Thursday, October 27, 2022

Civil War Soldier's Grave Stone Damaged By Artillery Shell During Gettysburg

Videos by Civil War historians and tour guides show what's left of the monument to Sergeant Frederick A. Huber (1842-1862) at Evergreen Cemetery


Sheared off by artillery fire during the Battle of Gettysburg, Sgt. Huber's grave marker on Cemetery Hill is the original "warrior-monument, crashed in fight" that Herman Melville referenced in his Civil War poem Gettysburg:

 . . .

Sloped on the hill the mounds were green,
     Our centre held that place of graves,
And some still hold it in their swoon,
     And over these a glory waves.
The warrior-monument, crashed in fight,
Shall soar transfigured in loftier light,
            A meaning ampler bear;
Soldier and priest with hymn and prayer
Have laid the stone, and every bone
            Shall rest in honor there.

Melville's poem "Gettysburg. / The Check. / (July, 1863.)" appears in Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War (New York, 1866) on pages 84-5. Without identifying Sgt. Huber by name, Melville provided more details about the broken gravestone "of a Federal officer killed before Richmond in 1862" in his note to "Gettysburg'": 

"Among numerous head-stones or monuments on Cemetery Hill, marred or destroyed by the enemy's concentrated fire, was one, somewhat conspicuous, of a Federal officer killed before Richmond in 1862.

On 4th July, 1865, the Gettysburg National Cemetery, on height with the original burial-ground, was consecrated, and the corner-stone laid of a commemorative pile."

-- Battle-Pieces, page 249

Melville may not have known the soldier's name but he correctly gave the place and year of his death. Frederick Huber, First Sergeant Company F of the Twenty-Third Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry aka Birney's Zouaves was killed at Fair Oaks, Virginia in the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862. 

Evercemadams huber

Related post:

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Early manuscript version of A Visit from St. Nicholas, "copied by a member of Moore family"

Many thanks to John M. J. Gretchko for kindly providing me with an inventory of Clement C. Moore items in American Book Prices Current

Listed in American Book Prices Current for 1977, an early manuscript copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka "The Night Before Christmas" in the Moore family. This 2-page document "copied by a member of the Moore family" sold for $2,100 at the Harris Auction Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland on March 4, 1977:
Manuscript, "Account of a visit from St. Nicholas." [c. 1824] 2
leaves, 4to. Variant text of The Night Before Christmas copied by a
member of the Moore family.
Harris, Mar 4, 1977, lot 323, $2,100

In date and content, this item appears comparable to the copy of A Visit from St. Nicholas made by Mary Odell, the daughter of Clement C. Moore's godfather Jonathan Odell. Mary Odell's handwritten copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" is now held in the New Brunswick Museum Archives with the Jonathan Odell Family Papers: 1766-1919. The Museum has a 2015 blog post discussing the poem entitled “New Brunswick Museum’s Spirit of the Season.”

Whatever happened to the early manuscript copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" sold in 1977 at the Harris Auction Gallery in Baltimore? Is Santa Claus taking requests yet? How I would love to see photos of this rare and important document with a "variant text" of Moore's beloved Christmas poem.