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1850s Martin 2 1/2-17 belonging to Civil War diarist Alice Shirley (seige of Vicksburg, MS)

Alice Shirley was in her late teens in 1863 as Grant's army sat in seige of the city of Vicksburg during the third year of the American Civil War.  The Shirley family were Union loyalists who had moved to Vicksburg from the north before the war began to pursue a business opportunity.  Several members of the family were outspoken against the Confederate cause (Alice's father James and brother Frederick) to the point where their lives were threatened.  Still, they remained in Vicksburg.  During Grant's seige of the city many citizens lived outside their homes in tents, shacks and hovels due to damage to their homes from bombardment or due to their homes being taken over by military authorities of either side.  There is a famous photograph of the Shirley house that has been used in many a book on the Civil War, and the house was used as a Confederate and Union headquarters in turn, a soldier's hospital and a small pox hospital after the seige.  The structure was restored after the war and still stands as the only period building within the Vicksburg Military Park, having been bought by the park service in the 1890s from Alice Shirley. 

The guitar pictured here belonged to Alice Shirley, it had been given to her by her father (James).  The guitar was brought to my shop by a great-great grand daughter of Alice Shirley, who reported that according to family lore Alice was known to entertain family and friends on the guitar in their home and about the property of the Shirley home when they were inconvenienced by confederate or federal officers lodging in their home during the war.  Alice was an active diarist and much of her writing has been published.  Indeed, a quick google search of "Alice Shirley civil war" brings up diary entries and photos of the Shirley house. 

The guitar is a late 1850s or early 1860s Martin 2 1/2-17.  The guitar required a few repairs but basically is very well  preserved and in excellent shape with it's original coffin case.  The bridge is the only replaced component.  When the guitar came into my shop it had a slightly over-sized rosewood bridge on it which was obviously incorrect.  I used a period correct 19th century original Martin pyramid bridge to restore the top to it's original appearance.  The old bridge had been salvaged from a badly smashed Martin guitar of the same period that was completley beyond saving.  Note the multi-color "rope" purfling at the center of the rosette, the original Jerome tuners and the dainty (original) strap button at the bottom of the back near the tail block.