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

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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

Book Talk at The Johns Hopkins Club

hopkins-clubYesterday I spent a delightful afternoon at the Hopkins Club, which is located on the picturesque Homewood Campus in Baltimore. The Club has a lunch lecture series, and in this first event of the academic year I was honored to talk about African American Faces of the Civil War.

We enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch which featured Maryland seafood, and the Hopkins Sundae—ice cream topped with fudge and caramel, which mimics the black and gold university colors. (Wondering if my alma mater has a desert. Is their a UGA Sundae?)

The room was packed, including several friends from Hopkins Press: Acquisitions Editor Bob Brugger, Publicist Robin Noonan, and Development and Publicity Officer Jack Holmes. Also in attendance was Fred Rasmussen, a well-respected columnist at the Baltimore Sun. Turns out Fred and I grew up about a mile-and-half from each other in New Jersey—Fred in Dunellen and I in Middlesex. Fred’s passion for his work and interest in history was clear from the moment we met.

The event was not without its drama on the roads. A car accident on the Beltway doubled a normally hour long trip. Road construction further slowed my progress. With less than 15 minutes before lunch began, I gave up my attempts to bypass the construction, hastily found a parking space across from the campus, and set out on foot. I made it with a few minutes to spare!

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

Defending Bliss Barn

Henry Franklin ChewOn July 2, 1863, Capt. Harry Chew and the rest of his company, part of the Twelfth New Jersey Infantry, fought for possession of Bliss Barn at Gettysburg. The outcome of the engagement, and the rest of Chew’s story, is part of the larger narrative of the three-day battle. I originally wrote about Chew at Gettysburg in 2009 for Faces of War, my regular column in the Civil War News. The profile is now available for the first time online.

An excerpt:

Beneath a scorching sun in the afternoon of July 2, 1863, on the battlefield of Gettysburg, Capt. Harry Chew and his company of about sixty muskets from the Twelfth New Jersey scaled the wall of stone that protected their regiment. They thrashed through tall grass for a stretch, angled right, and crossed the Emmitsburg Road. Then they made a dash for the barn belonging to William and Adelina Bliss, a fortress-like structure with a stone first floor and a second story walled in solid oak, its narrow windows perfect for sharpshooters.

The Jerseymen, in support of the First Delaware, moved in and occupied the property. Chew’s company and the Delaware troops fanned out in a skirmish line and brushed back a band of Confederates. Chew and his orderly sergeant took up a new position along a fence at the Bliss house, adjacent to the barn. They watched as distant Confederate cannon fired in their direction, the shot and shell falling short of where they stood. The orderly sergeant suggested that they move out of harm’s way. Chew replied, “We are as safe here as any where, you can’t run away from them things.” At that moment a solid shot crashed into and knocked a picket out of the fence against which the orderly sergeant had been leaning. Chew shouted, “Get out of here,” and the pair ran to the barn.

Read the rest of the story.

I Adopted a Site at Gettysburg

13th New Jersey monumentDuring my recent trip to Gettysburg, Superintendent Bob Kirby mentioned the Adopt A Position Program. Back at home, after a Google search, a few clicks, and an email, I received a list of available sites and an application.

The site that stood out among the rest was the Thirteenth New Jersey Infantry. It caught my attention in part because I was born and raised in the Garden State. The other reason is that a few years ago I purchased a circa 1910 photo of a man standing at the base of the monument. I imitated the pose in the same spot, as you can see here.

Excited to participate in the program!