Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

If These Things Could Talk: New Acquisitions (Lecture)

If These Things Could Talk: New Acquisitions (Lecture)

So let’s begin. The first artifact I would like to introduce
you to is a grouping that was donated by a gentlemen named Craig Bash. Mr. Bash is a lawyer from Cleveland Ohio and
is on the Board of Directors of our partner here at Gettysburg, the Gettysburg Foundation. He is one of the most renounced collectors
of Civil War artifacts. He donated some items to us belonging to Brigadier
General Hobart Ward. Ward was a native of New York City and enlisted
in 1842. He served with the 7th US infantry in the
war with Mexico. Prior to the Civil War he was the New York
state Commissioner General and in 1861 he was appointed Commander of the newly raised
38th New York Infantry. He had a very gallant and affective career
throughout the civil war. He was promoted by October of 1862 to command
Birney’s old brigade in the Third Corps. Now here at Gettysburg the Third Corps was
under command of Daniel E. Sickles who spoke highly of Wards actions. He was a great commander and loved by his
brigade, he was more than deserving to be promoted to brigade General of Volunteers. He fought gallantly here at Gettysburg holding
down the far left of Sickles new battle line on July 2, 1863. His brigade suffered tremendous causalities
holding back the attacks of Vanderlaw of General Longstreets Corp. He was cited for gallantry here at Gettysburg. Now those were the days where officers weren’t
given the Medal of Honor. They usually were cited or given a citation
from Congress for bravery. That was the case for Ward holding down that
left here at Gettysburg. He continued on with his career and fought
at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. Then as many historians believe, Hobart Ward
was brought up on charges for misbehavior and intoxication in the presence of the enemy
at the Battle of the Wilderness and was discharged from the army. Now, the controversy is should he have been? Up until the Battle of the Wilderness Ward
had been almost universally utilized by his superiors for bravery and ability. It was a shock when he was relieved of command
for misbehavior and intoxication at the battle. He was honorable mustard out of service on
July 18, 1864. The charges didn’t stick, he never went
to court he was just relieved of his command and they mustard him out of his service. Many people requested he be restored of his
rank and brought to trial so his guilt could be ascertained. However, as late as October 2, 1864 the Secretary
of War, Edward Stanton, refused to revoke the dismal order. Probably a lot of politics. Ward left the army and went back into civil
service, the clerks of the Supreme Court in the state of New York. He died in 1903 in Monroe New York, as you
can see quite tragically, he was hit by a train. Here is a brave man and one political mishap
relieved him of his command, but for all purposing he served till the day he died. We have in our collection
one of Wards dress coats that he might have worn here at Gettysburg. We do not know. General’s, Officer’s, ranks from Lieutenant
on up usually provided their own uniforms and equipment. There were exceptions like General Grant and
his private sag coat but most preferred to provide their own. This coat is velveteen along the cuffs and
collar, beautiful broad cloth uniform. It has a gold sash, dress gloves, sword belt,
and the buttons of the ranks of a General. These are exciting items to get because usually
cloth items don’t survive because most of these items are not properly served. Also, a pair of his boots. Now of course ward like many generals had
several of these, they could offered it on a Generals salary. His boots are very ornate. He has stitching of stars, flowers, standard
Calvary spurs, of course high shin guards, and buckles and straps for the spurs. The pistol holster is for a standard pistol. Here are his boots again you can see more
detail. Tangibles that speak to the character of a
General officer. The holster contains a very small pistol. Ward and other Generals preferred to carry
a small caliber pistol to show position of power but still be armed. The question in mind for General Ward was
which pistol to choose. He elected a rather inexpensive pistol. It is the Smith and West model. Very popular in its day. It was a cartridge pistol in 32 caliber it
took the 32 ball and grains of black powder in the 30/40 range. It’s not a potent combat weapon but it would
be up-close. But it does show a positon of rank. It was a rim fire. Any questions about General Ward before we
move on to the next artifacts? Alright let’s move on to a very interesting
item that belonged to Captain William Domag. That belong to Company F of the 1st US Sharpshooters. Formed by Hiram Berdan in 1861 who was a marksman
among other things. He was allowed by Congress to form 18 regiments
in 4 regiments of highly trained professional soldiers that met certain qualifications for
marksmanship to fight for the federal army. They named them after him, Hiram Berdan sharpshooters. The first, second, third, and fourth US sharpshooters
were formed and filled with a number of men who met a certain criteria for marksmanship. One of the first qualifying was you had to
hit, at 200 yards consistently, an 8 inch block of pine wood. Now with even with open sites it’s very
difficult for most of us to hit, at two football fields, an 8 inch pine block. They had to put 8 out of 10 shots in order
to qualify. They were trained and armed differently than
the lined infantry of the American Civil War. Civil war soldiers fought compact shoulder
to shoulder to mask their fire power against the enemy’s positions. The sharpshoots were not designed to do that
they were to fight in an open formation at intervals of 8 to 10 yards apart. They would move forward like a skirmish line. They were first to engage, ascertain the enemy
size, where they were going, disrupt their march, and fall back and rely information
to superiors. They were the infantry’s eyes and ears. They were given a very effective weapon to
do so. We will talk about that in just a moment. First, let’s introduce you to the artifacts. Captain William Domag was born in Essex VT
in 1835 and enlisted at 27 years old. He grew up in Essex in a wealthy family. They owned a series of manufacturing plants
for cranes to load cargo on ships. That is where they made their money. He didn’t have to enlist but as many of
these men from wealthy families he felt he had a duty. He served with the 1st Sharpshooters at Gettysburg. As Captain of Company F. Many of you know
the story of the first sharpshoots, they were attacked to the Third Corp and sent out on
the skirmish duty on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Actually bumped in over by little place called
pitcher woods today the general long street left flank of his men I think the ……????wtheck…..???????????????
reported back to confirm to Sickles that Longstreet was on his way and was going to attack Union
left. Longstreet is the Union left so that information
was very valuable. As they continue to fall back with sharpshoots,
they actually fought in and around Little Round Top. Eventually following in the with the 20th
Main and helped repel General Oats attack against the 15th Alabama on the hill. Leading Company F was Captain Domag. He served with the Sharpshooters and helped
trained them. He helped secure supplies for them and so
forth very active and respected until he was killed at the battle of the Wilderness in
1864. Kind of a tragic story being killed their
they did discover his body and it was returned home almost unrecognizable. I guess fires and so forth you know the history
of the battle. Men that were shot wounded killed succumbed
to the fires of the infantry. Oh by the way we didn’t have a photograph
but thanks to Brian White he provided this. It is very rare indeed so we do thank him. The two items that we have very much speak
to the sharpshooters. Almost to ???????????? they were issues a
Sharps 59 this was a breach loader it was 52 caliber 60/70 grains of black powder and
it took a ??????????????? but it was loaded in the breach. There for a good shot could get out 15 shots
per minute. Standard infantry riffle is 2 shots a minute
over 10 rounds. So fire power gave sharps the advantage. The one we have is particularly interesting
because it has a set trigger meaning it has two triggers. Why would you have two triggers? Well a set trigger, the back trigger right
here, is the one that you actually fire. The front you pull back slightly and it sets
the rear making it almost like a hair trigger. So, you can go in and just with a touch of
the rear trigger you can fire the weapon. I had an old 1911 semi-automatic that had
15 pounds of pressure. You had to pull the trigger by the time you
were done you couldn’t hit a bullseye on a bull. With a set trigger it gives you more accuracy. These are very rare, because it takes a while
to set the set trigger to allow the set trigger to become the hair trigger. This isn’t learned overnight so many of
these were given to officers or used for training
purposes. Most standards didn’t have this. What makes this also unusual is the condition
which is almost brand new, you can tell that it wasn’t used much because the other part
of the collection is his record book. There are some things that make this weapon,
I should say collection, extremely historically valuable as well as financially valuable. This is the record book that throughout those
two years of war Domag kept. He meticulously recorded all the details of
equipment to Company F. Here he talks about this very riffle with the two triggers, serial
number, and that it was issued to him just before the Battle of Wilderness. So he might not even of carried it but somehow,
along with the book, it survived. In December 2015 these two items came up to
auction. One very affluent collector set about them,
someone for $30,000 at auction will be getting a very nice Christmas tree. The National Park Service along with the Gettysburg
Foundation, thanks to them, outbid everyone. A weapon assigned to an officer of a sharp
with his originally record book. People ask how much the Park Service and Foundation
ended up paying. Well it was upwards of about $40,000. That
seems like a lot and it is but for what is it it’s one of a kind items. Just the book alone gives an insight to Domag
that you can’t get from any history book. This is a man who wrote down every item, page
after page, of equipment for his company and someone who is not only meticulous in his
record keeping but also with his men. He required so much from them so of course
a valuable member. These tangibles speak sometimes more than
the pages of a history book. Actually, rough terrain its better than a
muzzle loader. Where you have to ram the ram rod it’s easier
to drop the breach put cartridge in and cap on your ready to go. That type of weapon with branches and tough
terrain is easier to load then a muzzle loader would be. Any questions? What was the rank of the sharpshooters? Sharps was down a bit to a regular infantry
but compared to about the same. The sharpshooters of course had a shorter
barrel and infantry was a little longer so they had more lands and groves. 4 in sharps and 8 in the infantry. The infantry riffle had an advantage in range
but this made up in repetitive of fire. This also had a sight. Different sighting system on the sharpshooter’s
weapons. Other tangibles we have belong to Colonel
Smith he was in the same regime as Colonel of the regime a private by the name of George Nixon. ???????????? 28:00….73rd was a fighting
regime in the army of the Potomac and we have some tangibles to the Colonel of that regime
he was a native to Lewiston Main and worked for the railroad before moving to Chillicothe
Ohio in 1852 as an official of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad. He enrolled in the county militia, which was
common before the war, they helped trained these volunteers in some cases and he was
no exception. He exhibited an expertise in training and
at the Wards outbreak was appointed Colonel of the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Like I said before the 73rd was a fighting
unit. They went through the campaigns in western
Virginia. Took command of the second brigade of the
second divisiton ????? 29:11 which held the line on july first 1863. ????? But like many of the 11th corp they
were sent out west and assigned duty with thte western armies just in the time for the
battle of ????. He was actually one of the many people cited
for gallantry in the battle of??? even though that was a confederate victory in the fall
of 1863 but Smith held the line and was very well thought of. He almost lost his life at the battle but
lived until he was an old man dying in 1903. According to Smith, in his memoirs, there
was one item of his he carried that saved his life at the battle. We have that in our collection. The portrait coming from the family. But also his officer’s sword. It is relatively inexpensive German made sword
imported for battle use for Officers of rank. 31:00 ??????? This particular sword saved
his life according to himself when a volley fired by a confederate infantry unit. They said the bullets were thick as fleas
and one of those bullets was destine to go into his leg while on his horse but hit the
sword. You can see the dent where the sword was
hanging down just below his knee cap. Of course we know around those joints there
is an artery that runs down the inside of our leg. If a bullet just nicks that artery you would
bleed to death. ???? 32:23… According to Smith that bullet was fired when
they were thick as fleas by hitting that sword it saved his life and fortunately the story
remains thanks to Mr. Bash. Former Colonel 73rd former brigade commander
now he is enshrined in our museum and the story remains here. Rather interesting that a mundane item as
a sword especially one rather inexpensive saved
his life. ????? There are people that say the bible
can save your life. A lot of civil war soldiers that carried them
in their pockets during the civil war would say that. They would keep the Bible in their pockets,
over their hearts, and that is where the bullets would hit. The Bible stopping the bullet. That is one instance that the bible has saved
your life. In many ways these items can actually save
a life rather than take one. The next item we have we don’t have a lot
of information on. The soldiers that carry this item but we do
now have some information. 34:29 the item in question is just a simple
1858 Remington revolver I think that was the second model. Typical of the pistols carried in the civil
war especially by the Calvary men. Carried by Private Andrew Pray Company D 7th
MI Cavalry. He was a young man when he enlisted
in 1862 at just 18 years old. Born in superior township, Wastenaw County. The 7th Calvary’s first real test of combat
in battle was full scale fo….?????? 35:00 but as a regiment his is their first
large scale battle. They were in the MI brigade under its Commander
newly appointed 24 year old brigadier General George Armstrong Custer. He received a promotion from Private to Corpora. He was captured on March 2, 1864 previous
to the Battle of the Wilderness but he managed to escape the same day and rejoin his regime. He served and in 1864 he was mustard out with
his company as a Sargent. He then returned to his family farm in Eaton
county MI where he served out the remainder of his life. It all goes full circle for Sargent Pray. He resided in in Dimondale, MI which is south
of the capital Lansing, MI. Today his family still exists so this is a
shout out to the Pray family who is part of Windsor Township in Eaton County. They own a farm today and it is very prosperous. The Pray farm that he inherited and contributed
to is one of the largest farms in the county and provides vegetables to all the major grocery
stores of that part of central MI. We have in our possession
Sargent Prays Remington revolver and 44 caliber. Standard operating procedure of Calvary side
arm. Number one of course, the 1860 army colt that
was the most produced and most popular among troops. The second most was the first, second, and
third models of the 1858 new army Remington revolver. A lot preferred this over the cold because
of the top strap. That made this a solid frame with the colt
which didn’t have the solid frame if you hit it or dropped it was very common for this
cylinder to get unaligned. If you can’t align it with the explosion
it can be dangerous. This was a sturdier weapon. There has been people writing about the differences
on their blogs which you can see on our website. But this is what makes it popular it is very
sturdy. Early on this cost $.50 more than
the colt. Now $.50 back in 1861/1862 you wouldn’t
think was a big difference but that is equivalent to about $11.00 or $12.00 today. So people went with the Colt because the Remington
cost so much. By 1864 the price of Remington under cut Colt
so then Colt lowered their prices. Of course you know Samuel Colt always wins
when in a competition. According to serial number this belongs to
Andrew Pray probably carried through the American Civil War. 7th was a funny regime especially after the
battle when they served throughout the American war with Custard then with Pennington. They were very instrumental in the surrender
of General Lee’s troops. They cut off the only escape route for Lee
and forced them to surrender. Lee couldn’t cut through. For that service because MI brigade was under
custard. ??????????42:00 … Saying that no man in
the service of the army brought more about this surrender than anyone but your husband. So a $20 gold piece for the table was a gift
to the Custards. Not quote at the surrender was reelased the
year befire… Next item we have here is something that is
not as exciting as a sword that saved the life of a General or a two trigger sharp or
record book kept by a sharp captain. Certainly not a uniform or anything fancy
it’s something rather benign. It was a sewing kit. The one we have in our collection, like all
these tangibles, tells a deeper story. It belonged to Private John Derr who was a
28 year old farmer. Most men listed in the north in south listed
their occupation. Back in those days we were a wool society
so most enlistees were listed as farming or farm laborers. A little older than average
to enlist at 28 years old, he was mustard into the service in Company D 2nd Massachusetts
Infantry. He was appointed into a brigade then into
a division into one of the many corps of the federal ward of the Potomac so it went into
the national army. The national army was supposed to have reps
from all the northern states it was the national army. He saw action in northern VA and Antietam
and at Chancellorsville. John Derr was not a foreigner to combat. He was in the thick of things as the 2nd Mass.
was at those battles. He also saw service here at Gettysburg 2nd
Mass on July 3rd 1863 and was was holding down a position along Baltimore Pike near
where the Mini-golf resides today. It is the Powers Hill area and he was supporting
artillery when the division Commander got word the Confederates were breaking through
and heading towards Spangler. So he sent a brigade which 2nd Mass was part
of under the command of Colonel ??. 2 mass was the lead regime of that brigade which
included the 13th NJ 27th ID and I tend to forget the other one I apologize. They were sent forward as the lead regime. The lt. Colonel in charge of 2nd Mass when getting
the word to charge confederates he turned to his men and he said this order nothing
but murder. He is going to be murdering his regime they
were outnumbered and it was horrible terrain. He said it was going to be murder but it is
our orders and we will carry out that. Well its murder but it’s the order and he
led the charge. Colonel Mudge was killed almost instantly
along with 23 or 24 men of that 5/10 minute action. Typical of civil war combat. One solider said there were days and hours
of just sheer horrible border followed by moments of combat and sheer terror. Private Derr was one of those men along with
Colonel who didn’t’ survive. His remains were barried on
the William CcCalistair farm. When the National Soliders Cemetery came in
1863 his remains were moved into the MA plot where they are today. Derr was one of the many faceless men who
fought in the war and would remain forgotten today if it weren’t for someone finding
his housewife with his name imprinted on it. If that name was not attached to this particular
gentleman who died out there it would be just another item belonging to some nameless faceless
person. Presence of mine to keep soldiers from taking
it he puts his name in and now we have that tangible sacrifice. Because it is rather mundane it is rather benign. Very common all soldiers carried them but
because it speaks to the men of the 2nd MA on that charge and men of the opposing line
and John Derr it speaks to the true meaning of sacrifice of the American Civil War Solider. That is why this to me knowing it’s a tangible
that speaks to that is one of my favorites for today. I really enjoy looking at it and thinking
about what could have been. Any questions? Okay well on a lighter note our hour together
is nearly over and I would like to take this opportunity to say something about this person
in particular. Here at Gettysburg we don’t operate in a
vacuum no one man is an island. We work as a team and we have from our Chief
of our division right on down through our seasonal employees. Programs like this I always say I am just
the front person behind the scenes there are a lot of people that make things like this,
especially when it comes to the tangible, possible. I would like to recognize Craig Basheim the
lawyer from Cleveland Ohio collector of Gettysburg. Artifacts and on the board to the Gettysburg
Foundation for giving us, donating to us, for our museum to the American public such
wonderful things. Another special thanks to the Foundation,
these things don’t come cheap and the National Park Service budget is supported by tax payers
we couldn’t afford a lot this without the Foundation providing a lot of the funds to
purchase these finds. Also, Greg Goodell curating in the museum
you know keeping track of all the items so we can put them out to be displayed but thanks
to him Chief of Museum Services. I would like to thank one of our departed
Andrew Newman who know works with the Department of Defense over in Chambersburg. He will be missed. Also, quickly I would like to thank Ed Clark
our Super Intendent. He is a stuff kind of guy he loves artifacts
and for many years we had Super Intendents that had to focus on other things and other
things steaming in. Clark has lot going on but he always takes
the time to make sure funds are available and things are brought here that should be,
like the Domag rifle and record book. A special salute to the man who develops these
programs and helps with the research of the artifacts
and items, park historian going on 38 years in the park service, John Heiser. Phil Brown ladies and gentlemen sitting proudly
over in the corner and thank you personally for all your support its your support that
provides us with the incentive and whereabouts to obtain things to bring out and show you.

Reader Comments

  1. I am sure Tom is a fine Ranger, but his presentation on John Henry Hobart Ward's career is entirely inaccurate and incomplete. While it is true that Ward enjoyed a solid career early in the war–mostly because he had allies in high places and he somehow became the darling of the New York press–his military career imploded during the Overland Campaign and it had ZERO to do with "army politics," as Tom asserts. If one does just a little research on Ward, one will discover that his unraveling as a brigade commander is well documented by multiple sources, including 2nd Corps commander Winfield S. Hancock, noted artillery officer Edwin Dow of the 6th Maine Light Artillery, Ward's former benefactor David B. Birney, 2nd Corps staff officer Charles H. Morgan, and other staff officers. In short, on May 6th, 1864, Ward ignominiously fled the Wilderness battlefield while riding atop a caisson during the height of Longstreet's assault on the Brock Road line, an event that is corroborated by Dow, Morgan, and Lt Col. Charles Weygant of the 124th NY to name a few; on May 12 at Spotsylvania, Generals Hancock and Birney both encountered a drunken Ward on two separate occasions that day in a drunken state and Birney considered Ward to be "grossly intoxicated." Hancock commented that "his appearance and actions indicated that he had been drinking more than proper.” Birney relieved Ward of command that day. Despite the fact that Ward never did have chance to defend himself in a court, it is probably for the best since the evidence against him was overwhelming.

  2. Berdan's Sharpshooters( 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters) were two regiments not four as he stated. They received the US designation since the companies were drawn from across the Union. I think he has the triggers reversed the rear is the set trigger and the front is the firing trigger.

  3. Gettysburg is overrated. Vicksburg is much more of a statement on the Union strength and leadership. The reason Gettysburg gets more attention is because of the Eastern USA and the media center. Overtime this will change. Vickburg's surrender happened at the same time. Chickamuga can be said to be even more important than this place. Amazing about the uppity historians on the issue of the late unpleasantness. Anyway my credentials speak for themselves. Regards…

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