Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    [Civil War]. Lansing Family Archive. A group of eleven letters belonging to the Lansing Family from New York. At least five members of the Lansings fought for the Union army, including William, Alvosade, Alverado, Cornelius, and Alexander Jr. The letters in this archive are communications between the brothers during the war, and range in length and size. William Lansing fought with the 76th NY Infantry, Alvosade with the 23rd New York Infantry, Alverado with the 11th Iowa Infantry, and Cornelius and Alexander Jr. were mustered into the 157th New York Infantry together. The majority of the letters in this small archive are from Alverado Lansing to one of his brothers. On December 12, 1861, he wrote his brother (possibly William) about the Green-McNett Shooting Affair, his brother Cornelius' health, and of seeing General McClellan in camp. Incomplete, four pages of a bifolium, 10" x 8", Camp Diven, Virginia, in part:

    "I was very anxious to hear from you, so as to get at the truth of that shooting affair. We got the report here that your Major was shot and mortally wounded. We hear that Green is feared by all his officers, but your letter shows things in a different light. Some here think that the 76th will break up; but I do not think that way...Cornelius is getting better quite fast. He is in our regimental hospital, in the village of Falls Church, and in a church. There are about 40 of the reg. sick. Three of our com. have died, one to-day and there is one more that is not expected to live. All the Truxton boys, except Cornelius, are well...To-day we were inspected by one of McClelland's staff, a Frenchman, one of the Orleans Princes...I got a good view of McClellan. I saw him on his feet. He is rather short. His jaws are square something like those of Henry McKevett. His mustache and Imperial are inclined to be redish [sic] in color, but such an eye! I never saw anything like it. He and his staff came in the field and rode up and down the lines at a canter, and yet I am satisfied that he made out the material of each regiment better than others would on a walk. Strange to see a Gen. in chief without a cocked hat and gaudy plumes. Strange that he wore no showy chains or epaulettes; but that is him as we saw him."

    Nine months later, Alverado wrote to describe his experiences at both the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam while fighting with the 23rd NY. One sheet, front and back, 8" x 12.5", near Sharpsburg, Maryland; September 21, 1862. Writing from the Camp of Hooker's Corps, in part:

    "I was not in any of the fighting near Manassas but have been in the two last Great battles...Passing through an orchard the minnies began to sing over us and rising to the crest of a hill could see where Hatcher's Brigade of our Division were engaged with the enemy in a large field of corn. We moved to their right and towards a piece of wood on the same ridge that the enemy was on. The powder drifted down from the corn and darkened the air so that we could see but a little ways. And there was such a roar of muskets and cracks of cannon that we could hardly hear a word of command. Our skirmishers moved through the woods but no enemy was in sight so Gen. Patrick swung the brigade around to the left, bring it facing the flank of the rebels in and back of the corn. Our Regt. came into a good position behind a high stone fence. The 7th Indiana lay behind the wall and were loading and firing into the corn. We mixed with them and blazed away. The Rebels began to run and then I saw their flag and fired at it. We set up a great shout as the enemy fled to the woods in their rear. Our division was relieved by another and our brigade moved a short distance to a spot rather safe from cannon shot and the Gen told us to get coffee. The enemy scouts telegraphed our position to one of their batteries which began to send us case shot, which burst precisely over us...we moved back to the woods to get out of range. The shells had done us but little damage, but a bullet went through the ankle of a man lying in reach of me. I heard it as it came and struck him. A long line of men moved towards the woods when the enemy had taken cover. The rebels had been reinforced and opened on them with heavy volleys. The line was composed mostly of raw troops that soon broke and came scattering back followed hotly by the elated foe loading & firing as he came. Our line fell slowly back. The rebels came into range of grape and then our batteries began to plough their confused line - they hesitated. I could plainly see them tumble right and left and finally saw them scattering back to cover. The battle raged far away on our left."

    Cornelius Lansing also provided great content of an expedition to Johns and James Island, SC while he was serving with the 157th New York. The letter, one sheet front and back, 7.75" x 9.75", is dated February 14, 1864 from Folly Island. The 157th NY had been on a march when they ran into the Rebel's line of fire, and Sergeant Lansing describes, in part:

    "The last time I wrote to you I was on the point of starting on a march. I have been on that march and returned to camp without a scratch but is not so with some others. 3 of our regt. was laid low by Rebel balls. But they had the satisfaction to see as many of the Rebs fall before they did. We left last Sunday at 2 A. M. Trecked all day & all night, all of the next day & night. That morning we got to John's Island was on the point of crossing the bridge when the Rebs let fly at us. We halted and threw out our skirmishers & then went in with a will. There was an old factory just across the bridge behind that our boys took shelter and poped away. The Rebs was soon 29 rods off behind a hedge built for a fence. We could not dislodge them from their cover no other way but than charge on them so away we went full well after them. They stood their ground then had got within some ten yards of them when they took off and run for the woods. We started after them on double quick time had a smart run for three miles when we came up on their amnion force when we had to stop. Soon out [came] a section of a battery and opened on us, but did no damage to us. At last night came on and we fell back to our line of rifle pits and rested for the night. That night the Rebs stole a march on the Dutch that was on picket & got 20 of them at one haul. Damn the Dutch that get scared and don't know what to do. The next day our Regt. was ordered to the front. We staid there all day & did not lose but one man. That night we were on picket but was not disturbed there was some firing at rabbits & some at trees. Dennis Donahue fired 2 shots at a tree or something else. He called me up to him and said to me. Don't you see that man off there under that tree. I told him I did not. Well, he said he did and bang went his gun. I told him not to shoot again unless he sees a man but it did no good for I had but got out of sight before he let fly again and so it went. About two in the morning we drew off and started for home. We burned all the buildings we could find. We took out of one some 20 carbines and 10 sabers. One of them I got myself and it is a nice one I tell you. We were gone five days. It was something more than a raid. You know all about them so well before myself."

    Accompanying the letters is William Lansing's military appointment. One page, 16.5" x 10.5", Washington, D.C.; December 11, 1851. The document appoints "William Lansing of Traxton Second Lieutenant in Company Dist. No. 4." Although a small archive, these letters provide a detailed and unique look at a large family who served together in the Civil War.

    Condition: The letters range in condition from very good to fair. All documents have flattened folds and toning around the edges and creases. The folds have created weaknesses in places and small separations have occurred at edges and folds of some letters. There are signs of dampstaining and soiling throughout a few letters, heavy in some areas.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 386

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 June 7 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,022,424