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    Description

    Important Civil War Grouping With Combat Diaries Collection of six items pertaining to the Civil War service of Private Hiram T. Gay, Co. "G", 123rd New York Volunteers. This material centers upon the diaries of a typical three-year Union volunteer who left an atypically complete record of his wartime activities. The two pocket diaries described below cover the entire period of Gay's enlistment and are singular in that they record his experiences in both major theaters of the war. New York's 123rd Infantry Regiment fought initially at Chancellorsville as part of the Army of the Potomac and mustered out some two years later with Sherman's Army of the Cumberland. As such, Gay faced both Lee's and Johnston's hardened veterans on many bloody occasions. The young New Yorker participated at Gettysburg, in the siege of Atlanta, and on the March to the Sea. In the parlance of war, he indeed "saw the elephant". Included are the following:

    Partially printed document, 2 pp., 8vo, White Creek, New York, August 13, 1862. Hiram Gay's 3-year enlistment certificate signed by Recruiting Officer Charles Archer. Gay is noted as having been 27 years-old and six feet tall. The document has some light stains, overall browning and splits along folds. Good condition.
    Pocket diary, 156 pp., 3.25" x 7", August 13, 1862 - December 31, 1864. Looking much like a wallet, this small book is bound with soft leather and has a flap extending out from the back cover. The diary is pre-printed for the year 1859 on lined blue paper with the entries being in pencil. In addition to noting daily events, the diary also contains pay records, lists of stores drawn, and registers Gay's personal expenses. The prospective bidder should note that the first diary entry is placed several pages into the book and that Gay, running out of space at the end, filled the blank front pages with later entries. The diary commences with Gay's 1862 enlistment and ends with the capture of Savannah a little over two years later. Highlights read in very small part: "(May 3, 1863, Chancellorsville, VA)...this has been a turable day for a Sabath day the Battle commenced about sunrise & was kept up with grate fury till nearly noon. We lost a good many men theirs fell like sheep they charged into the very jaws of our Canon & was mowed down like grass the 123 stood their ground well... (July 3, 1863, Gettysburg) the Battle lasted all day we took nearly 12,000 prisoners & Long Street so reported they got a whipping this time... (September 1, 1864, Atlanta) the 123rd started early this a.m. reconnortering towards Atlanta heavy cannonading near Atlanta from 12 mid night till day light & news this a m is that Atlanta is taken & the rebs blew up several car loads of ammunition was the noys heard last night...". Gay's entries are entirely legible and easy to read despite being made in pencil and faded accordingly. The pages remain tied together as bound yet they are separating from the cover, which shows normal wear and is still sound. Overall very good condition.
    A second pocket diary, 369 pp., 3.25" x 5.25", January 1, 1865 - May 31, 1865. The front flysheet is boldly inscribed by Gay with his name followed by his company, regiment and corps designations. His entries, unlike the ones in the preceding book, follow the pre-printed diary's format and begin on the first blank page. This diary covers the closing months of the war and begins with Sherman's advance into the Carolinas. Unfortunately, there is a hiatus in Gay's entries between February 25 and March 31. Of particular interest is the entry for April 17, 1865 which reads, "sad news today that Lincoln & Sec Seward were assacinated it cast a gloom over the Army & no one is willing to believe it they have killed their best Friend if it is trew. Covers showing normal wear on the high points. Internally fine condition with only light, even browning.
    Pocket Bible, The New Testament, 468 pp., 2.5" x 3.75", American Bible Society, New York, 1862. It is quite possible that this small bible was presented to Gay upon his enlistment in 1862. He took special pains to have his name, address and military designations inscribed inside the front cover. Gay went on to list significant battles in which he participated. Worn covers as expected with moderate internal staining. Overall very good condition;
    Leather Wallet, 3.75 x 8", ca. 1870s. This lovely tooled leather wallet surfaced among Gay's effects and contains several pieces of ephemera, including an 1874 bank deposit slip from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The leather is still supple and exhibits wear associated with normal use. Very good condition.
    Lock of hair in a 1/9th plate Union Case, 3" x 2.5". This curl of auburn hair is tied with a red bow and is a likely a memento of Mrs. Gay. The case carries the scarce "Chess Players" design as manufactured by Littleton, Parsons & Co., Krainik 580. Very fine condition.

    The grouping offered here comes from the Henry E. Luhrs Collection and contains documentation that it was purchased for the Lincoln Library from Connecticut dealer Paul Hoag in 1961. Rounding out this lot is a complete typed transcription of Gay's diaries with each entry on a separate 8.5" x 11" page.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2006
    7th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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