition to Louisiana. They were assigned to Banks' 19th Corps.  At Fort Bisland, April 12, 1863 the regiment had its first combat experience, losing 6 killed and 29 wounded.  In May they participated in the assaults on Port Hudson. On May 14, Nathan Russell was wounded.  In the Spring of 1864, the regiment was part of the Red River Expedition.  In a skirmish near the crossing of Cane River on April 23, the 38th lost five killed and six wounded.  On July 20 the regiment returned to Virginia and was made a part of the Army of the Shenandoah.  On September 19 they were engaged at Winchester.  The regiment was also engaged at Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek.  In January 1865 the 38th was transported to Savannah, Georgia until being sent to Boston and mustered out of service on July 13, 1865.  [jet]

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