IDENTIFIED CIVIL WAR GUIDON OF COMPANY M, 3rd NEW YORK CAVALRY

$12,000.00

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Item Code: 1097-23

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This cavalry guidon came out of the family only in 2017 and was carried in Company M of the 3rd New York Cavalry and preserved by Charles Nobles (or “Noble,”) who served in the company from August 1862 until muster out as a corporal in June 1865. The regiment was very active, seeing action in, “about 122 engagements, besides many minor affairs,” losing 3 officers and 48 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, plus many others who were wounded and recovered, listed as missing or among the 38 who died as prisoners of war.

The guidon follows the pattern formally adopted under War Department General Orders No. 4, 18 January 1862, specifying a swallow-tailed stars-and-stripes flag. This replaced the old red-over-white pattern and remained regulation until 1885. This one was made with 34 stars arranged in two concentric circles, the outer ring of 18 stars and the inner of 12, with 4 additional stars placed one in each corner. The number of stars indicates production before the official entry of West Virginia as a state in mid-1863.

The 3rd New York Cavalry was raised starting in July 1861 and formally organized in September, serving in Banks’ and Stone’s divisions of the Army of the Potomac until April 1862 when it was ordered to the Department of North Carolina. The first Company M, however, had been recruited in New Jersey and was transferred to the 1st NJ Cavalry at that point. A new Company M was then recruited in Rochester and Brockport, formally organized in September, and joined the regiment in North Carolina.

Nobles, listed in some records and even on his tombstone as “Noble,” was 21 years old and a resident of Ogden, NY, when he enlisted in the new Company M on 8/6/62 at Rochester and mustered in as a private on 9/10/62. A farmer, he stood 5’6” and had brown hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. His muster roll abstracts list him as present with the company throughout their service, with the exception of a 30-day furlough in August 1863, which he used to marry on August 20. He returned to the company to receive a promotion to corporal on 10/6/63, and served until muster out 6/7/65 at Norfolk, Va.

In North Carolina the outfit became part of the 18th Army Corps in the New Berne area and took part in numerous smaller actions at places like Washington and Core Creek, but also took part in the New Berne-Goldsboro Expedition, etc. In April 1864 was called into the field as part of Grant’s campaign to apply broad, coordinated and continual pressure on Confederate armies and joined the Army of the James as part of Kautz’s cavalry division in operations before Richmond and Petersburg. The took part in raids against the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, the Richmond and Danville Railroad, and the Southside and Danville Railroad under Wilson. And, they took part in the June assault on Petersburg and numerous other actions related to the siege until December, when they were moved back to Norfolk, taking part in operations in that area, and subsequently posted to Suffolk, Portsmouth, and again to Norfolk from June to July, when they were mustered out.

Nobles was likely able to bring the guidon home since he mustered out as companies were being consolidated in the regiment, which itself was combined with the 1st NY Mounted Rifles to form the 4th New York Provisional Cavalry. Nobles returned to farming and raised two sons. He died in Spencerport, NY, June 14, 1929. In 2017 descendants found the guidon along with his discharge in a trunk and had them professionally framed before selling them with a wartime letter by Nobles to a coin shop in Greece, NY, from which a longtime and respected collector obtained it. The guidon is ready to display, mounted points down, with canton to left, and with the discharge matted at bottom between the forks. The discharge is the standard “eagle” format with Nobles’ name and service data nicely and clearly filled out, using Old English characters and shaded letters for some of the handwritten entries on the printed form. The discharge shows just expected fold lines.

We also include a three-page letter written by Nobles from “Grove Camp, Near New Bern, N.C.” dated March 24, 1864, just before the regiment was called into the field as part of Grant’s 1864 campaign. Nobles indicates they had anticipated a Confederate attack on New Berne, but still held the town. He adds they are eagerly waiting to see the “first of July next,” likely a reference to whether the regiment would remain in service since he mentions a new call for troops. A bounty could not tempt him to sign up again: “I don’t think Old Abe has got green backs enough..,” but vows never to desert, apparently just remembering that his own three-year enlistment could keep him in service until late 1865.

The silk guidon retains its sleeve at top. The red and white stripes are excellent and have good color, with just light wrinkling overall and a couple of fold lines. The canton is light blue, often seen on guidons, with the stars painted on in gold. The canton has some losses, mainly where the paint of the stars had hardened, cut the silk and fallen away. Three remain, somewhat muted in color, and were matted in place. The other spots are left open with the off-white backing material showing through as stars since the edges are fairly distinct, though two are a slightly ragged and in four spots adjacent stars have taken out the intervening silk. Nevertheless, this rates very good for condition overall. Many Civil War flags with lengthy field use were reduced to mere shreds before they could be preserved by a veteran.

We include a research binder and notes by the collector who obtained it soon after it came out of the family. This is “fresh to the market,” displays impressively, and comes from a Civil War Union cavalry unit with long and active service. [sr]

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