CAVALRY OFFICER’S FROCK COAT IDENTIFIED TO CAPT. SAMUEL N. TITUS, 11TH PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY

$8,500.00

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Item Code: 1179-639

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This cavalry officer’s frock coat shows some signs of wear, but still rates very good for condition and has a great identification established by a wonderful Baltimore tailor’s tag sewn in one shoulder reading “T. McCORMICK, MERCHANT TAILOR, BALTIMORE, 149 BALTIMORE ST. / COR. OF BALT. & CALVERY STS. / A large assortment of fine ready-made Clothing always on hand.” All this within a shield, with a handwritten pen inscription below reading” “Lieut Titus/ Portsmouth VA” along with an addendum along the edge that is a bit unclear, but might be “Tuesday” followed by a date. This was Lt. Samuel Nye Titus, Company M, 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, who was commissioned 1st Lieutenant October 28, 1861, posted at Portsmouth from May/June 1862 to March 1863, during which time he likely acquired this coat, and was promoted to Captain July 1, 1864, at which point he would have changed his shoulder straps to Captain’s straps now on it, using the same coat since officers of both ranks wore the same single-breasted line officer’s frock coat.

The coat is fully regulation blue satinette with short standing collar, a nice billow to the sleeve elbows, single breasted 9-button front, non-functional cuffs each with three small buttons, along with two more of larger buttons at rear waist and at the bottom of the pocket in each skirt tail. All buttons are regulation Eagle-C cavalry officer’s buttons. These show bright on the front of the coat from rubbing in use and subdued on the cuffs and rear. The color of the fabric is strong with just a couple of small moth nips, nothing large or obtrusive. The seam on the rear of the left shoulder has opened slightly. The other seams are tight. The sleeves are lined in plain white. The tailor’s label is a pinkish white with the printing and writing very clear. It was sewn in place on four sides. Only the stitching on one edge is still there, but the label is securely in place and complete. The interior is lined in silk, now an olive tone, padded, with the chest and sides quilted. There is one interior pocket in the left breast. The lining is good, but shows wear spots in places you’d expect them: the upper back, shoulders, and a little in the lining of the skirts from rubbing on the legs. The collar was lined in black velvet, now oxidized to brown and showing expected wear along the top edge along the sides and back with some openings where it would rub the side of the neck. A hanging tab is in place. The pockets are in place in the chest and tails, but the pocket themselves have holes inside. The waist is fitted with a tightening belt for an elegant form and we note two darts on the upper chest also to shape it. The hasp of the buckle is in place. The flat hook is with the coat, but the stitching for it gave way. The shoulder straps are double bordered captain’s straps with yellow velvet ground for cavalry officers and show expected wear, but retain some yellow color on the velvet ground. The bullion has largely oxidized to a silver gray, but the jaceron wire edging shows retains its gilt color, though a few strands are loose. The velvet shows as slightly faded yellow mixed with some creamy white where the nap has been worn from the fabric in the center portion of either strap. The strap on the wearer’s left is detached at the forward corners, but is in place.

Born in Meigs County, Ohio, in 1837, Samuel Titus began raising a company of cavalry in summer 1861. He eventually joined forces with a cousin, Henry E. Titus, who seems also to have had authority to raise a company as captain. They assembled a small group of men, even raising funds from the public to buy horses for recruits who could not furnish their own, and set out for Columbus on August 4. Henry Titus returned to Meigs County the next day to recruit more men, but came down with typhoid and died on Aug. 28. Samuel Titus and his men then joined a company being raised by N.M. Runyan with the intention of joining a regiment to be recruited from different states by Col. J. Harlan. They mustered into US service on Sept. 1 at Camp Chase and rendezvoused with “Harlan’s Light Cavalry” in Pennsylvania, where the regiment was taken into service by that state and eventually designated the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, with Runyan’s company, sometimes referred to as a battalion, as Company M. The regiment then proceeded to Washington in October and was posted to Ball’s Crossroads, VA, before being sent in November to Camp Harrison, near Fortress Monroe on the Peninsula, taking part in a reconnaissance to Big Bethel in January. Elements of the regiment were then assigned to different posts, doing picket, outpost and guard duty and taking part in numerous actions. Company M was posted at Newport News from March to May and then to Portsmouth from June to March 30, 1863, explaining the inscription in the coat, though the regiment as a whole was also posted there from July 1863 to January 1864 (Titus had been promoted lieutenant in late October 1861- see below.) Exactly how many of the regiment’s engagements during 1862 and early 1863 the company took part in is unclear, but they are specifically credited with a fight at Norfolk on Feb. 10, 1863. “The Union Army” dates their active service to the reassembly of the regiment in Spring 1863: “It was at the siege of Suffolk, Co. M being stationed at South mills as an outpost, guarding the approach in that direction.  It participated in the attack on the enemy's works, near Hanover Court House, which resulted in the capture of 125 Confederate prisoners, among them Brig.-Gen. W. H. F. Lee, 700 horses and mules, 80 wagons, and other property. After re-enlisting the company, in May, 1864, accompanied Brig.-Gen. A. V. Kautz in his operations against the Weldon railroad, Danville railroad, etc.  At Jarratt's station the company lost 1 man killed and 11 wounded. At Reams' station the regiment engaged the enemy for three days, almost without intermission, with some loss…”

We attach images of the regiment’s service record from Dyer with red lines indicating engagements involving the regiment as a whole up to Titus’s wounding. His individual service records add the following fine points to his service: he was 2nd Sergt. (QM Sergt) from Aug 5, 1861, and officially mustered in with the company Sept. 1 at Camp Chase. He then served as Lieutenant from Sept. 17, mustering in as 1st Lt. of Co. M on Dec. 13, 1861, with rank from October 28. In February 1862 he was commanding the company; from March 1862 he was on detached service with the company at Newport News, and from June 20 to July 20 was Asst. Commissary of Subsistence and from July 28 to Aug. 29 was on recruiting duty; he was again commanding the company from Sept. 1, 1862, into October and present with it to March 21, 1863, when placed in temporary command of Co. L to April 12 and then on detached service at regimental HQ at Suffolk from April 17, but present with them for their active service, from May through October 1863. In November 1863 he was on courtmartial duty at Norfolk; in December he was present and commanding the company to early January 1864, and then present to October in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign when he was wounded. He was appointed Captain of the company July 1 to replace Capt.Reynolds, killed in action, and then to Major October 1. He only received confirmation of this latter rank at the front on October 6 and was wounded the very next day by a gunshot to the right arm while commanding the dismounted portion of the regiment at the Battle of Johnson’s Farm or Darbytown and New Market Roads, when cavalry had been sent north of the James River to help cover operations against Forts Harrison and Gilmer. Despite crawling what he thought was, or seemed like, two or three miles to avoid capture, he was taken prisoner, but fortunately treated by a Confederate surgeon, who removed his shattered elbow joint. He was hospitalized at Libby Prison, but paroled soon after, reportedly facilitated by a U.S. commissioner of exchange who was a personal acquaintance. After several months of recovery, that included arrival home on furlough Christmas eve 1864, he was discharged for disability in March 1865, not having been officially mustered in as Major, a rank it took army bureaucracy several decades to recognize, though he had received a brevet to Colonel, apparently by the state.

Titus was a member of the Cooper Post #117 G.A.R., serving as post commander and state senior vice commander at various points, masonic groups, and held some civic positions, including state representative for Meigs County in 1868 and 1879, later moving to Marion County, where he pursued farming and stock raising, while serving as a town trustee, probation officer, and assistant postmaster at different times. He married in 1872 and died in 1921 at age 83, “Marion’s Grand Old Man,” survived by three daughters.

This is a great cavalry officer’s coat from a very active unit. A crude indicator is CWData’s list of 95 dates on which the regiment suffered casualties of some sort, which amounted 11 officer and 108 enlisted men in killed or mortally wounded alone, a very high total for a cavalry regiment, in fact, according to Fox, the highest total for any Pennsylvania cavalry regiment during the war.    [sr] [ph:L]

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