The gent standing is David B. Parker and his military service began like so many other young Northerners. In 1861 he enlisted as a private in his hometown company. It became part of the 72nd New York Infantry, shipped out to the South and joined the Army of the Potomac.
This is where the similarity to other soldiers ends. In June 1862, Pvt. Parker was detailed as a mail agent in his regiment’s division, which was commanded by Maj. Gen. Joe Hooker. He was appointed to handle the mail not because he was a poor soldier, but because he was a energetic and possessed a gift for cutting through red tape and making things happen. Before long Parker ran the entire mail service for all of the Army of the Potomac.
Thanks to Parker, mail delivery went virtually interrupted no matter where the army was—Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, the front lines of Petersburg and Appomattox Court House. The work he did kept up the morale of the men as the letters and packages from home flowed into camp literally without interruption.
His career after the war was stellar, including many years of association with most of the Presidents of the U.S. and Bell Telephone.
He died in 1910. Two years letter, his memoir, A Chautauqua Boy in ’61 and Afterward, was published. In it, Parker tells his story and includes anecdotes of the top Union leaders with whom he was associated, including generals George G. Meade and U.S. Grant, and President Abraham Lincoln. For example, here’s one I have not heard about Gen. Meade: “General Meade went to the Adjutant General’s office, which was a Sibley tent, and opened the flap to stoop and enter, as a soldier, who was building a fire in the stove and taking up ashes, was coming out. The pan of ashes struck General Meade’s breast and covered him. he showed a very irascible temper and cursed the soldier roundly. All that I saw of General Meade afterwards, however, was a reserved courtly gentleman. He was not personally popular with his staff officers, but no one could criticize his conduct or his patriotism.”
Parker, standing, is pictured here with Capt. Charles E. Scoville of the 94th New York Infantry. Another photo, from Parker’s memoirs, shows him in uniform as a lieutenant, the highest rank he obtained in the army. Officially he was acting assistant quartermaster for the Army of the Potomac responsible for mail delivery.
If you believe that the fighting at Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg prevented the Union army from being destroyed by the Confederates, and that this act set up Pickett’s Charge on the third and final day of the engagement, then you might reasonably argue that you live under the Stars and Stripes today in part because of this man.
Pvt. Peter L. Quant of the “People’s Ellsworth Regiment,” also known as the 44th New York Infantry, hustled into position along the crest of Little Round Top on the afternoon of July 2, 1863. He and his comrades in Company K and the rest of the regiment, along with other hastily organized Union troops, stopped the Confederate juggernaut in its tracks.
A 29-year-old farmer from Montgomery, N.Y., when he enlisted during the summer of 1861, Quant survived numerous engagements with the 44th, including the Seven Days’ Battles, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He also made it through Gettysburg without injury.
His luck ran out the following year. On July 7, 1864, along the front lines of Petersburg, a Confederate bullet found its mark. Critically injured, Quant languished in a hospital at City Point, Va., until he succumbed to his wounds on July 24.
Quant did not live to see the States reunited.
This inscription can be found on the back of the mount of this photo of an unidentified Union officer by Mathew Brady. Also inscribed is “For Dr. Stanton.”
The image was once part of an album that included other photos inscribed to Dr. Stanton. The photos were portraits of officers who served in the Army of the Potomac—14th Connecticut Infantry, 14th Brooklyn Infantry, 8th Illinois Cavalry, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry and 24th Michigan Infantry. Other images include surgeons and various hospital personnel.
One theory is that the men in the album were all patients of Dr. Stanton, who may have been Surg. Joshua Otis Stanton. According to one source, “He entered the military service in June, 1862, as acting assistant surgeon and served in and about Washington till February, 1865. In 1864 he was appointed surgeon of the First New Hampshire Cavalry, but declined on account of ill health. In February, 1865, he was appointed surgeon of the United States Veteran Volunteers and attached to the provost-marshal general’s bureau and served till October of that year.”
A young lady rests her hand on the antler of a young buck presumably shot by the derby-clad gent who stands with his rifle. The rest of the party gathers around a hammock. Their number includes a man seated at the far right with a fishing pole and wicker basket. The fish he caught may be those being tied by a servant to a tree in the background.
Taken by photographer L.P. Case of Champlain, N.Y., the presence of a tax stamp on the back of the mount dates this view from 1864-1866.
I am drawn to Civil War period cartes de visite of outdoor scenes displayed horizontally, and this new addition to my collection is nicely composed.
800 federals, including Capt. Spencer W. Snyder (1841-1920) and his comrades in Company D of the 169th New York Infantry, were on the picket line at Foster’s Plantation, Va., when attacked by Confederate troops on the morning of May 18, 1864. The Union troops were initially forced back, but rallied.
A correspondent from the regiment narrated what happened next: “The One Hundred and Sixty-ninth went at the rebels with a yell that I apprehend neither party will soon forget. A grand charge was made by the command. The “rebs” ran like sheep, our boys driving them and gallantly retaking the original picket line.”
Snyder was wounded when a bullet struck him in the shoulder. Initial accounts state the wound was not serious, but later reports note that the bullet became lodged in his shoulder and could not be removed. At his death, he still carried the Confederate lead in his shoulder.
The suits worn by these three youngsters are in the same style and make as clothes worn by adults, a common practice of the times. In this case, the little boy pictured on the right holds a child’s version of a proper hat. The photograph, from the studio of Hovey & Moulton of Rome, N.Y., dates from the Civil War period.
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.
Albert Kendrick was recruited for the 35th in early 1862, after the regiment had been in uniform for about nine months of their 2-year enlistment. He joined in April 1862 as a private, and was steadily promoted through the year to second lieutenant. The Thirty-fifth participated in the battles of Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. The regiment mustered out of the army in June 1863—just a month before the Battle of Gettysburg.
On June 5, I discussed African American Faces of the Civil War to a great group gathered at the Ft. Taber Community Center in New Bedford, Mass. Sponsored by the New Bedford Historical Society, the attendees included Carl Cruz, great-great-grand-nephew of Sgt. William H. Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. I had met Carl at the National Gallery of Art at last year’s opening of the Shaw Memorial exhibit. The New Bedford Civil War Round Table also sponsored the event, and I’m grateful to the many folks who turned out. I am also indebted to organizer Lee Blake, and John Centeio for his kindness.
On June 13, I spoke to another great group at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., just outside Albany. Organizer Matt George of the Capital District Civil War Round Table. The event was co-sponsored by the Underground Railroad History Project. Special thanks to the three young re-enactors who attended, dressed in their uniforms.
I am grateful for the invitations, and happy to have had the opportunity to tell the stories and share the photos of men of color who participated in our Civil War.