52nd ILLINOIS IDENTIFIED SURGEON’S STRAPS AND COMMISSION

$1,250.00

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Item Code: 490-2568

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This is a great set of Civil War surgeon’s shoulder straps not only with a wonderful family note identifying them, but with his appointment signed by Governor Yates of Illinois on 19 March 1862. The straps are Smith patent, using false embroidered stamped gilt brass borders and oak leaves on a black background to indicate the rank of major in a staff position, in this case on the regiment’s medical staff. The condition is excellent. The brass shows an even aged patina with traces of gilt in recessed spots. There is only one pencil point spot of corrosion on a corner of one strap. The shows no moth damage. The backs are almost as good, each strap showing just one small moth nip.

With these is a great pencil note from the family, “Grandfather Winchesters / uniform Civil War / shoulder markers.” These are accompanied by Winchester’s commission signed by Governor Yates on March 19, 1862, giving official notice that Edgar Winchester, “having been duly appointed Surgeon of the Fifty Second Regiment Illinois Volunteers,” has been commissioned a major, to date from March 15, 1862. This is signed by Yates, the Secretary of State, and the Adjutant General and has a green seal applied at lower left. There are fold lines, a narrow vertical stain at left, and a short horizontal separation line, but it displays well, is fully legible, and would look even better mounted and framed.

Winchester had been born in Canada about 1821 or 1823 and moved to Elgin, Illinois, about 1852. He was said to have been a “physician of large practice.” His first wife died in 1858, leaving him with two children. He remarried later that year and had a daughter about 1865. Some records have him enlisting as of March 15 and a commission on March 25, but that may be his date of muster. He resigned 4/23/64. The regiment had been organized in Kane County in late 1861, was commanded by “Fightin’ Tom” Sweeny, and had seen action already at Fort Donelson. During Winchester’s service they were with the District and Army of West Tennessee and in the Department of the Tennessee. At Shiloh they suffered 170 casualties and were engaged in the siege of Corinth soon after. At the Battle of Corinth in October it lost another 70 men. Winchester was in command of the hospital set up at the Corinth House and was complimented for his performance in the Official Records by the Medical Director of the Army of the Mississippi and by Sweeny of the 52nd Illinois, who took command of the First Brigade, Second Division, after the wounding of Gen. Hackelman in the fighting: “Dr. E. Winchester, surgeon of the Fifty-second Illinois, deserves great credit for his indefatigable exertions during the battle in alleviating the suffering of the wounded. While in charge of the principal hospital at the Corinth House, during the shelling of the town by the enemy, on the morning of the 4th, he removed nearly 100 patients from there to a place of safety with .no other assistance than that rendered him by Dr. Rohr, of the Fifty-second Illinois, and some of the proprietors of the Corinth House.

The regiment saw further action in December at Bear Creek, and in April 1863 saw fought at Town Creek, Alabama. The outfit reenlisted as a veteran organization in January 1864 and returned from furlough to participate in the Atlanta Campaign starting in May. Winchester had resigned in April and seems to have returned to his medical practice in Elgin, where he is picked up in the 1870 census. He moved to San Bernardino, California, sometime after 1870, where he died 17 February 1877, and was later remembered as one of the pioneer physicians of the community.

This is a very good looking set of straps with solid documentation belonging to an officer who saw some active service.  [sr][ph:L]

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