My latest Civil War News ”Faces of War” column is now available. 1st Lt. John Herman Borger and his comrades in the Twelfth Iowa Infantry repelled wave after wave of Confederate attacks from their position in a sector of the Shiloh battlefield that would later become known as the Hornet’s Nest.
Although outnumbered, Borger and his fellow Iowans had the advantage of superior ground. William P. Johnston described it in the biography of his father, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, who suffered a mortal wound during the battle. “Here, behind a dense thicket on the crest of a hill, was posted a strong force of as hardy troops as ever fought, almost perfectly protected by the conformation of the ground, and by logs and other rude and hastily-prepared defenses. To assail it an open field had to be passed, enfiladed by the fire of its batteries.”
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.
“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.”