Premier Firearms Auction
May 12, 13, 14, & 15, 2023
RARE & EXCEPTIONALLY HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT 1/6 PLATE DAGUERREOTYPE OF LIEUTENANT FITZHUGH LEE, NEPHEW OF ROBERT E. LEE.
This unbelievably historic image was likely taken in 1856 shortly after Fitzhugh Lee’s graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. This is believed to be one of only two pre-Civil War hard images of Fitzhugh Lee known to exist.
The daguerreotype photo process was invented in 1839 by Louis Daguerre. The photographer of this image was Rufus J. Anson who was active in New York from 1851-1867. The image itself depicts a knees up view of a seated young Fitzhugh Lee taken sometime after his graduation in 1856 from West Point and after he was awarded the brevet rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Lee wears a 9 button officer’s coatee with 3 buttons on each cuff and gold bullion Lieutenant’s shoulder boards. He wears an M1851 sword belt with sash and is holding his M1840 Cavalry saber in his right hand.
Lee was initially assigned to Carlisle Barracks in the Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania as a cavalry instructor. After a very brief stint at Carlisle Barracks, Lee was transferred in July of 1856 to the 2nd US Cavalry where his uncle, R. E. Lee, was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel. Lieutenant Fitzhugh Lee incurred a near fatal wound at Crooked Creek, Territory of Kansas, while accompanying a contingent of the 2nd Cavalry commanded by Captain Earl Van Dorn into Comanche territory. Lieutenant Lee ultimately survived his wounds after enduring a nearly 200 mile trek to seek medical treatment. After recovering, Lee returned to Indian territory and was fully commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army in January of 1858.
Lee returned to West Point to assume a teaching position as a tactics instructor after his tour of duty in the West was complete. He was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in 1861 but resigned his commission in the US Army to join the Confederate Army alongside his famous uncle, General Robert E. Lee. Fitzhugh Lee eventually rose to the rank of Major General in the Confederate Army and saw intense action throughout the Civil War. His Confederate service culminated with his surrender at Farmville, Virginia on April 11th, 2 days after his uncle’s surrender at Appomattox.
The image itself is a 1/6 plate view of fine resolution in a thermoplastic case with a purple pillow that reads “ANSON 589 BROADWAY”. The plain brass mat is also signed “ANSON” in the lower left corner.
UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: a large packet of information Fitzhugh Lee and his military service.