Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Civil War Archive of General Isaac Stevens, 79th New York Volunteer Infantry, Letters and Family Documents and Locks of Hair.
    1) Letter signed "Isa." Seven pages, 5" x 8", Beaufort, South Carolina; February 18, 1862. In this letter to his wife Margaret Hazard Stevens (1817-1913), Stevens writes from Beaufort, South Carolina, where the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry is participating in an expedition to Port Royal Ferry. He expresses his concerns about the inadequacies of Union commanders, among other things. "Where are our Sampsons? The country needs them and are Solomons. With sic hundred thousand men on foot, we get adequate result. We do not operate with overwhelming forces or a decisive point. We fritter away our strength in countless expeditions. [General Ambrose] Burnside is sent off like a waif, to operate God knows where and he only. It is the most foolish and wanton throwing away of force....His success would be a failure for it leads to nothing and keep a large force from operating , where it might make a defeat a victory. [General Benjamin] Butler is cast upon the gulf. What will he do? Nothing. He has no capacity for managing an expedition, as the result will throw Burnside and Butler together under a competent might do something. With the added force, which could be spared from here, more might be done. Here, operations should be strictly limited to maintaining points for the blockading squadron. With such a power of naval and military means, as might have been brought together, we might by this time have struck a blow at the very heart of the rebellion and changed the entire attitude of Europe. When will men see and act? When will the men of brains and genius be summoned to the posts of responsibility?" 2) Letter signed "Isaac Stevens." Two pages (of a bifolium), 7.75" x 9.75", Newport News, Virginia; July 26, 1862. This appears to be a draft of a letter by Stevens sent to Governor John Andrews of Massachusetts, in which he recommends his son Hazard Stevens for the post of colonel to command the 28th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. "It becomes important...that the Lieut. Colonelcy should be filled without delay. The regiment is in my division. It has the material for a first class regiment, But it needs a decisive, energetic and experienced commander and I would write you therefore to suggest one. I will recommend my Adjutant General for this position. Capt. Hazard Stevens. He has greatly distinguished himself in the Department of the South, is thoroughly acquainted with Company, Battalion and Brigade drill and is incomparably the best drill officer in my entire division. He is thoroughly competent in all the duties of the command of a Regiment and I recommend his appointment at Lieut. Col. with a view to his promotion at Colonel, in the event of a vacancy." 3) Letter signed "Isa." Four page bifolium, 5"x 8", Newport News, Virginia; July 29, 1862. Stevens wrote this letter to his wife from Newport News, Virginia, to which the 79th New York moved from North Carolina and joined the 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. In this letter, Stevens gives his opinions of Generals John Pope and George McClellan and his pessimism about the war ending anytime soon. "I do not feel much hope that the war will be ended in one or even two years. The...measures for raising troops are bad. The government should have resorted rigorously to drafting, and it should swiftly have filled up existing regiments...but the present arrangements, it is doubtful...any thing decisive can be done till next Spring. Certainly not for three months-unless very radical measures are taken, measures which I am confident will not be taken. And that is to withdraw all but 25,000 of McClellan's force and send it to Pope. Pope's Army would thus be raised by with Burnside to 150,000 men....McClellan can contain himself, till Pope defeats the enemy." 4) Letter signed "Isa." Three pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 8", Camp near Centreville, [Virginia]; September 1, 1862. This was the last letter written by Stevens, as he was killed in the Battle of Chantilly that very day. In this letter to his wife, he writes of the Second Battle of Bull Run. "We have passed through some trials since I last wrote....We attacked the enemy and were defeated. My life and that of Hazard has been preserved....My division has lost about four hundred men killed and wounded. The first day the loss of my own troops was heavier than on the second day. I led myself a charge by two regiments upon the enemy located in a strong our front. The firing was terrific and the casualties great."

    In addition to these four letters, the archive contains 1) An envelope of strands of Isaac Stevens hair that was cut off by John L. Hays in Washington on September 1, 1862, the day Stevens was killed. 2) An envelope that is marked "Shot's hair" with strands of hair [it is unclear who "Shot" is]. 3) Two pages, 8" x 10", of notes in pencil concerning references to General Isaac Stevens in the Official Records of the Rebellion. 4) Letter written by Margaret Hazard Stevens to her son [Hazard Stevens?] when her husband Isaac Stevens served as territorial governor. Four page bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75", [Washington Territory]; May 1, [circa 1856]. 5) Letter signed "Mother." Four page bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75", [Washington Territory]; June 6, [circa 1856]. Letter written by Margaret Hazard Stevens to her son Hazard Stevens. 5) Letter signed "Margaret L. Stevens." Four page bifolium, 5.75" x 7.25", Olympia, W[ashington]. T[erritory]. Letter written by Margaret Hazard Stevens to Isaac Stevens' brother, Oliver Stevens (1825-1905), an American attorney and politician in Massachusetts, about the education of her son. 6) Document signed. "Isaac Stevens." Four page bifolium, 8" x 13", Andover, Massachusetts; April 16, 1814. Lease of Henry Gardner Bridges to Isaac Stevens (father of General Isaac Stevens) covering two pieces of property and improvements in Andover, Massachusetts, for the purpose of farming. 7) Document signed "Nath. Stevens" and "Moses T. Stevens." One page, 7.5" x 9.75", North Andover, Massachusetts; n.d. Undated deed, of Nathaniel Stevens to Isaac Stevens for Pew No. 40 in the First Church of North Andover, Massachusetts. 8) Document signed "Henry Osgood" and "Moses T. Stevens." One page, partially printed document, 8.25" x 13", Andover, Massachusetts; June 9, 1863. Deed from the Andover Cemetery Association to Oliver Stevens.

    Isaac Ingalls Stevens (1818-1862), born in Andover, Massachusetts, was an American career Army officer and politician, who served in the Mexican War, governor of the Territory of Washington from 1853 to 1857, and later as its delegate to the United States House of Representatives. A graduate of West Point in 1839, Stevens held several Union commands during the Civil War, including colonel of the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry, known as the Highland Guard or "Highlanders." He became a brigadier general on September 28, 1861. He was killed at the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862, while at the head of his men and carrying the fallen colors of one of his regiments against Confederate positions. He was posthumously advanced to the rank of Major General on March 12, 1863. Several schools, towns, counties, and lakes are named in his honor.

    The 79th New York Volunteer Infantry was originally created as a social club or as a Scottish American fraternity in New York City in the fall of 1858 with the help of the St. Andrews and Caledonian societies of New York and wealthy financial backers. Their original duty was to parade and train as heavy artillery; they also provided a guard for the Prince of Wales when he visited the United States and did the same for the Japanese ambassador. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the Highlanders were mobilized and new men were quickly recruited before they left New York City. The 79th New York was mustered into service for a three-year duration on 29 May 1861, and attached the Department of Washington. The regiment served in the defenses of the capital until the middle of July when it was attached to General Irvin McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia, for the advance on Manassas. The regiment participated in numerous engagements, including Bull Run, Secessionville, Second Bull Run, Centreville, Chantilly, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, the Wilderness Campaign, and the siege of Petersburg.

    Condition: Letters and documents have usual folds; overall good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 450

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Oct 26, 2019 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    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 2021 December 9 - 10 Books Signature Auction.

    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