Rare Civil War Photograph Up For Auction
The original photograph of Confederate Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Pelham of Alexandria, Alabama, a Civil War hero, is up for sale at Heritage Auctions. What makes this historic photograph particularly interesting is that it was an image that has been reproduced many times but no one was aware that that the original photograph still existed. It was tucked away for years passed down through the generations in the Mississippi family of Pelham's sister, Betty. The original photograph was made by acclaimed Civil War era photographer, Mathew Brady. It is estimated to fetch between $65,000 and $85,000 when it sells in a public auction of Civil War artifacts on June 26, 2010.
"It's a half-plate Ambrotype photo taken around 1858, about the same time Pelham began studying at West Point. He was a brilliant, brave officer known as 'The Gallant Pelham' during the Civil War," explained Dennis Lowe, director of Arms, Militaria and Civil War Auctions at Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas, the firm that will conduct the auction in Dallas and online. Pelham withdrew from West Point in 1861 to serve in the Confederate Army and fought at First Bull Run, Antietam and Kelly's Ford where he was killed while leading a cavalry charge on March 17, 1863. Pelham was buried in City Cemetery in Jacksonville, Alabama, where a statue was erected in his honor in 1905. The states of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama all have towns named in his honor. The family hopes that the photograph will go "to a collector or institution with the means and facility to take care of the historic image," said Lowe.
Pelham's descendants have also consigned a handwritten, signed letter dated September 25, 1858 that Pelham sent to his family in Alabama about beginning his studies at West Point. The letter is expected to sell for $25,000 or more.