Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Lot 1026

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A fascinating manuscript with an extraordinary backstory, 7pp. legal folio, [n.p., n.d. but certainly 1886], a hand-written account by J.H. BASSLER, a captain of the Color Company of the 149th Pennsylvania, the 'Bucktail Regiment', during the Battle of Gettysburg. Throughout the fighting, the Brigade Commander Col. Stone ordered the color guard to detach itself from the regiment to divert the advancing Confederates' attention from the bulk of the Union forces. While the ruse worked, this left the color guard unprotected from rebel attack, and since no order to retreat was issued, the entire regiment was killed or severely wounded. Bassler, who barely survived the war, penned this account in black ink, adding corrections later in pencil. Filled with far too many details to realistically quote, the account reads in very small part: 'It was while the Regt. lay on the Chambersburg pike, facing North, its extreme left on the crest of McPherson's Ridge, exposed to an enfilading fire from a rebel battery...that Col. Stone...had the colors detached...and left them with orders to stay there until sent for...[they] were fully alive to the danger of their situation...they had seen the approach of rebel forces extending for miles...there was a rebel yell...a foe had hold of [the Color Sergeant BREHM's] flag, saying: 'This is mine'...The color Sergeant had him by the throat, giving utterance: 'No be-damned if it is'...he was brought down at last by a piece of exploding shell which also broke into the staff of the colors...impelled on by indomitable will, the Sergt. was quickly on his feet again and grasping now the flag with his left hand, racked with pain, yet undismayed, he made a last heroic effort to save the precious charge in his care...though his wound was such as to prove fatal...he showed no evidence of pain...Fridell in the account he gave me on the field of battle...he and Hammel engaged the rebels at the lane in a close encounter to draw attention from Brehm...both were wounded then & had their wounds in front of the body...Brehm [ran] against Lehman, the bearer of the State flag, with such force that it threw him forward on his hands and knees, with the colors extended across the rail pile...a rebel on the other side of the pile had hold of the flag while another who had jumped on the pile was pointing his gun at Lehman at such short range that the latter quickly seized the barrel...Spayd discharged his gun into the rebel and then hurled it with all his might into the face of the one who was now drawing the flag across the rails...' Much, much more dramatic content, including further details about the company's desperate attempt to control the colors against Confederate forces. Bassler signs at the conclusion, adding his rank: 'Late Capt Co C. 149'. Some light staining, else fine to very fine condition. Sold with a typed transcription of the letter, and a 1983 pamphlet reprinted from a 1910 address by Bassler, which includes yet more details about the incident and photographs of the men mentioned in the letter.

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October 29, 2020 10:00 AM EDT

Chesapeake City, MD, US

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