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    18 Kt. Gold-Mounted Cane of Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth. Killed at Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 3rd. Farnsworth was the only Union general killed behind Confederate lines in the Civil War. Elon John Farnsworth was born in 1837 in Green Oak, Michigan and his family relocated to Rockton, Illinois in 1854. in 1855 he enrolled in the University of Michigan where he was known as a bit of a dandy and renowned for his student hijinks. Finally, in his sophomore year he was expelled for his involvement, with a number of other students, in a drinking escapade that resulted in the death of one of the students. His response was, in 1858, to join the US Army's expedition to Utah as a civil forage master, where he remained until the outbreak of the Civil War. This cane doubtless has its point of origin during the University of Michigan/Utah years.

    At the outbreak of the Civil War he was initially commissioned a 1st Lt., quickly rising to the rank of Captain, in the 8th Illinois Cavalry which had been organized and was commanded by his namesake uncle John F. Farnsworth. By the spring of 1863 he was serving on the staff of Alfred Pleasonton. Farnsworth captured Pleasonton's attention at Brandy Station, where, after all of his superior officer's were killed or wounded he took command of the 8th Illinois. With the aid of Pleasonton and his namesake uncle, who was now a politically influential congressman, he was promoted to brigadier general on the same set of orders as Custer and Merrit and took command of a brigade under Kilpatrick. Farnsworth was characterized as "tall, slight, and pale" and as "courage incarnate but full of tender regard for his men." His command ability and bravery were immediately evidence when he led the decisive charge that turned back Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry on the streets of Hanover, Pa. on June 30, 1863. His bravado, while admired by all who witnesses him in combat would soon cost him his life. At Gettysburg, on the afternoon of the 3rd of July, after the repulse of Pickett's charge, Kilpatrick ordered Farnsworth to lead a charge against Confederate infantry positions. Farnsworth recognized the futility of such an action and protested vigorously to Kilpatrick, who, in response, questioned Farnsworth's honor and courage, stating he would lead the charge himself. Farnsworth vehemently protested that no one would lead his men into battle other than himself and, in a charge that many have likened to that of the Light Brigade was killed in volleys of gunfire from the 15th Alabama Infantry, his body being pierced by no less than eight bullets. In a touch of both irony and tragedy Farnsworth, upon his expulsion from the University of Michigan apologized to his professor of history stating that he "would yet show that he could make a man of himself."

    The cane is 35 5/8" overall, with an ebony shaft, iron tip, and 18 kt. gold head with eight facets around the base. Two of the facets are exquisitely engraved with a scroll motif on a cross hatched background, another utilizes the same motif but includes a 1" panel which is beautifully engraved "E. I. Farnsworth" I and J being interchangeable with I generally used to represent both letters). The cane descended through the family and is completely untouched. A most attractive and rather touching artifact from one of the most gallant and heroic cavalry officer's of the American Civil War.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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