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    Ambrotype of the first officer to order combat casualties during the Civil War

    Colonel Benjamin Watson Ambrotype, with Accompanying Album. The remarkable quarter-plate ruby ambrotype shows the bearded Union colonel sitting with his left hand resting on his U.S. model 1850 Staff & Field officer's sword. He appears to wear a lieutenant colonel's shoulder strap and a holster, while his gauntlets rest on his left leg. Standing beside the officer is his young servant, who wears a tin canteen and a large tarred haversack. In front of the servant and next to the colonel, a traveling officer's utensil server rests on a small table. On the server are various interesting items, such as a pipe, glass, bowl and knife, corkscrew, salt and pepper shakers, and more. The ambrotype's case, which has a broken hinge, is in fine condition.

    As a thirty-four-year-old lawyer, Benjamin Franklin Watson (1826-1905) enlisted early in 1861 in the 6th Massachusetts Infantry, a regiment that has the distinction of being the first unit to form in response to President Lincoln's initial call for troops. As they marched to Washington, D.C., the regiment passed through Baltimore on April 19, 1861, only six days after the surrender of Fort Sumter to the South. Baltimore was a city full of Southern sympathizers, many who formed into a mob and confronted the Union regiment as they passed through. As the mob turned violent, Major Watson gave the order for his soldiers to fire. When the riot finally ended, twelve civilians and four soldiers were killed, the first combat casualties of the Civil War. After the war, Watson served as postmaster at Lawrence, Massachusetts, and owner of the Lawrence Sentinel. He was also a very active member in the G.A.R.

    The accompanying album provides a thorough history of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment in the decades following the Civil War. The album contains regimental reunion notices, a printed speech by Col. Watson delivered at the reunion of the 6th Massachusetts in 1871, pages of newspaper articles reporting on various regimental reunions, a printed funerary memorial of Colonel Watson, and numerous letters from the regiment's veterans. Also included are two Benjamin Butler autograph letters signed (both dated 1886) and written to Watson concerning events related to the Civil War. Most items (except letters) are affixed to the album pages. The album and contents are in very good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    26th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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