Sherman’s personal copy of George Barnard’s Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign, $144,000 (£113,000) at Fleischer’s.

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The May 14-15 auction at Fleischer’s (22% buyer’s premium) in Columbus, Ohio featured a group of items from the library of the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-91).

Consigned by his descendants, they included association copies of some of the best-known works on the American Civil War.

What was probably Sherman’s personal copy of George Barnard’s monumental work, Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign, was estimated at $60,000-80,000, and hammered for $144,000 (£113,000).

Published in 1866, the 61 albumen prints include haunting scenes from many of the key moments in Sherman’s ‘total war’ against the Confederate army in the South including the occupation of Nashville, the battles for Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, the Atlanta campaign, the Great Raid through the Carolinas and the famous March to the Sea.

Regarding the carnage he wrought, Sherman would later write: “My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us.”

Barnard (1819-1902), an early daguerreotypist and colleague of the celebrated civil war photographer Matthew Brady, was the official photographer of the Military Division of the Mississippi and the only photographer to accompany Sherman during the March to the Sea.

Intact copies of his magnum opus are exceedingly rare (priced at $100 at the time, it may be that fewer than 150 copies were produced), with the last example to appear for sale taking $149,000 at Christie’s in June 2014.

Owned by family

Primarily assembled by Sherman himself, this collection of books was inherited and curated by his son, Philemon Tecumseh Sherman (1867-1941) and then transferred to his niece, Eleanor Sherman Fitch (1876-1959).

Until its sale, the library was held at the family estate in Washington County, Pennsylvania.


Deluxe copy of The Personal Memoirs of US Grant, annotated by William Tecumseh Sherman, $70,000 (£55,000) at Fleischer’s.

A copy of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant (1822-85), annotated by Sherman and bound in gilt tree calf, made $70,000 (£55,000) against a guide of $7500-15,000.

Sherman evidently read the book - penned by his close friend in his final days as he battled with throat cancer - in great detail.

Marginal notes on at least 18 pages include his barbed references to interference from Washington in the campaign, his frustrations with politically connected general John McClernand and his recollection of conversations held during Grant’s first meeting with Abraham Lincoln.

On the last page of the first volume, Sherman wrote: “Read at St Louis, Mo. Dec 5 + 6, 1885. This account of the Civil War is wonderfully accurate and him. WTS.”

Only a small handful of copies of the book in this deluxe binding are known, suggesting they were made for presentation, perhaps by Grant’s widow, Julia.

Marching on


Sherman’s personal copy of the March to the Sea map, $22,000 (£17,300) at Fleischer’s.

Published in St Louis in 1865 for sale to souvenir hunters was the Military Map Showing the Marches of the United States Forces under Command of Maj. Genl. W.T. Sherman During the Years 1863-65.

The March to the Sea map showing the routes taken by cavalry and infantry as well as railroads and fortification is desirable in its own right.

However, the copy owned by Sherman himself overcame some obvious condition issues to bring $22,000 (£17,300).