Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2006 Issue

Confederate Military History from Chapel Hill Rare Books

Cha171

Confederate history from Chapel Hill Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

Chapel Hill Rare Books
has just issued one of the finest catalogues of America's Civil War we have seen in awhile. Offered is The William Hobday Collection of Confederate Military History Part I. Obviously, this is only part of the collection, and the focus is primarily on the views of one side in this great struggle. Nevertheless, this is a magnificent collection, 300 works that touch upon the war as seen from the Confederate point of view.

There are biographies of noted southern generals and the like, but the largest number of books in this collection were written by the more common participants. They include lower to mid-ranking officers, foot soldiers, even wives back home (and in some cases, home was a moving location as families sought to avoid the ravages of war). The number of books written by those who participated in this war is surprising. At times it seems like just about everyone who carried a rifle and lived to tell about it wrote a book. Of course that's not true, but many did, and their recollections tell the reality of this terrible struggle better than the more scholarly examinations of the battles and strategies that were later produced.

The dates of these books are also telling. Most were not published in the days following the war. They are dated from the early 20th century, or perhaps late in the 19th. The war was by then already three, four, even five decades in the past. What you see here are old soldiers, knowing that their days are numbered, attempting to preserve their experiences and memories while they still could. Many were evidently encouraged by family members to preserve their recollections. Since most were not famous, not a Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, or Stonewall Jackson (they were all long gone by this time anyway), their histories were not bestsellers. Most were printed in short runs, with circulation only intended for friends, family, or perhaps others who served in the same battalion. The result is that these books, uncommon even when published, can be quite rare today. Finding this deep a collection of reminiscences from the Confederate side is undoubtedly unusual. If this fits your field of collecting, you will definitely want to see this catalogue. Here are just a few of the titles available.

Item 52 is a later book than most -- 1979 -- but it consists of letters written from the frontlines from 1861-1863. The book is Dear Bet, and it contains letters between Lieutenant Sidney Carter and his wife Ellen ("Bet"), back home in Cartersville, South Carolina. Carter relays day-to-day life for the soldiers as they move from one battle to the next, Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and finally Gettysburg. There the letters stop. We all know why. Carter was one of six brothers to fight for the Confederacy. Only three returned. The sadness of separation and knowledge that he might never return is clear in the letters, yet so is his sense of duty. In typical fashion, Carter signs off a letter with, "Kiss all the children for me. Tell the negroes howdy and accept all my love for yourself." Indeed, while he was fighting for slavery, he expresses nothing but affection for the "Negroes," likely the slaves back home. One can only wonder why so many good and caring people could not see. That would have saved them from marching off to their deaths, leaving their families without sons, husbands and fathers. If only, from hindsight, we could speak to people like Sidney Carter. Priced at $75.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

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