Out of Retirement

shipleySamuel Shipley is representative of older Americans who came out of retirement to fight for the Union. His profile is the latest Faces of War column in the Civil War News. An excerpt:

The need for Union warships to support the massive Southern blockade prompted the re-commission of mothballed vessels. One of the ancients to be recalled to service, the 44-gun frigate Brandywine, had been launched in 1825 and on her maiden voyage had carried Revolutionary War hero Lafayette home to France.

Her sails were furled in 1850.

A decade later she was called out of retirement. In late September 1861 the New York Tribune reported, “The old frigate Brandywine is being rapidly converted in a storeship — about the only thing she is fit for. When completed she will present a rather patched appearance, but she will no doubt answer the purpose for which she is intended.” Other newspapers referred to her as the “Hulk Brandywine.”

Her new crew included a veteran officer who had also come out of retirement. Samuel Shipley, a 47-year-old lieutenant, had resigned his commission in 1852.

Read the rest of his story on Medium.

One of the First Graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy

A profile of Samuel J. Shipley’s life appeared in the History of Fayette County, Indiana, published by B.F. Bowen & Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1917:

“Samuel J. Shipley, a resident of Fayette county from 1819 until his death in 1897, a member of the first class to graduate from the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis. a participant in the Civil War and one of the best beloved men of a past generation in the county, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, December 24, 1813, the son of Joseph Shipley and Mary H. (Test) Shipley. He came with his mother to Fayette county when he was six years of age, his father having died leaving his wife with four small children.

It was the childish ambition of Shipley to become a sailor, and when he was nineteen years of age Jonathan McCarty, then congressman from this district, secured an appointment for him as midshipman in the navy. This was before there was a naval academy and it was not until 1839 that Congress established such an institution, the first one being located at Philadelphia. Shipley was enrolled as a student at the time of its inception and when the academy was removed to Annapolis the following year, he became a member of the first class, graduating in the spring of 1840.

Shipley continued his career at sea year after year, being advanced to a lieutenancy in 1847 at the close of the Mexican War. At the opening of the Civil War he was stationed at Fortress Monroe as commander of the “Brandywine,” but his health became impaired and he was compelled to retire from his command in 1863. He at once returned to his home in Fayette county and settled down on his farm in Harrison township, which he had purchased in 1837. There he continued to reside with his daughter until a few years before his death, when he moved to Connersville where he died on July 11, 1897.

Lieutenant Shipley was married on November 14, 1841, to Martha Holton, but his wife died two years later, leaving a daughter, Jennie Shipley, who is still living in Connersville.“

This carte de visite is new to my collection, and will be included in my forthcoming book about the Union and Confederate navies. It is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
One of the First Graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy

Samuel Fox

Samuel Fox is written in pencil on the back of this carte de visite by Hope of New York City. Only one sailor by this name is listed, Samuel D. Fox, an African American ward room steward.

This image is new to my collection, and now available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr.
Successful Steward

The Plot to Kill Jeff Davis

kingstonSamuel Tilden Kingston, an assistant surgeon in the Second New York Cavalry who accompanied his comrades on the ill-fated Kilpatrick Raid against Richmond, is the subject of my latest contribution to the New York Times series Disunion. Kingston rode with a 500-man column commanded by Col. Ulric Dahlgren, who was killed in action. Papers reportedly found on his body ordered the assassination of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet. Kingston fell into enemy hands when he remained behind with wounded troopers. He was sent to Libby Prison and condemned to death as a felon. An excerpt:

Dahlgren’s body, which had been unceremoniously dumped in a muddy grave near the place he fell, was disinterred and put on display in Richmond. “Large numbers of persons went to see it. It was in a pine box, clothed in Confederate shirt and pants, and shrouded in a Confederate blanket,” reported The Richmond Whig on March 8, 1864.

While this circus played out on the streets of the capital, Kingston and his white cellmates were informed that they had been condemned to death as felons for their role in the alleged assassination attempt. “This news appeared to have a very depressing effect on Dr. Kingston,” noted Lieutenant Bartley, a fellow prisoner.

Kingston’s cough and cold worsened, and he lost his appetite. On March 21, as he lay near death, the Confederates removed him from his cell and sent him North. He survived the trip home, and with good food and care came back to life. He eventually returned to the regiment, was promoted to full surgeon, and served in this capacity until the end of the war.

Read the rest of the story.

Never the Same After His Capture

Samuel Tilden Kingston, it was said, was not the same man after Confederates captured and imprisoned him in Richmond’s Libby Prison. The assistant surgeon of the Second New York Cavalry, he fell into enemy hands on March 1, 1864, during Union Col. Ulric Dahlgren’s failed raid on Richmond. Kingston was locked up in a basement dungeon of Libby and treated harshly by his captors. Conditions turned from bad to worse when papers ordering the assassination of Confederate President Jefferson Davis were reportedly discovered on the body of Dahlgren after he was killed.

Kingston was released after a short time in confinement, and he later returned to his regiment. He survived the war and became a physician and druggist in Oswego, N.Y. According to a document in his pension file, Kingston was “a very odd & peculiar person.” His wife also noted that he was peculiar with respect to arranging his financial affairs. Kingston died in 1889 at age 53.

This image is available on PinterestTumblr, and Flickr:
Never the Same After His Capture

New on NYT Disunion: Samuel Noyes, Mountaineer

Samuel Bean NoyesMy 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.”

Read the full story of Noyes and his war experience.