Premier Firearms Auction
May 12, 13, 14, & 15, 2023
EXTREMELY RARE UNIFORM COAT OF GENERAL OF THE ARMY WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN WORN BETWEEN 1869-1872.
The cut of this coat confirms to the pattern established by General Order No. 75 from the War Department dated September 5, 1866 and predates the regulations of 1872. Given the fact that Sherman could not have worn this coat until 1869, when Grant resigned, we have a reasonably accurate 3 year window when this coat was produced and worn by the General of the Army.
The coat is made of exceptionally fine wool befitting the rank to which Sherman had advanced. The 2″ collar is covered in velvet as are the first 3″ of each cuff. The collar closes with a large hook and eye (hook missing). The front of the coat has 3 sets of 4 Staff Officer buttons as prescribed for the rank. Each cuff has 3 smaller Staff Officer buttons and the tail has 4 large size Staff Officer buttons. Most of the buttons appear to be replacements as they were likely given away to General Sherman’s many admirers over the years. There appear to be 5 original buttons at the lower left with the backmark “SUPERFINE GOLD PLATE W.B. CO.”. There is a small watch pocket at the right waist containing a button formerly on the coat. There are 2 interior pockets at the tails and 1 at the right breast. The tail pockets are formed of brown polished cotton. The torso lining is green/black polished cotton and the sleeve lining is white cotton. The black glazed cotton lining of the skirts has largely disintegrated. Fragments are visible at the seams.
Close examination indicates the glazed cotton lining extends throughout the coat and has begun to disintegrate in the torso area also. It is likely that Sherman had the polished green/black cotton lining sewn over the original glazed cotton lining as it began to separate. Given the fact that the only military officers authorized to wear this coat during its period of manufacture were Grant and Sherman, and this coat was tailored for a man of nearly 6′ tall, logic would dictate this must be General Sherman’s coat as he was 5’11” tall and Grant was barely 5’8″. General Sherman was one of the great heroes of the American Civil War. He was instrumental in the ultimate defeat of the Confederate forces particularly in the South. He is vilified to this day by Southerners for his March to the Sea and disliked by others because of his later Native American policies. Despite his many detractors, General Sherman remains one of the premier military commanders and strategists of American military history.
UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: an assessment of the uniform by Steve Rogers. Copies of photos showing Sherman wearing this uniform or a nearly identical example. A book titled “In Memoriam General William T. Sherman” published in Albany in 1802.