The letter, number and crossed cannons attached to this soldier’s cap and the photographer’s back mark offer the biggest clue to his identity: He served in Company F of the 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery. Organized in the late summer and early fall of 1864, Company F reported to defenses of Washington and stood guard in expectation of Confederates that never materialized. Two of the regiment’s companies, A and B, were formed a year earlier. Both were present in the Capital’s defenses when Jubal Early’s rebel army attacked on July 11-12, 1864, and with other federals successfully repulsed the invaders.
“Orford Academy opened its doors in 1851. Tuition was $3 per term and some families paid with goods instead of cash,” notes Rivendell Trail History. “All students were expected to exhibit good moral behavior and attend church. Orford Academy, as a private school, closed its doors in 1871.The building remained empty until 1898. There were 14 students pursuing a high school degree in 1898 when the town took over the operations. After some difficult times, Orford High School opened up in 1926 as a teacher-training site for Plymouth and Keene State colleges. It began with just a sophomore and freshman class and added a class each year. It must have been an interesting experience for students as a new group of teachers arrived at the midyear mark. The only sense of consistency was provided by Ms. Gladys Twitchell, who served as the headmistress from 1926-1945. In 1949 the connection to Plymouth Teachers’ College ended, and the town debated whether to continue running Orford Academy as a town school or tuition students elsewhere. In 1950, the town voted to keep the high school and hired its first set of teachers.”
The Connecticut River Joint Commissions describes the old town section of Orford, N.H.: “The Historic District was the site of Orford’s first schoolhouse (1770), and two later schoolhouses (1785 & 1829, the latter being the only one of the three remaining, and now converted to a dwelling). Orford’s first Academy building (built 1796, burned about 1850) stood on the West Common. Unsuccessful as an Academy, it became a grade school where students as young as seven or eight wrestled with problems of Colburn’s Mental Arithmetic. A second Academy building (1851) is now the Orford High School. In 1898 the building was sold to the town and fitted out for a grammar school. It became the Orford High School in 1926. It stands on the southern end of the Ridge in the Historic District.”
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
My profile of Samuel Bean Noyes is now available. A New Hampshire native who dropped out of school to enlist in the Twelfth New Hampshire Infantry, Noyes’s officers did not think he had much potential as a soldier at first, and assigned him to be the regiment’s mail carrier. After the Twelfth was decimated at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Noyes was moved into a combat role and participated in his first big fight at Gettysburg.
This is my 45th contribution to Disunion, and the first in which I included a paragraph to explain the origins of the carte de visite:
“Noyes went home to New Hampshire for a brief visit about this time and sat for his portrait in a Concord photograph studio. His image was captured in the popular carte de visite format, a French style that became a world phenomenon after it was introduced in 1854. Indeed, “Cardomania” was all the rage in America during the war years. One of the advantages of the format was that multiple paper prints could be inexpensively produced from a glass negative. Photographers typically offered a dozen cartes de visite for a few dollars. Noyes likely purchased at least a dozen and distributed them to family and friends.”