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    Description

    [Civil War-Libby Prison]. Autograph Letter Signed by Luigi Palma di Cesinola from Libby Prison. One page, 9" x 11", Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia; August 6, [1863]. Letter from di Cesinola to Mary, presumably his wife, in New York City.

    The letter reads, in part: "I am still here with but little hope of getting out until the difficulties existing between the two authorities are settled out. I am badly in want of underclothings as it is 56 days I am using the same shirt washing it now & then and remaining without shirts until mine is dry.... Other colonels have been appointed Brigadier Generals and I have lost since I am here shut up with 500 other federal officers all opportunity to become Brigadier. Col. Duffie whose regiment was taken officers & privates all prisoners except some 35 and himself was made Brigadier! He was Major in the Harris Light Cavalry when I was already Colonel of the 4th .... You speak about using influence to get me exchanged. There are here many Colonels & two Generals and if they cannot get me exchanged how can I.... I really do not know why our Government agreed to exchange enlisted men but refuses to exchange officers. Officers of both armies are suffering very badly and then confinement with this weather and many will lose their life by fear or other sickness because the two commissionaires cannot agree in their meetings this is cruelly ridiculous! Oh how I long to get a good bath and a good dinner.... Good bye I am not allowed to write more."

    Luigi Palma di Cesinola (1832-1904), an Italian-American soldier, diplomat and amateur archaeologist, was born in Rivarolo Canavese, near Turin. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the American Civil War. He served as United States consul at Larnaca in Cyprus (1865-1877) and as the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1879-1904). In the Civil War he served as a colonel in the 4th New York Cavalry. At the Battle of Aldie on June 17, 1863, he was wounded and taken prisoner. He was taken to Libby Prison and subsequently released early in 1864 when the Union agent for prisoner exchange offered a personal friend of Jefferson Davis as barter. He later wrote an article about his experience in Libby Prison, entitled "Ten Months in Libby Prison," which was published in the Bulletin of the United States Sanitary Commission in March 1865.

    Condition: Letter has the usual folds, with weakness showing at intersections of folds; otherwise good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    19th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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