This treasure trove of letters and memorabilia
details the day-to-day experiences and
observations of a heroic leader of one of the
first official African American units in the
United States during the Civil War-the same
Regiment portrayed in the 1989 Academy
Award winning film "Glory."
Julia's is excited to present this historically
important collection in association with the
company's upcoming Fine Art, Asian and
Antiques Auction to be held February 4th-7th,
2014. These materials-so extensive that they
will be sold in two lots-are from Emilio family
descendants and are certain to be of profound
interest to collectors, military historians, and
museums around the world.
The story of Luis Emilio is as interesting
as the history behind these artifacts, and
adds essential context and significance to
the collection. Born in December, 1844 in
Salem, MA to immigrant parents, Emilio
was an exceptional, insightful person who
demonstrated lifelong leadership and
commitment to his country and fellow man.
The co-editor of his high school newspaper,
Emilio was only 16 when the Civil War began
in April, 1861. He had such patriotic fever
that he convinced his father to sign a letter
stating that his son was 18-the official
enlistment age-in order to join the military.
Once in the service, Emilio was promoted to
Sergeant in less than a year. By 1863, he was
a Captain of the 54th Regiment, and then
became its acting Commander on July 18,
1863 when all of his ranking officers were
killed or wounded during the assault on Fort
Wagner. He retired from the army in March,
1865, not yet 21 years old. Emilio went on to
a career in real estate, and in 1891, authored
"Brave Black Regiment," a book documenting
his experiences with the 54th Regiment. He
passed away in 1918 after a long illness, and
was buried in his hometown of Salem.
Because of the scope and size of this archive, Emilio's materials are presented in two lots.
The first lot , estimated at $40,000-60,000
consists of his commissions, discharges,
diaries, photographs, maps, insignia, and
other communications and ephemera.
Highlights of this grouping are a pair of brass
officer's spurs and a hat cord, medals, and a
collection of straps, including an exceptional
set of Carolina basket woven "theater made"
shoulder straps. This lot includes Emilio's
diaries, dating from 1861 through 1866; the
original "Consent to the Enlistment of a Minor"
letter; and all of Emilio's commissions in the
54th; these are signed by Massachusetts
Governor John Andrew. Other important
documents in this first lot include paperwork
related to Emilio's service both during wartime
and after. These are his original pension;
"mustering out" document; a large grouping
of post-war correspondence, much of it
referring to the exploits of the 54th Regiment;
letters written by black enlisted men; wartime
photographs; hand-drawn maps; hundreds
of newspaper clippings mentioning the 54th
Regiment; and letters addressed to Emilio,
including 70 wartime and 375 postwar notes,
most with their original envelopes. In addition,
the collection includes Grand Army of the
Republic items, a plaster cast of a Confederate
Navy button, and a memoir of Emilio's father
written by Luis Emilio.
The second lot , estimated at $80,000-
120,000 includes a range of Emilio family
materials, as well as letters that Emilio
mailed home during his military service. This
collection is housed in a trunk measuring
about 15" x 9" x 5"; it was made in 1840 for
Emilio's mother in Spain. The trunk holds
about 50 letters in Spanish-dating from the
1830s through the 1840s-mostly addressed
to Luis' parents. It also houses a Civil War era
album, a gold cross, various daguerreotypes
and ambrotypes, school documents, a
church program, a memo book, and the
128 letters that Emilio penned to his family
during the war. Most are four pages; many
Letter from Luis Emilio's father lying about his son's age
are longer. These letters describe life in the
military, battlefront updates, and news about
colleagues. Much of this material was not
published, even in his memoirs, as it was not
considered appropriate for Victorian times.
Emilio's letters are truly a first hand, intimate
view of a soldier's life during the throes of the
Civil War. For example, in a letter dated July
30th, 1863 he writes to his sister:
"...it is real sad for me to receive letter to
boys in the company that are dead and
others missing and to have the painful duty to
redirect them to their friends at home..."
According to John Sexton, the Civil War
authority who cataloged the Emilio archive,
"This is amongst the greatest letter groupings
of a Civil War soldier ever to come to market.
Not only are the letters in overall fine
condition; Luis had a beautiful script that is
easily read. He writes vivid, detailed accounts
of every aspect of soldier life. When you start
reading these letters from day one, they read
like a book and it is hard to stop."