Description

    Union Captured book of Southern poetry

    Copy of Liberty Poems Captured by Union Officer Captain Robert G. Burns of the 4th Michigan Cavalry. [Georgia]: John P. Trow, 1852. 12mo, 92 pages. Several of the poems within allude to some sympathies with the Southern cause. Cloth over boards with blindstamped decorations and titles in gilt on spine. A period inscription on the front free endpaper reads: "Robert Burns/Captain 4th Michigan Cavalry/A.A.A.G. 1st Brig 2nd Cavy Divn./Capturer or Confiscator of this waif." A second inscription on the front pastedown reads: "1st Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division/Department of the Cumberland/Sept. 22, 1864." When he captured this book in Roswell, Georgia, on September 22, 1864, he placed a notation on page 19 stating that they were "...about to start for Savannah or somewhere else." That same page has a poem entitled "Savannah" which Burns has heavily annotated. The Army of the Cumberland was just coming off the victorious Atlanta Campaign when it headed northwest toward Tennessee in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.

    Burns has made several humorous notations throughout, most notably on the title page where he has added a "?" after the word Liberty and altered the author's name to read:, "A. S. I. CKASS ELS." A poem titled "Aspirations," found on the last few pages, bears a short note to one side reading, "A Specimen of Southern Literature By a man who 'owed' much," and has had many lines changed and five stanzas added, reading in part: "But we are Southerners, doomed to be/Well thrashed by every Yankee/Who take our fodder, Kiss our girls/Without ever saying 'thank ye'/We use the sword, and sear we'll die/In the last ditch we're seeking/But leave, for some our courage is/All from our finger leaking."

    Robert Burns was 29 years old in 1862 when he enlisted as a first lieutenant in Company "C," 4th Michigan Cavalry. Only four months later he was made adjutant on the staff of Col. R. Minty, 1st Cavalry Brigade, Army of the Cumberland and remained in that position throughout the war, attaining the rank of captain the following March and major on December 11, 1864. He participated in several battles including the Battles of Franklin and Shelbyville. Breveted a Lieutenant Colonel in April 1865, he mustered out of service three months later in July 1865.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2016
    12th Sunday
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    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.
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