A Fateful Shore Leave Leads to a Trip to Andersonville

HOPKINS-MONTAGEUnion sailor Nathan Edwin Hopkins and two comrades stepped out into the Virginia countryside and wound up on a train to Andersonville. His profile appears in the latest issue of the Civil War News. An excerpt:

In mid-October 1864, Hopkins prisoner of war status ended outside Richmond along the James River—not far from where his odyssey had begun four months earlier. He and the rest of the prisoners were transferred from a Confederate flag-of-truce boat to the Union steamer Mary Washington. A newspaper correspondent was eyewitness to the event. “On coming near the little rebel flag-of-truce boat, formerly a tow tug, I found its deck full of men, whose appearances at once impressed me that they were rebels. Upon inquiry I ascertained they were our half-starved and half-clothed sailors, whose external semblance gave evidence of bad treatment and worse fare. It was a sad sight,” he continued, “to look upon these heroes, shivering under the cool breeze of the morning, many of them with nothing to wrap themselves up.”

Read the rest of his story.

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

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

“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.

Lookout Mountain Sentry

A federal private is seated on Lookout Mountain, his hat laying beside him. This spot was a favorite for soldiers, families and others touring the Chattanooga battlefield during the Civil War, and continues today.

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

“Firsts” at Book Talk in Charlottesville

02Two “firsts” distinguished last night’s discussion at the Senior Center in Charlottesville, Va.

For the first time in the all the presentations I’ve made, this was focused on a book yet to be completed—my navy volume. Although the manuscript will not be completed until the end of the year, I am comfortably past the halfway point. The talk provided me an early opportunity to build a Powerpoint and begin to talk publicly about the sailors at the heart of the volume.

For the first time ever, I was late. I allowed an extra hour for travel and it was not enough. Numerous slow-downs for police activity caused me to be six minutes late. Host Rick Britton, always the gentleman, kept the crowd engaged until my arrival.

A huge thanks to Rick and all those who attended for their patience, warm welcome, and good questions. Also thanks to Bill Krause, a Civil War living history impressionist. His ancestor, William B. Newman, was acting master on the warship “Southfield” in 1864. Captured at Plymouth, N.C., he spent the majority of the war as a prisoner.

Out of Retirement

shipleySamuel Shipley is representative of older Americans who came out of retirement to fight for the Union. His profile is the latest Faces of War column in the Civil War News. An excerpt:

The need for Union warships to support the massive Southern blockade prompted the re-commission of mothballed vessels. One of the ancients to be recalled to service, the 44-gun frigate Brandywine, had been launched in 1825 and on her maiden voyage had carried Revolutionary War hero Lafayette home to France.

Her sails were furled in 1850.

A decade later she was called out of retirement. In late September 1861 the New York Tribune reported, “The old frigate Brandywine is being rapidly converted in a storeship — about the only thing she is fit for. When completed she will present a rather patched appearance, but she will no doubt answer the purpose for which she is intended.” Other newspapers referred to her as the “Hulk Brandywine.”

Her new crew included a veteran officer who had also come out of retirement. Samuel Shipley, a 47-year-old lieutenant, had resigned his commission in 1852.

Read the rest of his story on Medium.

An Englishman in Union Blue

English-born William Chippendale signed and dated the back of this image Sept. 1, 1862. He served as the original captain of Company E, 22nd New Jersey Infantry, during the regiment’s nine-month term of enlistment.

The history of the 22nd, from the Union Army, Vol. 3: “This regiment, composed almost exclusively of volunteers from the county of Bergen, was mustered into service at Trenton on Sept. 22, 1862, and left for Washington seven days later, arriving safely after some detentions and going into camp on East Capitol hill. About the last of November, after being brigaded with the 29th, 30th and 31st N. J., and 137th Pa. regiments, it proceeded by way of Port Tobacco to Liverpool Point, whence it crossed, on Dec. 5, to Acquia creek, the march being one of great difficulty, taxing the endurance of the men to the utmost, their sufferings being increased upon their arrival by a cold and pitiless storm, which continued for two days. Early in Jan., 1863, the regiment was ordered to report to the 3d brigade, 1st division, 1st army corps, and accordingly proceeded to Belle Plain, where it remained for some time. It was slightly engaged in the battle of Chancellorsville and a few days subsequently it proceeded to Centerville and was released from the service. Continuing its march to Washington, it departed thence by rail to Trenton, arriving there on June 22 and a few days later was finally disbanded, after nine months’ service.”

Chippendale died in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1914.

This image is new to my collection, and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
An Englishman in Union Blue

Photoshop, 1860s

This Union captain is captured in a double exposure photograph, or Photoshop 1860s style. The best brief explanation I’ve found is from an exhibit titled “Early Double Exposure Portraits” on lomography.com:

In the 1860’s photographers were looking for a way to boost their business. Because of this, they thought of a way to make the subjects appear twice in the photograph – thus the birth of double exposure. In the images presented here, you can see that the subject is seen twice in the photo but having a different position. To create this type of image, the photographer would shoot the subject in one position and then the subject must move swiftly to another position before the second image is taken. The photographers also used rotating lens caps and special plates to come up with these double-exposed images.

Learn more.

This image is new to my collection, and is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Photoshop, 1860s style