Captured on Patrol

beville-collageFrancis Bartow Beville of Savannah, Ga., suffered a severe wound that ended his combat service at the First Battle of Manassas. Still willing to serve, he joined the Confederate navy and wound up enduring great privations as a prisoner of war. His story was just published in the Civil War News. An excerpt:

On July 21, 1861, during the First Battle of Manassas, Bartow was shot and killed as he led a desperate charge against a Union battery. Casualties in the Eighth were heavy, and they included Beville. A minié bullet struck him on the right side of the chest below the collarbone. His comrades carried him from the battlefield and a surgeon operated to cut the Yankee lead out of his back. Beville recuperated from his wound in a private home in Richmond. Nerve and muscular damage limited motion to his right arm and hand, and he received a discharge from the army before the end of the year.[i]

No longer able to perform in combat but still eager to serve, Beville found a way back into the military and a return to his Savannah home: In early 1862 he received an appointment to the navy as a midshipman and was assigned to the formidable casemate ironclad Atlanta. Here he received basic training on active duty—the Confederacy would later establish a naval school ship in Richmond for this purpose.

Meanwhile, the Union blockade choked the life out of the Southern economy and slowed the flow of supplies to the Confederacy military. Savannah was no exception. Desertions by soldiers and sailors increased, including one trio that escaped into the marshes below Savannah on or about March 14.

Read his full story.

A Civil War POW’s Story in 8 Quotes

John McGregor, the surgeon of the 3rd Connecticut Infantry, was captured during the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. The story of who he was as a man, and of his Civil War experience, can be glimpsed in these eight quotes from the “Life and Deeds of John McGregor:”

“He was educated, believed, and acted, according to the political principles of Abraham Lincoln.”

“When a man in the doctor’s position, was ready and willing to leave his home, his friends, his large practice, and almost everything which makes life desirable, to enter the army, and to be subjected to all the sufferings and hardships of war, others were ready to follow his example. He never would encourage men to do what he dared not do himself. His motto was, “Men, follow!’”

“The morning of July 21st, he went with his regiment to the battle field, and there stopped at a house which was to be used as a hospital for our wounded. He remained there through the day, faithfully attending his duties. When the retreat was ordered, I rode up to the hospital. The doctor came to the door, all besmeared with blood. I told him that a retreat was ordered, and for his own safety, he had better leave at once. He asked me if there was any preparation for removing the wounded men. I told him there was not. He then turned and went into the hospital. As he turned, he said, ‘Major, I cannot leave the wounded men, and I shall stay with them, and let the result follow.’ That was the last time I saw him.”

“At last, I was taken from the prison pen at Salisbury, and left upon the banks of the James river, completely destitute. For what purpose I was left there, in that condition, I can assign but one reason, and that is that they left me there to die. I took survey of my situation, and while doing so, these words flashed through my mind; ‘Hope on, hope ever.’”

“As the steamer slowly moved up the river, something seemed to say, ‘Now is the time for you to make an exertion.’ I at once began to do everything which I could to attract their attention. Soon I was overjoyed to see the steamer stop. I could see that they were lowering a boat, and soon I saw them pulling for the shore. At first they thought that I was placed there as a decoy to entrap them; but after the captain had viewed me through his glass, he thought otherwise, and ordered his men to come and see what I wanted. I told those men that I had been a prisoner a long time, and wished to get once more within the Union lines.”

“I had an interview with the President and Secretary Stanton. At that time all the reliable information which could be gathered concerning the rebels’ movements, was highly prized. I was constantly surrounded by reporters, but after I had given the President and Secretary Stanton all the information which I could concerning the South, I closed the doors upon the reporters.”

“As he entered the village, the bells in the steeples commenced ringing out the glad tidings, and at the same moments many familiar voices broke the stillness of the evening by singing one of his favorite hymns, ‘Home again, home again.’ He then discovered that he was surrounded by the village people, who had turned out in a mass to receive him. He was then escorted to his home, the multitude dispersed in a quiet manner, and he was left to enjoy once more the presence of his family friends. He arrived home on Saturday evening, August 3d 1862.”

“At times he was almost afraid that he would become demented. His experience in the fourteen months seemed more like a horrid dream than a reality; but as time passed on, his flesh and strength returned, his mind became more clear, and he was ready to go at them again.”

McGregor died in 1867.

This image is new to my collection and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
A Civil War POW’s Story in 8 Quotes

Dashing Young Man

The young man pictured here, with long hair, dark eyes and dimpled chin, is not known. The photographer’s back mark may offer some clue to his identity. B.L.H. Dabbs operated a studio in Allegheny City, located on Pittsburgh’s north side. The area was mostly farmland until the 1850s when it was subdivided into lots to accommodate its growing German population. This man may have come from one of the German states to make his way in America.

Photographer B.L.H. Dabbs, according to a biographer, “Came to Pittsburg in 1861, and opened a store for the sale of ambrotype and photographic supplies. In the same year he purchased the gallery of a Mr. Rorah, Nos. 90 and 92 Federal Street, Allegheny, and entered the field of artistic photography. His work was a revelation to the people of Pittsburg and vicinity, and commanded prompt appreciation. In 1864, Mr. Dabbs removed to Pittsburg, and established the largest photograph gallery in the State at 46 and 48 Sixth Street. So rapidly did the demand for his photographs increase that, in 1869, he sold out his business as a dealer in photographic materials. Since then he has devoted all his time and talents to the taking of portraits and the development of the photographic art.”

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

Hidden Mother, Third Arm

Keeping an infant still for the 15 or so seconds required for a photographic exposure during the Civil War period often required a helpful hand from mom. In this carte de visite, by Seaver of Boston, Mass., the hand of the child’s mother can be seen wrapped around the baby’s waist.

This image is new to my collection and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Hidden Mother, Third Arm

A Trio of Little Men

The suits worn by these three youngsters are in the same style and make as clothes worn by adults, a common practice of the times. In this case, the little boy pictured on the right holds a child’s version of a proper hat. The photograph, from the studio of Hovey & Moulton of Rome, N.Y., dates from the Civil War period.

This image is new to my collection and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
A Trio of Little Men

Maine Gentleman with Top Hat and Cane

A gentleman identified in period pencil as Joseph Miller strikes a casual pose with frock coat, top hat and cane. He stood for his likeness in the studio of B.F. Smith & Co. of Portland, Maine. The style of the mount and the fashion worn by this man dates the portrait to the Civil War period.

This image is new to my collection and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Maine Gentleman with Top Hat and Cane

Fraternity Boy in the 72nd Illinois Infantry

Elisha J. Morgan Jr., a founder of the Chi chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity (closed 1988), enlisted as a private in the 72nd Illinois Infantry in the summer of 1862. The regiment spent the majority of its three-year enlistment in Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. It was heavily engaged in numerous operations, including the May 22, 1863, assault against the defenses of Vicksburg and the 1864 Battle of Franklin. Morgan survived the war and mustered out as captain of Company K in August 1865.

His portrait, a gift from Photo Sleuth columnist Kurt Luther, is much appreciated. I’ve written about another officer in the regiment, Lt. Col. Joseph C. Wright. His story, “The Last 15 Feet at Vicksburg,” appeared in Disunion.

This image is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Fraternity Boy in the 72nd Illinois Infantry

Two Officers Strike a Pose of Authority

This carte de visite by prolific Tennessee photographer Theodore M. Schleier pictures two Union officers with muddy boots. They stand with swords drawn, a signal of authority over enlisted men. They are identified only as “Capt. Martin” and “Lt. Kile.”

This image is new to my collection, and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Two Officers Strike a Pose of Authority

Portrait of a Portrait of a Dog

New to my collection is this carte de visite of a painting perched on an easel. The subject, a dog with eyes blazing, appears to be captured in the joy of the great outdoors. The gent standing next to the painting may be the artist, or perhaps the individual who commissioned a remembrance of his best friend. The photographer’s name, Rintoul & Rockwood of New York City, appears on the back of the mount.

This image is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Portrait of a Portrait of a Dog

“Such Men Soon Find Death”

winslow-montageFrancis Winslow hailed from the North and his wife and children from the South. When the war came he had difficult choices to make—and they ultimately cost him his life.

An excerpt:

Navy Lt. Francis Winslow was between assignments and with his in-laws near Fayetteville, North Carolina, when secession tore the country apart in late 1860. The rift touched him personally. On the Northern side lay his home state of Massachusetts, and on the Southern side his wife, Mary, and their four children, three boys and a girl.

Read his story.