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    Description

    Beautifully Handpainted Escutcheon of Famed Zouave Leader Gen. Charles Collis with Family Scrapbook. Offered directly from the family is this superb oil on canvas escutcheon of Union Brevet Maj. Gen. Charles H. T. Collis, commander of the 114th Pa. Vol. Infantry ("Collis' Zouaves"). Done in the spirit of medieval coats of arms, these paintings were popular after the war with officers who wanted to memorialize their service, and it would be difficult to find any that are more colorful, ornate, and better executed than the one of this distinguished officer and Congressional Medal of Honor winner. A large gold foliate wreath surrounds a blue central shield divided into quadrants by a 2½" wide red cross. Above the shield is an intricate, multicolored, raised-wing eagle as depicted on the "Coat of Arms of the United States." Below the shield is a wide blue and red riband with "Brevet Major General Charles H. T. Collis./ U.S. Vols." painted in gold with numerous surrounding flourishes. Beneath the banner are suspended a number of societal badges including the G.A.R. and Society of the Army of the Potomac. The quadrants of the shield contain full color depictions of the insignia of rank earned by Collis throughout his military career and flags of the corps he belonged to. At the bottom of the shield is painted his Congressional Medal of Honor. Within the red cross is rendered a history of Collis' service in tiny gold letters with blue highlights, beginning with his enlistment as sergeant major of the 18th Pa. Vol. Infantry in April, 1861 and ending with his discharge as brevet major general in May, 1865 and his receipt of the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry at Fredericksburg. In the center is the Coat of Arms of the State of Pennsylvania surrounded by a circle of thirteen white stars. The painting dates to the 1880s and is mounted in its original dark wood frame with gold interior border. The actual escutcheon takes up almost the entire canvas which measures 24¼" x 29½". There is no visible artist signature. Condition is very sound with only a few pinhead flecks of missing paint and some minor, well done restoration.

    With the escutcheon is an original Collis family scrapbook containing numerous postwar newspaper clippings about the life of this remarkable citizen and the honors paid to him at his death. Included in the book is a faded, fullstanding carte de visite photograph of Collis as sergeant major of the 18th Pa. Vol. Infantry, a three months unit, probably the only such photo of Collis known. Some additional material is also found within the pages of the book such as a small postwar printed "muster roll" of the men of the 114th who were engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg. Collis was born in Ireland in 1830 and became a lawyer in Philadelphia just before the start of the Civil War. After his service with the 18th Pa. Vol. Infantry, Collis formed a company of "Zouaves D'Afrique" as an independent body guard for Gen. Nathaniel Banks, fully uniformed in the classic zouave manner. In the summer of 1862 Collis expanded the organization to regimental size. By the end of the summer the unit, now designated the 114th Pa. Vol. Infantry, became part of the Army of the Potomac where it served heroically throughout the conflict, particularly at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. After the war, Collis became a politically active attorney in Philadelphia and, after a family dispute, moved to New York City where business reverses cost the millionaire much of his fortune. He eventually retired to a home he built on the Gettysburg battlefield called "Red Patch." Charles Henry Tucky Collis died in 1902. This is an extraordinary artifact of an extraordinary character of the American Civil War backed with a wealth of historical information and never before available to the public.





    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,699

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