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    Wesley Merritt: His Dress Uniform as West Point Superintendent. This is the 1872-pattern field grade officer's frock coat that Merritt wore from 1882-1887. Note the "M.A." (for Military Academy) embroidered in gold thread on the shoulder knots. The coat and the trousers show long use. This also was the dress uniform Merritt had worn since July 1, 1876, as commander of the 5th Cavalry. The 35½" coat's two rows of nine buttons are intact. The buttons were manufactured by William Horstmann & Sons, Philadelphia. Merritt's initials are embroidered above the inside breast pocket. The silk lining is in shreds, and the outside fabric, while in very good condition, shows some minor moth damage.

    The dress trousers are 43" long overall with a 31" inseam and also feature Horstmann buttons. One button is missing from the fly. The bullion stripes are fully intact. Merritt's orderly or, perhaps, his young wife, Caroline, made several nearly invisible repairs at wear spots in the crotch and upper left inner thigh. The 35" bullion belt, buckle, and saber hangers show normal wear.

    Wesley Merritt (1834-1910) is one of the most consequential officers of the Old Army. On the 29th of June, 1863, just a week before Gettysburg, 23-year-old Captain George Armstrong Custer was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers making him the youngest general in the Union Army. On that same day, 28-year-old Captain Wesley Merritt was also made a brigadier general. After the war, he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 9th Cavalry and served in Texas and other western outposts.

    Merritt's transfer to the 5th Cavalry came just in time for him to take field command at Ft. Laramie as the regiment got word of Custer's defeat. Guided by Chief Scout William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the 5th marched north to intercept a large Cheyenne war party at Warbonnet Creek, Nebraska, where Cody took "the first scalp for Custer." After joining the forces of General George Crook, Merritt commanded at the Battle of Slim Buttes and participated in the famous Horsemeat March to Deadwood. Three years later, he sat on the court of inquiry that exonerated Major Marcus Reno for his actions at the Little Bighorn.

    Serving as Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was not his final distinction. In 1895 Merritt was promoted to major general. In 1898 he commanded an army corps in the taking of Manila, and he served as the first military governor of the Philippines. After a storied career, he retired from the Army in 1900.
    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: 793

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