J. Worthley, July 21, 1863

This name and date appears on the back of the mount of this carte de visite. Other clues to this soldier’s identity can be found on his forage cap: The horn indicates his service in the infantry, and the brass characters “E” and “44” his membership in Company E of the Forty-fourth infantry. He wears the uniform of Union enlisted man.

Military service records list only one man whose name, rank and organization match the above information: James C. Worthley, who served as a private in Company E of the Forty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry.

Worthley left the regiment in June 1863 after his nine-month term of enlistment ended. The date on this image suggests that this may have been the last (and possibly only) time he posed in the uniform of the Forty-fourth. The regiment had spent the bulk of its time in North Carolina.

Worthley rejoined the army in the fall of 1863 as a sergeant in the Third Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and served the remainder of the war in the defenses of Washington, D.C. A shoemaker in Boston prior to his military service, New Hampshire-born Worthley moved to Wisconsin at some point after the war. He died in Milwaukee in 1918.

This image is new to my collection, and available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
J. Worthley, July 21, 1863

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All Quiet Along the New Hampshire Front

Crombie-JamesI recently acquired this compelling image of Dr. James H. Crombie, a physician in Derry, N.H. At first glance, one might conclude that Crombie dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier for a costume ball.

The uniform, however, was no costume. It was the official attire of the Amoskeag Veterans, a militia company organized in Manchester in 1855. Their uniforms were inspired by the Continental Army that had fought the Revolution 75 years earlier.

Crombie left the Amoskeag Veterans during the Civil War to serve a stint as a contract surgeon in the Union army. One assumes he left this uniform at home.

The following details about Crombie and the Amoskeag Veterans are posted on Flickr, Tumblr and Pinterest.

An 1838 graduate of Dartmouth Medical College, Crombie (1813-1884) served as assistant surgeon in the Amoskeag Veterans, an independent militia company organized in Manchester in 1855. According to a local historian, “The objects for which it was organized were designated by the constitution to be military parades, the protection of life and property, the preservation of the peace and social enjoyments. Its first parade and ball occurred February 22, 1855.” The statement supports the dual role of militia from this period as social fraternity and military organization.

The Amoskeag Veterans wore distinctive uniforms inspired by the Continental Army that had fought the Revolutionary War 75 years earlier.

amoskeag-receptionIn this undated print in the collection of the New York Public Library titled “Reception of the Amoskeag Veterans,” the distinctive uniforms of the militiamen are plainly visible.

Crombie posed for his carte de visite portrait wearing what may be the full dress uniform, complete with gloves, bicorn hat, and a sword and sash.

In 1862, the New Hampshire Adjutant General reported that the ranks of many militia companies had been reduced due to high volunteer rates in new regiments organized to fight the Civil War. Other militias had been completely abandoned. The Amoskeag Veterans, however, continued to maintain their organization.

Crombie numbered among those who left the militia to participate in the war. According to the History of the New Hampshire Surgeons in the War of the Rebellion, he entered the army as contract surgeon in 1861, and was on duty in the vicinity of Fortress Monroe, Virginia, until 1864.” Another source notes that Crombie did not become a contract surgeon until after the Battle of Petersburg in 1864, and served as such for several months.

Contract surgeons were hired by the U.S. War Department to bolster the ranks of commissioned surgeons, and were considered civilian personnel.

Crombie returned to New Hamshire after his stint in the army, and resumed his place in the Amoskeag Veterans. He died of heart disease in 1884.

New Jersey’s ‘Mutinous’ 33rd

toffeyNow available on New York Times Disunion is the story of John James Toffey and how he came to receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry when he saved a skirmish line at Chattanooga.

An excerpt:

The order to begin what came to be known as the Battle of Orchard Knob (or Indian Hill) was given about 3:30 a.m. Toffey recalled, “We were ordered to charge a very strong position on the extreme right of the rebel line. It was well fortified and surrounded by dense woods, while in front there was an open field over which we had to charge.”

Confederate infantry and sharpshooters concealed themselves in the woods and in rifle pits dug into the banks of Citico Creek, and arranged themselves under cover of a railroad bridge and nearby buildings.

The Southerners opened up a murderous fire almost immediately after the 33rd started forward — no more then 20 paces according to one account. Rebel lead struck the Jersey boys with deadly accuracy. The Confederates, Toffey noted, “were directing their attention to the officers.”

Read the full story.

I first wrote about Toffey in my 2004 book, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories.

Received the Medal of Honor for Courage at Chattanooga

John James Toffey (1844-1911) of Jersey City joined the Union army at age 18 when he enlisted for a one year term in the 21st New Jersey Infantry. He immediately reenlisted in the Thirty-third New Jersey Infantry when it was organized in the summer of 1863. Toffey and his comrades, distinctive in their Zouave-style uniforms, reported to the Army of the Cumberland for duty and participated in the Chattanooga Campaign. On November 23, 1863, Toffey rose from his sick bed to fight in the Battle of Orchard Knob. His colonel, George Mindil, ordered him in at a critical moment: The advance line of the Thirty-third had wavered and buckled in a charge under Confederate fire. “I ran across the open field and reached the advance line in time to prevent it from breaking. I reformed the line and we again charged … just as we were carrying the position I received a severe wound,” Toffey explained. He was struck by two rebel bullets. One ripped into his right thigh at the pelvis, fracturing that bone and his leg. The second bullet caused a flesh wound to his other leg. The wounds ended his combat service, and he served the rest of the war in the Veteran Reserve Corps. He received the Medal of Honor in 1897. His “superlatively brave conduct,” noted Col. Mindil, “saved the position, and enabled us on the following morning to press forward the entire line” as it surged up and over Lookout Mountain for another stunning Union victory that spelled doom for Confederate forces under Gen. Braxton Bragg.

I wrote about Toffey in my first book, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories.

His image is now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Received the Medal of Honor for Courage at Chattanooga

Newly Posted: Seven Times Wounded at Gettysburg

Now available on Pinterest, Tumblr, and Flickr is this circa 1865 carte de visite of Irish-born James Brownlee.
Seven Times Wounded at Gettysburg

Brownlee served in the 134th New York Infantry, which at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg belonged to a brigade commanded by Col. Charles R. Coster. During the afternoon of the first day of the battle, Coster’s Brigade was ordered to support the crumbling federal right on the northern edge of Gettysburg. Soon after the brigade formed, the Confederate juggernaut descended on Coster’s men. The 134th was overwhelmed by advancing rebels on the front, flank and rear. More than half the regiment became casualties, including Brownlee, who suffered wounds from four bullets and three buckshot. His case study appeared in The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion:

CASE.—Private James Brownlee, Co. G, 134th New York Volunteers, aged 21 years, was wounded at Gettysburg, July 1st, 1863, by four balls and three buckshot. One ball, probably conoidal, entered the sternum about an inch below the jugular fossa, and passing downward and outward, underneath the second, third, and fourth ribs, perforated the upper lobe of the right lung superficially, and emerged between the fourth and fifth ribs, about three inches to the right of the nipple of the same side. Three buckshot took effect just above the pubes, some of them passing through the bladder. One ball entered the right thigh and lodged; another (conoidal) entered the left thigh and passed nearly through. It was removed on the fourth day. A nearly spent conoidal ball entered the back of the sacrum, near its middle, and buried itself slightly beneath the skin, whence it was immediately removed by the patient. In addition to the injuries already stated the patient affirms that he was finally struck upon his knapsack, and knocked down by a piece of railroad iron about eighteen inches long, which was fired from one of the enemy’s guns. Being made a prisoner soon after, a Confederate surgeon removed some fragments of the sternum from the wound of exit, and dressed the wound with pledgets of lint, removing them every hour or two. He observed that whenever the dressing was removed he breathed with difficulty, but on being replaced he felt immediate relief. The patient was admitted to Camp Letterman, Pennsylvania on August 6th, and was furloughed on October 30th, 1863. He was admitted to Central Park Hospital, New York, on December 9th, 1863, and came under the observation of Professor Frank H. Hamilton, who stated that “after the lapse of nine months there is a copious purulent discharge from both orifices, and the walls of the thorax upon the injured side have already contracted considerably. The posterior portion of the right lung admits air freely, nearly to its base. In front, no auscultatory sounds are detected. When he stands erect the right shoulder falls considerably. Most of the time he has troublesome diarrhea, yet under a generous diet he is gradually gaining his strength and health.” On June 3d, 1865, Brownlee was admitted to Ira Harris Hospital, Albany. He was discharged the service on August 12th, 1865. Examining Surgeon William H. Craig states, August 22d, 1866, that “a fistulous opening remains in the breast, at which the air escapes in inspiration. About four ounces of pus is discharged from this opening each day. Disability probably permanent.” On January 29th, 1867, Examining Surgeon E.S. Delavan, at Albany, reports: “Three buckshot entered in front near the symphisis pubis, perforating the bladder. Strange to say, he recovered from the wound. Ball entered the breast and sternum and passed out (probably, though he never saw the ball); it may be in the chest below the right nipple. The right lung is almost totally useless. I can detect no respiratory murmur, and he has cough and feeble pulse. In my opinion, the disability is permanent.”

Brownlee lived until age 62, dying after he suffered a stroke in 1904.