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    "Yesterday brought us the best news of all and that was the surrender of Lee"

    [1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery]. Private Francis E. Brainerd Archive, featuring photographs and Civil War-dated letters. Francis Brainerd (1835-1865) of Walworth, Wisconsin, enlisted as a private in the 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery, Company "E", in September 1864. He was stationed at Fort O'Rourke, Fairfax County, Virginia, just outside of Washington for most of the Civil War. He wrote his wife on November 15, 1864, the he would be satisfied if he could "only return again all right." But he did not return. Brainerd died in July 1865, likely of chronic diarrhea and malnutrition just days before he would have been mustered out. This archive has been well cared for; items contain expected minor soiling and wear. Brainerd's story is rather poignant. He only enlisted in the army as he expected to be drafted. He was totally apolitical and was anxious for the war to end so he could get back to his farm in Wisconsin. His wife was periodically ill and Brainerd was concerned she might not survive. As it turned out, she survived and Brainerd lived to see the end of the war, but never made it home alive.

    The following are included photographs: a photograph (9" x 6") of Fort O'Rourke during the Civil War (the lower left corner has been cut away); three tintypes: one featuring Brainerd, one featuring Brainerd and possibly his brother, and one possibly featuring Brainerd's young wife, Mary. Also included is a modern reproduction of a carte de visite featuring Brainerd in uniform with rifle.

    Over twenty Civil War-dated letters are included dated from September 11, 1863, from Madison, Wisconsin, through June 15, 1865, from Fort O'Rourke. Many are accompanied by their original transmittal envelopes, and most are written to his wife. Brainerd was a family man with a young wife and an infant daughter, so he was especially happy to report on April 6, 1865, of the approaching end of the long conflict: "Yesterday 300 guerrilas [Gen. John] of Mosby men came into Alexandria and gave themselves up. . . . Lee's army is about used up and the combined forces of Grant Sheridan and Sherman are after him. . . . We had the news here . . . that Richmond was ours." Five days later he exulted that "yesterday brought us the best news of all and that was the surrender of Lee and his entire army." His letters are well written and the text is very clear. Three post-war letters are included, two regarding Brainerd's daughter's pension.

    The following are also included: the Lord's prayer written by Francis Brainerd at Fort O'Rourke; three chromolithography prints containing the text of Civil War songs ("The Battle-Cry of Freedom," "The Sinking of the Pirate Alabama," and "The Fall of Charleston"); a stencil of Brainerd's name, likely dating from the war; Brainerd's Hymn-Book for the Army and Navy (published by the American Tract Society); The Christian Minister's Affectionate Advice to a Married Couple booklet (published by the American Tract Society) with a certification of Francis' marriage to Mary Stephens in 1859.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    12th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 485

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