IDENTIFIED M1861 SPRINGFIELD - MUNROE ELLISON 161st NEW YORK

$7,500.00

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Item Code: 2021-698

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This rifle saw a lot of action and campaigning in the western theatre and is a nice example of a Civil War veteran’s rifle musket, brought home and later inscribed to commemorate his service. The rifle is a Model 1861 Springfield, the classic infantry long arm of the Civil War, and is dated 1862. It is complete, with all bands, springs, swivels, rod and sights in place, though the rear sight leaves are missing. The metal is brown overall with the barrel smooth metal forward and showing some pitting and crustiness around the breech and on the bolster, though the lock plate is good, with smooth metal and the date, eagle, and “Springfield” fully visible. The wood has handling marks, minor dings, and some scuffs near breech, but is complete, with no cracks or chips. The left side flat has an “M” carved in it upside down, right side up as it likely hung on the wall. It may have had some light use around the farm in later years, but was not abused.

The right buttstock is carved “I WAS CARRIED BY / MUNROE ELLISON” and the left is carved, “NOVEMBER 15, 1864 / I STARTED WITH SHERMAN.” The carving is nicely done, not quite professional or completely folky, but decorative, with curling serifs on some letters and a faint red tone indicating the letters were colored as well. A backwards “S” in “started” indicates the carver had his shortcomings, as does the “R,” which he had to squeeze in as an afterthought. Ellison’s first name is usually given as “Monroe” and the New York muster rolls have enshrined him as “Allison,” but all other records have him as Ellison. He was born in Tyrone, NY, in 1846 and enlisted in Co. B of the 161st NY at Tyrone for 3 years’ service, mustering in as a private 9 September 1862 and mustering out with his company 20 September 1865 at Fort Jefferson, Florida. He returned to farming in New York, married in 1874, raised a family, was a member of Brundage Post G.A.R. in Hammondsport, and died 15 January 1932 at the veteran’s home in Bath.

The 161st NY was mustered in Oct. 27, 1862, and was posted to the Department of the Gulf in December, assigned to Grover's and then Augur’s division of the 19th Corps. In 1863 it fought at Clinton plank road, Plains store, and the siege of Port Hudson, where it lost 17 killed, wounded and missing. In July it was heavily engaged at Donaldsonville, La., with a loss of 7 killed, 39 wounded and 7 missing, and in September was in the Sabine Pass expedition losing 30 killed, wounded and missing. In 1864, in Emory's division, it took part in Banks' Red River campaign, fighting at Sabine cross-roads (losing 13 killed, 64 wounded and 30 missing,) Pleasant Hill, Cane River crossing and Mansura. When two divisions of the 19th corps were ordered to Virginia in July, 1864, the 161st remained in the Department of the Gulf and was stationed successively at Columbus, Ky., Memphis, Tenn., and in western Mississippi. In Spring 1865, as part of the 13th corps, it saw action against Fort Blakely, Spanish Fort and Mobile, Alabama, and was then ordered to Florida. Ellison was among those whose terms had expired and were mustered out in September. The remainder were mustered out in November.  The regiment lost 56 officers and men killed in action or mortally wounded, and another 92 wounded who recovered, to some degree at least.

Noticeable in their service record, and Ellison’s, is that they did not participate in Sherman’s March to the Sea, which commenced on November 15, 1864, and is plainly suggested by the carving. This is not to suggest Ellison misrepresented his record: he saw a lot of campaigning and battle action. More likely the carver succumbed to the gravitational pull of a great event, knew Ellison had served in western campaigns and in much the spirit of thinking everyone in the Union army in the east must have been at Gettysburg, thought it a sure thing he had been on the March to the Sea. The rifle still saw a lot of action in western campaigns and is a wonderful veteran and memento of service brought home by a Civil War veteran with three full years of service.  [sr] [ph:L]

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