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    Confederate Texas: The Old Flag Civil War Prison Camp Newspaper. Four pages, 9.5" x 11.5", February 17, 1864, Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas. This early reproduction of the first of only three issues of the handwritten Confederate prison camp newspaper, the Old Flag, is truly fascinating. It includes a President Lincoln proclamation, discussions of prison affairs, short works of fiction, poems, and advertisements, all written with a touch of humor. Page three has a column headed "Editor's Chair" which begins, "We did think of naming this department of our paper the 'Editor's Easy Chair,' but as we seated ourselves upon our coarse, hard, sliver-bottomed stool, minus back and cushion, the absurdity of saying easy chair arrested our pen." Page four contains a "List of Prisoners" which records the names, ranks, and regiments of over 100 Union P.O.W.s in the camp.

    Because there was no printing press at Confederate P.O.W. Camp Ford, near Tyler, Texas, the original three Old Flag newspapers were handwritten with a steel pen on un-ruled paper in imitation of print. Because of the laborious process of producing the newspaper in the prison camp, only one copy of each of the three issues was made. That one copy was passed around to be read aloud to groups of prisoners throughout Camp Ford. After the newspaper had circulated throughout the prison camp, it was returned to P.O.W. William May, a captain with the 23rd Connecticut, who produced the three issues. According to an accompanying letter written in 1962 by noted Texana dealer William M. Morrison of Waco, Captain May was "paroled and took [the] 3 [original] issues with him and had a plate made and a few copies run off, some say only 50 or so were made." This issue is possibly one of those original fifty reproductions.

    The original February 17th copy had water damage along the right edge obtained when May smuggled the three original issues out of the prison camp. May wrote a note on the original which was reproduced with the fifty copies: "This portion of the pages got wet, and torn off in taking it from under my shoulder straps upon arriving in the Federal lines./ W. H. M." At the same spot on the verso, May wrote, "This enclosure was unavoidably torn out in removing it from under my shoulder-strap, having been wet through!/ W. H. M."

    Camp Ford, named in honor of John S. "Rip" Ford, opened in 1862 as a conscript-training camp near Tyler. In 1863, the Confederate government ordered that it be transformed into a prison camp. Eventually, the camp became the largest Confederate prison camp west of the Mississippi River. After reports that some prisoners planned to escape, a stockade enclosing four acres was built. Inside the stockade, the prisoners were on their own to build shelters out of any available wood. Ambitious P.O.W.s also made baskets, furniture, chess pieces, pipes, and other objects which they traded with each other and with the locals. Many of these objects are advertised in the newspaper. This rare newspaper, which sheds light on the Civil War prison camp experience, has some chipping and tears along the edges; some stains. Pages one and two have separated along the center vertical fold from pages three and four. Very good. Included with the newspaper is the W. M. Morrison typed letter dated July 15, 1962, Waco, Texas.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2009
    21st Saturday
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