Civil War Watch & Veteran’s Medal

Value (2009) | $6,000 Insurance

I brought in a watch and a medal from the Civil War from my great-great-grandfather.

Well, what we have is a pocket watch from the American Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts. And it's a very early Waltham, 18-karat-gold case. The watch was made in late 1863, early 1864. And what's special about the watch?

Well, it's inscribed with my great-great-grandfather's name and the fact that he was a captain in the Union forces. And it's got the date on there of 1865.

Right, it says, "Alex McMurtry, Captain, 1865," and "88th Illinois." That was the regiment that he served with during the Civil War. That was one of the hardest fighting regiments of the Civil War. They fought all the way from Perryville in 1862, in Kentucky, down through Atlanta, all through the campaign, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, on over into middle Tennessee. They fought at the fierce Battle of Franklin, and then on up to the Battle of Nashville, which is actually where they were discharged out of the Army in 1865. So, it's very likely that this watch was a gift of admiration from his soldiers. We'll never know that for sure, but the time frame is correct on it. One neat side note about your ancestor, he was born in Ireland. He was 27 years old when the war broke out, and he entered as a sergeant. He rose all the way up to the rank of captain, mainly because his regiment was decimated. And evidently he was somebody that they thought a lot of, because that's a long way to go up the food chain during that time frame. This is his veteran's medal from after the Civil War. It's a member's medal into the Grand Army of the Republic, which is the Union veterans of the Civil War, kind of like the VFW is today. Most of these are made of brass. What's special about this one is it's made of gold. If we turn it over... we have the Chicago maker mark. And we also have "Presented to..." your ancestor in 1893. Most of the regular brass and copper member's medals are $100 to $150. This one, because it's gold, multiplies it by ten. It's about a $1,500 medal. It's a very beautiful medal. It actually has the rank bar. The eagle means he was a colonel after the war. They held rank in the veteran's organization just like they did during the war. The watch itself-- I conferred with my friends at the watch table-- they said as a watch, it's probably worth between $2,000 and $3,000. But, with the presentation, it's probably more of a $4,000 to $4,500 watch. So, as a group, I would insure it for about $6,000.

Appraisal Details

Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2009)
$6,000 Insurance
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)

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