Sale 779 — Civil War Postal History and Autographs
Sale Date — Wednesday, 10 July, 1996
Category — Confederate Notables
THE GENERAL'S PRIVATE ALBUM, CONTAINING 34 ORIGINAL POEMS WRITTEN IN HIS YOUTH.
All in Stuart's hand (32 signed "J.E.B.", one in full, one unsigned), with a wonderful preface, "This Album" datelined "Camp Stuart Texas Feby. 17th 1855" and which reads (in full): "This album is the sacred repository of a few contributions original and selected by some of my college companions while a student at Emory & Henry College Virginia, as pledges of their esteem when the owner left its halls to enter the Military Academy at West Point N.Y. in 1850. Since that time it has not been used exclusively as an album but as sketch book, and a place for jotting down some of the offspring of his own pen suggested by different circumstances and occasions, and also the recepticle of a few selections, suiting his fancy. As such it is a book private in its character and personal in its object. As it has followed me wherever I have gone since 1850, my companion in Scouts on the Northwestern frontier of Texas, in one of which it narrowly escaped being burnt, as the valise in which I kept it and all my clothes were consumed by the Prairie's catching on fire. I have deemed it proper to write this preface in order that should the book ever fall in others' hands, its ownership might be known and its character not misunderstood. J.E.B. Stuart Lieut. R.M.R." Stuart's poems are typical of a college-educated young man - effusive, melancholy, and filled with the usual archaic diction, but his occasional use of military imagery and the numerous references to the women in his life make these something more than of just passing interest to today's readers. Titles include "A Prayer," "To -" (An acrostic which spells out the name of Mary Custis Lee), "The Mesmeriser" ("Respectfully dedicated to Miss Minnie B. of West Point"), "Lines in Answer to a Valentine supposed to be written by Miss Agnes L.", "The Advent of Furlough," "Lines Written on Leaving the States for Texas," "To Miss Mary Joyner Kerr of N. Carolina," "The Dream of Youth (To his Sister Victoria)," "To Miss Emily of West Point," "Lines sent to a Lady with a box of prunes," "Lines Respectfully dedicated to Miss XXXX" - A Tale of Romance"), "To Mary," "Lines For a Lady's Album in St. Louis," "To Bettie" [see next lot], "Lines Respectfully inscribed to the Misses Crockett of Bowling Green Virginia," "To the One I Love," etc. There is also an 8-page poem, "West Point," dedicated to Mary Custis Lee, some prose and an interesting note, written in minute script over a brownish stain: "My Blood Mar. 8, 1855." In addition there are more than twenty pages of entries by friends and relatives, including a dedication in verse by Jno. S. Cocke ("This volume is a consecrated thing"), "To Jim on leaving College," "To my friend J.E.B. Stuart," "To Beaut," etc. Approximately 87 pages, each poem is dated, often with the place of composition noted: West Point, Steamer Trabue on Mississippi, Camp Seclusion, Camp Stuart, Camp on Jolly River Texas, etc. Virtually unknown to historians and the collecting community, this unique book is offered for the first time at public auction