Lot 491    

Indian Wars Archive of Lieut. William E. Reed,
2008, Historic Americana Auction, Dec 4 & 5
1865-1891. 50th Wisconsin Infantry. 5 items (including one ALS).

In the last days of the Civil War, William Boardman Reed, a veteran of the famed 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, was commissioned as Lieutenant of Co. I, 50th Wisconsin Infantry, the last full regiment raised in the state. After performing duty in northern Missouri, “restoring civil government,” the regiment was sent to Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, in October 1865, where they replaced a regiment of “Galvanized Yankees.” Although posted in hostile territory, the regiment suffered losses primarily to desertion and disease before being mustered out in June 1866.

The Reed collection consists of only five items, but two are noteworthy. In addition to a large MOLLUS certificate (1891?) and two handsome cartes de visite -- one signed carte of William B. Reed in Civil War uniform, April 1865 (photo by Outley, St. Louis), and one of a highly whiskered Reed dated April 1870 (photo by Wenderoth, Taylor & Brown, Philadelphia) -- the collection includes an interesting list of Dakota words and phrases. Apparently recorded during service at Fort Rice, the list suggests that Reed was well educated and had some knowledge of linguistics.

The most important item in the collection, however, is a closely written 20p. letter from Reed to his father dated at Fort Rice on Jan. 14, 1866, much of which describes a great buffalo hunt, “one of the remarkable events of my life.” Stuck in winter quarters and weary of the monotony, Reed writes that he jumped at the opportunity for a hunt when it was proposed. With ten fourteen offices and 33 or 34 men, the party was joined by a party of about 80 Yankton “Sioux,” each with two or more horses, one designated as a “buffalo horse” for its running abilities. “It was a motley looking crowd, we of the pale faces with our buffalo skin caps, mittens, pants, and moccasins, rivaling even the Indians in grotesque attire, and I remarked to some our townsmen, that I would give a considerable sum to have the party ride through Lancaster looking as it then did…”

At their first encounter with a straggling herd, twenty Indians were dispatched to the kill, using bow and arrow so as not to disturb the larger herds. “These hunts are conducted in a very systematic manner by the Indians, and are affairs of the greatest importance to them, for by means of such a general hunt as this one, they supply themselves with their winter’s meat and a supply of skins with which to make their clothing, bedding, and houses, and to trade for little articles of luxury. This detachment killed five of the eleven buffalo above mentioned and brought them in soon after…” After two days too cold to hunt, the party then rode onto a larger herd: “we started out, riding at a smart trot or gallop in an easterly direction. The Indians made frequent halts to scout ahead in the fog. Presently they seemed much excited urged their horses faster, and soon they rode suddenly to their pack horses standing just behind the brow of a hill. They rushed around these in an excited manner, hurriedly stripped off the saddles and chopped them all the atoms -- then took the horses and rushed on again. After going a short distance further those in advance uttered a kind of suppressed yell, suddenly swooped around into a little ravine and pounced upon two or three Indians, who were skinning a buffalo there. They stripped of their robes which they (the two or three) were wearing and cut them in pieces. Then each of the party struck them (the Indians) a blow with his whip or bow. The whole thing was at first a mystery to the balance of us, and some started the rumor that it was a party of hostile Sioux (Santes) which they had come upon, but we soon learned that these were some of the Indians composing our party, who becoming impatient, had rushed on ahead, and run into the herd of buffalo, killing one or two, and driving the rest further off -- a dastardly trick, for which they were none too well punished…”

The account goes on in great detail about Indian hunting techniques: “The whole herd consisting of one hundred or more buffalo came charging over a little eminence directly towards us, closely followed by the detachment of thirty or forty Indians, many of whom were right in the midst of the herd, shooting right and left, into the buffalo all around. We hastily deployed ourselves into line and charged against the herd, turning the living stream of animals to the left. The firing was now brisk on all sides. The Indians guiding their ponies by the motion of their bodies, dashed hither and thither in the midst of the herd, silently slipped their iron pointed arrows into the shaggy beasts on all sides, while we, the representatives of the 50th Wis. generally each selected his buffalo, following closely after him, and firing as opportunity offered…”

Reed stayed out hunting as much of his party returned the next day, hauling a herd of carcasses with them, and during another blood orgy, describes getting separated from the other hunters after facing off with a heifer and skinning her and making his way back to the fort in an arduous wandering course.

Good condition except for considerable fading, staining, and evidence of water on the MOLLUS certificate, which strongly affects its appearance
Sold: $1,762.50
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

don't miss

an opportunity to bid. You can't win if you're not in.

sign up to bid

what's it worth?

ask the experts

sell your item

start selling
Seven Early 20th Century <i>Uncle Tom's Cabin</i> Illustrated Play Broadsides, & Playbill,
Lot # 1598 - Seven Early 20th Century Uncle Tom's Cabin Illustrated Play Broadsides, & Playbill,
includes 1st an embossed three-color quarter sheet poster (14" x 21") with heading reading The Barnum of Them All Stetson's Big Double Uncle Tom's Cabin Company, framed 14.25" x 21.25", PLUS 2nd a folded pamphlet printed on newsprint, 12" x 18" open, advertising 1922-1923 Tour of Newton & Livingston... > Item Details
Wm. H. Tipton's <i>Photographs of Gettysburg</i>,
Lot # 123 - Wm. H. Tipton's Photographs of Gettysburg,
oblong folio album, 14.5 x 11", green morocco backstrip with green cloth covered boards with gilt Photographs of Gettysburg embossed on each spine, containing 53 albumen photographs, each 8 x 5.75", mounted on single pages, with a decorative mounting block. Each image is captioned in manuscript han... > Item Details
CDV of  Major General Custer and Family,
Lot # 459 - CDV of Major General Custer and Family,
including Lieutenant Thomas Ward Custer and Elizabeth B. Custer, with the imprint below the image Brady Washington. Illustrated in Katz' Custer in Photographs (K-49), dated January 3, 1865. Verso includes Brady backmark and penciled date 1865. Thomas Ward Custer (1845-1876), a younger brother of Geo... > Item Details
Cabinet Card of George Armstrong Custer,
Lot # 454 - Cabinet Card of George Armstrong Custer,
in civilian clothes with imprint of Zimmerman St. Paul, Minn.. Illustrated in Katz' Custer in Photographs [K-126], dated June 1874, and to a negative by Huntington of Taylor's Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota. Verso includes inked inscription Genl G.A. Custer. Lieut. Col. 7th US Cavalry Killed at Little... > Item Details
Five Pairs of Handmade and Inlaid Spurs,
Lot # 1773 - Five Pairs of Handmade and Inlaid Spurs,
including a pair of spurs with steel rowels with five spikes each, a leg shaped shank inlaid with silver and copper, and a steel yoke with inlaid silver, reverse in copper, with a stylized floral motif. Includes original tooled leather straps with a stylized floral motif and attached heart shaped si... > Item Details
Ten Books on Wild Bill Hickok,
Lot # 1740 - Ten Books on Wild Bill Hickok,
including Wilstach, Frank J. Wild Bill Hickok. Garden City (NY): The Sun Dial Press, Inc., 1937. 12mo, orange cloth, 304 pp. PLUS Garst, Shannon. Wild Bill Hickok. New York (NY): Julian Messner, Inc., 1952. Oversized 12mo, rust or red cloth and illustrated d.j., 183 pp. PLUS Holbrook, Stewart H. Wil... > Item Details
CDV of George Armstrong Custer,
Lot # 472 - CDV of George Armstrong Custer,
as Brigadier General with following verso manuscript Brig Genl Custer Commanding 2nd Brigade 2 Div Cavalry. Illustrated in Katz' Custer in Photographs (K-26), dated on or about January 25, 1864, by William Frank Browne. > Item Details
Autographed Receipt Signed by Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays
Lot # 438 - Autographed Receipt Signed by Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays
check 2.5" x 6", written on San Francisco bank (D.J. Tallant & Co.), 24 Feb. 1851, and signed by John C. Hays, Sheriff. John Coffee ("Captain Jack" or "Devil Jack") Hays fit, and indeed helped form, the stereotype of the Texas Ranger. Born in Tennessee in 1817, Hays' father fought with Andrew Jackso... > Item Details
A Fine Photograph of an 1860s Missouri Steamboat,
Lot # 515 - A Fine Photograph of an 1860s Missouri Steamboat,
7.5" x 9" albumen print mounted on larger stock in a period 12.75" x 14.7" frame. Image is of the Louisville, a small stern-wheel steamboat owned by the K & S Company. Imprint on verso for Geo. Gesell, Alma, Wis. We could not find this boat listed in Way's Packet Directory; a first. > Item Details
ALS & Stock Certificate from Clear Creek Marble Company,
Lot # 1474 - ALS & Stock Certificate from Clear Creek Marble Company,
7.5" x 11.25" illustrated stock certificate for the Clear Creek Stone and Marble Company for 5 shares, dated 1887, company was located in Clear Creek, Indiana, with attached transfer manuscript along right margin (5" x 7"), dated 1888; and a manuscript ALS on Recorder's Office Monroe County Blooming... > Item Details
Jewett Family CDV Album with Civil War Cartes,
Lot # 112 - Jewett Family CDV Album with Civil War Cartes,
a large compilation probably belonging to former soldier William M. Jewett of Chelsea, Massachusetts, containing 59 mostly civilian CDVs and tintypes—19 men, 15 women, 12 children—extending into the late 19th century with many identified in ink on album sleeve. Thirteen images are military subject... > Item Details
Civil War Letter Group of William Howard, 4th Iowa Cavalry,
Lot # 157 - Civil War Letter Group of William Howard, 4th Iowa Cavalry,
12 letters, all war date. At various turns, the Civil War letters of William Howard can be long (8pp or longer), playful, affectionate, and descriptive, and they are often focused as much on the relationships at home as life in the Army, but with plenty of detail on both. As a member of the 4th Iow... > Item Details
Sixth Plate Daguerreotype of a Rural Midwestern Scene,
Lot # 6 - Sixth Plate Daguerreotype of a Rural Midwestern Scene,
anonymous, late 1840s image, found in northwestern Ohio, showing building-lined dirt street leading to a bridge over what looks to be a canal. Still sealed, in half a leather case, with reversed label for H. Studley, Miniature Case Manufactory in back of case. Craig's Registery lists Hiram Studley... > Item Details
CDV of George Armstrong Custer,
Lot # 457 - CDV of George Armstrong Custer,
as Lieutenant Colonel with imprint of Mora 707 Broadway, N.Y.. Illustrated in Katz' Custer in Photographs [K-152V], dated on or about March 1876. Includes the following recto manuscript in lower left margin Genrl. Custer, and the following verso manuscript General Custer. > Item Details
Exceptionally Scarce Texas Slave Auction Broadside,
Lot # 51 - Exceptionally Scarce Texas Slave Auction Broadside,
9" x 12" with bold heading Notice! followed by By order of the Probate Court of Navarro County, I will sell to the highest bidder, at the Court House door in the town of Corsicana, on the first Tuesday, the 5th day of January, A.D. 1858. on a Credit of Twelve Months, the payment of the purchase mone... > Item Details
CDVs of Union Generals,
Lot # 1119 - CDVs of Union Generals,
lot of 5, including common view of William Starke Rosecrans, with Brady imprint below image and Brady backmark; portrait of Quincy Adams Gillmore, with Gilmore penciled below image and C.D. Fredricks & Co. backmark; view of Franz Sigel, with E. & H.T. Anthony backmark; image of Nathaniel Prentiss Ba... > Item Details
Radiograph Photograph of Charles E. Hughes, 1924,
Lot # 1407 - Radiograph Photograph of Charles E. Hughes, 1924,
4" x 6.5" radiograph photograph, the first type of photograph sent over the airwaves. First done in April of 1924, this photo of U.S. Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes was transmitted from England to N.Y. with inked inscription on reverse reading Print direct from the film negative received l... > Item Details
1855 Estate Inventory Including Slaves, Madison County, Kentucky,
Lot # 1660 - 1855 Estate Inventory Including Slaves, Madison County, Kentucky,
2pp manuscript last will of J. Willey Wood of Madison Co., Ky., dated 1855, with attached codicil, dated 1858. The original will leaves …to my daughter Sally Buchannan one small negro girl named Sally… The codicil leaves additional money to his son Green who according to the codicil …has been unfor... > Item Details
Pair of Signed Western Silver Overlay Spurs,
Lot # 1763 - Pair of Signed Western Silver Overlay Spurs,
marked Colorado Denver Saddlery on the exterior of the yolk, includes nickel rowels with eighteen spikes each, an exterior face inlaid with silver with a zigzag motif, mounted on steel with a blue gunmetal finish. Slots for leather straps with attached Eisenhower One Dollar coin button with reverse ... > Item Details
WWI  Half-Sheet Army Recruiting Poster,
Lot # 1167 - WWI Half-Sheet Army Recruiting Poster,
mounted on period linen backing with metal and wooden hangers. Men Wanted for the Army by Hazelton, 1914, full sheet (30" x 40") with hand stamp of Recruiting Station U.S.A./Montpelier, Vt. along lower margin. > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20