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.



Condition:  
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
Half-Plate Tintype of Horse-Drawn Wagon,
Lot # 1424 - Half-Plate Tintype of Horse-Drawn Wagon,
a fine clear image of this wagon drawn by two white horses with two men on front seat, one in wagon bed and one standing at rear; town main street in background. > Item Details
Civil War CDV of African American <i>Contraband</i>,
Lot # 46 - Civil War CDV of African American Contraband,
with inked manuscript title on recto Opeloussas and Uncle Tom and spurious title in pencil on verso Slave boys Savanna 1863. This is one of a series of images taken by McPherson and Oliver in Louisiana after the fall of Port Hudson. > Item Details
Steel Engraving, <i>The Declaration of Independence</i> after Trumbull,
Lot # 1250 - Steel Engraving, The Declaration of Independence after Trumbull,
16" x 20", in period gold leaf frame (19.5" x 23.5"), printed by J. Neale, N.Y. > Item Details
Arthur St. Clair Appointment of Jeremiah McLene, 1798,
Lot # 245 - Arthur St. Clair Appointment of Jeremiah McLene, 1798,
folio, 1p, DS, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 11, 1798. A commission for Jeremiah McLene of Chillicothe to serve as sheriff of Ross County, Ohio. Jeremiah McLene was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1767 and later served in the militia during the American Revolution. He attained the rank of Major... > Item Details
Seven Early English Vellum Documents,
Lot # 1288 - Seven Early English Vellum Documents,
all are approximately 25" x 30" with wax and impressed paper seals, dates include 1785, 1832 (2), 1836, 1844, 1865, and 1866, some are two and four part indentures, all being various types of legal contracts. > Item Details
Rare GAR Membership Medals,
Lot # 204 - Rare GAR Membership Medals,
One in second pattern, and second rare stickpin form, 3" and 2" long. > Item Details
Group of Real Photo Post Cards of Western Towns, Plus,
Lot # 1793 - Group of Real Photo Post Cards of Western Towns, Plus,
lot of 20, 16 of which are real photo card, including the following titles; Spink City Fire, S.Dakota, Saloon After Fire at Pump House, Spink City, S.D., McDonald, Kans. By Reneau; Scene on Main Street, Muscotah, Kan.; Main Street Bartlett Kans.; Main St. Falun, Kan.; Main St. Looking West, Elkhart,... > Item Details
F.B. Carpenter Engraving of Abraham Lincoln, 1866,
Lot # 1544 - F.B. Carpenter Engraving of Abraham Lincoln, 1866,
sheet just under 18 x 23", facsimile signature below image. Notes in corners From life by F. B. Carpenter 1864 to left of image, with engraver's note to right. Copyright by Carpenter in 1866 in the Southern District of New York. Probably a memorial piece, but definitely not one of Abe's better hair ... > Item Details
Seven Stereoviews of the Sioux and Chippewa Indians,
Lot # 1224 - Seven Stereoviews of the Sioux and Chippewa Indians,
all on regular-sized yellow or cream mounts; includes two views by Charles A. Zimmerman entitled The Original Babe in the Woods; Chippewa Warrior and Domestic Life, Chippewa Indians also from Zimmerman's St. Paul studio; two views taken by Upton and published by R.N. Fearson of Circular Cloud, a Sio... > Item Details
35 Star Civil War Hand-Sewn U.S. Naval Flag,
Lot # 233 - 35 Star Civil War Hand-Sewn U.S. Naval Flag,
linen, 85" x 130" with canton pattern of 5 rows of 7 cotton stars, with reverse cut-away and hemmed, canton made from three pieces, sleeve-type canvas hoist with original hemp roping, with canvas corner blocks at top and bottom of hoist, stamped American Ensign/8 xx 12 at top and Wm. J. Powell/U.S. ... > Item Details
Civil War Orders With Confidential Countersigns For Guards,
Lot # 1064 - Civil War Orders With Confidential Countersigns For Guards,
5" x 8" partially printed headed Confidential./Headquarters 8th Army Corps,/Baltimore, Md. Nov. 8th 1862 with seven guard signatures for Nov. 10-16, and signed by Aide-de-camp Capt. De Witt Clinton for Major Gen. Wool. > Item Details
Pair of Fine Mormon and Western CDV Albums,
Lot # 420 - Pair of Fine Mormon and Western CDV Albums,
the first features 34 CDVs, all individuals identified in index in front of the album, includes images of Amos Steck (1822-1908), a famous Colorado pioneer who participated in the California Gold Rush and went on to found Denver University and serve as the second Mayor of Denver; a Savage and Otting... > Item Details
Two Benjamin Franklin Waite Silver Prints of Plains Indians,
Lot # 1228 - Two Benjamin Franklin Waite Silver Prints of Plains Indians,
both mounted on period card stock and titled in negative, including Albert Medicine Cheyenne, 4" x 5.5"; and Chief Bull Bear, 4.3" x 6.5", each signed and dated in negative below 1907. > Item Details
Full-Plate Hand-Colored Tintype of a Woman,
Lot # 1422 - Full-Plate Hand-Colored Tintype of a Woman,
half-length hand-colored portrait of a young lady, 6.4” x 8.25”. > Item Details
1879 Pocket Map of Kansas,
Lot # 1500 - 1879 Pocket Map of Kansas,
in 3.5” x 6.25” printed polished green light card stock boards entitled Rand, McNally & Co.’s Township, County and Railroad Map of Kansas with 13” x 20” colored map dated 1879. > Item Details
Two Tintypes of African Americans,
Lot # 1631 - Two Tintypes of African Americans,
both approximately CDV size and ca 1880. First of a young attractive mother and her son and daughter, second of a middle-aged lady holding kerchief in hand. > Item Details
Set of Dominoes & Note From Civil War, 27th Mass.,
Lot # 169 - Set of Dominoes & Note From Civil War, 27th Mass.,
interesting Civil War group includes a boxed period set of bone and ebony domino's (28 pieces) in original walnut box with sliding lid, 5.5" long, and a period manuscript note reading These Domino's were bought in Nov. 1861 at [illegible] Annapolis MD. by Silas Phelps, John Lulles, Wm Haling and mys... > Item Details
Magnus Illustrated Sample Song Book,
Lot # 1080 - Magnus Illustrated Sample Song Book,
a very rare, ca 1863 Charles Magnus sample booklet of hand-colored, illustrated Civil War handbill song sheets with catalog list of other Magnus publications. This 12mo sized (5.25” x 8”) card stock accordion-fold booklet contains 6 panels with illustrated heading and text of each song below includi... > Item Details
CDV of George Armstrong Custer,
Lot # 467 - CDV of George Armstrong Custer,
as Lieutenant Colonel with imprint of Howell, 867 & 869 B'Way. Illustrated in Katz' Custer in Photographs [K-155V], dated on or about April 23, 1876. Includes the following verso manuscript Maj. Genl. Geo. A. Custer Killed in the Battle on Little Big Horn River June 25, 1876 against hostile Sioux. T... > Item Details
Civil War Army Medical Photograph of Left Femur Wound,
Lot # 1111 - Civil War Army Medical Photograph of Left Femur Wound,
6.2" x 8.7" on original card stock mount (9.2" x 10.7"), with printed label on reverse entitled Surgeon General's Office. Army Medical Museum. Photograph No. 31. Left Femur, exhibiting a partly consolidated Gunshot Fracture of the Middle Third of the Shaft. With extensive text below detailing the hi... > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20
SKIP TO PAGE: