New on Disunion: The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground

William Harvey CarneyMy latest contribution to the New York Times series Disunion is the story of Sgt. William Harvey Carney of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry and how he came to say these immortal words at Fort Wagner.

An excerpt:

Carney climbed the rampart with the Stars and Stripes. “All around me were the dead and wounded, lying one upon top the other,” he observed, describing the scene. “It seemed a miracle that I should have been spared in that awful slaughter. When I recovered from my semi stupor, on account of the scenes of blood about me, I found myself standing on the top of the embankment, all alone. It were folly for me to try to advance, so I dropped on my knees among my dead comrades, and I laid as low and quiet as possible.”

Carney planted the bottom of the flagstaff into the ground as musket bullets and canister shots plowed into the earth near his feet and sprayed sand into the air. “I was almost blinded by the dirt flying around me and nearly distracted by the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying men about me. As soon as I could distinguish anything in the darkness, I could see dimly on one side a line of men mounting the ramparts and going down into the fort. I thought they must be our own men, but in the light of a cannon flash I saw they were the enemy.”

Read the rest of Sgt. Carney’s story.

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Lending to the National Gallery

Today I accepted a request from the National Gallery of Art to lend my original carte de visite photograph of Maj. John W.M. Appleton for the upcoming Shaw Memorial exhibit, “Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial.” It opens Sept. 15. I am thrilled to have Appleton’s image included!

John Whittier Messer Appleton (1832-1913) started the war as a private in the Boston Cadets. In 1863 he joined the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry as captain of Company A, and was wounded twice in action during the assault on the battery known as Fort Wagner. He left the regiment in late 1864 with the rank of major.

Here is the image that will appear in he exhibit:
John W.M. Appleton