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    Custer's farewell to his troops

    Broadside Printing of George Armstrong Custer's Announcement of the Surrender of General Lee at Appomattox and Farewell to His Troops. Single sheet, 5" x 8", Headquarters Third Cavalry Division, Appomattox Court House, Virginia; dated April 9, 1865 (printed circa April 15, 1865). A rare printing of Custer's letter to the soldiers of the Third Cavalry Division informing them of the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army and thanking them for their outstanding service, courage, and accomplishments during the Civil War. Custer signed the letter as "Brevet Major General Commanding".

    In part:

    "With profound gratitude toward the God of battles, by whose blessings our enemies have been humbled and our arms rendered triumphant, your commanding General avails himself of this first opportunity to express to you his admiration of the heroic manner in which you have passed through the series of battles which to-day resulted in the surrender of the enemy's entire army....Let us hope that our work is done, and that, blessed with the comforts of peace, we may be permitted to enjoy the pleasures of home and friends. For our comrades who have fallen, let us ever cherish a grateful remembrance. To the wounded, and those who languish in Southern prisons, let out heartfelt sympathy be tendered.

    And now, speaking for myself alone, when the war is ended and the task of the historian begins-when those deeds of daring, which have rendered the name and fame of the Third Cavalry Division imperishable, are inscribed upon the bright pages our country's history, I only ask that my name may be written as that of the Commander of the Third Cavalry Division."

    Custer (1839-1876) was at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. After his lines were broken, Lee retreated to Appomattox Court House, pursued by the Union cavalry. Custer's Third Cavalry Division blocked Lee's retreat on its final day and received the first flag of truce from the Confederate force. The table upon which Lee's surrender was signed was presented to Custer as a gift for his wife by General Philip Sheridan, who included a note to her praising Custer's gallantry.

    This is one of possibly two rare printed versions of the broadside known to exist. There is another version that was printed by Gustavus A. Sykes in Petersburg, Virginia; it is not known who printed this version presented here. This broadside probably was printed either on April 9, 1865 or very soon thereafter. This version was probably issued to be circulated to the troops soon after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. The copy offered here originates in the papers of Wilmon W. Blackmar, who wrote on the back of the document "What we have been doing." He has also made some annotations adding his initials, "W.W.B." in the top margin on the front. Other lots of Blackmar's papers are offered in this auction as lots 47031-47034.

    The 1st West Virginia Volunteer Calvary Regiment began fighting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley during the last half of 1864-usually in a brigade as part of the 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of West Virginia. At the beginning of 1865, the regiment became part of the 3rd Brigade in Custer's Third Cavalry Division-which, along with another division was under the command of General Sheridan. After Sheridan's success in the Shenandoah Valley, he moved his two divisions eastward toward Petersburg, Virginia, and they played an important part in the Appomattox Campaign and the surrender Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

    Condition: The broadside is printed on thin paper, with two horizontal folds and slight wrinkles. On the bottom on the broadside there are five dots that appear to have been made by the tip of a pencil. There is writing in ink on the upper left hand corner and on the back, probably in the hand of Blackmar. Overall good.

    More Information:

    Wilmon W. Blackmar (1841-1905) was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania. In August 1861, while attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he returned home to Pennsylvania and enlisted in the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, participating in various engagements in the Western theater and with the Army of the Potomac, including the Battle of Antietam in 1862, and was subsequently promoted to corporal and then first lieutenant in charge of Company H of the 1st West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry. For his heroism at the Battle of Five Forks in Virginia on 1 April 1865, in which he formed a line and charged into the Confederate forces, causing them to disperse, Blackmar was promoted to the rank of captain by General Custer and subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration bestowed to members of the U.S. military for acts of valor in service of their country. He later served as Provost Marshal and Assistant Adjutant General to Colonel Henry Capehart of General Custer's Third Division of General Philip Sheridan's Cavalry before Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 900

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

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