Rabble Rousing Alabama Private

David “Davy” Barnum seems to have spent much of his life in some sort of trouble. Alabama-born and loyal to the South, he was about to be expelled from the U.S. Naval Academy when the Civil War began. He left the Academy and joined his late father’s militia company, which had become part of the 5th Alabama Infantry. In camp, episodes of drinking and brawling were routine. In battle, he was a proven fighter—and a forager. At the Battle of Gettysburg, he turned up after the first day’s fight with a haversack full of candy, lemons and other niceties from town and distributed them to his comrades. But his true love was the sea, and he eventually transferred to the Confederate navy. His career as a sailor was short-lived, however, as the Confederacy needed infantrymen and ordered Barnum back to the 5th. He left the regiment during the waning days of the Army of Northern Virginia, and made his way to Chattanooga, Tenn., where he signed the oath of allegiance to the federal government. According to his former captain, Barnum died in St. Louis shortly after the end of the war.

This carte de visite is new to my collection, and will be included in my forthcoming book about the Union and Confederate navies. It is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Rabble Rousing Alabama Private

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One of the First Graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy

A profile of Samuel J. Shipley’s life appeared in the History of Fayette County, Indiana, published by B.F. Bowen & Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1917:

“Samuel J. Shipley, a resident of Fayette county from 1819 until his death in 1897, a member of the first class to graduate from the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis. a participant in the Civil War and one of the best beloved men of a past generation in the county, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, December 24, 1813, the son of Joseph Shipley and Mary H. (Test) Shipley. He came with his mother to Fayette county when he was six years of age, his father having died leaving his wife with four small children.

It was the childish ambition of Shipley to become a sailor, and when he was nineteen years of age Jonathan McCarty, then congressman from this district, secured an appointment for him as midshipman in the navy. This was before there was a naval academy and it was not until 1839 that Congress established such an institution, the first one being located at Philadelphia. Shipley was enrolled as a student at the time of its inception and when the academy was removed to Annapolis the following year, he became a member of the first class, graduating in the spring of 1840.

Shipley continued his career at sea year after year, being advanced to a lieutenancy in 1847 at the close of the Mexican War. At the opening of the Civil War he was stationed at Fortress Monroe as commander of the “Brandywine,” but his health became impaired and he was compelled to retire from his command in 1863. He at once returned to his home in Fayette county and settled down on his farm in Harrison township, which he had purchased in 1837. There he continued to reside with his daughter until a few years before his death, when he moved to Connersville where he died on July 11, 1897.

Lieutenant Shipley was married on November 14, 1841, to Martha Holton, but his wife died two years later, leaving a daughter, Jennie Shipley, who is still living in Connersville.“

This carte de visite is new to my collection, and will be included in my forthcoming book about the Union and Confederate navies. It is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
One of the First Graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy

Face to Face With a Rebel

bradbury-imagesIsaac Bradbury is the subject of my latest Faces of War column, published monthly in the Civil War News. The Union navy ensign from Machias, Maine, spent his service along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and saw plenty of action as part of the massive federal blockade that choked the life out of the Confederacy. An excerpt:

He continued, “You can imagine my feelings the first time I was under fire, we got nigh in too the Batterys and they opened on us, and we in return engaged them. Death & destruction was all around, the shells as a majority all over shot us, so at the flash of every gun of the ‘Rebs’ all the officers & men on the spar deck would throw themselves flat on their faces, and as the shells went over us a screaming they made anything but delightful music, in fact I thought I would rather be at home hearing the ‘Machias Cornet Band’ playing ‘Home Sweet Home,’ I think it would be far preferable. But I was doomed to be put to a severe test for a shell suddenly burst among the men cutting one in two and severely wounding several others. The one that was killed fell towards me and the blood spouted over my uniform.”

Read the rest of his story.