Battle of Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill Monument Remarkable Guestbook Signed by Visitors During Civil War

Bunker Hill Monument Guestbook Signed by Visitors During Civil War


This remarkable book contains approximately 12,000 names and original signatures of visitors to the famous Revolutionary War battle site and commemorative monument, while the nation was embroiled in the Civil War. Visitors from throughout the United States and around the world visited the monument and inscribed their names in this guestbook, from First Lady Mary Lincoln to humble privates in the Union Army and local citizens. This unique artifact juxtaposes famous people and common people, men and women, children and adults, native-born and foreign-born, as they visited this early monument to America’s Revolutionary heritage when the Union it created was in peril.


[CIVIL WAR.] Bunker Hill Monument Visitor’s Guestbook, ca. May 1860-June 1862. Approx. 510 pp., 8.625" x 13.5". Lacking spine; boards rubbed and detached; first 88 pp. have faded ink; one page partially cut out, reputedly having the signature of the Prince of Wales Albert Edward (with handwritten comment, “(oh what Hawkers!) Here is where Prince Albert Edward of Wales registered his name.”); succeeding page cut; two or three other pages removed, but perhaps before signatures were added.


Among the prominent signers of / names in the guestbook are:


Edwin Emery (1836-1895), “Bowd. Coll. Brunswick Me.” was an 1861 graduate of Bowdoin College who served in the 17th Maine Volunteer Infantry, rising from a private to a 2nd lieutenant. From 1877 to 1890, he was an instructor in the U.S. Revenue Marine, the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.


Timothy Matlack Bryan Jr. (1832-1881), “Philadelphia,” an 1855 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and an officer in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania regiments during the Civil War.


Elisha Hunt Rhodes (1842-1917), was an officer in the Civil War, who rose from the rank of corporal to colonel in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. His wartime diary played a key role in Ken Burns’s documentary The Civil War.


Nathan Appleton Jr. (1843-1906), “Boston Mass,” son of prominent Boston merchant and member of “The Boston Associates” Nathan Appleton (1779-1861).


William Steffe (1830-1890), “Philadelphia Pa Bearer of despatches from Gen Butler,” was a South Carolina native who, as a Philadelphia bookkeeper and insurance agent, created the tune for the Civil War marching song, “John Brown’s Body,” later used by Julia Ward Howe for her “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”


George Jones (1800-1870), “Chaplain U.S. Navy,” served as chaplain of Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan of 1852-1854, and as the first chaplain of the U.S. Naval Academy.


Samuel T. Alexander (1836-1904), “Honolulu, Sandwich Islands [Hawaii],” was a co-founder of major agricultural and transportation businesses in the Kingdom of Hawaii.


Rafael Pombo (1833-1912), “Bogota, New Granada,” was a Colombian poet.


Baron George D’Utassy (1827-1892), “Hungary,” was a former Austrian army officer who defected to the Hungarian revolutionaries in 1848, then fled with the failure of the revolution, arriving in Canada by 1855 and in New York City in 1860. He led the Garibaldi Guard, or the 39th New York Volunteer Infantry, composed of 11 different nationalities, in the Union Army from 1861 to 1863.


William W. Wheaton (1833-1891), “Detroit Mich,” was a wholesale grocer and mayor of Detroit from 1868 to 1871.


Charles H. Dall (1816-1886), “Calcutta E. I.,” was a Unitarian minister, graduate of Harvard Divinity School, and husband from 1844 of women’s rights advocate Caroline Wells Healey Dall (1822-1912). In 1855, he went alone to Calcutta, India, as the first American Unitarian foreign missionary and remained there, except for occasional visits to the United States, until his death.


William Lowndes Yancey (1814-1863), “Alabama,” was a journalist and politician and one of the leading “Fire-Eaters,” who favored secession of the slaveholding states. He served in the Confederate Senate from 1862 to 1863.


Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) (1841-1910), “England,” toured North America from July to November 1860. He visited Boston from October 17-20.


Miles J. Fletcher (-1862), “Indianapolis, Ind.” was professor of English literature at Indiana Asbury University from 1852 until 1862, and the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1861 to 1862.


Edward Payson Ripley (1845-1920), “Dorchester Mass,” served as president of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway from 1895 to 1920.


Mary Lincoln (1818-1882), was the First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865, as wife of President Abraham Lincoln. In May 1861, she traveled to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, and visited the Bunker Hill Monument on May 18, 1861.


Elizabeth Todd Grimsley (1825-1895), “Springfield Ills.,” was Mary Lincoln’s cousin and a bridesmaid at her wedding to Abraham Lincoln in 1842. She accompanied the Lincolns to Washington in February 1861 and accompanied Mary Lincoln on her trip north in May 1861. Of the visit to Boston on that trip, she later wrote, “Through Senator Sumner, who was a warm friend and admirer of both President and Mrs. Lincoln, our coming was anticipated, and everything arranged for a charming reception at the Revere House, dinings and drives, and we met many of the most distinguished men of Boston and Harvard; saw all that could be seen in so short a time, and returned to Washington, delighted with our jaunt....” Grimsley returned to Springfield in August 1861.


William Henry Letterman (1832-1881), “ΦΚΨ Philadelphia Penna,” was the co-founder of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, when he was an undergraduate. He went on to receive his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1856. His older brother Jonathan K. Letterman (1824-1872) served in the Army of the Potomac as a surgeon and is considered the “Father of Battlefield Medicine” for his improvements in medical organization and the treatment of casualties.


Fletcher Webster (1813-1862), “Marshfield,” was the oldest son of Daniel Webster and a graduate of Harvard College. He served as Chief Clerk of the State Department in his father’s first term as Secretary of State (1841-1843). He commanded the 12th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and was killed at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 30, 1862.


Chauncey M. Depew (1834-1928), “Peekskill N.Y.,” was an attorney for Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroads, president of the New York Central Railroad system, and later a United States Senator from New York (1899-1911).


Paul Dahlgren (1846-1876), “Washington D. C.,” was the son of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren of the U.S. Navy, known as the “father of American naval ordnance.” The younger Dahlgren died in Italy while serving as U.S. consul general in Rome.


Charles K. Robinson (1835-1887), “East Saginaw, Mich.,” graduated from the Ann Arbor Law School in April 1860. In 1861, President Lincoln appointed him as Receiver of the United States Land Office, a position he held until 1865. Beneath his entry on July 5, 1861, is that of “Mrs. C.K. Robinson” (Carrie M. Williams) and the notation “Married at 5 o’clock A.M. July 3d A.D. 1861 at Detroit, Mich.” He operated a banking house in Michigan from 1866 to 1873, then moved to California, where he served as mayor of Oakland (1882-1883).


William J. Conkling (1826-1904), “Springfield Illinois,” attorney and younger brother of James C. Conkling, friend and political ally of Abraham Lincoln.


Major John T. Sprague (1810-1878), “Albany N.Y.,” was a veteran of the Second Seminole War, about which he published a history in 1848. He went to Texas in the spring of 1861, was arrested by the Confederates, paroled, and returned to New York to describe “The Treachery in Texas” in a paper he delivered to the New York Historical Society. He served as Adjutant General for the state of New York from August 1861 to January 1865.


George M. Arth (1835-1886), “Washington City D. C.,” was a bassist. He joined the U.S. Marine Band, known as “The President’s Own” in August 1861. He was in the orchestra at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865, when John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln.


Robert H. Sayre (1824-1907), “Pennsylvania,” was the chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley Railroad from 1854, was one of the founders of the Bethlehem Iron Company, predecessor of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and designed and constructed the company’s first iron works between 1861 and 1863.


Mary E. Walker, M.D. (1832-1919), “Rome N.Y.,” graduated from the Syracuse Medical College in 1855 and became one of the few female physicians in the country. During the Civil War, she applied for appointment as an Army surgeon and was rejected. She worked as a volunteer surgeon until General George H. Thomas appointed her as an assistant surgeon in September 1863. She was captured by Confederates in April 1864 and spent four months in prison until exchanged for a Confederate surgeon. She received a Medal of Honor in January 1866, the only female recipient of the Medal, but it was revoked in 1917, then restored in 1977.


Thomas L. Livermore (1844-1918), “Galena, Illinois,” was born in Galena, Illinois, and was studying at Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois, when the Civil War began. He enlisted in the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry in August 1861 and rose through the ranks to become colonel of the 18th New Hampshire by the end of the war. He practiced law in Boston after the war and became known for his historical works, especially that on the statistics of Civil War unit strengths and casualties.


Richard Rogers Bowker (1848-1933), “New York,” was not quite 13 when he visited the Bunker Hill Monument, but he later became a successful journalist, editor of Publishers Weekly and Harpers Magazine, and founder of the R. R. Bowker Company that provides bibliographic information to the publishing industry.


Thomas Francis Meagher (1823-1867), “New York,” was an Irish nationalist in the Rebellion of 1848 against British rule. Convicted of sedition, Meagher was first sentenced to death, then commuted to transportation to Australia. He escaped in 1852 and traveled to New York City, where he studied law and worked as a journalist. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of brigadier general.


Charles C. Bonney (1831-1903), “Chicago, Illinois,” was a teacher, lawyer, and judge in Illinois, and organizer of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, at which Bonney served as President of the World’s Congresses (held in many different fields).


John J. Macdonald (1834-1862) “Prince Edward Island,” from a Catholic family, eloped with a Protestant girl, and moved to Boston, where he started a dry goods store. He enlisted in the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and went with it to the islands of coastal South Carolina, where he was killed in battle in mid-June 1862.


Levi Parsons (1822-1887), “San Francisco, California,” was born in New York but moved to California in 1849, and in 1850 became one of the pioneer judges of the California Supreme Court. He left California in 1866, and lived in New York City for the rest of his life.


Mercy P. Whitney (1795-1872), “Sandwich Islands,” was an early Congregational missionary with her husband Samuel Whitney to Hawaii, living there from 1819 until her death, with occasional visits to the United States.


Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), “London,” was a prominent English novelist of the Victorian era. Trollope and his wife traveled to America in September 1861 to write a travel book, but his publishers wanted a book about the war. In November, his wife went back to England, and he traveled to Washington and spent some time with the Union Army in northern Virginia, before traveling west to Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois early in 1862. His book North America was published in 1862.


Owen G. Lovejoy (1846-1900), “Princeton Ills,” was the oldest son of Owen Lovejoy (1811-1864), who was an abolitionist, attorney, and Republican Congressman from Illinois who aided the political rise of Abraham Lincoln. The younger Lovejoy also became an attorney.


Charles Bunker Dahlgren (1839-1912), “U.S.S. San Jacinto,” was the oldest son of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren of the U.S. Navy, known as the “father of American naval ordnance.” Charles B. Dahlgren was serving on the USS San Jacinto under Captain Charles Wilkes, when the ship seized Confederate emissaries James M. Mason and John Slidell from the British mail packet RMS Trent of Cuba on November 8. The San Jacinto arrived at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on November 15, and reported the capture to Washington. Authorities ordered him to proceed to Boston to place Mason and Slidell in Fort Warren with other captured Confederates. The ship arrived in Boston on November 24, and six days later, Dahlgren visited the Bunker Hill Monument. The resulting British outrage over the Trent affair led the Union to the brink of war with Great Britain, but the release of Mason and Slidell at the end of the year eased tensions and ended the crisis.


Esther E. Baldwin (1840-1910), “Smyrna Delaware” was an American Methodist missionary to China from 1862 to 1880, and served as the president of the New York Woman’s Missionary Society for two decades. She wrote Must the Chinese Go?, first published in 1881 and reissued in several editions, which challenged misrepresentations against Chinese immigrants and earned her the title of the “Chinese Champion.” On April 15, 1862, she married the missionary Rev. Stephen L. Baldwin (1835-1902), “Fuh Chau, China,” in Delaware, and they visited the Bunker Hill Monument on April 24, 1862.


John B. Brownlow (1839-1922), “Knoxville Ten,” was the older son of William G. “Parson” Brownlow (1805-1877), the fiery Unionist newspaper publisher and Methodist minister in eastern Tennessee. John B. Brownlow was a colonel in the Union Army during the war, and in 1865, when his father became Governor of Tennessee, he succeeded his father as editor of the newspaper Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig.


The visitors to the Bunker Hill Monument came from a wide variety of occupations and residences. Merchants, industrialists, lawyers, physicians, clergymen, newspaper editors, and other professionals are frequent among the entries.  Most of the visitors were from New England and New York, but visitors from Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans appear regularly, as do a surprising number from San Francisco and Sacramento, California. A large number of Canadian visitors are also present, especially from the maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Visitors from the South appear with some frequency in 1860 but virtually disappear in 1861 and 1862. Foreign visitors came from as far away as China, India, Russia, and South Africa. Some were American missionaries home for a visit, while others were diplomats or members of foreign navies, seeing the sights of Boston.  Couples on a honeymoon trip were common in the pages, as were Union soldiers, sailors, and marines, and merchants in town on business.


Other entries suggest motives of memorial or commemoration. In July 1861, just weeks after Senator Stephen A. Douglas died, appeared the entry, “S. A. Douglass Chicago.” At the foot of another page is the entry “Sam Patch New Orleans.” Patch (1807-1829) became the first American daredevil after leaping into the Niagara River near the base of Niagara Falls. After his death in a failed jump a few months later, he became a folk hero, and actor Dan Marble (1807-1849) gained great success in staging “Sam Patch” plays throughout the United States and England in the 1830s and 1840s. There are several entries for “Jeff Davis” with residences including Richmond and “From the South.” After several entries in the same handwriting for visitors from Lowell, Massachusetts, comes “A. Lincoln Washington D.C.” also in the same hand.


Humor comes through in some entries, like that of “Jeff Decker not Davis,” who did not want to be identified with the President of the Confederacy. The fictious visitor “E. P. Unum” was listed as a “Cosmopolitan.” E. C. Munson listed his residence as “The World.” Sometimes, the visit was personal. Corporal J. H. Smith of the militia added after his name, “My Grandfather had a ship burnt in the revolution.”  Susie W. Ferneaux added the commentary, “The Union forever. Freedom for all.”


Historical Background

In 1823, a group of Bostonians formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association to raise funds for the creation of a monument to commemorate the June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. By 1825, the Association had purchased property and selected a design—a 221-foot granite obelisk designed by Solomon Willard. On June 17, 1825, the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, the Marquis de Lafayette performed the cornerstone-laying ceremony, and Congressman Daniel Webster delivered an oration. On June 17, 1843, the Bunker Hill Monument Association held a celebration for the dedication of the monument, and again, former and future U.S. Senator and former and future Secretary of State Daniel Webster was the principal speaker, with President John Tyler in attendance.


The Bunker Hill Monument Association continued to maintain the monument and grounds until 1919, when it turned the property over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1976, Massachusetts transferred the monument to the National Park Service, which now administers it as part of the Boston National Historical Park.




Item: 66350

Price: $15,000.00
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Battle of Bunker Hill
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