COMING IN DECEMBER 2020
EXTRAORDINARILY RARE CONFEDERATE OVERCOAT WORN BY LIEUTENANT SAMUEL BONN OF THE 1ST MARYLAND CAVALRY.
inv # 02-13997
A truly superb Confederate Cavalry lieutenant’s overcoat sometimes referred to as a great coat. This example was worn in the Civil War by Lieutenant Samuel Bonn of the 1st Maryland Cavalry. Bonn enlisted at age 25 on May 1, 1862 at Yorktown, Virginia as a private in Company A of the 1st Maryland Battalion of Cavalry. He transferred to Company F when he received his promotion to 2nd Lieutenant. Lieutenant Bonn and the 1st Maryland saw extensive service from 1863 through the close of the war.
Notable battles include Moorefield and Petersburg, Middleburg, Winchester, Gettysburg, Hagerstown, Trevilian Station, Cedar Creek, and Appomattox Courthouse. Lieutenant Bonn was hospitalized in September and again in October of 1863 and was furloughed for a time in February of 1864. He was taken as a POW in August of 1864, was confined at Camp Chase in Ohio and exchanged in March of 1865 at City Point, VA. He took the Oath of Allegiance on April 22, 1865 while in Richmond, VA. The overcoat stayed in the family of Lieutenant Bonn until 2009 when it was sold at auction. Since 2011, the overcoat has resided with the consignor. The double breasted heavy wool overcoat is heather gray with butternut overtones throughout. There are 2 rows of 7 Maryland staff buttons down the front of the coat and 4 more at the tail. All of the 23mm buttons on the front and 1 of the buttons on the tail are backmarked, “CANFIELD. BRO & CO. BALTIMORE”. The 3 other buttons on the tail are backmarked, “WATERBURY BUTTON CO *EXTRA*”, “SCOVILL MF’G CO. WATERBURY” and “EXTRA * QUALITY *”. The 14 button holes on the front are of conventional machine stitched style. The top button is 1″ below the collar seam and the bottom button is 1/2″ above the waist seam. The rolled type, double thick collar appears to be unlined and is made of 4 separate pieces of cloth and is 3″ wide at the front and 3 1/2″ wide at the rear. The collar has a single 1/4″ gold bullion tape bar on each side approximately 4″ long denoting the rank of lieutenant. The overcoat has 2 piece sleeves measuring 6″ across at the cuff and 9 1/2″ across at the elbow. There is a 3″ turned back cuff with a single strand of 1/4″ gold bullion tape forming galons that extend from the top of the cuff 9 1/2″ up the sleeve. Both sleeves were lined in undyed cotton osnaburg material, however nearly all of the lining of the right sleeve is missing. The skirt of the coat extends approximately 28″ down from the waist seam.
The tails are split the entire length of the skirt to facilitate wear while on horseback. The pleated tail forms a pocket on either side of the split skirt. Pockets are lined with an undyed cotton osnaburg fabric. The body of the coat is lined in striking red, green, blue and brown plaid wool. There is a slash pocket on the inside left breast with a black edge and an undyed cotton osnaburg bag. There is another larger pocket on the right breast made of the plaid lining material that is unedged and unlined. All Confederate uniforms are rare and exceptionally desirable, however overcoats worn by Confederate soldiers represent some of the scarcest of all uniform items.
By their nature, overcoats were worn during the coldest months of the year and were subjected to all types of severe weather and months of storage during warm weather in less than optimal conditions. Also, the scarcity of manufactured goods in the southern states after the Civil War necessitated the repurposing of many military uniform items. These facts combine to greatly limit the survivability of Confederate overcoats and greatcoats. Attesting to the post-war use of this coat, and to adhere to a federal law forbidding the display of items of Confederate affiliation, the quatrefoils on the sleeve and the lieutenant’s rank bars on the collar were carefully removed and stored for many years in the tail pockets of the uniform. Also, there are notable remains of black paint in the recessed areas of many of the buttons, as was required to mask Confederate service. After the uniform was sold by the family, the quatrefoils and rank bars were discovered in the tail pockets and restored to their appropriate positions on the uniform.