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.
Philip Joseph Sanger, left, a second assistant engineer on the sloop-of-war Monongahela, was present at the Battle of Mobile Bay, Ala., on August 5, 1864. According to a note in his obituary, “He was thrown to the deck and covered with debris by a shell which demolished the bridge upon which he had been standing, but at once he resumed his post of duty and was applauded by [Rear Adm. David] Farragut for his conspicuous bravery.” He survived the war, became a physician in Philadelphia, Pa., and died in 1887.
Connecticut-born trader George Work posed for his portrait in the New York City studio of photographer George Work in February 1864, shortly after receiving a commission as an acting assistant paymaster in the U.S. navy. Before the end of the month he was assigned to the monitor-class ironclad Tecumseh. Six months later during the Battle of Mobile Bay, the Tecumseh struck an underwater mine (known as a torpedo) at the very onset of the fighting on Aug. 5, 1864. According to eyewitness accounts, the vessel sunk in less than 30 seconds. Almost the entire crew went down with the ship, including Work. His body was never recovered.