Monday, July 15, 2013

Civil War Artifacts of George C. Hall

An interesting item located in the archives of Glessner House Museum is a small tooled leather wallet containing several Civil War related objects.  The wallet belonged to George C. Hall, but his relationship to the Glessners is unknown as is the reason it came into their possession. 

Inscribed on the inside of the mid-19th century wallet is the following:  “George C Hall Co C 78 Rig O Vi” confirming that Hall served during the Civil War with Company C of the 78th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He was among the first to enlist in Company C in November 1861 which was raised in Zanesville, Ohio and vicinity.  (John Glessner would have been living in Zanesville at this time).  Hall was 20 years old at the time of his enlistment and he re-enlisted as a veteran volunteer in January 1864.  He was mustered out on July 11, 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky.  His company was among those who served during the Vicksburg Campaign during May and June 1863.

Two metal objects contained within the pouch appear to be souvenirs Hall would have collected during the war.  The first is a rectangular pewter belt buckle stamped C.S.A. for the Confederate States of America.  The second object is a brass luggage tag inscribed “B.J. BUTLER WHARFBOAT VICKSBURGH 35.”  Butler was born in Indiana about 1818 and by the time of the 1860 census was working as a produce merchant and steamboat agent in Vicksburg.  His personal estate was valued at $75,000 indicating he probably was a slave holder. 

Another object in the pouch is a special Extra issue of the Zanesville Daily Courier (misprinted as the Daily Gourier) from August 13, 1862.  The one-sided single sheet provides a report on the Battle of Culpepper in Virginia and discusses General John Pope’s success in getting General Jackson to retreat.

A small clipping, probably given to George Hall by a sweetheart back at home reads “The night’s getting late and soon we must part, Pray tell me have I an interest yet in your heart.”

The most interesting items in the pouch are a small note written in pencil, and a pin box containing a small wood fragment.  The note provides the following explanation for the fragment:
“A piece of the tree under which Gen. Pemberton surrendered Vixburgh, it was cut by William, and he took it out of his pocket book and gave it to me the last time he was home.  Who ever may get this do treasure it for his sake and mine too.  Margaret.”
The identity of William is unknown, but he probably served with George Hall during the Vicksburg Campaign.  There are numerous men with the first name of William listed as having served in Company C.

The wood fragment, measuring two inches in length, is stored inside a small cardboard pin box, the lid of which reads:
No. 5.
Each Box warranted to contain full num-
ber of their best quality Premium

Pemberton’s surrender at Vicksburg is well documented, as is the tree from which William cut the fragment.  On July 3, 1863 Pemberton sent a note to General Ulysses S. Grant, who, as at Fort Donelson, first demanded unconditional surrender.  The surrender was finalized on July 4, Independence Day, a day Pemberton had hoped would bring more sympathetic terms from the United States.  Surrender was formalized by an old oak tree “made historical by the event.”  In his Personal Memoirs, Grant described the fate of this luckless tree:
“It was but a short time before the last vestige of its body, root and limb had disappeared, the fragments taken as trophies.  Since then the same tree has furnished as many cords of wood, in the shape of trophies, as the ‘True Cross’.”

These objects provide fascinating insight into the personal experiences of those who served during the War.  It is hoped that the identity of William and his Margaret may be determined at some point in the future, so that we can honor his memory.

(Steven LaBarre contributed research for this posting).

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