Arms & Armour

Specialist

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Fabrice VAN RUTTEN

Spécialiste Arts de l'Antiquité, Militaria, Numismatique et Objets Scientifiques

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Highlights

Congressional Medal in honnor of Major General Alexander Macomb (1782-1841) presented by the President of the United State by Congress' request, produced by the United States mint, commemorating his achievements at the Battle of Plattsburgh on 11 September 1814. The obverse represents the bust of Major General Alexander Macomb in military uniform. The reverse represents a view of the Battle of Plattsburgh with troops crossing the Saranac river in the foreground, the fortifications and town in flames, with the naval battle in the background, diam. 6.4 cm, 248g 

American military hero, appointed Commander-in-chief of the United States Army, was acclaimed "The Hero of Plattsburgh" after the astounding victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh. Born on April 3, 1782, son a military great, he started his career with the New York Rangers in 1798. Graduating from the Military Academy in 1802, he was promoted successively to Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Adjudant general, Brigadier, Major General in 1819 and then General-in-chief of the Army in 1828.   
The certificates of appointment bear the signatures of Presidents such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  Great mind and astute strategist, Alexander Macomb was the author of "The Practice of Courts Martial" published in 1840 before his death in 1841.

At the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11 1814, General Macomb fought off the British invasion. Using his knowledge of the land and with ingenious manoeuvres, the enemy was held off until the victory at Lake Champlain. This battle is one of the most impressive in American history. Only 3,400 troops were deployed against 11,000 of the British allied forces. Being a great strategist, the General employed a manoeuvre known as abatis which involves knocking down trees to form a barrier and create a fortification. This was very skilfully executed hence the British numbers diminished rapidly.

In recognition for his services, the President awarded Major General Macomb with a unique gold medal by the resolution of Congress on November 3, 1814 which commemorated this battle.  The resolution stated Resolutions, expressive of the sense of Congress, of the gallantry and good conduct with which the reputation of the arms of the United States has been sustained by the Major General Macomb. The medal was officially awarded to him in 1815 by President of the United States, James Madison.  

Along with the medal is a handwritten letter issued by the United States Department of War dated May 26, 1815 and signed by War secretary Alexander J. Dallas (1759-1817). This letter informs General Macomb of the resolution of Congress and his being awarded a gold medal by the President of the United States.

Major General Alexander Macomb remains an important figure in American history. A town founded in 1830 was also named after him; Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois. Road names and monuments also pay tribute to Major General Macomb as well as his bronze statue in Detroit and funerary monument at the Congress of Washington.

Provenance: by direct descent, Susan Watts Macomb (1849-1928). The grand-daughter of Major General Macomb, Susan Watts Macomb married Frederic Sears I Grand d'Hauteville. The medal has remained in the family to the present day.

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Rare National double sided Flag of the Confederate States of America from the Civil War of 1861, war prize of the Captain of the Union Army, Baron Frederic-Sears Grand d'Hauteville (1838-1918), known as Lone Star with one star in the middle (5th Regiment of Texas). The back side with 11 stars (Stars and Bars). This first national flag design bears 11 white stars (in circle formation with 1 in the centre) within a blue square in the top right corner over 3 horizontal bands: 2 red and 1 white in the middle. This flag was designed by German-American Nicola Marschall (1829-1917) in Marion, Alabama. This version was used from July 1861 until November of that year. The stars represent the 11 Confederate States (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) just before the admission of Kentucky and Missouri.
The flag is made of six individual pieces of cotton with cotton stars applied and hand sewn together, 159x98.5 cm  
A paper hand written note tacked on to the flag reads: "Taken by F.S. G d'H (le Baron Frederic-Sears Ier Grand d'Hauteville (1838-1918)) in 1862 and given by him to E.S.H. (most likely his mother Ellen Sears (1820-1862))
To be given to Freddie d'Hauteville (his son Frederic Sears II Grand d'Hauteville (1873-1944)) when he is fifteen".
Notes: due to the flag's blatant similarity to the "Stars and Stripes" flag of the northern union of States, this design was abandoned in 1863 to be replaced by the version featuring a blue cross with white stars and a red background.  

Provenance : property of Baron Philippe Grand d'Hauteville, this flag was passed down through the family. It was conserved in the family archives at Hauteville Manor until 1989 when it was transferred to the Canton (State) of Vaud Archives and remained there until 2006 when it was moved to Lausanne's History and Archeology Museum.
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