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Felix Agnus papers

Abstract

Title:
Felix Agnus papers
Author/Creator:
Agnus, Felix
Collection number:
90-265
Size:
1.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
1861-1865
Inclusive dates:
1861-1869
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Repository:
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email: askhornbake@umd.edu
Abstract:

Felix Agnus (1839-1925) was a French sculptor and Austrian War veteran who achieved incredible success as an officer in the 5th and 165th New York Infantry Regiments during the American Civil War. Agnus served in several campaigns and engagements, including the Peninsula Campaign, the Port Hudson Campaign, and Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. In recognition of his gallantry, Agnus received numerous promotions, rising from the rank of rivate to Brevet Brigadier General. He settled in Baltimore after the war, eventually becoming business manager of the Baltimore American and later founding the Baltimore Star. Agnus's papers consist of military and personal correspondence from the American Civil War, with the bulk of the materials from 1861-1865. The military correspondence is primarily bureaucratic paperwork, including enlistment and promotion papers, ordnance department returns, and letters.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Felix Agnus papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1746
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Alternate formats:

Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at http://digital.lib.umd.edu/ in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Felix Agnus was born on May 5, 1839, in Lyons, France, the child of Etienne and Anne (Bernerra) Agnus. Before 1861, Agnus led a remarkable life, working as an artist, merchant sailor, and soldier. He attended the College of Jolie Clair, near Montrouge, but left college for the sea. During of four years of service, Agnus sailed around the world, visiting St. Helena, West Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, Chile, and Peru before returning to France via Cape Horn. Upon his return to France, Agnus spent three years studying sculpture but he abandoned his studies for the Austrian War, during which he served in the 3rd Regiment of Zouaves. On May 20, 1859, he participated in the Battle of Montebello and was later detailed to Garibaldi's Corps in the Italian Lakes region. After the war, Agnus emigrated to the United States, where he temporarily settled in Newport, Rhode Island. Agnus subsequently moved to New York City, where he worked as a sculptor and chaser with Tiffany and Company.

In the aftermath of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers, and Agnus, already an experienced soldier, enlisted in the federal army. On April 15, 1861, he volunteered as a private in the 5th New York Infantry, Duryee's Zouves. The 5th New York wore the colorful uniforms of the French colonial forces, or "zouaves," with bright red baggy pants, white turbans, and short jackets. The regiment's uniforms, precise maneuvers, and incredible courage made Duryee's Zouaves one of the most celebrated units in the Union Army. Speaking of the 5th New York, General George Sykes said "I doubt whether it had an equal and certainly no superior among all the regiments of the Army of the Potomac."

Agnus built an impressive military career, as evidenced by his meteoric rise through the ranks. He was mustered into service as a sergeant of Company "H" on May 9, 1861. On June 10, 1861, Agnus fought in the Battle of Big Bethel, which was the first land battle of the war. During the engagement, Agnus distinguished himself by saving Captain Judson Kilpatrick, who later became a prominent cavalry officer. In recognition of his courage, Agnus received a series of promotions. He was promoted to first sergeant of Company "H" on July 20, 1861; to second lieutenant on September 6, 1861; and to first lieutenant of Company "D" on July 8, 1862. On June 27, 1862, Agnus participated in the Battle of Gaines's Mill, where he received a severe wound to the shoulder. After the Peninsula Campaign, the 5th New York was transferred to Baltimore, Maryland, and stationed on Federal Hill. While the regiment maintained order in the city, Agnus convalesced at the home of Charles C. Fulton, publisher of the Baltimore American. It was here, presumably, that Agnus courted Fulton's daughter, Annie, whom he married on December 13, 1864.

After recovering from his wounds, Agnus, along with several convalescing officers, recruited for the 165th New York Regiment of Volunteers, the 2nd Duryee Zouaves. Agnus, who commanded the regiment's color company, served with the regiment for the remainder of the conflict. During 1862 and 1863, the 165th New York was garrisoned at New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On May 27, 1863, Agnus was wounded during an assault on Port Hudson. He remained with his regiment after the injury and was among the Federal officers who volunteered for the proposed effort to capture Port Hudson by storm. Agnus's gallantry during the campaign earned him a promotion to major on September 2, 1863. The following year, Agnus, now a lieutenant-colonel, commanded the 165th New York during General Philip Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. More promotions followed the Valley Campaign. Agnus was promoted Brevet Colonel, and, on March 13, 1865, he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. During the spring and summer of 1865, the 165th New York was stationed in the Deep South, where it participated in the occupation of Savannah and dismantled Confederate batteries and fortifications in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Agnus resigned his commission on July 26, 1865.

Following the Confederate surrender, Agnus pursued careers in newspaper publishing and politics. On July 4, 1869, he was promoted to business manager of the Baltimore American. When Charles Fulton died in 1883, Agnus was promoted to publisher and sole manager of the newspaper. Agnus expanded the business on August 17, 1908, when he founded the Baltimore Star. Agnus operated these businesses until November 1920, when he sold both newspapers to Frank A. Munsey. In addition to managing the Baltimore American and Baltimore Star, Agnus was active in Republican politics. Although never a candidate for public office, he held numerous civic posts. He served twice as a member of the Board of Visitors of West Point; he was chairman of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Commission and was a member of the commission that built the Baltimore Courthouse. Agnus also participated in the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization for Union soldiers. Agnus recounted his military career in a collection of short stories published in 1894 entitled A Woman of War. He also published a reference book entitled Book of Maryland: Men and Institutions in 1920. He died on October 31, 1925, at the age of eighty-six.

Felix Agnus continued to make news after his death. He was buried in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, Maryland, underneath a bronze statue of an angel, which he had purchased a few years earlier. This statue turned out to be a copy of an earlier work by Augustus St. Gaudens that was commissioned by Henry Adams for a memorial for his wife. Over the years, an interesting folklore developed surrounding the Agnus statue, which was nicknamed "Black Aggie." People claimed that it had supernatural powers and it was frequently vandalized. In 1967, Agnus's descendents removed the statue from the gravesite and donated it to the Smithsonian. After many years in storage, the statue may now be seen at the Federal Courts building in Washington, in the rear courtyard of the Dolly Madison house.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Felix Agnus consist of military and personal correspondence from the American Civil War, covering the years between 1861 and 1869, with the bulk of materials from 1861 to 1865. The collection illustrates the military career of a prominent Maryland newspaper publisher and Republican politician.

The military correspondence is primarily bureaucratic paperwork, including enlistment and promotion papers, ordnance department returns, and letters. Many of the military papers relate to a dispute between Agnus and the Ordnance Department, in which Agnus stood accused of losing over fifty Enfield rifled muskets and related accoutrements. The personal correspondence includes a letter from an unknown officer to his wife and correspondence pertaining to Agnus's participation in the Grand Army of the Republic.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Papers of Felix Agnus in 1989 from Charles Apfelbaum, a rare books and manuscripts dealer.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Max Grivno, July 2001.

Processing note:

The Papers of Felix Agnus were received in no discernable order. During their processing, the collection was divided into separate files for personal and military papers. Folded documents were flattened, and torn documents were secured with plastic clips. The papers were arranged chronologically, placed in acid-free folders, and stored in an acid-free box.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Sarah Heim and Jennie A. Levine.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized into two series

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Civil War Correspondence, 1861-1866 (52 items)

This series contains Agnus's enlistment and promotion papers, ordnance department returns, and correspondence. Many of the military papers relate to a dispute between Agnus and the Ordnance Department, in which Agnus stood accused of losing over fifty Enfield rifled muskets and related accoutrements. Arrangement is chronological. A detailed inventory of documents in the series appears in the appendix.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Military Correspondence, 1861-1866 series 1box 1folder 1
Enlistment Papers of Lewis P. Lynch (Online), August 6, 1861 series 1box 1folder 1item 1
Descriptive List and Account of Pay and Clothing of Louis P. Lynch, Company R. 72nd Reg. (Online), July 1862 series 1box 1folder 1item 2
Description of Felix Agnus, including place of birth, physical appearance, and occupation (Online), September 15, 1862 series 1box 1folder 1item 3
Notice of Military Liability to Curtis Ogden, Jr. (Online), July 22, 1862 series 1box 1folder 1item 4
Muster-Out Roll of Captain Felix Agnus, Co."A," 165th New York (Online), September 1, 1862 series 1box 1folder 1item 5
Receipt for Military Stores (Online), [1863] series 1box 1folder 1item 6
Special Order 29, Promotions and Appointments in Company "A," 165th New York (Online), January 24, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 7
Abstract of Materials Expended or Consumed by Company "A," 165th New York, 3rd Quarter, 1863 (Online), 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 8
Return of Captain Felix Agnus, Company "A," 165th New York (Online), January 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 9
Return of Capt. Felix Agnus, Company "A," 165th New York (Online), February 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 10
Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, Company "A," 165th New York (Online), March 31, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 11
Quarterly Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, Company "A," 165th New York (Online), June 30, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 12
Return of Captain Felix Agnus, Co. "A," 165th New York (Online), July 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 13
Return of Capt. Felix Agnus, Company A, 165th New York (Online), August 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 14
Circular No. 13, Ordnance Office, War Department (Online), August 22, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 15
List of Ordnance Received at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by Major Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), August 29, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 16
List of Ordnance Received at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by Major Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), August 29, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 17
List of Ordnance Received at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by Major Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), August 29, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 18
Invoice of Ordnance turned over by Lieut. Cowdrey to Maj. Felix Agnus, Commanding, 165th New York (Online), August 31, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 19
Muster-In Roll of Major Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), September 2, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 20
General Orders No. 304 concerning transfer to the Invalid Corps (Online), September 10, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 21
Quarterly Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, Company "A", 165th New York (Online), September 30, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 22
Quarterly Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, 165th Regiment of New York Volunteers (Online), September 30, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 23
Quarterly Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, Company "A," 165th New York (Online), December 31, 1863 series 1box 1folder 1item 24
Letter from Capt. Felix Agnus to Brigadier General S. Sprague concerning recruitment for the 165th New York (2nd Duryee Zouaves) (Online), January 23, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 25
Special Order No. 56, allowing Maj. Felix Agnus to visit Albany, New York, on business with the governor (Online), March 5, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 26
Special Order No. 105 appointing Maj. Felix Agnus to a general court martial (Online), April 28, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 27
Special Order No. 108, ordering Maj. Felix Agnus and others to attend a general court martial (Online), May 2, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 28
Special Order No. 108 revoking Special Order No. 5 (Online), May 2, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 29
Special Order No. 112, ordering Maj. Felix Agnus to return to the 165th New York (Online), May 11, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 30
Special Order No. 112, ordering Maj. Felix Agnus to return to the 165th New York (Online), May 11, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 31
Special Order No. 149, ordering Maj. Felix Agnus to return to the 165th New York (Online), June 21, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 32
Letter from Captain George Balch, Captain of Ordnance to Maj. Felix Agnus, requesting 3rd Quarter Returns (Online), July 8, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 33
Letter from Captain George Balch, Captain of Ordnance to Maj. Felix Agnus, requesting 4th Quarter Returns (Online), July 8, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 34
Letter from Lt. U. J. [Vannert] requesting medical discharge (Online), September 19, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 35
Invoice of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores turned over by Adjt. S. W. Shattuck, 8th New York Volunteers, to 165th New York, at Cader Creek, VA (Online), November 7, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 36
Special Order No. 85, commissioning a board of survey concerning alleged deficiencies in commissary stores (Online), November 14, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 37
Letter from T. J. [Treadwell], Capt. of Ordnance, to Maj. Felix Agnus, 165th New York, stating that the ordnance return for the 3rd Quarter of 1863 has been referred to a second auditor for settlement (Online), November 22, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 38
Letter from T. J. [Treadwell], Capt. of Ordnance, to Maj. Felix Agnus, 165th New York, stating that the ordnance return for the 3rd Quarter of 1863 has been referred to a second auditor for settlement (Online), November 23, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 39
Letter from T. J. [Treadwell], Capt. of Ordnance, to Maj. Felix Agnus, 165th New York, listing lost ordnance for which Agnus is responsible (Online), November 23,1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 40
List of Ordnance received at Camp Russell by Maj. Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), November 24, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 41
Invoice of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores turned over by Lieutenant Geo. Wood, 10th New York Artillery, to Major Felix Agnus at Camp Russell (Online), November 24, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 42
List of Ordnance received at Camp Russell on November 24, 1864, by Major Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), November 24, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 43
List of Ordnance received at Camp Russell on November 24, 1864, by Maj. Felix Agnus, 165th New York (Online), November 24, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 44
Letter from [Maj. Felix Agnus?] to the Ordnance Department explaining the loss of weapons and accoutrements (Online), December, 3, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 45
Quarterly Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores for the 165th New York (Online), December 31, 1864 series 1box 1folder 1item 46
Letter from Lt. Jno. R. M. Guiness to Major Felix Agnus stating that the 4th Quarter Returns have been submitted to an auditor (Online), February 27, 1865 series 1box 1folder 1item 47
Special Order No. 8, resignation of Maj. Felix Agnus on surgeon's certificate of disability (Online), July 26, 1865 series 1box 1folder 1item 48
Felix Agnus, Military Service Record and Assorted Documents (Online), March 1866 series 1box 1folder 1item 49
Letter from Alex. Perry to Major Felix Agnus stating that Agnus's returns for clothing and camp equipment have been submitted to an auditor (Online), March 23, 1866 series 1box 1folder 1item 50
Form V., Treasury Department, Second Auditor's Office, suspending Major Felix Agnus (Online), May 8, 1866 series 1box 1folder 1item 51
Letter from Alex. Perry to Capt. Felix Agnus stating that Agnus's returns for clothing and camp equipment have been submitted to an auditor (Online), December 8, 1866 series 1box 1folder 1item 52

Series 2: Personal Correspondence, 1864-1869 (6 items)

This series contains letters from an unknown officer to his wife (1864) and correspondence pertaining to Agnus's participation in the Grand Army of the Republic. Arrangement is chronological. A detailed inventory of documents in the series appears in the appendix.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Personal Correspondence, 1864-1869 series 2box 1folder 2
Two envelopes, undated series 2box 1folder 2item 1
Letter from unknown officer to his wife (Online), October 22, 1864 series 2box 1folder 2item 2
Appointment of Felix Agnus as Assistant Assessor for Division No. Eleven, 3rd Collection District, State of Maryland (Online), June 12, 1867 series 2box 1folder 2item 3
Letter from Felix Agnus to General Brooks concerning the loan of artillery piece from the 1st Maryland Light Artillery (Online), May 29, 1869 series 2box 1folder 2item 4
Letter from [?], Inspector General, to General Felix Agnus, concerning donations to the Grand Army of the Republic (Online), June 24, 1869 series 2box 1folder 2item 5

Related Material

Microfilm of the Baltimore American is available in the Maryland Room. Copies of Agnus's The Book of Maryland: Men and Institutions (F180.A3) and A Woman of War, and Other Stories (PZ3.A274W) are also available in the Maryland Room.

Several photographs of Felix Agnus are in the Baltimore News American photograph collection (Box 11, Folder 12). Included in this collection are: a photograph of "Black Aggie," the sculpture on Agnus's grave; a carte de visite of Agnus in his brigadier general's uniform; a photograph of a bronze scultpure of a 5th New York soldier sculpted by Agnus; and several photographs of Agnus in old age. The photograph collection is among the holdings of the Marylandia and Rare Books Department, University of Maryland Libraries.

Although the papers contain little information about the battles and campaigns of the 5th and 165th New York, there are several published accounts of the engagements in which these regiments participated:

Cunningham, Edward. The Port Hudson Campaign, 1862-1863. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963.

Davenport, Alfred. Camp and Field Life of the Fifth NewYork Volunteer Infantry (Duryee Zouaves). New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1879.

Gallagher, Gary, ed. Struggle for the Shenandoah: Essays on the 1864 Valley Campaign. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.

Hennessy, John. "At the Vortex of Hell: A Regiment of New Yorkers Destroyed within Ten Minutes." Civil War Times Illustrated 1986 24(9): 10-17.

Hewitt, Lawrence L. "Incompetence, Disorganization, and Lack of Determination: The Federal Assault on Port Hudson, May 27, 1863." Gulf Coast Historical Review 1987 3(1): 63-83.

-----. Port Hudson: Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

Historical Committee, 165th New York. "History of the Second Battalion, Duryee Zouaves." New York, 1904.

-----. "Album of the Second Battalion, Duryee Zouaves." New York, 1906. Kimball, William J. "The Little Battle of Big Bethel." Civil War Times Illustrated 1967 6(3): 28-32.

Longacre, Edward G. "The Port Hudson Campaign." Civil WarTimes Illustrated 1972 10(10): 20-31, 34.

Pohanka, Brian. "Charge Bayonets: The 5th New York at the Battle of Gaines' Mill." Civil War Times Illustrated May-June, 1994.

-----. "Duryee's Zouaves: The 5th New York Volunteer Infantry." Civil War Regiments 1991 1(2): 7-28.

-----. "Like Demons with Bayonets: The 5th New York Zouaves at Gaines' Mill." Military Images 1989 (10) 6: 12-22.

Spicer, Ron and Roger D. Stureke. "The 165th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1863." Military Collector and Historian 1968 20 (2): 49-51.

Stackpole, Edward J. Sheridan in the Shenandoah: Jubal Early's Nemesis. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Press, 1961.

Abstracts of these pieces have been placed in the control file. Researchers should also consult the Official Records of the War of Rebellion.

The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, Maryland, owns three citations presented to Felix Agnus by the United States Fraternal Organizations, the Advertising Club of Baltimore, and the Baltimore American (ca. 1920).

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.

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