346: Confederate 3rd Lieutenant D. Given, Jr., Civil Wa
Confederate 3rd Lieutenant D. Given, Jr., Civil War Archive
23 letters, 6 documents, 19 photographs, military buttons and belt buckle. 1861-1877.
A commission and cotton merchant in New Orleans before the Civil War, Dixon A. Givens was a volunteer in the Louisiana Crescent Militia as Aide-de-Camp to General Lloyd Tilghman, CSA, until surrendering to Union forces at the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863. He returned to New Orleans and married Viola Alexander there in July 1865. The bulk of this attractive southern collection centers on Dixon and his wife prior to the onset of the war, consisting primarily of letters of the Kentucky Alexanders.
Personal in nature, these letters provide a sense for life in the antebellum upper south, ranging from three letters relating to the illness and ultimate death of Larrisa Sauffly to an invitation to a July 4 ball in Burkesville, Ky., 1822. Among the more revealing items is a surprisingly morose little essay by Viola Anderson on her fourteenth birthday, which is counterbalanced by a superb letter from Viola, January 1860, debating whether to attend school or spend her time at music lessons. School required five hours of close hard study even with my good memory to prepare my lessons, and you know when all that time is consumed I did not have a while hour during the day to devote to music. I was anxious to go to school but I knew my physical exercise would not counterbalance the mental taxation. I must necessarily endeavor to be efficient at school and in music. But if it is your wish I will relinquish my dearly loved music altogether and direct my whole attention to school...
As might be expected, slavery and war both appear in the collection. James Sauffly writes from New Orleans, Aug. 20, 1859: this leaves all well black & white though the weather is very warm. Ere this reaches you, you will have seen Erasmus. Tell my wife the little negro Rachel looks well. Cranes negro womans child died the 9th day with lockjaw... Although Givens apparently did not keep much correspondence from the war, the one item that survives is of great value: a wonderful scarce partially printed parole for Givens, releasing him after his surrender at Vicksburg, dated the day after the surrender, July 5, 1863. This document, one of the more famous of the western war, includes the required oath: I will not take up arms against the United States, nor serve in any military, police, or constabulary force in any Fort, Garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, against the United States of America, nor as guard of prisons, depots or stores, nor discharge any duties usually performed by soldiers against the United States of America until duly exchanged by the proper authorities.
Among the photographs are three images of Givens, including two cartes-de-visite of Givens in Lieutenant’s uniform of the Louisiana Crescent Militia. One (moderately soiled) image was taken by Ben Oppenheim in Mobile, Ala., the other (in a stylish coat) by Anderson and Turner in New Orleans. Also a post-war cabinet card of Givens (trimmed at bottom touching the image) plus 16 family photographs (including 7 cabinet cards, 4 cartes-de-visite). Three documents are showy and fascinating, including:
Partially-printed certificate adorned with Masonic symbols and seal (delicately attached) authorizing R. B. Alexander as a Master Mason in the Washington Lodge 36, Tuscumbia, Ala., March 7, 1846; small vellum certificate naming R.B. Alexander a Royal and Select Master and member of the Secret Vault, Tuscumbia, Ala., May 4, 1847; commission for D.A. Given as Colonel and Aide-de-Camp in Louisiana State Militia, March 9, 1890.
Rounding out the collection is a belt buckle with spread eagle and the motto E Pluribus Unum and four uniform buttons, including three manufactured by Horstmann Bros., Philadelphia, and embossed with the state pelican and the word Louisiana, the fourth with an eagle and anchor. All presumably stem from Givens’ post-war militia service.
A fine collection from a New Orleans Confederate, in good condition with expected wear, soiling, and signs of age.