December 14-17, 2021 Collectible Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/14/2021
This historic Civil War drum has strong visual appeal, with beautiful paint and a beautiful silver presentation plaque dated 1862, giving it to a drummer who enlisted at age 15 in 1861 and served with the regiment throughout the war, including its service as infantry at Harris Farm, near Spottsylvania, in 1864, where it lost a stunning 366 officers and men killed or wounded. Once in the Flayderman collection, this drum was published in Caba's U.S. Military Drums as Plate 19. The shell bears a large oval painting of the state capitol at top, with trees reflecting in the water across the middle ground, which morphs into the skyline of a city, harbor, and walled fortress with cannon and a U.S. flag atop a tall flag pole. Caba suggests the green foliage of the tree represents the famed Liberty Tree. The lower view is likely looking out over Boston Harbor. Superimposed on the harbor view at bottom is the Massachusetts state seal with Indian with bow at center, and sword-wielding arm at top. The entire oval panel is then bordered by elaborate gold floral scrolls, from under which protrude cannon and arms on each side and ranks of slanted flags from above and behind, with a stars and stripes in the foreground. At the extreme ends of the scroll work is perched an American eagle with olive branch and arrows, and United States shield. The painting is not signed nor is a maker label visible through the vent hole, but both are certainly Boston. An oval silver presentation plaque is mounted on the side opposite the vent hole and given its own gold scroll painted border. The plaque is engraved in small script, block, and Old English lettering: "Keep step to the music of the Union / Presented to / George L. Miller / By the Officers & Members of Co. F. 14th / Massachusetts Volunteers / Heavy Artillery / Fort Scott, Va. July 14, 1862." This reflects the original numerical designation of the the 14th Massachusetts Volunteers, which was officially organized 20 June 1861 as infantry and then converted to heavy artillery as of January 1862, though the numerical designation was not officially changed until 19 September 1863 to the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. It was under this designation, somewhat ironically, that it was called into field service as infantry for Grant's climactic overland campaign of 1864, where it suffered heavy casualties. Miller lied about his age at enlistment, being only 15, and maintained the fiction when he later reenlisted as a veteran volunteer in 1863, claiming then to be 21. The regiment served by detachment in the forts of the Washington defenses, along the Potomac, and at Harpers Ferry. Fort Scott, the site of the presentation, was built in Arlington in 1861, containing 7 heavy guns, one light gun, and two mortars. Miller was with the company when the regiment was assembled and sent to the field as infantry, joining the Second Army Corps in May. While he was with the company, they saw action at Harris Farm, Spottsylvania, the North Anna, line of the Pamunkey River, Totopotomoy, and Cold Harbor. Harris Farm was a bloody initiation to combat, costing them 54 killed, 312 wounded, and 27 missing. On the march from Cold Harbor Miller suffered sunstroke, which hospitalized him and along with recurrence of "Intermittent Fever" (likely malaria) kept him out of action until February 1865, when he joined them in front of Petersburg, in time for continued fighting in the trenches, as well at Boydton Plank Road, the final assault on Petersburg, and the battle of Sailor's Creek in the pursuit of Lee to Appomattox. Miller mustered out 31 July 1865, having been promoted to Principle Musician on April 1, which moved him to the noncommissioned staff and put him in charge of the regimental drum corps. He returned to civilian life, married and later moved to Maine, where he died in 1903. CONDITION: About excellent. Original heads, rims, ropes, tighteners, and snare with minor dirt and abrasions. The principle paint shows only scattered tiny losses to the main panel, with some rubbing to the gold painted border of the presentation plaque on the side and some abrasion to the painted ground of the body above that and to the right. The rims are a reddish brown. The shell is light brown with a more orange tint. This is a wonderful combination of history and art.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,600.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $18,000.00
Estimate: $7,000 - $10,000
Number Bids: 15
Auction closed on Friday, December 17, 2021.
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