Wounded at Perryville

Joseph W.R. Stambaugh of the Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry suffered a wound in the side during his first big fight at Perryville, Ky., on Oct. 8, 1862. He made a full recovery and joined the Pioneer Brigade of the Army of the Cumberland, with which organization he served on detached duty in Tennessee until November 1864, when he joined the First Veteran Volunteer Engineers. He mustered out of the army as a captain at the end of the war. He died in 1890.

I’ve had this image in my collection for years. His story appeared in my first book, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories. The image came to my attention the other day after trading emails with author and historian Greg Mast, who is working on a new book about North Carolina men who served during the Civil War. Although Stambaugh wore Union blue, he was born in Fayetteville, N.C., according to his military service records. Later census records state that he was born in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is unusual in my experience to have such confusion about a soldier’s state of origin.

This image is now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Wounded at Perryville

1 thought on “Wounded at Perryville

  1. The engineer, or pioneers, especially with the Army of the Cumberland, rendered valuable service for the Union Army during the war, for which they have never been given full credit. I suppose that was due to the ethos of the time, which romanticized the cavalry and to a lesser extent the infantry, over the more prosaic arms of service. Yet without those services, the Federals would have lost more than one battle, perhaps even the war.

    Your photo of Captain Stanbaugh shows a rather rakish looking officer, and has some sort of badge on his chest I can’t make out. In my research for my forthcoming book on Ambrose Bierce’s war career, I gained a better appreciation of this arm of service. Bierce was with the topographical engineers from 1863 on, whose main job were to draw maps for Rosecrans’ army. While it doesn’t sound like particularly hazardous duty, it was. It often involved infiltrating behind enemy lines to obtain timely and accurate information about road conditions, river crossings and the like–in essence, espionage.

    For example Bierce, with several other topographical engineers, had to scout out the terrain around Brown’s Ferry prior to opening the famed “Cracker Line” and the subsequent amphibious operation by his and other units was a classic example of how combat engineering made the difference between defeat and victory.

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