Civil War Photography Book Fair at the National Archives

archives-programYesterday morning in Washington, D.C., I was walking down Constitution Avenue near the corner of 7th Street when the small blue sign labeled “Today’s Program” caught my attention. It pointed the way to “Free Lectures with Book Signing,” and listed the day’s schedule. As the first of four speakers of the daylong event promoted elsewhere as the “Civil War Photography Book Fair” and the “Civil War Book Fair,” I was relieved to know that I had found the proper entrance with a half hour to spare before my presentation.

I’m a regular at the National Archives, but not at this entrance. I normally use the research door, which is on another side of the building.

I made my way inside the Archives, marched downstairs to the William G. McGowan Theater, and was escorted to the Green Room. There I had the distinct pleasure to meet Hari Jones, the Assistant Director and Curator of the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum in Washington, D.C.

archives-promo-cardHari (pronounced Harry) was tasked with introducing all of the speakers.

According to his biography, Hari is one of America’s foremost authorities on the role of African Americans during the war. I came away from our ten-minute conversation deeply impressed with his knowledge about and passion for men of color who participated in the war.

In the Green Room I also met Susan Clifton, the producer of public programs. She provided all the necessary pre-game details, which included an introduction to the theater podium. Minutes before the program began, archivist Claire Prechtel-Kluskens arrived on the scene. She would welcome the audience and introduce Hari.
coddington-archives01The event began promptly at 11 a.m. and was broadcast live on UStream. Within a few minutes, I walked up to the podium and launched into my discussion of African American Faces of the Civil War. Following my remarks, which are now archived on UStream, I exited the theater to sign books. Among those who purchased copies was a young man who worked for Ancestry and Fold3. He helped digitize U.S. Colored Troops records, and is currently working on records for veterans of the War of 1812.

On my way out, I bumped into Robert Wilson, the next speaker in the lineup. He is the author of Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation, which was released last August. Wilson and I had much in common due to our mutual interest on photography of the era, and our journalism connections at USA TODAY and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

All in all, it was a wonderful visit. I’m thankful to the staff of the Archives for their work to organize the program, and to Robin Noonan of Hopkins Press, publicist extraordinaire.

 

New to My Collection: On the USS Ossipee at Mobile Bay

New to my collection is this carte de visite of William Wingood Jr. by B.P. Paige of Washington, D.C. Wingood left his home in Rockport, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1862 and joined the Union navy as an ensign. Authorities assigned him to the wooden screw sloop Ossipee. The warship and its crew steamed to the Gulf of Mexico, where it captured a number of vessels attempting to run the blockade. In March 1864, the Ossipee joined the fleet of Adm. David Farragut for the invasion of Mobile Bay. On August 5, 1864, the Ossipee passed safely by the enemy forts that guarded the mouth of the bay. The ship and crew steamed into the bay and participated in the ensuing naval battle, and is best known for its role in bringing about the surrender of the Confederate ironclad ram Tennessee to surrender.

This portrait is now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
On the USS Ossipee at Mobile Bay

New to My Collection: Chancellorsville Survivor

John W. Ogden left his job as a clerk in the summer of 1862 and enlisted in the Thirteenth New Jersey Infantry. He and his comrades had their baptism under fire at Antietam in September 1862. Eight months later the regiment was decimated at the Battle of Chancellorsville. According to one biographical sketch of the Thirteenth, “At Chancellorsville it behaved admirably throughout, again showing that it was made of royal stuff. The loss of the regiment in killed and wounded during the three days’ fighting was some 130, being nearly one-half the number taken into battle.”

Ogden was wounded slightly in the left cheek and was hospitalized. While he recuperated, the rest of the regiment participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Ogden never returned to the Thirteenth. Considered unfit for combat duty, he joined the Veteran Reserve Corps, an organization created by the U.S. War Department for men unable to withstand the rigors of life in camp and on campaign, but able to serve light duty off the front lines.

This portrait is now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Chancellorsville Survivor