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     LOT 111
Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Alexander Shaler’s Antebellum Era Inscribed Presentation Eagle Pommel Horstmann
& Sons Militia Officer’s Sword with Engraved Silver Grip, Scabbard, Cased Epaulets, and Framed Sheet Music for “Gen. Shaler’s March”
- The sword has a 31 3/4 inch, straight blade with central fullers, 15
1/2 inch etched panels with patriotic and classical martial motifs, gilt
cross guard with eagles, liberty caps, martial trophies, scroll and shell accents, and stippled backgrounds; a silver grip engraved with an eagle, classical martial trophies surrounded with a burst pattern, “PRO PATRIA
ET GLORIA” (For Country & Glory) in a banner, and “NATIONAL GUARD”
in a larger banner on one side and a laurel wreath and burst pattern on the other side, and a gilt eagle pommel with double chain knuckle guard fitted between its beak and the cross guard. The gilt brass scabbard
has engraved floral and scroll patterns, foliate suspension bands, a “HORSTMANN/&/SONS/MAKERS/PHILADA” maker’s mark on a raised scroll on the reverse, and “Presented to/Capt. Alexander Shaler, by/his Company, as a token of respect/and esteem./New York, June 12th, 1851.” inscribed between the suspension bands and surrounded by a floral wreath. Also included is japanned tin with “HORSTMANN BROS. & ALLIEN/No 7/BOND STREET/NEW YORK” maker’s plaque on the lid, chained cross pin, and a pair of gilt dress epaulets with two silver stars; a framed copy of “Gen. Shaler’s March” composed by E. G. B. Holder, a 1877 letter signed by Shaler as president of the Automatic Signal Telegraph Co. with a certificate
of authenticity from the Antietam Battlefield Museum, and a file of documents relating to Shaler’s life and military career. Within the file is a portrait of General Shaler in uniform and likely wearing these epaulets and hold the sword as well as his Medal of Honor file from the National Archives, and a 2009 Tops trading card of Shaler.
Alexander Shaler (1827-1911) worked as a stone mason under his father as a young man but began his long military career in 1845 when he enlisted in the New York State Militia in the 5th Company of the 3rd Regiment of Artillery, Washington Grays and steadily advanced in rank. In 1848, he joined the 2nd Company, 7th Regiment National Guards,
and advanced to captain on March 20, 1850. A month
prior to the date of the presentation of the sword, the
7th Regiment received a stand of colors before city
hall and drilled and paraded in New York. He remained
their captain until he was elected as major of the 7th Regiment on December 13, 1860. Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860, he published “Manual of Arms for Light Infantry.” With the outbreak of hostilities following secession and the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter, he and the 7th New York were deployed to the defenses of the capital.
The Medal of Honor file includes a detailed description of Alexander Shaler’s subsequent Civil War career. He mustered in as lieutenant colonel of the 1st U.S. Chasseurs (65th New York Infantry) for three years on
June 11, 1861, and became the colonel of the regiment on July 17, 1862, and was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on May 29, 1864. He was the commander of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, VI Army Corps, from March 1, 1863, to March 25, 1864, and then commanded the 4th Brigade, 1st Division, VI Army Corps, until he was captured during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia on May 6, 1864. He was exchanged in August 1864 and then was on sick leave until October 21, 1864. He then took command of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, XIX Army Corps until December 27, 1864, followed by the 2nd Division, VII Army Corps until July 1865 and then the White River District in the Department of Arkansas until he mustered out on August 24, 1865. He received a brevet to major general of volunteers with rank from July 27, 1865, for his “meritorious services during the war.”
The Medal of Honor file mainly concerns the Second Battle of Marye’s Heights during the Chancellorsville Campaign in Virginia. Fredericksburg was defended by Major General Jubal A. Early and an estimated 12,000 Confederates and opposed by Major General John Sedgwick’s force
of around 27,100 men. Shaler was in command of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, VI Corps at this time. The Confederates were dug in on Marye’s Heights, but the Union forces launched attacks at the Confederate center nonetheless. The initially attack was defeated, but allowed Union
officer’s to identify a weakness in the Confederates’ right flank. Sedgwick’s May 15, 1863, report as commander
of the 6th Army Corps notes
that at the battle on May
3, 1865, the Union forces
shelled the Confederate lines
in preparation for an assault.
“Two storming columns were
formed, composed as follows: Right column, commanded by Col. George C. Spear, who fell while gallantly leading it: the Sixty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Dawson, and the Forty-third New York, Colonel Baker. This column was supported by the 67th New York (First Long Island) Colonel Cross, and the Eighty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Bassett, under the command of Colonel Shaler.” The columns succeeded in driving General Jubal Early’s division from the heights. Major George
W. Dawson reported The regiment, then under my command, assisted the troops under the command of Colonel Shaler in driving the enemy some three miles along the plank road, and in the direction of Chancellorsville, capturing numbers of prisoners.”
Lieutenant John R. Johnson documents nominating Shaler for the Medal of Honor provide further details of Shaler’s “gallant and distinguished conduct in action” at Marye’s Heights on May 3, 1863. Johnson’s affidavit states: “I hereby declare that during the attack on Maryes Heights, May 3d 1863, at a most critical time of the action, when the head of the charging column was being crushed under the severe fire of the enemy’s artillery and infantry, Genl Alexander Shaler in command of the supporting column, 82nd Pa Vols and the 67th New York, pressed through to the front and by his individual efforts, the line pushed forward piercing the enemy’s works on the extreme left of the line turning that flank and materially assisting in the taking of the entire position of the enemy. That on this occasion he displayed great gallantry.

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