Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice
Thank you for your patience as we bring our website back online. Any auctions currently open or opening soon have updated closing times and will run on the schedules posted here.
You may resume bidding and tracking at this time. Bids placed anytime Friday may have not been recorded, so please check your MyBids and update accordingly or contact client services for assistance.


    Great Grouping of Major James R. Brelsford, Surgeon, 74th Ohio Vol. Inf. Probably the most extensive and important grouping from a Civil War surgeon we've ever catalogued. Brelsford mustered into the 74th Ohio as Surgeon on 11/5/61 and mustered out with the regiment 11/8/64. The group includes the following: His M1840 Regulation Medical Staff sword. Blade etched for 2/3 its length with oak leaves, arms panoply and "Medical Staff" spelled out, on the obverse. Floral and scroll work with arms panoply with American shield and flags, on the reverse. The blade retains most of the original mint luster with just some minor staining and a few spots of light surface rust on the upper third. There is no visible maker's logo, although it could be inaccessible under the shield shaped langets, the obverse of which has the separately affixed, old English, silver MS. Hilt and scabbard regulation in every detail, and retaining 90% of the original gold wash, as well as the gold bullion suspension for the sword knot. Sadly the drag is missing from the scabbard. Obviously lost long ago, as the patina on the gilt is identical to the rest of the scabbard.; His sword belt, of finely finished black leather with elaborate gilt brass suspensions, the links decorated with scroll work and retaining 90% of the original gilt. Belt in excellent, near perfect, condition just showing some scuffing/wear along the edges from honest use. The sword belt plate is of exquisite quality, with silvered wreath, motto and stars. Number 508 on both plate and keeper, and perfect condition.; a brass apothecary scales in the original maroon velvet lined black Moroccan leather covered box, with eagle embossed in gilt on the lid. Scales perfect with dark untouched patina. Box very good but with hinge split.; a group of 14 buttons including 6 coat size staffs with Scovill Waterbury backmark, 6 cuff size staffs, with either extra quality or plain brass backs, and two 4 hole trouser/suspender buttons. All buttons about perfect retaining 98% of the original gilt.; a set of four dental tools (one missing) in the original black Moroccan leather roll up case, with red Moroccan leather lining, and leather tab and string tie for closure. The tools are all untouched and exhibit a layer of dry surface rust. Case very good sound condition; a 24" X 28" red, black and white patterned silk bandana. A few small holes but generally excellent bright sound condition.; his Medical Staff Officer's insignia. Oval 2 3/8" X 3 1/2" Medical Staff hat insignia with gold bullion embroidered wreath surrounding old English MS with coiled brass wire border. Near perfect condition with much of original black paper liner on the reverse. A 1 5/8" X 4" pair of Major's shoulder straps. Single gold bullion border edged on both sides with coiled brass wire. Gold bullion oak leaves, all on black velvet background. One strap with one tiny moth hole and one spot of loose wire, else about perfect. A very impressive set of Major's shoulder straps, 2 1/8" X 4 3/4" with triple gold bullion border, edged on both sides with coiled brass wire. Gold bullion oak leaves on black velvet background. Just a hint of fading, else mint.

    Also included are Brelsford's diaries, which are, without question, among the most important and highly detailed 'in the field' Civil War diaries we've ever catalogued. Two diaries, the earliest, covering the period from Nov. 8, 1861, with the first entry being, "received notice this evning (sic) from Columbus of my appointment as Surgeon of 74 Regt. O. V. M. Located at Camp Lowe Xenia, Ohio Being Nov. 8, 1861", to August 24, 1862. This is a 3 1/2" X 6" folding black Moroccan leather style with 200 pp. and every page completely filled, cover to cover. The second diary is 3 1/8" X 5 3/4", covered with soft brown leather, and covers the period from August 25, 1862 to January 3, 1863, 90 pp., also filled cover to cover. All entries are in pencil, with really negligible smudging, and all entries clear, crisp and very legible. The regiment remained at Camp Chase, Ohio until April 20, 1862 and Brelsford provides highly detailed accounts of the formation of the unit, camp life, attending to sick and injured soldiers etc. Brelsford is clearly a very educated and literate man and even these accounts are brimming with details and interesting anecdotes rarely found in a Civil War diary. In mid January 1862 he is ordered to report to Cumberland, Md. and along the way spends several days in Wheeling, tending to wounded and injured soldiers of the 67th Ohio, again with great detail. Arrives in Cumberland on the 22d and describes in detail his meeting with Gen. Landers. He is appointed surgeon for the department, which encompasses 5 hospitals and over 800 patients. Describes in detail the proliferation of diseases that keeps the hospitals filled to overflowing, and the tragedy of the deaths of his patients on a daily basis. March 2, 1862 he states, "Today I have been going the rounds with my sword etc. on an inspection of the hospitals. Col. Porter has been with me. About 80 more sick landed this evening". Brelsford reports a similar influx of sick and wounded on an almost daily basis and comments "wonder when the poor fellows will quit getting sick". On March 13, Brelsford is ordered to return to the camp of the 74th, and arrives back in camp on March 15 along with "my pup -One of my prescribing surgeons in Cumberland presented to me". Describes the regiments movement from Ohio to Nashville in detail, including a stopover at the Shiloh battlefield where Brelsford and other surgeons are ordered to "hunt up the wounded and report back to the boat". Brelsford provides a detailed and moving multi page description of the carnage still visible on the field (this being April 13) and describes witnessing amputations and other medical procedures, as well as caring for wounded brought to the landing, where a number of Federal surgeons, including Brelsford were employed. Lengthy detailed account of not only the battle but attending to the wounded brought in for treatment, North and South, with details of amputations etc. Describes the June Cumberland Mountain Expedition and details of many small actions around Nashville through the months of July and August, along with the regiment's participation in the Siege of Nashville. Reports many interesting details of incidents during the siege, including the killing of Union soldiers attempting to break into homes in the city, along with a number of "sharp fights" resulting in some casualties in the regiment. Federal forces are constantly expecting they will be attacked, with endless troop movements, artillery action and preparation of fortifications, occasionally attending to wounded and performing post mortems. On December 26, the Division departs Nashville on the journey that will culminate in the Battle of Stone's River and on the 27th Brelsford comments that "It began to look a little like our time had come to try our hand on the enemy". Brelsford reports they are in sight of the enemy's outposts on the 29th, which are shelled by Federal batteries. "The Rebs are still in force in Murfreesborough....If they stand there will be a terrible fight....The Lord take of us and our wives and children at home." December 30, at "8 oclock AM the fight has commenced by shelling and skirmishes. Just now a shell from the enemies (sic) battery wounded a man and took off a horse's leg not 40 yds from where we are with the ambulances. Skirmishing has been going on all day - we have got in 19 wounded and are working with them." Reports on December 31 that "This morning the battle opened early and has been going on all day." Reports details of the fighting including a Confederate charge resulting in the capture of "Cooks Batteries....with the Rebels after them thick and fast....This Through (sic) our party into a panic....Doctors, stewards, nurses and ambulance drivers scattered and run - The Hospital teams drove off with my stores & chest. My ambulances are both gone..." Details heavy fighting swirling around the house in which the field hospital is located, including "Hughes my cook, stepping out of doors was shot dead at the corner of the porch.....Wounded men are coming in fast and we have our house nearly full." January 1st, Brelsford reports We worked all night....wounded men have still been brought in, we number about 120". Reports on January 2d, "Today we have been operating & redressing the wounded all day." Reports skirmishing still all around the house with many bullets striking the hospital and many near misses, with detailed reports of continued fighting on January 3d, the last entry in the diary. A great set of diaries with almost 300 pages of crisp legible detailed entries.
    A great Civil War grouping, from a gallant combat surgeon, in superb condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2011
    12th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,050

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 June 7 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential &  Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential & Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $648,838