President Abraham Lincoln's carpet bag, presented to a Union soldier wounded at Cold Harbor
President Abraham Lincoln's colorful woolen carpet bag, presented to Union soldier Levi Fisher at an army hospital during his recovery from wounds suffered in the Battle of Cold Harbor. A native of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Fisher enlisted in the Union Army in February 1864 as a member of Company F, 184th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864, Fisher lost his right leg to amputation and underwent a prolonged period of hospitalization, during which time he met President Abraham Lincoln and received the president's personal bag. The carpet bag, measuring approximately 15″ x 11″, features an ornate, colorful geometric pattern in red, gray, black, and gold, with a large brass lockplate on the front (the key has been lost). The top of the bag retains the four brass studs used to secure the bag's dark brown leather handles; both have become cleanly detached from age, but are included with the bag. The interior boasts a cotton lining hand-stitched around metal casements, with a divider at center. The bottom boasts five brass studs. The story of President Lincoln's meeting with Fisher, and the gift of this carpet bag, is told in "Selinsgrove's Centennial Souvenir Book," published in 1953. The piece features an image of this carpet bag, a portrait of Fisher, and traces the bag's lineage. In part: "While Levi Fisher was recovering from his wounds in an army hospital, it happened that President Lincoln made one of his accustomed visits to the hospital. He found Fisher on his cot greatly depressed in spirit and weeping about his personal state of affairs…His right leg was gone, he was housed in an army hospital surrounded by sick, wounded, the dying and the dead…Levi Fisher realized that he would be discharged from the army before long, but he lacked adequate space in his baggage for all the things he wanted to take along with him. And he must have so told the President. The President forthwith emptied his own carpetbag of his personal belongings, and handed the empty bag to him with words probably like these—'You take it, your need for it is greater than mine'…Upon his return home, he soon began to need a shoe for his remaining foot. He went to J. Conrad Fetter, a shoemaker who lived near the village of Kantz in Penn Township. He acknowledged to Mr. Fetter that he did not have the money to pay for the shoe, but expressed his willingness to give him the carpetbag that President Lincoln had given him. Fetter agreed to the exchange. The carpetbag became a greatly-prized family heirloom. Upon the death of Conrad Fetter in 1901, the carpetbag passed into the possession of his son-in-law, Peter Sechrist, and upon his death in 1920, the carpetbag became the property of his son, Squire Allen Sechrist, and it has remained in his possession to this day." The bag is further documented in a vintage glossy 4 x 5 photograph with caption, a copy of a 1956 newspaper article depicting and describing the bag, two issues of the Selinsgrove Times with stories on the Sechrist family, and an original broadside supporting Levi Fisher's campaign for county treasurer (affixed to a scrapbook cover). Previously sold by Riba-Mobley Auctions, lot 137, November 7, 1987, and accompanied by that auction catalog. A unique and well-documented Lincoln relic, embodying his empathetic compassion for the brave Union men who sought to preserve and protect the integrity of the United States of America during the bloodiest chapter of its history.