Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John G. Butler Archive containing over 300 letters, cards, documents, and more dated 1866-1914 and mostly regarding Captain John Gazzam Butler's military career in the U.S. Army's Ordnance Department.

    John G. Butler (1842-1914) came from a line of soldiers. His grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War and his father, Major John B. Butler, had fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, where he served on the staff of General Zachary Taylor. The captain grew up in Pittsburg where his father was stationed at Allegheny Arsenal. He was appointed to West Point in 1859 and commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Artillery in 1863. This archive follows him through various assignments beginning at Leavenworth Arsenal in Kansas and continuing through Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Butler was a talented and learned officer, authoring several articles on ordnance and inventing many artillery improvements. From 1870 through 1873, he commanded the U.S. Ordnance Agency and experimental gun construction in New York. While there, he invented the "Butler projectile," which was later used "in the proof of both breech and muzzle loading guns" (from the Record of Captain John G. Butler, U.S.A., page 2, which is included in this archive). Included are seven U.S. Patent documents issued to Butler for such patents as the "Improvement in Projectiles for Ordnance" dated March 9, 1875, and the "Improvement in the Manufacture of Tubes for Lining Ordnance" dated January 25, 1876. Each contains a description and drawings of the patents. Several sheets of diagrams of Butler's inventions are also included.

    Among the other many items included in this archive is a "Memoranda" journal containing entries of ordnance improvements and diagrams dated 1866 through 1878, along with numerous letters from family members and military officers, including those by Major John B. Butler and General J. K. Moorhead. The many documents include those from the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Ordnance, U.S. Army Special Orders concerning Butler, "Orders from the Ordnance Office, War Department," letters of military recommendations, a three-page typed biographical manuscript of Butler's life and accomplishments, printed invitations issued from Theodore and Edith Roosevelt to the White House for various events, a ticket to attend the trial of Henry Ward Beecher and Theodore Tilton, a large map (20.5" x 15.5") of Grayson, Kentucky (ca. 1880), and much more.

    Captain Butler served for forty years before his retirement in 1904, and this archive documents much of that. Worthy of much further research. Overall, the included items have been well preserved, with the letters and documents exhibiting usual age toning.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    8th-9th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 871

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on Apr 8, 2011 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 October 9 Americana & Political Signature Auction Featuring the Michael Ward Collection.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thanks a million for getting approval to sell my Civil War Hospital Death Ledger! You made them AND ME , a nice profit. You are the best!
    Ed W.,
    Mount Vernon, OH
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search