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    Private Wentelin Ehrig: A Rosebud Veteran's Dress Uniform. This collection is full of superlatives, among them this grouping, the uniform of a 3rd Cavalry trooper who fought at the Rosebud and at Slim Buttes and who was on hand during the murder of Crazy Horse at Red Cloud Agency in 1877 and for the pursuit of the Cheyenne who fled Camp Robinson in 1879. Private Wentelin Ehrig (his given name was variously spelled, even in official records, as Wentlin, Wendelin, Wendlin, and at least once as William) was born in Hesse (Germany) in 1850 and after emigrating to the U.S. enlisted in the 3rd Cavalry in 1875 for a five-year hitch. And what an eventful hitch! After his discharge in 1880, he moved with another discharged trooper, Louis Zinser, to Belleville, Illinois, where a year later he married Zinser's sister and settled into a career as a mason. His Prussian pride of uniform ensured the preservation and care of this superb souvenir of his frontier military experience. He died in 1925 in such straitened circumstances that his widow applied for and got his $12 per month pension.

    Ehrig's 1872-pattern enlisted man's 9-button dress coat is 27" long. The lining is torn in a few places and is stained from much use. The regulation brass regimental insignia "3" is attached to both collars. The original cavalry yellow on the sleeves and collar is faded from age (and probably use) almost to buff.

    The coat is accompanied by the rare model 1861 mounted trousers in "sky blue." These Civil War trousers were surplused in such quantities that they continued to be issued to recruits through the 1870s. The length is 41" overall with a 31" inseam. The waist band shows use, and there is some minor moth damage and light soiling. Ehrig's belt fits a 32" waist. It is stamped "38/ Rock Island Arsenal." The Civil War-era buckle retains its nickel silver wreath but is set apart from other buckles by Ehrig's cryptic engraving on the back: a diagrammatic rendering of the Masonic Order's "square and compasses."

    Finally, the star of this grouping is Ehrig's complete model 1872 enlisted man's dress helmet, manufactured by Bent and Busch of Boston. Inside the rear visor Private Ehrig glued a paper label signed in his hand, "W. Ehrig." The helmet is well-worn, lightly chipped around the rim, and sweat-stained from use. The faded yellow braid and cord are intact.

    This helmet is extremely rare; there may be no more than eight or nine such helmets extant in original condition. Certainly, there are no uniform sets in private collections that can surpass this one. A set of photocopies of Wentelin Ehrig's complete military file from the National Archives accompanies this lot.
    From the Glenwood Swanson Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    9th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,218

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