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Autograph Letter Signed.
This 18-year-old new recruit with the Massachusetts 11th Infantry was shot in the head during First Bull Run, but survived and became a prisoner of war; he then joined the Massachusetts 6th Infantry (1862-63) and finally became an officer with the Massachusetts 3rd Heavy Artillery (1863-65), briefly commanding a garrison at Fort Dupont during the defense of Washington; in 1893, while visiting the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, his brain injury caught up with him and he died of a cerebral hemorrhage one day short of his 51st birthday -- 32 years after receiving his head injury. Fascinating post-war (by one day!) letter signed "M. Conant" -- almost certainly Marcus Conant. ALS, 4pp (lined lettersheet), 5" X 8", Washington, DC, 1865 April 11. Addressed to George May Powell. Near fine. Among other matters, Conant discusses Washington on the day of surrender, April 10: "...You would have been surprised to see how some of the grave men and women behaved themselves here on its reception. But no wonder that right souls were lifted up by it. Like the cloud-liftings to the weatherbound mariner, it came as a boon from Heaven. We are undoubtedly on the eve of very great changes; and such as will afford opportunities for men of your Stamp to make a much better investment of their 'funded capital' than to remain in the employ of the Government...." Conant also discusses a business opportunity in the manufacture of prosthetic limbs and Powell's proposition for marketing a photo montage of Union leaders ("I do believe a fortune might be made in the prosecution of that Scheme. I should like to see it go forward, in the form of the most exquisite Mezzotint."). An exciting letter full of the exhilarating "mephitic atmosphere" (as Conant describes it) of post-war Washington -- a wonderful piece penned on a momentous day. Handsomely penned in black ink. While the absence of known handwriting exemplars make our attribution to Marcus Conant by necessity tentative, we are confident this educated conjecture is quite likely. In addition, other "M. Conant"s from this period (Mary Conant, Mitchell Conant, etc.) have been investigated and rejected as unlikely or impossible. Conant was not mustered out until September 18, 1865, making his presence in D.C. at this time, especially given his duties at Fort Dupont, a certainty.
      [Bookseller: Main Street Fine Books & Manuscripts, AB]
Last Found On: 2017-09-23           Check availability:      Biblio    

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