Ten Valuable American Civil War Collectibles
The American Civil War was a bloody affair, lasting from 1861 to 1865 and claiming the lives of over 618,000 Americans. All the great battles – Gettysburg, Antietam, Chickamauga, Second Manassas, Chancellorsville, Shiloh, et al., – are now immortalized in history. Interest in the American Civil never seems to wane, with Ken Burns' haunting 1990 PBS documentary The Civil War standing as a modern-day testament to that defining moment in American history.
Here are ten valuable Civil War artifacts that are sure to interest collectors and Civil War history buffs alike. They reflect a bygone era, where North and South engage in a titanic struggle 150 years ago.
Civil War Tintype Union Army Soldier in Western Theater
The Civil War was waged in a number of locales, including the western frontier. A Civil War sixth plate tintype, which many soldiers had made in order to document their service, picturing a young Union infantry soldier out west with black slouch hat, Enfield rifle and large Bowie knife tucked in his belt sold at auction for $717.
Civil War tintype picturing federal soldier out west $717
Civil War Colored Troop Recruiting Handbill
Many Colored or African-American soldiers distinguished themselves in battle for the Union cause, with Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood and Sergeant William Harvey Carney winning the Medal of Honor. An 1863 handbill (8x10-inches) serving as a recruitment poster for colored men urges, "All Slaves were made Freemen by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, January 1st, 1863. Come, then, able-bodied Colored Men, to the nearest United States Camp, and fight for the Stars and Stripes." One surviving example brought $6,273.75 at auction.
Civil War 1863 colored troop recruiting handbill $6,273.75
JEB Stuart's Personal Confederate Battle Flag
General James Ewell Brown Stuart was the South's premier cavalry officer and the scourge of Union troops, dying on May 12, 1864, after incurring a mortal wound during battle at Yellow Tavern, Virginia. Stuart had previously sent his personal battle flag home, explaining that it had accidentally been dropped into a campfire. Stuart's preserved battle flag, which had been hand-sewn by his wife Flora, sold at auction for $956,000. The flag had been passed down by the Stuart family, with JEB Stuart IV its last owner prior to auction.
JEB Stuart's Confederate battle flag $956,000
William Tecumseh Sherman CDV Portrait
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman – "War is all hell," he famously said – sealed the Confederacy's fate during his bloody March to the Sea in 1864. A Carte de Visite (CDV) portrait of "Uncle Billy" by photographer Alexander Gardner brought $657.25 at auction.
General William Tecumseh Sherman CDV portrait $657.25
General Robert E. Lee Signed Carte de Visite Portrait
Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his vaunted Army of Northern Virginia were involved in a number of major Civil War battles. An autographed Vannerson & Jones of Richmond, Virginia, Carte de Visite portrait of Lee – actually signed twice, on front and back – sold at auction for $6,572.50.
General Robert E. Lee signed CDV $6,572.50
General Ulysses S. Grant Signed Carte de Visite Portrait
Union General Ulysses S. Grant, who later became President, accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. A signed 1864 F. Gutekunst of Philadelphia Carte de Visite (CDV) portrait of Grant fetched $5,078.75 at auction.
General Ulysses S. Grant signed CDV $5,078.75
General Philip H. Sheridan's Personal Union Battle Flag
Union General Phil Sheridan adopted this personal battle flag after taking command of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps in April 1864. The flag accompanied Sheridan and his men through the end of the war. This one-of-a-kind artifact sold at auction for $44,812.50.
General Phil Sheridan's personal battle flag $44,812.50
Lieutenant Francisco Moreno Confederate Officer's Uniform
Authentic Civil War uniforms are huge with collectors, especially ones that can trace their provenance to the original owner. Cuban-born Francisco Moreno, who served with Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, was a member of a prominent Florida family. Moreno was later killed in action in 1862 during the Battle of Shiloh while wearing this New Orleans-made uniform, with blood stains attesting to the fact. Passed down by the Moreno family, this first lieutenant officer's frock brought $77,675 at auction.
Lt. Francisco Moreno's Confederate officer's frock $77,675
Civil War Confederate Leech & Rigdon .36 Caliber Revolver with Holster
Original Civil War weaponry is highly prized. A Confederate Leech & Rigdon .36 caliber percussion revolver with original matching holster sold at auction for $15,535. It's marked "Leech & Rigdon CSA" – with CSA meaning Confederate States of America – on the top flat of the barrel.
Confederate Leech & Rigdon .36 caliber revolver with holster $15,535
Civil War Union Eagle Snare Drum
This Civil War drum has quite a history, accompanying the 78th New York Infantry, 1st Eagle Brigade, Cameron Higlanders into battle at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and elsewhere. It fetched a top bid of $4,310.37 at auction.
Snare drum from the 78th New York Infantry $4,310.37
Civil War Credits & Top Image
- All auction results and images courtesy Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas
- Top image: Civil War broadside circa 1861 from the Philadelphia Daily and Weekly Journal. It reads: "Our Union Forever" $478
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.