GENERAL BUTTERFIELD’S BANDANNA

$6,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 846-262

Shipping: Determined by Method & Location of buyer

To Order:
Call 717-334-0347,
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This is a scarce piece of field gear or field wear: a well preserved and nicely presented Civil War kerchief or bandanna worn by General Daniel Butterfield. These were not items of issue, of course, and not usually seen in posed studio photographs, but were extremely useful in the field, particularly for mounted officers riding in clouds of dust, or sweating in the hot sun on long marches. Not a few are mentioned as make-shift tourniquets on the battlefield.

This is displayed as one might wear it, pulling opposite corners out to form a triangle and then flipping it to form a long cylinder to tie around the neck. Printed in black, red, and white, this displays a very Victorian mix of geometric and floral motifs forming a broad plaid on either end as it is rolled, or folded, with a rose-stem and dot pattern showing in the central portion. From tip to tip it measures about 44 inches (its diagonal length.) It is framed at full length in a narrow gilt-edged frame on a black background, which sets off the colors well. Sewn to the kerchief and positioned in the center is a period brown ink note reading: “Handkerchief worn by Gen. Butterfield / as late as 1863 or 64,” which extends over most of his active military career, including brigade command on the Peninsula, division command at Second Bull Run, corps command at Fredericksburg, Chief of Staff for Hooker and for Meade at Gettysburg, as well as division command in the Atlanta Campaign.

Born in New York in 1831, Butterfield studied law, but entered business as superintendent of the eastern division of the American Express Company, which his father had helped found. In Washington when the war broke out, he was anxious to get into military service, enrolling 16 April 1861, as a sergeant in a D.C. militia company, and just days later being enrolled in New York City for three month’s service in the 12th NY State Militia, for which received a commission as Colonel on May 2, serving at Washington and with Patterson in (West) Virginia. After mustering with the regiment in early August, Butterfield was appointed brigadier general of volunteers 7 September 1861, and commanded a brigade in the Fifth Corps. He was wounded at Gaines' Mill in 1862, and thirty years later was awarded the Medal of Honor for seizing the colors of the 83rd PA under fire and using them to rally his men.

He is credited with composing “Taps” or at least adapting an existing bugle call for use at military funerals, while the army lay at Harrison’s Landing. He was acting division commander at Second Bull Run and again at Antietam, though the corps was there held in reserve. He was promoted major general 29 November 1862 and at Fredericksburg commanded the Fifth Corps, which took part in assaults on Marye’s Heights as part of Hooker’s Center Grand Division. When Hooker took command of the army he made Butterfield to Chief of Staff, a position he held under Meade through the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was slightly wounded. Displaced by Meade in mid-July, Butterfield accompanied Hooker west that Fall and commanded a division of the 20th Corps for part of the Atlanta Campaign, before giving up field service for health reasons. He had received regular army appointments as lieutenant colonel and colonel, and in 1865 was brevetted brigadier and major general. He was unassigned in the army as of March 1869 and officially retired in 1870, returning to commerce and business pursuits. He died in New York in 1901, quite wealthy, and was buried at West Point.

The kerchief displays very well, has good color, just slight wear on one end and a few minor stains. Butterfield’s wife and family preserved much his wartime material and the note may be in her hand (his papers are at Cold Spring, NY, where he had a summer home.) That he was wearing it, “as late as 1863 or 64” indicates it was something he habitually carried and was a memento of several campaigns. These are rarely preserved and this one was worn by a Union general with active field service and an interesting history.  [sr]

Length of the frame (50 3/4") with this item requires that we ship in one of our longarm boxes:  $55.00 east of the Mississippi, $75.00 west of the Mississippi.

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