The young man pictured here, with long hair, dark eyes and dimpled chin, is not known. The photographer’s back mark may offer some clue to his identity. B.L.H. Dabbs operated a studio in Allegheny City, located on Pittsburgh’s north side. The area was mostly farmland until the 1850s when it was subdivided into lots to accommodate its growing German population. This man may have come from one of the German states to make his way in America.
Photographer B.L.H. Dabbs, according to a biographer, “Came to Pittsburg in 1861, and opened a store for the sale of ambrotype and photographic supplies. In the same year he purchased the gallery of a Mr. Rorah, Nos. 90 and 92 Federal Street, Allegheny, and entered the field of artistic photography. His work was a revelation to the people of Pittsburg and vicinity, and commanded prompt appreciation. In 1864, Mr. Dabbs removed to Pittsburg, and established the largest photograph gallery in the State at 46 and 48 Sixth Street. So rapidly did the demand for his photographs increase that, in 1869, he sold out his business as a dealer in photographic materials. Since then he has devoted all his time and talents to the taking of portraits and the development of the photographic art.”
Philip Joseph Sanger, left, a second assistant engineer on the sloop-of-war Monongahela, was present at the Battle of Mobile Bay, Ala., on August 5, 1864. According to a note in his obituary, “He was thrown to the deck and covered with debris by a shell which demolished the bridge upon which he had been standing, but at once he resumed his post of duty and was applauded by [Rear Adm. David] Farragut for his conspicuous bravery.” He survived the war, became a physician in Philadelphia, Pa., and died in 1887.
The exploits of Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and his Twentieth Maine Infantry at Gettysburg are well known among those with an active interest in the Civil War. Far less known however is the story of another Maine unit, the Sixth Battery, First Light Artillery, and its role in stopping the Confederate juggernaut in the vicinity of the Peach Orchard about the same time Chamberlain and his troops were fighting nearby on Little Round Top.
The story of Lt. William H. Rogers and the rest of his battery at Gettysburg is the subject of my latest “Faces of War” column in the Civil War News.
The fighting in the vicinity of the Peach Orchard during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg was a Union artilleryman’s nightmare. Advancing Confederates had torn into the poorly positioned Union Third Corps and ripped it to shreds. The destruction of the federal line at this critical point uncovered a wide a dangerous gap in their front. Onrushing rebels plunged into the void and drove shattered ranks of federal infantry back, leaving artillery batteries unsupported and exposed.
The story of how escaped slave John “Jack” Hines came to join the all-white Fifteenth Pennsylvania Infantry, and his later escape from Confederate attackers at Chickamauga. An excerpt:
He and Company K, along with two other companies from the Fifteenth, were assigned as an escort to the headquarters of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, who commanded the Army of the Cumberland. A West Pointer who had performed admirably at the Battle of Stones River nine months earlier, he was familiarly known as “Old Rosy.” His flowery nickname belied his punctilious and downright testy nature.
During the two-day Battle of Chickamauga, Rosecrans’s headquarters was a beehive of activity. According to the historian of the Fifteenth, Hine’s comrades were “actively engaged during the whole of this memorable fight, remaining almost constantly saddled. Dispatches of the most vital importance were entrusted to the men by the Commanding General, his staff not being able to take all the messages; all of which were promptly delivered, under circumstances of appalling danger.”
During the second day of the battle, after Confederates under the command of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet broke through the Union lines and threatened headquarters, Hines and the rest of headquarters found themselves unexpectedly in the thick of the action.
Hine’s profile appeared in this month’s print issue of the Civil War News. It is now available on my blog.
Max Silberman served a 60-day term of enlistment as a corporal with Company A of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Militia Infantry. The regiment was organized at Philadelphia on July 3, 1863, for the protection of Pennsylvania during Lee’s invasion. It mustered out on September 2, 1863. The back of the mount of the image notes that he was a bugler. Born in Bavaria, Germany, Silberman died in Philadelphia in 1914 and is buried in Adath Jeshurun Cemetery, Section J 529.
Estimates of the participation of Jewish Americans in the Union and Confederate military range from 7,200-10,000.
This carte de visite of Thomas J. Martin was taken by photographer H. Bishop in Chambersburg, Pa., at some point during the summer of 1863. Martin served a 60-day term of enlistment with Company A of the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Militia Infantry. The regiment was organized at Philadelphia on July 3, 1863, for the protection of Pennsylvania during Lee’s invasion. It mustered out on September 2, 1863.
The back of the mount of the image includes Martin’s address, 3000 Richmond St., Philadelphia.
I had the pleasure of speaking to a group gathered yesterday in Greencastle, Pa., for “1863—The Decisive Year of the Civil War.” The two-day event sponsored by the Allison-Antrim Museum and the Franklin County Visitors Bureau was coordinated by Ted Alexander, Chief Park Historian at the Antietam National Battlefield. My talk, “Faces of Gettysburg,” included a brief history of photography and capsule bios of 25 federals whose lives and military service intersected with the three-day Pennsylvania battle.
I arrived at the Green Grove Gardens Event Center about 3 p.m., and upon entering the building heard the distinctive booming voice of Ed Bearss, the Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service perhaps best known for his appearance on the Ken Burns Civil War series. Bearss, who reviewed all three of my books, and I are pictured here soon after he finished his talk about Ulysses S. Grant.
Thanks to Ted for the invitation, and for the opportunity to share soldier stories and images.
Four federal officers pose with their swords, and carry the visible effects of the human cost of war. Three of the men have suffered the amputation of the right arm, and the fourth the loss of a finger or fingers.
The identity of only one of these citizen soldiers is known. William A. McNulty (standing, right) served with the Tenth New York Infantry. He was wounded in action at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., on Dec. 12-15, 1862. The Tenth, also known as the “National Zouaves,” paid a heavy price at Fredericksburg: 15 killed and mortally wounded, and 53 wounded and missing.
This carte de visite of Lester Douglass Phelps was taken in 1865 after he returned from 18 months as a prisoner of war. Phelps (1838-1910) began his war service in the summer of 1861 as a lieutenant in the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry. The regiment participated in a number of engagements with the Army of the Potomac, including the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, where it received high marks for its performance by Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, who commanded the cavalry corps of the army: “The distinguished gallantry of the 8th Pa. regiment, in charging the head of the enemy’s column, advancing on the 11th corps, on the evening of the 2nd inst., has excited the highest admiration. * * * The gallant [Lt. Col. Duncan] McVikar, the generous chivalric [Maj. Peter] Keenan, with 15O killed and wounded from your small numbers, attest the terrible earnestness that animated the midnight conflict of the second of May.”
Phelps survived the fight, but was captured in action on Oct. 12, 1863, during the Bristoe Campaign near Sulphur Springs, Va. He spent the rest of the war in prisoner if war camps throughout the South. He gained his released in March 1865 and returned to his regiment in May 1865 at Appomattox Court House. He sent the last weeks of his military service as Provost Marshall of Appomattox County.
He became a probate judge in Connecticut after the war.
Amos B. Rhoads (1836-1863) started his war service as a sergeant in the Eleventh Pennsylvania Infantry, a regiment organized for a three-month term of enlistment in the spring of 1861. He returned to the army later that year as a first lieutenant in the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. Captured during a skirmish near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on July 13, 1862, he spent the rest of the year as a prisoner of war before he was paroled and exchanged. Rhoads returned to his regiment in Tennessee only to be killed in action on June 27, 1863, in fighting to take a rebel battery in Shelbyville.
He posed for his carte de visite portrait in the studio of Mathew B. Brady of New York City and Washington, D.C.