On “The Noxious Institution of Slavery”

These words were written by James F. O’Brien of the Forty-eighth Massachusetts Infantry a week before the Irish-born lieutenant colonel was killed in action while leading a 200-man storming party on a “Forlorn Hope” against the formidable defenses of Port Hudson on May 27, 1863.

O’Brien stated, “I say that the crime of rebellion which has caused thousands of our citizens to fill bloody graves is but partially atoned for in the sweeping array of the noxious institution of slavery. The policy of our government with respect to that institution is just, and wise, as any thinking man who has an opportunity of practically witnessing its effect will acknowledge. Slave labor feeds our enemy in the field, digs his ditches, and builds his fortifications. Every slave liberated by our arms is a diminishment of rebel power. Every slave who wields a spade or musket in our cause is so much added to our strength. This is my belief with respect to the Emancipation policy of the Government.”

His photograph is now available on my Flickr Photostream:
On "The Noxious Institution of Slavery"

New to My Collection: A Cornucopia of Cartes de Visite

An unusual image of a cornucopia, the symbol of abundance and nourishment, which is used here to celebrate friendship. From the mouth of this horn of plenty spills a number of Civil War era portraits of men and women interspaced with leaves, flowers and grapes. Quite unique!

The full image is available on my Flickr Photostream:
A Cornucopia of Cartes de Visite

A View of Shiloh

My profile of James Franklin Putnam of the Eighth Independent Battery Ohio Light Artillery (current print issue of the Civil War News) is now available online!

An excerpt: “Had we lost this battle,” wrote 22-year-old Union artillery Pvt. James F. Putnam, “We would have been driven backwards into the Tennessee river, and thousands would have met with a watery grave or been crushed beneath the wheels and heels of thousands of horses and wagons that crowded its banks.”

Putnam from my Flickr Photostream:
Shiloh Survivor

On the Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Kojo Nnamdi ShowI thoroughly enjoyed my appearance on the April 3 edition of The Kojo Nnamdi Show. An excerpt from the transcript:

CODDINGTON
Well, Kojo, as you referenced earlier, the work that I do begins with finding the photographs. I spent more than two years searching for images of identified wartime soldiers. And I was looking for both Northern and Southern soldiers. And during that time, I was not able to find one image of a black Confederate enlisted man.

NNAMDI
Well, I’m looking at Silas Chandler. He has a knife in his right hand. He seems to have what looks like a musket on his left hand.

CODDINGTON
He has—yes. He has all the trappings of a soldier. He has the uniform coat, as you can see, and the white soldier sitting next to him is dressed in a very similar fashion. And there was quite a bit of discussion around his story, particularly on the Internet. I came—became aware of the story about the same time I learned about the photograph. And I contacted the state of Mississippi, their archives, because the white soldier served in the 44th Mississippi Infantry.

NNAMDI
The white soldier who is sitting next to him.

CODDINGTON
Exactly. Also holding a gun, also looking ready for action, and I was surprised to find that the state had pension files for not only the white soldier but also Silas Chandler. So I paid my fee. The forms came in the mail. And I knew instantly that Silas was not a black soldier. The forms told me all I needed to know.

“Behind the Lines” Interview

ImageMy interview with David K. Thomson, who hosts a series of Skype interviews as part of his blog, “Behind the Lines,” on the Civil War Monitor. Description from the post:

“Our conversation with Ron Coddington, an assistant managing editor with the Chronicle of Higher Education and author of African American Faces of the Civil War: An Album, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. In this interview, Ron discusses this third installment in his Civil War photograph series, including how he was unable to uncover the powerful stories behind the images selected.”

The interview was published March 15, 2013.

Lending to the National Gallery

Today I accepted a request from the National Gallery of Art to lend my original carte de visite photograph of Maj. John W.M. Appleton for the upcoming Shaw Memorial exhibit, “Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial.” It opens Sept. 15. I am thrilled to have Appleton’s image included!

John Whittier Messer Appleton (1832-1913) started the war as a private in the Boston Cadets. In 1863 he joined the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry as captain of Company A, and was wounded twice in action during the assault on the battery known as Fort Wagner. He left the regiment in late 1864 with the rank of major.

Here is the image that will appear in he exhibit:
John W.M. Appleton

Welcome to the New Faces of War

Ronald S. CoddingtonIn 2001 I established Faces of War to be the home for news, narratives and notes about my journey as an author and historian. Since that original launch 12 years ago, the digital world has rapidly expanded to new and exciting horizons. A host of devices, technologies and services has dramatically changed the way we consume news and information. And Faces of War has flexed and grown with the times. I am pleased to present the new Faces of War. It is built with a responsive design theme on the WordPress publishing platform. You’ll have an optimum user experience on your phone, tablet or laptop.

The redesigned site is one way to follow my work. The complete list:

Thanks to you for your continued support. I hope that the new Faces of War will add depth and breadth to my view that “The history of the Civil War is the stories of its soldiers.”

Ronald S. Coddington, author and historian