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February 2015

Lincoln's coat


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 It has not been on display since 2011 and will be only for a short time this spring.

In 1865, Abraham Lincoln ordered an overcoat for his second inauguration from the clothing company Brooks Brothers.

Brooks Brothers, founded in 1818, is an American institution - a ready-made clothing manufacturer located in New York. The company was a key player in the uniform business of the civil war. Situated in the heart of the city, the building was nearly destroyed during the earlier draft riots.

Lincoln was a frequent customer of Brooks Brothers and in honor of his second inauguration, and as a promotion for the store, they made him a very special, elaborate overcoat. The coat was displayed in the Brooks Brothers store window as advertisement before finally being presented to Mr. Lincoln.

The spectacular overcoat is a double-breasted coat made of the fine wool with silk edging around the outside of the collar, cuffs and pockets. Almost the entire inside of the coat is hand-quilted.

The right and left interior front panels feature the design of an eagle symbol holding two streamers with the words “One Country, One Destiny”.

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Civil War mural: The Battle of Resaca

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“The Battle of Resaca,” a large oil-on-canvas mural by the Civil War painter James Walker, had long been misidentified. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — A historic Civil War mural that bounced, mislabeled, from museum to museum for several decades has emerged from storage, its identity reclaimed. But because of its size, its owners are still pondering where it can be displayed.

From 1887 to 1958, “The Battle of Resaca,” a 5-feet-by-12-feet oil-on-canvas mural by the Civil War artist James Walker, hung in an imposing brick and granite edifice on the Upper West Side.

“These murals were kind of spectacular at the time,” said Courtney Burns, director of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs. “They were meant for public viewing. They didn’t have movies back then. They were a source of entertainment. They had a lot of characters in them. Viewers would take their time to look at all the elements.”

And then “Resaca” lost its home. The building, the former armory of the 12th Regiment, was razed to make room for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The mural was rolled up and sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for safekeeping, before heading to the United States Military Academy at West Point in the 1960s for a Civil War centennial celebration. Somehow, during its travels, the painting was incorrectly labeled a scene from Gettysburg. From West Point, it went into storage at the state Capitol in Albany, then at an armory in Albany and then at the nearby Watervliet Arsenal before landing in 2002 at the New York State Military Museum, which is run by the state’s Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

Read the full article at the New York Times

This week in the Civil War for February 1, 1865

Confederate Robert E. Lee was made commander-in-chief of all Confederate forces on Jan. 31, 1865, receiving the promotion even as the Southern war effort was faring badly.

By early 1865, the secessionists were hard-pressed by the Union on several sides. In early February 1865, Union Gen. William T. Sherman's troops were beginning to enter the Carolinas after their destructive march across Georgia in late 1864. In other developments, The Associated Press reported that a group of "rebel peace commissioners" had apparently arrived inside Union lines in early February 1865.

But their movements remained uncertain and there was no immediate report on their intent. The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 31, 1865, passed the 13th Amendment proposing to formally abolish slavery. President Abraham Lincoln, noting the measure had passed the senate in April 1864, submitted the proposed amendment to state legislatures for their consideration. It would obtain ratification by the required number of states by December 1865.

From ABC News and the Associated Press