March 2, 2008

A Few Memories of a Long Life / Ye Galleon Press

I'm in the process of acquiring a copy of A Few Memories of a Long Life by Robert C. Wallace. The book was originally issued in 1916 and seems rather uncommon, though not too valuable according to Broadfoot's Priced Checklist. It was also given the fine press treatment in 1988 when it was reissued by the Ye Galleon Press out of Fairfield, Washington.

According to the 1986-1996 edition of Civil War Eyewitnesses, Wallace first entered the war in 1861 as part of the First Michigan Infantry, a 3-month unit that was also known as the "Detroit Light Guard" and saw action at Bull Run. That's where my interest primarily lies since I'm currently researching and writing about Detroit in the Civil War. Once that unit was musterd out, Wallace reenlisted into the Fifth Michigan Cavalry and saw battle at Gettysburg, including the pursuit of Lee, Kilpatrick's raid on Richmond, Sheridan's Trevilian raid and numerous others. He recalls Custer with fondness and I also believe he served out west with Custer after the war, though I'm not yet certain of that.

It's that western service that probably prompted Ye Galleon Press to consider this book. This small and fine press began formal operations in 1964 and for the next 40 years, produced beautifully-bound and well-crafted limited editions that brought back into print rare and scarce books that focused on northwestern Americana. The press' work was considered to be of such caliber that Yale and Cambridge had standing orders for everything the press produced. Some of those works had a Civil War tint, such as the title previously mentioned and others such as Abraham Lincoln and the Washington Territory. Another title that I own is a gorgeous, three-color edition of Reports of Inspection Made in the Summer of 1877: Travel Accounts of General William T. Sherman to Spokan Falls, Washington Territory, in the Summers of 1877 and 1883. That book features a lengthy report of the excursion by then-Colonel Orlando M. Poe, who was an aide-de-camp to Sherman at the time and is the biographical subject of my upcoming book. Alas, the press slipped under the waves several years ago following the death of its founder. Nevertheless, many of its titles are still readily available through the usual secoundary outlets such as or ABE. I hope to learn more about this, sadly, now-defunct press.

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