$29,500.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 1179-294

This group consists of several uniform pieces and an import Model 1860 officer’s cavalry saber, all in excellent condition and identified to Lieutenant Colonel A. W. Preston of the famous 1st Vermont Cavalry.

George Benedict in his book “VERMONT IN THE CIVIL WAR 1861-1865” gives a succinct account of Colonel Preston’s life and character.

“Addison Webster Preston was born in Burke, Vermont, but removed in early childhood with his parents to Danville, which was thenceforth his home. He fitted for college, entered Brown University at the age of 21, and took high rank as a scholar; but after a year and a half he was obliged to leave college by the condition of his health. His physician advised a sea voyage so he sailed to Australia where after a stay full of adventure he sailed for California.

Preston had returned to Danville and was engaged in business when the war broke out. He enlisted in September of 1861 in the First Vermont Cavalry, was chosen Captain of Company D which he had been active in recruiting and from that day gave all his energy of mind and body to the duties of a soldier.

He commanded the regiment for much of the time during the twenty months preceding his death. Preston was a good disciplinarian who took good care of his men and was popular with them. As a man he was frank, hearty, genial, and quick of thought and action. As a fighter he was brave to a fault, impetuous, eager to strike, ready to go himself, where ever he sent his men, and unwilling to leave any place of danger as long as there was anything to be done.

He was twice wounded, at Hagerstown in the Gettysburg Campaign and at Culpepper Court House two months later. His commission as Colonel was delayed in transit by the exigencies of the campaign and reached the headquarters of the regiment after his death.

On the day of his death at Hawes’ Shop, Virginia, General Custer voiced the opinion of many when he turned away from his corpse and said, ‘There lies the best fighting Colonel in the Cavalry Corps.’ Colonel Preston’s remains were taken to White House and thence to Vermont, where his funeral took place at Danville. The proceedings were accompanied by extraordinary demonstrations of honor and respect on the part of his townsmen and of the citizens of the surrounding towns and of a large portion of Caledonia County. He left a widow, an estimable lady, whose maiden name was Juliette Hall, of Lowell, Massachusetts, and two children.”

The first item in the group is Preston’s double-breasted frock coat. The coat is in first class condition with no visible moth holes or tracking or dirt. It is made of a fine dark blue wool broadcloth that has perfectly held its color over the years. The front has seven rows of two buttons each. All buttons are coat sized eagle “C” with the same back mark of “SCOVILLE MFG. CO. WATERBURY.” Collar stands 1.00 inch high and is lined on the inside with black felt that has toned to a dark brown. Collar is held closed by a hook and eye attachment. At the shoulders are four small finished holes for attaching shoulder straps. The sleeves are bellowed slightly at the elbows. Both cuffs are functional. The right cuff has three cavalry eagle “C” buttons. Two are marked “SCOVILLE MFG. CO. WATERBURY” while the middle button bears a HORSTMANN mark. The lining of the right cuff bears an ink ID of “A. W. PRESTON, LT. COL.” The left cuff has three similar buttons but all are HORSTMANN marked. The back of the coat has two cavalry “C” buttons at the waist and one down low on the skirt. All are “SCOVILLE MFG CO. WATERBURY” marked. One button from the lower skirt is missing.

Interior of the coat is lined in the back and partial chest area with black polished cotton that is quilted in the chest. Left breast has a horizontal breast pocket while there are two pockets in the tails. All are lined with brown polished cotton. Sleeves are lined with white polished cotton throughout.

The coat is truly in excellent condition. This writer had to look long and hard just to find one single tiny moth bite in the middle of the back. The inner lining and exterior wool surface are super. The coat shows no signs of wear.

With the coat is a pair of sky-blue officer’s trousers in the same like new condition. They are made of a sky-blue wool broadcloth with a 1/8-inch-wide yellow stripe running down the outside of each leg. The colors are strong and vibrant. All exterior seams are tight and there is no signs of moth action. All suspender buttons are present. Fly consists of four buttons and all are present. Front pockets are side seam and are lined with white muslin. There is also one back pocket on the right side which is unusual for war-time trousers but not unheard of. The back of the waistband has “V” notch and yoke strap with a gilt buckle. Interior waist is lined with cotton while the inside of the lower legs, just above each cuff, has a partial muslin lining. The material of the trousers, like the coat, shows no wear.

A pair of boots with spurs still attached are also present with the group. Boots are calf high with squared toes, pegged soles and tacked heels. The body of the boots are made in two pieces, the upper and front top of the boot are one piece and the top of the heel and the back are another. The inside of the heel has also been reinforced on the inside as evidenced by the line of stitching present about ankle high. Attached to each boot is a finely crafted brass spur with oval keepers and a yoke that has a graceful swell as it moves back toward the arm and rowel. Both rowels are present and spin free. The boots do show some light signs of having been worn, but they were not worn often. Just enough to show some wear on the soles and ridges from the foot on the uppers. Both boots have leather pulls at the top. Overall condition is excellent.

Also present is a beautiful officer’s sash. The color is excellent, even on the tassels where they usually tend to fade. The tassels are all a uniformly strong wine color to match the sash body. The body of the sash is free of any snares or holes. It is thinner than normal only measuring 1.50 inches wide. It looks that each side of the sash was folded toward the center and then expertly sewn down making the body narrower than usual. Acorns are in excellent condition.

The group also includes a beautiful pair of single bordered lieutenant colonel of cavalry shoulder straps. The straps are in nice condition and match in patina. All the bullion threads have darkened from age but all are solid with none being loose. The yellow felt rank field has held its color over the years as well as most of its knap. The lieutenant colonel oak leaves are in excellent condition. The underside of the straps are lined with a black polished cotton. The straps are the type that come with string ties in each corner. Seven of the eight string ties are present.

Another very nice item that comes with the group is a beautiful officer’s sword belt complete with both drops and a shoulder support strap with plate. The black leather belt meas. approx. 1 5/8 of an inch wide with beautiful decorative white stitching done in two parallel lines along each edge with geometric shapes done in white thread at center. Leather is supple and strong. Both drops are in excellent condition as is the shoulder support strap. All are outlined in white thread. Drops have brass snap hooks. Left side has a leather guard which holds the saber support hook. The plate is rectangular with a spread-winged eagle with a patriotic shield on his chest surrounded by a heavily raised oak wreath that extends above the eagle’s wings. All is surmounted by a sunburst and stars on a stippled background. Reverse of the plate has a wide tongue with a benchmark of “82.” The keeper on the belt is also marked with the same number.

The last item in this impressive group is Colonel Preston’s import Model 1860 cavalry officer’s saber. The drawn saber meas. approx. 41.75 inches from point to pommel. The blade meas. approx. 35.75 inches with a central fuller that is 26.75 inches long. The surface of the blade is semi-bright with light to moderate mottling scattered over the blades surface. The true edge is free of any visible nicks however running the thumb along the blade does reveal several small rough spots. There is no pitting. The obverse ricasso area is stamped with a standing knight while the reverse ricasso is clearly and strongly stamped “W. CLAUBERG, SOLINGEN” in two lines. Etched on the top flat of the blade is “IRON PROOF.” The obverse side of the blade is etched with “W. CLAUBERG, SOLINGEN” followed by a panoply of flags with crossed cannons and shield followed by scrollwork surmounted by more flags with a patriotic shield followed by a spread-winged eagle with more scrollwork followed by a branch of laurel. The reverse side has an etched fern just above the ricasso followed by a panoply of flags with drums and shields. Next is scrollwork followed by a “US” followed by more flags with crossed cannons with more scrollwork and laurel. Etching is slightly subdued by age, use and mottling in this area. Most of the leather washer is present at the base of the blade.

The hilt has a gray sharkskin or ray covered grip with twisted wire that is complete. The skin shows light wear and the twisted wire has tarnished to a silver color. The pommel cap is decorated with oak leaves around its border with a domed cap. The knuckle bow starts at top with a flower and oakleaves. The bow divides into two branches as usually seen on a cavalry saber. Both branches are decorated on the lower portion with branches of laurel. The guard forms a pointed quillon which is decorated with a scrolled fern. All brass has a very nice light patina.

Metal scabbard is complete with throat and both mounts and rings. The surface of the scabbard has been blued and through oxidation has turned a plumb brown. Mounts are brass and unadorned. Scabbard body is free of dents and has two or three small chips in the finish on one side toward the bottom. Item is a wonderful example of a used but cared for mounted officer’s saber.

With the group is a notebook full of research on Preston to include reports from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies as well as his records from the National Archives and a more detailed biography.

The quality and condition of the items in this group makes it a fist class addition to any collection or museum.    [ad][ph:L]







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