|LARGE CIVIL WAR RECRUITMENT BROADSIDE FOR THE 53RD NEW YORK VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, 5th REGIMENT, "EAGLE BRIGADE," WITH AN ATTRACTIVE AND COMPELLING IMAGE OF ITS COMMANDER, LT. COL. GEORGE A. BUCKINGHAM OF NEW YORK CITY, CIRCA 1862
|Frame Size (H x L):
|48.5" x 34.5"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|38.5" x 23.5"
|American Civil War recruitment broadside for the "Eagle Brigade" with dynamic graphics, large scale, and the very unusual inclusion of an engraved portrait image of its commander. Printed on paper, applied to fine cotton muslin, and with two brass grommets along the top edge, the broadside was published and printed by Baker & Godwin, located, according to the byline in the margin, at "Printing House Square, Opposite City Hall, New York." Pursuant to typical 19th century advertising of this nature, all manner of fonts were employed to create eye-catching graphics. Made to mark the place where men would actually sign up for duty--according to its last line of text--the verbiage reads as follows:
'Vosburgh Chasers'; 53d Reg't N.Y.S.V.; 5th Regiment; EAGLE BRIGADE; organized under special authority of the War Department; 45 Men Wanted Immediately to Complete Company A of this Regiment.; This Regiment is commanded by Col. Geo. E. Buckingham, late Major of the 71st Regiment N.Y.S.M.; This fine company is nearly full, and wants but few men to complete it.; Pay From $13 to $23 Per Month; Each man, as soon as mustered, provided with comfortable quarters, abundant rations, and good uniforms. Relief Tickets given to families requiring aid.; $100 Bounty at the Expiration of the Enlistment.; All parties wishing to act in the capacity of Non-commissioned Officers must apply immediately to secure positions.; Recruiting Station Here."
To say that the organization and naming of Civil War regiments was simple and straight-forward, would be a lie of epic proportion. It was simply anything but. Regiments were named, re-named, disbanded and distributed to help form others as need dictated. Number designations used once were retired and re-used again. Nowhere was this more volatile than at the recruitment stage, where enlistments were sought by numerous sources, not just from within the War Department alone. Companies were raised by individuals with a desire to help the cause, or to win notoriety and fame, or perhaps for all of the above. Often this was propelled by wealth used to entice recruits with bounties, attractive uniforms, and weaponry. Enlistments were also sought by organizations of all sorts. Besides independent militia, whose involvement was inherent in their very function, non-military-related fraternal groups and clubs also raised regiments of men. While the process may have often been orchestrated with some sort of blessing from the army itself, with accompanying enthusiasm and encouragement, once the necessary actions had been completed and the men had signed on, it was the needs of the army or the whims of its ranking commanders that determined their fate. Nowhere was the scene more convoluted than in New York State, which provided 248 infantry regiments, more than any other state, plus 15 of artillery and 27 cavalry.
The 53rd New York was a designation given twice to New York regiments. The first of these was a 3-month regiment raised in New York City by Lionel Jobert D'Epineuil, consisting of mostly Frenchmen and less often referred to by its number than its nickname, "D'Epineuil's Zouaves." This is not the regiment referred to on the broadside.
The second organization of the 53rd New York was part of the recruitment of a Brigade (a unit typically comprised of 2-5 regiments), the task of which was granted to Brigadier General Gustav A. Scroggs of the New York State Militia* on August 19th, 1861. There were 5 regiments in what was to be called the "Eagle Brigade." Men for the 53rd New York (second organization), were to be the 5th of these, and were to be led by Major George A. Buckingham of the 71st NY State Militia. On July 4th, 1862, with recruitment under way, Buckingham was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While the 53rd was raised, almost all of its men were immediately transferred to the 132nd New York and a few were redistributed to the 162nd.
The future of the troops recruited by this broadside is thus best described by where they ended up. Known as the Hillhouse Light Guards, the 132nd New York State Volunteers was a 3-year regiment raised in July of 1862 in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and elsewhere in the state, as part of Spinola's Empire Brigade. It mustered in on October 4th of that year, in Washington D.C., and was assigned to the Department of Virginia, and later to the Department of North Carolina. According to the War Department records: "The regiment left the state Sept. 27, 1862, about 900 strong, and spent nearly its entire term of service in North Carolina, engaged in outpost and garrison duty, part of the time unattached and part of the time attached to the 18th corps." Records go on to state: "The regiment took part in the engagements at Pollockeville, Trenton, Young's cross-roads, New Berne, Blount's creek, Sandy ridge, Batchelder's creek, Southwest creek, Jackson's mill, Gardner's bridge, Foster's mills, Butler's bridge, and in the campaign of the Carolinas at Wise's forks, Snow hill, and Bennett's house. The severest loss sustained by the regiment was at the battle of New Berne in Feb., 1864, when it lost 91 in killed, wounded and missing." The source concludes by stating: "The 132nd is credited with saving New Berne from capture on this occasion. Lieut. Arnold Zenette, the only commissioned officer killed, fell in this action. At the battle of Wise's forks the regiment lost 24 in killed, wounded and missing. It was mustered out under Col. Claassen, June 29, 1865, at Salisbury, N. C., having lost by death during service, 1 officer and 13 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded; 1 officer and 159 enlisted men died of disease and other causes, a total of 174, of whom 71 died in the hands of the enemy." [Source: Records of the Regiments in the Union Army; Cyclopedia of Battles; Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers (1908, Federal Publishing Co. Madison, WI), vol II.] Brief history of George Andrew Buckingham (1817 - 1882). Colonel, 53rd Reg't, New York Infantry; Major, 71st Reg't, New York State Militia:
"As a young man, Buckingham moved from his native Connecticut to New York City and worked in the dry goods and auction trades. He was a member of the volunteer fire department for 15 years and defeated William H. Tweed (Boss Tweed) in an election for school commissioner around 1850. He enlisted on April 19th, 1861, in the 71st Militia as its major, was commissioned into its Field Staff on May 3rd, 1861, and fought on July 21st at the first Battle of Bull Run, Virgina. He mustered out with the 71st on July 31st, 1861, at New York City…"
[Discharged on September 13th, 1862, following the disbanding of the 53rd New York], "…In March, 1864, Buckingham was authorized to recruit the 183rd Regiment, as its Colonel, however, that authority was revoked in August of that year.
[Buckingham] was a War Democrat and a nativist. Following the war, [he] pursued a career as a Wall Street broker in gold and foreign currencies and was active in the Native American Party. Both of his sons, George, Jr. and Charles E., served in the Union Army. He last resided at 408 E. 188th Street, New York City. His death was attributed to pneumonia. Initially interred in another New York City cemetery (St. Michael's Cemetery), he was removed to Green-Wood [section 73, lot 1171] on November 10th, 1883, almost two years after his death." (Source: Green-Wood Historic Fund, https://www.green-wood.com/2015/civil-war-biographies-brock-caine/)
A full length portrait photograph of Buckingham survives. The resemblance in his thin facial profile and, in particular, his rather distinct, elongated nose seems to indicate that the engraving on the broadside was made to represent him. Though bearded in the engraving and without a mustache, and mustached but without a beard in the photo, Buckingham enlisted at the age of 40, while the photo seems to convey a man in his 50's or perhaps early 60's.
Provenance: Ex-Norm Flayderman.
*Scroggs' rank was downgraded by the U.S. Senate, when it was discovered that the number of Brigadier Generals was larger than was allowed by law.
Mounting: This is a pressure mount between 100% cotton twill, black in color, and U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas). The banner was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and related objects and have framed thousands of examples.
Condition: There are creases, minor to modest foxing and general overall oxidation, and there are minor tears and losses around the perimeter. There is a significant, closed tear running approximately horizontally in the register with the portrait, and another running through the text that reads "45 Men Wanted," and another running vertically from the bottom, in the center. The latter two were stabilized from the reverse. There are shadowed transfers of the printing that result from the broadside having been folded onto itself laterally for a period of time. Due to the rarity and desirability of Civil War recruitment broadsides, the issues are negligible.
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