William N. Meserve, The War Record of Major William N. Meserve, 1862-1865, Written by Himself, Autograph Manuscript Signed


Unknown Copy, Handwritten Record

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William N. Meserve, father of Frederick Hill Meserve, the collector and authority on the photographs of Abraham Lincoln, wrote this The War Record of Major William N. Meserve… by hand and presented it as a gift to Colonel Albert A. Pope.  Pope, an officer of the 35th Massachusetts Infantry regiment, was Meserve’s commanding officer during the Civil War;  Meserve inscribes the gift “From the Major to the Colonel.”

Wm. N. Meserve’s 35th Massachusetts Infantry proved one of the most active and well-traveled units from the Boston area. As part of the IX Corps the 35th Massachusetts served in both the eastern and western theaters of the war. The regiment shed blood at battlefields from Antietam to Vicksburg to Knoxville and back to Spotsylvania and Petersburg. Meserve was at the battles and gives some vivid descriptions. His memories of Antietam are particularly evocative. Later in the war Meserve was promoted into the 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery regiment for garrison duty around Washington. The memories that William and Frederick Hill Meserve wished to preserve for Colonel Albert Pope and a very few others are of particular value to students of history today.

Meserve was first assigned to the 35th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and later to the 4th  Mass Heavy Artillery, a volunteer regiment garrisoned in Virginia to defend Washington, D.C.  During his tour of duty he was detailed to such posts as:  1st sergeant, company commander, officer in charge of picket lines and skirmishers, regimental adjutant, rear guard command, divisional provost marshal, officer of the day, regimental general field officer of the day, and battalion commander.  Herein Meserve tells of his wounding at Antietam, inadequate equipment, scant rations, forced marches, bouts with jaundice, and the generally harsh life of the soldier in the field.

This record of William Meserve was illustrated by photos reproduced from life negatives by his son, Lincoln photographic expert Frederick Hill Meserve, and is unique from the better-known account published in 1987 as Meserve Civil War Record, edited by Richard Alden Huebner, or the copy retained by the Kunhardt family. Lieutenant Colonel Pope, an intimate friend of William Meserve, is mentioned often in the manuscript; his portrait is included in Huebner’s publication.

Illustrations include tipped-in carte-de-visite silver print photographs from original glass plate negatives:  William Meserve (frontispiece), Abraham Lincoln, George B. McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, William G. Brownlow, and U. S. Grant.

Partial owner’s sticker apparently for Harold L. Pope, Jr., of Chula Vista, California, Colonel Pope’s grandson.  

Excellent; some scuffing and soiling of boards; unusually neat and easily read ink handwriting.

WILLIAM N. MESERVE. The War Record of Major William N. Meserve, 1862-1865. Written by Himself.  N.p.: 1902.  128p. Autograph Manuscript, signed “The Author.”  Frontispiece of Meserve plus 6 photographs from life mounted in.  Bound in ¾-leather with raised bands and gilt spine titling; and t.e.g.

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