Ranking Sergeants of Company G

austinThe Civil War was two months old on June 14, 1861, when these New Yorkers left their camp in Bethlehem, N.Y., and posed for their portrait brandishing weapons and an air of confidence. 3rd Sgt. Luther Lee Partridge, 4th Sgt. Andrew Christie Bayne, 1st Sgt. John Henry Austin, and 2nd Sgt. Edwin O. Betts all served in Company G of the Sixteenth New York Infantry, and they had mustered into the Union army a month earlier at Albany. All four men resided in De Peyster, a hamlet located in the far north of the Empire State. Although each man held the rank of sergeant, none had yet received the chevrons that denote their rank.

Four days after they had this picture taken, the ranking sergeants of Company G and the rest of their regiment left for Washington, D.C.

The Sixteenth spent the rest of its two-year term of enlistment in the South. It fought briefly at the First Battle of Bull Run, and suffered heavy losses during the Peninsular Campaign and at Crampton’s Gap during the Antietam Campaign. The regiment was held in reserve during the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, and returned to action to fight in the Chancellorsville Campaign.

The regiment mustered out of the army on May 22, 1863, and the losses were tallied: 112 were killed or mortally wounded, and 84 died from disease and other causes.

All four of these men survived.

Luther Lee Partridge (1838-1881) was wounded on May 3, 1863, in the fighting at Salem Church, Va., during the Chancellorsville Campaign.

Scottish-born Andrew Christie Bayne (1841-1893) enlisted the Veteran Reserve Corps after he left the Sixteenth and advanced to the rank of captain by the end of the war. He then joined the regular army and remained in uniform until 1871.

John Henry Austin (1835-1913) became second lieutenant of Company G a few months after sitting for this portrait, and mustered out with most of his comrades on May 22, 1863.

Edwin O. Betts was reduced to the ranks on September 29, 1862, and remained in Company G until the end of its enlistment.

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.

Boy with Ornate Chair

A carte de visite by O.A. Taft’s Gallery of Middlebury, Vt., depicts a young man with a slightly furrowed brow who sits on the edge of an ornate chair with his foot perched upon a small stool. Visible behind the chair is the base of a brace, which the photographer or an assistant has wrapped in material to conceal its protruding iron feet. Iron braces were used during the early period of photography to hold an individual in place while an exposure was being made.

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Boy with Ornate Chair

“Hyde” as a Deep Sea Diver

The companion image to yesterday’s post is this carte de visite by an anonymous photographer. An individual wearing a Morse Diving Helmet and an insulated suit stands in a photographer’s studio. A modern pencil identification on the back of the mount of this image names this diver as “Hyde,” and is associated with a tintype of a man in the uniform of a Union sailor. According to a previous owner, the sailor’s first name is George. There is however no record of a George Hyde in the U.S. navy during the Civil War period.

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Deep Sea Diver

Navy Man “Hyde”

This tintype in a carte de visite mount by an anonymous photographer is identified in modern pencil on the back only as “Hyde.” This photo came with another image, a carte de visite of a man outfitted in a Civil War era deep-sea diving suit, his head and face covered with a Morse Diving Helmet. According to a previous owner of the photos, the sailor’s first name is George. There is however no record of a George Hyde in the U.S. navy during the Civil War period. If you know anything about a George Hyde who served in the Union navy between 1861-1865, please be in touch!

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Navy Man “Hyde”

The Great Whipple

John Adams Whipple (1822-1891) of Boston, Mass., stands out among pioneer photographers for his images of the moon and other astronomical subjects. His authoritative knowledge of the science of photograph-making was complimented by his artistry, as evidenced by surviving likenesses of Bostonians and other early Americans. This Civil War period portrait of a studious boy is representative of his art. The young man gazes downward at a large volume, perhaps a ledger. The lines formed by his crossed legs, the umbrella leaning against the table, the tilt of his head and ribbon on the Glengarry-style Scottish cap form a triangle. The book provides a contrasting line that adds to the visual interest.

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
The Great Whipple

J. Worthley, July 21, 1863

This name and date appears on the back of the mount of this carte de visite. Other clues to this soldier’s identity can be found on his forage cap: The horn indicates his service in the infantry, and the brass characters “E” and “44” his membership in Company E of the Forty-fourth infantry. He wears the uniform of Union enlisted man.

Military service records list only one man whose name, rank and organization match the above information: James C. Worthley, who served as a private in Company E of the Forty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry.

Worthley left the regiment in June 1863 after his nine-month term of enlistment ended. The date on this image suggests that this may have been the last (and possibly only) time he posed in the uniform of the Forty-fourth. The regiment had spent the bulk of its time in North Carolina.

Worthley rejoined the army in the fall of 1863 as a sergeant in the Third Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and served the remainder of the war in the defenses of Washington, D.C. A shoemaker in Boston prior to his military service, New Hampshire-born Worthley moved to Wisconsin at some point after the war. He died in Milwaukee in 1918.

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
J. Worthley, July 21, 1863

Dakota County in the Civil War

crooksThe Dakota County Historical Society’s latest newsletter includes an article about the Minnesota county in 1863. The article touches on regional conflicts with Native Americans, and among the illustrations is a photograph of William Crooks from my collection. Crooks served as the colonel of the Sixth Minnesota Infantry. In this excerpt, Col. Crooks toasts Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley. The toast was recounted by a correspondent for the St. Paul Pioneer with the nom de plume INVALIDE:

To the far west of Dakota County, Sibley’s Indian Expedition was encamped at Camp Hayes at the “Great Bend” of the Sheyenne River during the Fourth of July. That evening, as reported by INVALIDE, Sibley and his staff as well as the field and staff officers of the different regiments of the Expedition, were invited to dine together at the headquarters’ mess tent. Colonel Crooks offered a toast to the health of the Brigadier General Commanding. Sibley replied saying: “I trust there is no gentleman present, or in this camp who would shrink from any sacrifice needed to accomplish the proposed objects of this expedition. For myself, I am not only willing to make any personal sacrifice, but am determined so far as I am concerned. I will endeavor to execute to the utmost of my ability, the important trusts developed to me. I shall take no backward step that I can avoid, until I secure Little Crow and his band of murderers.”

No one knew at the celebratory dinner, or could have known, that Little Crow had been shot and had bled to death the day before in Minnesota. Sibley would not have his prize.”

Book Talk at Reynolds Community College

ghazala-ronI’m overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the fine team at Reynolds who made last night’s book talk a reality. Heartfelt thanks to Lisa, Ashley, and especially my good friend Ghazala Hashmi (pictured here). The friendship Ghazala and I share extends all the way back to high school, and I’m so happy to reconnect with her after so many years. She and I caught up over dinner at a local Thai restaurant before the talk.

The event took place in the Massey Library auditorium on campus and was well attended. I was delighted to see a number of young faces in the audience, and applaud the teacher who gave one group of high school students extra credit for attending the presentation. I was also impressed with the raffle—four copies of “African American Faces of the Civil War” were given away, and another four copies of the book written by the author who will appear at the next event. In all the talks I’ve participated in, the book raffle is a first.

All of this happened on my birthday, and at the end of the presentation, event coordinator Lisa Bishop stepped up to the podium and asked everyone to wish me a happy birthday on the count of three. That was icing on the cake!

After the event, we all walked out into the lobby of the library for refreshments and a book signing. I met and signed books for a number of attendees, including Wendell, a teacher who planned to use the book in his class.

Great day!

Never the Same After His Capture

Samuel Tilden Kingston, it was said, was not the same man after Confederates captured and imprisoned him in Richmond’s Libby Prison. The assistant surgeon of the Second New York Cavalry, he fell into enemy hands on March 1, 1864, during Union Col. Ulric Dahlgren’s failed raid on Richmond. Kingston was locked up in a basement dungeon of Libby and treated harshly by his captors. Conditions turned from bad to worse when papers ordering the assassination of Confederate President Jefferson Davis were reportedly discovered on the body of Dahlgren after he was killed.

Kingston was released after a short time in confinement, and he later returned to his regiment. He survived the war and became a physician and druggist in Oswego, N.Y. According to a document in his pension file, Kingston was “a very odd & peculiar person.” His wife also noted that he was peculiar with respect to arranging his financial affairs. Kingston died in 1889 at age 53.

This image is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Never the Same After His Capture

“Wild Dayrell”

dayrell-compositeMy latest “Faces of War” column in the Civil War News is the story of Benjamin Franklin Wood, an engineer in the U.S. navy. He served on the Sassacus when it encountered the blockade-runner Wild Dayrell 150 years ago yesterday.

An excerpt:

Holden observed, “The curling tongues of flame that now shot out from the decks of the Wild Dayrell showed that the torch had been faithfully applied; clouds of lurid smoke poured from the holds, and enveloped the whole of her light masts, sails and rigging.”

He added, “To insure complete ruin of her engines, and to preclude the remote possibility of her ever serving again either her owners or the rebels, both the Sassacus and Florida took position, and shot after shot was fired through the iron hull. Bursting shells soon tore immense holes in bows and stern, or threw masses of shattered deck and cargo high into the air.”

The Wild Dayrell was no more.

Read the full story.