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    One of the earliest accounts of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter

    James M. Phinney Autograph Letter Signed with Commission and Signed Allegiance. The letter is one page, 7.5" x 7.25", Charleston; April 12, 1861. A short letter from Phinney to his wife, Mary, in which he describes the firing upon Fort Sumter, the events which begun the Civil War. It reads, in full: "We reached here safely this morning at 2 o'clock. The attack on Fort Sumter commenced this morning at 4 o'clock. Anderson held off 2 hours. The batteries are all in full blast and will continue so until the fort is demolished or surrendered. We do not know what moment we will be called upon to go either to Morris Island or Fort Moultrie. Rumors are flying as to the number of men killed and wounded. This I will not say anything of." The letter is likely one of the earliest records of the attack on Fort Sumter that resides in private hands. Phinney's company was soon after called into action, serving in the first day of the Civil War.

    The second document is Phinney's commission as Second Lieutenant of Boyce Guards. Two pages, front and back, 14" x 8.5", South Carolina; March 28, 1861. The Boyce Guards were one of the companies of the Sixth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers. Signed by Francis W. Pickens, Governor of South Carolina, and Deputy Secretary of State William R. Hun. Decorated with an engraving of the South Carolina seal at the top margin. With an embossed state seal above Pickens' signature. On verso, Phinney has signed the Oath of Allegiance to South Carolina. Also signed by James H. Rion, Colonel of the 6th S.C. Vols.

    James M. Phinney (1833-1862) was a lieutenant in the Boyce Guards before the war. The militia unit arrived in Charleston at two in the morning on April 12, 1861, and stood witness to the firing upon the fort and thusly, the start of the war. Phinney was later promoted to captain and served with the Army of Northern Virginia. Phinney was killed at the Battle of Fair Oaks on May 31, 1862. From the Bret J. Formichi American Civil War Rarities Collection.

    Condition: The letter has flattened mail folds. The ink has smeared in a few places, else very good. The commission has flattened folds and has light toning at the edges and folds. There are a few small separations at the edges. Corners are creased. Minor soiling on verso. Overall very good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 308

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