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.

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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 Future Governor’s Brother at Mobile Bay, 1864

David King Perkins (1843-1893) of Kennebunkport, Maine, served as an acting master’s mate on the Union warship Seminole from 1863-1865. He was present and aboard the vessel during the Battle of Mobile Bay, the landmark engagement that closed the last major Confederate port in the Gulf of Mexico. After the war, Perkins resided in California, where his older brother, George Clement Perkins, served as governor from 1880-1883 and as a U.S. senator from 1893-1915.

This carte de visite by Guelpa & Demoleni of Boston, Mass., 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.
A Future Governor’s Brother at Mobile Bay, 1864

Among the First Union Men to Occupy Confederate Richmond

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry is the best known of all the African American regiments in the Civil War. Some are aware that another African American infantry regiment, the 55th, was also organized in Massachusetts.

There was also an African American cavalry regiment formed in Massachusetts—the 5th. It was one of the first Union regiments to occupy Richmond on April 3, 1865, after the city was evacuated. Among the white officers of the regiment who entered the Confederate capital that day was the young man pictured here, 1st Lt. Patrick Tracy Jackson Jr.

His carte de visite is new to my collection, and now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Among the First Union Officers to Occupy Richmond

This sketch of his life was published on pages 39-40 of the Harvard College Class of 1865:

PATRICK TRACY JACKSON, the oldest son of Patrick Tracy Jackson second of the name and Susan Mary (Loring) Jackson, was born in Boston, December 19, 1844, and died at Pride’s Crossing, Beverly, October 12, 1918. He was educated at the schools of Miss Ware, Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Dixwell, where he distinguished himself in the athletics proper to his age.

The Civil War breaking out just before he entered college at once became the principal interest in his life, and after an abortive attempt to go to the front with the New England Guards to defend Washington during the retreat of General Banks in the Shenandoah Valley, he showed that he was in earnest by volunteering on the hospital ship Daniel Webster in his freshman vacation.

Toward the end of his sophomore year, he received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the First Mass. Cavalry, and joined the army during the battle of Chancellorsville. In the march from Chancellorsville to Gettysburg his regiment had only five hours sleep a day for a week, and once he was in the saddle for twenty-five hours without rest. In his entirely unacclimated state he was unable to bear such fatigue and was sent home with typhoid fever before the Battle of Gettysburg. When he returned to the front, he went through an active campaign with the Army of the Potomac for more than a year. Then he accepted a commission as First Lieutenant in the Fifth Mass. Cavalry (colored). After spending some time in guarding rebel prisoners at Point Lookout, Maryland, the regiment was sent to the front, and was one of the first to enter Richmond. After the fall of the Confederacy he was sent to Texas to guard the Mexican frontier for fear of trouble with Maximilian. When at last he got away from the army, he went into business with his father in the Hampden Mills, manufacturing ginghams and other cotton goods, and after learning the business in the mill at Holyoke, entered the office in Boston. The mill failed in 1875, and he and his father started business as cotton buyers. After his father’s death the firm, which now included his son, Arthur, took a commanding position in the buying of Egyptian cotton in the Boston market.

In 1871 he married Eleanor Baker Gray; and they had four children: Patrick Tracy Jackson, Arthur Loring Jackson, Susan Loring Jackson (who married John Noble) and Frederick Gray Jackson. He lived in Cambridge until 1917 when he moved to the Hotel Vendome, Boston, for the rest of his life. He took part in the social and dramatic activities of the Executive Committee of the Unitarian Church there. He was also treasurer of the Boston Provident Association (a charitable society) and an enthusiastic member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion.

His summers were passed at Pride’s Crossing where his classmates Goddard and Tweed gave him many opportunities to gratify his strong love of yachting. For many years he was treasurer of the Eastern Yacht Club.

Toward the end of his life he did a great deal of travelling, his first journeys being to South America, to Para in Brazil and later to La Paz in Bolivia, to see his son, Arthur, who was buying rubber in those places. Later he and his wife went abroad every spring, after the cotton-buying season came to an end, returning in the summer before it began again. In this way they visited the principal countries of Europe. War was declared just as they had started for home on a German steamer, which was the last to reach America.

After they were cut off from Europe, they took journeys to the South and to California. In 1918 trouble with his heart developed with at last fatal results, but it interfered little with his occupations or amusements in the half-year before his death, which came instantly on the 12th of October, 1918,—an easy end of a happy and useful life.

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

The Great Sonrel

One of my favorite overlooked photographers of the Civil War period is Antoine Sonrel, a lithographer, artist, and and one-time associate of the noted scientist Louis Agassiz.

Sonrel operated a studio in Boston, but rarely do I find examples of his work.

The carte de visite pictured here came up for auction on eBay recently, and I’m happy to have it in my collection. The unidentified gentleman sits sideways on a chair, gazing off camera with hand to cheek in what appears to be a contemplative, thoughtful frame of mind. The use of the hand to cheek pose is less common in images of this period, but it does occur. It may have been used by Sonrel and other photographers who wanted to portray men and women who wanted to see themselves as more cerebral. They were perhaps artists, scientists, and writers by occupation, or individuals engaged in similar pursuits for personal enjoyment.

This image is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Profile of a Gentleman with Light-Colored Eyes

New to the Collection: Death at Sea

Massachusetts-born Francis Winslow started his navy career as a midshipman in 1833 at age 15. He served aboard the brig Washington during the war with Mexico. During the Civil War he commanded two gunboats in the Gulf Blockading Squadron, the Water Witch and the R.R. Cuyler. On the latter ship he fell ill with yellow fever and succumbed to its effects on August 26, 1862, outside Key West, Fla. He is buried in New Hampshire.

Winslow sat for this portrait in the studio of J.W. Black of Boston in 1861 or 1862.

This portrait is now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Death at Sea

New to My Collection: Cadet, Circa 1855

Is this a West Pointer who went on to serve in the Civil War?

The subject of this ninth plate Daguerreotype is a clean shaven young man who wears a jacket that suggests he is a military cadet. The jacket is adorned with dark trim and smooth brass buttons, which is very similar to those worn by West Point cadets during the antebellum period.

In the middle of his cravat is pinned what appears to be a fraternity pin, which supports the theory that he is a cadet. The gent also wears a felt hat with leather visor.

The brass mat is stamped “Tyler & Co.” According to the late John S. Craig of the Daguerreian Society, evidence suggests that the company operated studios in Boston, Providence, Memphis, Cincinnati, Charleston, and New Orleans. This image was recently discovered at a flea market in South Carolina, which may indicate that this Daguerreotype originated in a Southern studio.

Estimating his age to be about twenty, and the photograph dating to 1855, this man would have been in his mid-twenties when the Civil War began. Assuming he was alive at the time, it is reasonable to assume he enlisted in the Union or Confederate army.

My brother Gary recently found this photograph at a flea market in South Carolina, purchased it at a very reasonable price, and sent it my way. He’s always on the lookout for quality images, and I appreciate his keen eye!

This portrait is now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Cadet, Circa 1855