American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Memorabilia, Militaria, Collectors
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Mysteries: Lost Gold, Medal Detectors
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Causes of Civil War
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Civil War Now: Aftermath
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Misc Civil War History
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  Facts: Strange & Rare


Relics and Memorabilia - American Civil War

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

The state of Pennsylvania missing 1,800 historic artifacts from its collection
Over 1,800 historic items -- including militaria and memorabilia like a Civil War-era rifle -- are missing from the state's collection of 4.5 million items, mostly because of lax supervision and an antiquated inventory system.

Starting Your First Civil War Collection by Frank Mrockza (book review)
For the past 25 years Frank Mrockza has built his civil war collection. He's found some prizes and fallen victim to some replicas, and with "Starting Your First Civil War Collection" he wants to help new collectors find more of the first and fewer of the second. Some collectors focus on battlefield memorabilia, while others focus on the strategy or political aspects or Lincoln memorabilia - Mrockza's own collection focuses on the Gettysburg. The book also includes photosgraph, including one of his favorite pieces: a U.S. belt buckle with a map of Confederate troop positions.

Civil War memorabilia up for auction after Civil War Museum closes
It's one of the biggest and rarest collections of Civil War memorabilia in the entire country. And it's about to be auctioned off. "This is probably one of the hardest things that we had to do. The cannons, the costumes, the uniforms, the guns are going," explained Eastover Resort owner Ticki Winsor. Eastover Resort in Lenox is the home of the Civil War Museum. But because of the bad economy, Winsor is forced to sell the property, including everything in the museum.

Confederate weapons are prized finds for militaria collectors   (Article no longer available from the original source)
It's the details that reveal to historian Jack Meyer whether the antique gun is Civil War replica or the real deal. Meyer is the author of two books, one of which focuses on Columbia's Palmetto Armory, which built muskets, pistols and swords used by the Confederacy. And Palmetto Armory weapons were among the most wanted relics at the recent Land of the Sky Gun Show and Civil War Show at the State Fairgrounds - Muskets, swords, flags, letters, and slave collars and shackles, were all for sale. At a manufacturing disadvantage with the North, Southern-made weapons are more difficult to find.

Civil War soldier's collection going up for sale
The militaria collection of civil war soldier John Renshaw was kept together by his family for 143 years, but now they are selling it. The collection includes his Civil War musket, his Union cap, a bullet mold, his portrait, a congratulatory certificate signed by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and a photo taken at the 25th reunion of the Battle of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, which Renshaw attended. Antiques dealer Norm Sauer said it's unusual for all these items to stay together, therefore he is selling the group as a whole for $2,850. The items are from his time with the 31st Maine from 1864-1865.

Civil War items for sale: Firearms, swords and silk Confederate battle flag
A significant single-owner collection of Civil War items and other rare American historical artifacts will be sold in Atlanta, Georgia. Vintage firearms and swords dominate the militaria collection, although there is also a marvellous silk Confederate battle flag framed and over 130 years old that is sure to excite the crowd. The crossed-bars and 13 stars flag (the one most often associated with the Confederacy) is in a fine state of preservation. Firearms include a rare cased Petingil revolver - the Confederacy imported them from England during the Civil War. Swords include an original Civil War Major's sword with etched blade and scabbard.

The Rebel and the Rose: What happened to the stockpile of Confederate gold
In the early 1990s, Gerald White became intrigued by the story of James A. Semple and lost Confederate gold. While researching he met Wesley Millett, who was also gathering information about Semple and the gold. Eventually White and Millett decided to collaborate on a book, and their project, "The Rebel and the Rose" has recently been released. It traces Semple's story. He was a Navy paymaster who, in May 1865, was entrusted with all the gold in the Confederate treasury: $86,000 in coins and bullion, the equivalent of $2M today. After hiding the treasure in the false bottom of a carriage, he and another man Edward M. Tidball disappeared.

Rare Gen. George Armstrong Custer items displayed
The Monroe County Historical Museum is displaying the Trevilian Station exhibit, with rarely seen items from General George Armstrong Custer. The items were captured by the Confederates during the Battle of Trevilian Station. The display includes items like the brigadier general uniform Custer was wearing when he wed Elizabeth Bacon, as well as special saber. The Trevilian battle was considered the largest all-cavalry battle of the war. The battle became known as "Custer's First Last Stand" because he and his men were surrounded by the Confederates in a way similar to how they were surrounded at the Battle of Little Bighorn years later during Custer's Last Stand.

Legions of toy soldiers engage in history's wars   (Article no longer available from the original source)
For Ray Butara, his nephew Bob, and Bob's 3 sons making history come alive happens on a very small scale. The Butaras are poud owners of a collection of more than 5,000 tiny toy soldiers from various historical periods. "It's not only a hobby; it's also a passion they take seriously," said history buff Ray, who served in WWII and passed his interest in history on to his nephew and great-nephews. The collection began 17 years ago with the purchase of 25 toy soldiers in Gettysburg. Today there are at least 3,000 soldiers in their American Civil War collection alone, and another 1,200 from the Napoleonic Wars.

Grant's sword, Custer's flag are expected to be sold for $2 million
The tattered silk is stained, chunks are missing, and a blue section has faded into more of a gray. But someone might pay more than $2 million to get their hands on the fabric. That's because General George Armstrong Custer carried the flag during the last days of the American Civil War. A jewel-encrusted sword of Ulysses S. Grant is expected to draw the same amount. Those 2 items are the featured pieces in an auction that will be held in Gettysburg June 24-25. Texas-based Heritage Auctions expects hundreds of collectors, dealers and Civil War enthusiasts to attend what the gallery is calling "the most important Civil War auction in history."

Battlefields Relic and Memorabilia Show: Appraise Civil War-era items
John Cummings hopes people will dust off their old Civil War-era photos and items and submit them to an expert's gaze. An "Antiques Roadshow"-type appraisal process is a part of the Spotsylvania Battlefields Relic and Memorabilia Show - sponsored by the Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. Collectors will set up sales tables, and exhibits will explore aspects of Civil War military and civilian life. "There are countless images of soldiers who fought here, but it is extremely rare to see photographs of the local civilians..." Though military items are the most commonly collected relics of the Civil War, everyday civilian items are important, too.

Confederate collectibles captivate collectors
After writing about the rising value of Confederate money from the Civil War, I received stacks of mail telling of items they owned. Many started their letters with, "I'm not a collector, but..." They went on to talk about their cherished letters, currency, militaria... Of course, there are collector owners and collector seekers. Seekers keep going back for more. They are the ones often found at markets and antique shops searching for more hidden treasure. As far as Civil War artifacts, a collector might find the site of a skirmish and uncover bullets or an old uniform button. Of course, most all major battle sites have long been off limits to treasure hunters.

Newly found Hunley dime coin a highly valuable relic
The silver is gone, eaten away by corrosion, but the words "U.S. Dime" remain etched on what is the second coin recovered from the H.L. Hunley submarine since the $20 gold piece was found 6 years ago. The coin, roughly the size of a penny used today, was minted in 1841. The Lady Liberty on the front of the coin is barely visible. "U.S. Dime" on the back and the date can be clearly made out. The only other coin discovered onboard the submarine was a gold coin that is believed to have saved the life of Lt. George Dixon, the sub's commander during the Battle of Shiloh. A bullet hit the coin, which Dixon engraved to read: "Shiloh April 6, 1862 My Life Preserver."

Two lifetime collections of Civil War memorabilia for sale
Two lifetime collections of American Civil War memorabilia will kick off a huge, 2-day sale to be held March 16-17 by Stevens Auction Company. The collections of two Civil War enthusiasts, one from Tupelo, Miss., the other from Savannah, Tenn., will come up for bid. Hundreds of items will be offered, to include long-barrel firearms and black powder guns (a provenance tracing them to actual Civil War battles); battle swords; daggers and other knives; handguns; cadet uniforms (a provenance); caps; photographs; ammunition; and additional Civil War-era items, such as pottery and first-edition books.

Lifetime collecting Civil War memorabilia - hearse carried Lincoln
Jerry Sibert dreamed of small Western town and he spent a lifetime collecting Civil War-era memorabilia. Faced with declining health, and being robbed 5 times, he gave up and sold the antiques. A New Jersey man sent assistants to pick up many of the items, including a hearse that Sibert says was used to take Abraham Lincoln from the White House to his funeral train. Sibert had the hearse evaluated by historian D.L. Allebaugh, who wrote that on April 15, 1865, the hearse (Compound Unit No. 1) carried Lincoln. The coffin was wrapped in a flag and escorted by military personnel.

Treasures of cargo and story found in shipwreck
Priit J. Vesilind weaves together a history of Civil War-era shipping and a treasure hunt in "Lost Gold of the Republic: The Remarkable Quest for the Greatest Shipwreck Treasure of the Civil War Era." Greg Stemm and John Morris had spent 12 years researching the resting place of a steamship that had sunk off the coast of Georgia, loaded with $400,000 in gold and silver coins. Deep-water shipwreck recovery is a high-dollar, high-risk line of work, and one subject to a variety of complications. Is it salvage or archaeology? Should artifacts from shipwrecks be sold or regarded as objects for academic study?

Man hunts for Confederate treasure in Danville   (Article no longer available from the original source)
What if government records of the Confederacy were discovered underground? Add to that tantalizing possibility: Gold, silver and jewels that would now be worth millions. It might just be fantasy. However, Todd Hall believes he's located the lost Confederate Treasury. "Through the years of research, I've pretty much decided it's here, right here in Danville." In the final days of the Confederacy -- in April, 1865 -- the Confederate Treasury was loaded onto a train in Richmond. It's an accepted fact that the train made it to Danville. Was that the end of the line? Or did it reach Georgia?

Ornate silver watch belonged to the Confederate President
Did their ornate silver watch once tick in the pocket of Confederate President Jefferson Davis? A Medford couple, who paid a bundle for it at auction, believe it did and soon will head south to put it on display at the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery. The watch's authenticity hangs on the tale of a cobbler, Robert Balfour, where Davis fled when bailed out of a Virginia prison two years after the Civil War. Davis was destitute and bartered the watch for a new pair of boots so goes the story, which was documented by descendants in the ensuing 140 years but not by Davis himself.

Sharing Civil War Treasures   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Mike Clarke always has been fascinated by the Civil War. Even as a boy, he said, he collected uniform buttons, field gear and other artifacts. "I just fell in love with the period," he said. "I had an interest in history, and this is a piece of history." Today, Clarke's collection of Civil War memorabilia encompasses thousands of items, including uniforms, rifles, caps, swords, pistols, boots, belts, canteens and cartridge boxes. The collection is valued at nearly $1 million.