EXTRAORDINARY CIVIL WAR ARCHIVE WITH ITEMS BELONGING TO THREE GENERATIONS OF A PROMINENT CONNECTICUT FAMILY, FEATURING A RARE MANUSCRIPT CIVIL WAR DIARY, AN 1862 FAMILY BIBLE, MILITARY DOCUMENTS, AND MORE
(CIVIL WAR) TRACY, Ebenezer. Civil War Diary. WITH: Archive, including Bible, identification card, discharge papers, and more. Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1862-64. 16mo (3 by 4 inches), original full limp black morocco, flap closure. WITH: 16mo Bible (3 by 4-1/2 inches) in full black morocco with flap closure; partially manuscript discharge papers; partially manuscript signed document from William Buckingham of the Executive Department, State of Connecticut regarding military family pay; reunion ribbons belonging to Tracy's son, Frank; identification card; three piece of Confederate currency; bookplate mentioning General McClellan; two stamped envelopes; and pin dated 1865. $4500.
Wonderful Civil War archives, linking three generations of Bridgeport, Connecticut's prominent Tracy family, including a rare Civil War battlefield diary kept by Ebenezer Tracy, Jr.; an 1863 New Testament passed from father to son to grandson; military discharge papers for Ebenezer Tracy, Jr.; campaign ribbons belonging to Frank Tracy; and several pieces of ephemera.
This Civil War archive links three generations of Bridgeport's Tracy family, respected local furniture-makers. Descended from the original Colonial Governors, the Tracys built a handmade furniture empire, creating pieces (particularly Windsor chairs) so exquisite that examples are currently held at the Connecticut Historical Society, Winterthur Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The most desirable part of the archive is Ebenezer Tracy, Jr.'s manuscript diary, begun on October 14, 1862, during his time as part of the 2nd Connecticut Battery. Over 100 pages long, the diary continues until January 22, 1864. Written for Tracy's family (most likely his wife), the final entry notes that he "wrote home bought a new Diary cost 50 cts I shall send this by Mrs Hafner rec'd pay 28$ I shall send you 20$ now and if I don't need all the rest I can send a dollar or 2 in a letter." The well-organized diary, written quite legibly in pencil, contains near-daily dated entries sharing the daily life for soldiers in the war. Simpler entries often contain the single line "read a letter from home," while more complex entries, for example, routinely contain the date, weather, and information such as the following [spelling altered]: "[October] 18  Saturday morning on guard at the Battery it is a fine Day the Boys are cleaning their Horses. I saw the Governor this morning and shook hands with him this afternoon"; "[October] 19  Sunday morning I went over to Brooklyn this fore noon and saw some of the captured English steamers"; "[October] 41  Friday morning pleasant We have harnessed horses and drilled for the first time in Washington"; "Nov 16  Sunday morning cold and cloudy we have been inspected this morning by Capt Sterling"; "[November] 27  Thursday morning pleasant Thanksgiving day I have had Oysters for breakfast and Turkey for dinner and thus passed the day"; "[December] 28  Sunday morning pleasant we had divine service this morning and this evening we were ordered to get ready to attack the enemy and we remained to our guns all night. We fired 4 shots at the Rebels"; "[January] 20  Tuesday morning cold and cloudy left camp at 7 am and arrived at the station at Fairfax at 10 am"; "[January] 31  Saturday morning pleasant and cold We have been inspected by Col. Blunt"; "[March] 9  Monday morning pleasant General Stoughton was taken prisoner last night"; "[July] 5  Sunday morning rainy the rebels retreating started in pursuit at 3 pm, arrived in Littlestown at 11p.m. 12 miles from the Battlefield of Gettysburg and encamped for the night"; "[July] 15 [1863 Wednesday morning pleasant wrote home Heard Lee has crossed the Potomac"; "[July] 28  Tuesday morning pleasant wrote home no 9 paid 28$ recd a letter from home dated 21 of June stating my little girl was sick with a sore mouth"; "[August] 1  Saturday morning pleasant Sent in a petition for a furlough"; "[November] 15  Sunday morning rainy read a paper from George with mother's death in it"; "[December] 11  Friday morning cloudy went to the patent office and to the Smithsonian Institution." While the entries in the diary are almost certainly censored for Tracy's family at home, the 2nd Connecticut was one of the best places to be during the war. Despite traveling over 6000 miles in areas plagued by heavy fighting such as Gettysburg and Fort Gaines, not a single man from the 2nd Connecticut was lost in battle (though a few were lost to illness, injury, and desertion).
The New Testament Bible, a stated fifth edition published by American Bible Co., is Civil War-era, dated 1862. It appears to have been a family bible, as the first blank page bears the owner inscriptions: "Frank R. Tracy from his father [Ebenezer Tracy]. New Orleans." and "Arthur Tracy from Frank [Tracy, his father]." Ebenezer Tracy, Jr.'s partially manuscript honorable discharge papers note that he was "enlisted on the 6 day of August 1862, as Private in a Company 2nd Com of the Light Battery Regiment… and was discharged from the service of the United States as Corpl at New Haven, Conn on the tenth day of August, 1865 by reason of Spl Orders 183 Head Dept of Gulf New Orleans La directing mustering out-of volunteer Light Batterys." A mostly printed document from the State of Connecticut, Executive Department, dated Norwich, Aug 15, 1863, to George W. Rogers Esq. concerns the impossibility of individually responding to inquiries about the Connecticut Volunteers and, in particular, explains issues of concern to military families. The document also bears a handwritten post by William A. Buckingham of that department that reads, in part: "WB—I have just received official information that my applications for furloughs… WWB." Buckingham has also drawn a small hand pointing to the section about furloughs (presumably in response to Tracy's petition for a furlough. The identification card for Remington Arms Union Metallic Cartridge Company of Bridgeport is housed in a small leather card case and features a small photograph of Frank Tracy [Ebenezer Tracy, Jr.'s son], his name and vital statistics, and is signed by the company's vice-president, C.C. Tylere. The typed letter on Union Metallic Cartridge stationery, dated "April 20, 1905," reads: "To whom it may concern:- The bearer of this letter, Mr. Frank Tracy, has been an employe [sic] of the Union metallic Cartridge Company, as a carpenter and mill-wright for about twenty years. We take pleasure in recommending him as a faithful, intelligent, steady and able workman. His services have been entirely satisfactory, and he is leaving our employ voluntarily. Yours very truly, The U.M. C. Co. [signed] Jerome Orcutt Supt." The reunion ribbons, belonging to Frank Tracy, are from the Company H, 86th Regiment Illinois Infantry and the Grand Army of the Republic (a veteran's organization). There is also a metal pin dated 1965 and showing two hands shaking over laurels. The three pieces of Confederate (CSA) currency comprise one, two, and ten dollar bills. The two stamped Civil War envelopes addressed to Benjamin Standish, a farmer from Livonia, Indiana, feature handwritten markings identifying them as 1863 and 1864 and suggesting they each originally contained $4. Also included is a General McClellan commemorative bookplate.
Moderate wear—as expected—to diary, Bible worn similarly (suggesting field use) including loss of loop for flap closure, discharge papers with wormholing not affecting legibility, Buckingham document with only light wear at creases, all other items near-fine to about-fine. An exceptional archive offering great insight into daily life during the war.