This interesting late-19th century cane is inscribed "Presented to/Gen. Wm. Cogswell/by the/Salem Republican/Flambeau Club" on top of the gilt grip. On of the side facets of the grip the date "Oct. 12, '87" is inscribed. William Cogswell (1838-1895) was elected to congress as a representative for Massachusetts in 1887, and served in that role until his death in 1895. This cane is likely a congratulatory gift from a Republican club in the town in which he opened his first law practice in 1861. On 19 April 1861, news reached Salem that the 6th Massachusetts, while on their way to protect Washington D.C. had been attacked in Baltimore. Upon hearing this, Cogswell had immediately turned his Salem law practice into a recruiting station, and in only 24 hours he had recruited a whole company, the first in the country raised for the war. Cogswell was commissioned as captain of the company, which later became Company C of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. Another notable captain in this regiment was Robert Gould Shaw, who was wounded at Antietam with the regiment and would later go on to become the colonel of the 54th Massachusetts, the most famous African American regiment to take part in the war. Cogswell was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 23 October 1862, and to colonel on 25 June 1863. The 2nd Massachusetts was involved in many of the most major engagements of the war including the battles of Winchester, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Brandy Station, Gettysburg, the Atlanta Campaign, Siege of Savannah, the Campaign of the Carolinas, and were present for the surrender of Johnston's army on 26 April 1865. By the end of the 2nd Massachusetts had suffered 14 officers and 176 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and two officers and 96 enlisted men by disease. Cogswell was made brevet brigadier general and mustered out of service on 24 July 1865. Besides the inscriptions, the knob-shaped gilt grip of the cane has floral motifs throughout and is fitted to a smooth ebonized shaft tipped with German silver and iron.
Fine overall, the grip showing most of its bright gilt finish with minimal handling evidence, and the shaft having some scattered light scuffs and handling marks. A very interesting piece of both American political and Civil War history!
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