Military Images

Finding Aid: Sept./Oct. 1983

1983-v5-02-v-cover

The complete issue

Vol. 5, No. 2
(32 pages)

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Inside

Cover and Back Image
This wrap-around image that covers both front and back of the issue cover is from a New York City parade from about 1856. Two militia units are featured in the image: the Boston Light Infantry and the New York City Guard.

Editor’s Desk (p. 1)
The editor provides some amusing yet sad questions that are sometimes posed to guides at National Park Service battlefields. The editor encourages the support of programs that provide public education at parks, especially battlefield preservations.

Passing in Review (p. 2-3)
Four publications are reviewed in this issue of Military Images for the benefit of the readership. First Blood: Ft. Sumter to Bull Run is volume 2 of the Time-Life series on the Civil War, with many images provided by frequent contributors to MI. Next is Journey to Pleasant Hill: The Civil War Letters of Captain Elijah P. Petty, Walkers Texas Division, C.S.A. edited by Norman D. Brown and illustrated by John Groth. Falling in April 1864 after initially enlisting in May 1861, the letters provide insight into the experiences (mostly in camp) of an officer in the 17th Texas Infantry. Joe’s War: Memoirs of a Doughboy by Joseph N. Rizzi and edited by Richard A. Baumgartner was also reviewed, and recommended with several reservations. Finally, Grant and Lee: the Virginia Campaigns 1864-1865 by William Frassanito is given a short review, marking it as a last volume in a trilogy that is “a must for students of Civil War photography.”

Mail Call (p. 3)
A variety of letters are included in this issue, such as one letter asking for help with the identification of an item found in a late grandfather’s coin collection. Another reader was glad to see an article on a Wisconsin unit, and another subscriber muses on the reason for why more “unusual” belt plates have not been located. The editor reported that there wasn’t sufficient interest in magazine binders to merit offering them, and subscribers that live overseas or at APO/FPO addresses may get first class mail service for an additional fee.

Vignette: Peter W. Ott, Veteran of Two Wars by David M. Sullivan (p. 5)
The image accompanying the article is of Peter Walter Ott before he left to fight in the Mexican War. A member of the Mounted Battalion of Louisiana Volunteers, this image is the only known published image of a member of this unit. He saw action in Mexico, arriving at Vera Cruz in August 1847, but was discharged from service due to severe dysentery in January 1848. When the Civil War came around, Ott enlisted again, enlisting in the Confederate Marine Corps in September 1863. He was aboard the C.S.S. Tennessee when it was surrendered in Mobile Bay and remained a prisoner until the end of the war, when he returned home to Biloxi, Mississippi.

Antebellum Photography, Part V: Portraits of the U.S. military before the Civil War by Michael J. Winey (pp. 6-12)
Beginning with a collection of portraits of unidentified soldiers wearing a wide variety of regular and militia uniforms, the pictorial collection of images provides a number of images of antebellum soldiers who also served with distinction in the Civil War. The author makes a point of mentioning that the images often used for Confederate generals John H. Winder and Lewis A. Armistead are actually the only known images of these men, taken during Federal service in the 1840s. Also included are “before” and “after” images of Fitzhugh Lee as a 2nd Lt. in 1856-1858 at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After his service as a cavalry general in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under his uncle, Robert E. Lee, “Fitz” Lee was again in the service of the United States Army as a Major General of Volunteers during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Federal notable officers in their antebellum uniforms include John G. Barnard, General George Cadwalader in 1851 uniform, Edwin V. “Bull” Sumner, among others.

The Custer Cyclorama: A Last-Stand-in-the-Round by Brian Pohanka (pp. 14-19)
Painted in 1888-89 and displayed by the Boston Cyclorama Company, the article describes the history behind the painting along with a recent discovery of an oil on canvas painting used as a guide to the project’s artists. Instructions for connecting the images in the magazine to produce a small version are provided, as well as close-up images of some of the sections with descriptions. The article also includes two previously unpublished carte de visite images of George Armstrong Custer from during the Civil War.

Dr. Gibbs, Stephen Crane, and J.E. Hill: Life and death in the Spanish-American War by Jerry Harlowe (pp. 20-21)
A “Straggler” image from a previous issue of Military Images inspired this article, as the author had a different view of one of the three graves by which men rested in the shade of a fly during the Spanish-American War. Intrigued by these images, the author researched the background of Acting Asst. Surgeon John B. Gibbs. What he found was that Gibbs was from a military family, and had a prestigious and prosperous career as a surgeon and teacher. He was able to get his post as a navy ensign by petitioning his personal friend, Asst. Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, and while the Americans set up their base at Guantanamo Bay, Gibbs befriended the journalist Stephen Crane. Often under the fire of Spanish snipers, one evening the camp came under attack, and Crane described his terror and how he heard the life and death struggle of a man with in yards of where he had taken cover. It was his friend, Dr. John Gibbs.

103rd Ohio Infantry: A Photo Album by William Stark (pp. 22-24)
Twelve different images comprise this pictorial of the 103rd Ohio Volunteers. The unit began service in September 1862 and was discharged in June 1865 after taking part in several major campaigns as part of the Army of the Ohio. Colonel John S. Casement, who is remembered for his work on the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad is also included. Some of the images of the soldiers are from earlier in the war, when uniforms were not as standardized as they became later on. One image shows two brothers, Thomas and Robert Allen, seated together; one wears a striped vest and cavalry boots and both appear to be carrying table knives in their belts. Corporal Ezra Brewster is shown wearing a shell jacket instead of the standard four-button sack coat worn by the others in later images.

Vignette: William Bancroft, Connecticut’s double deserter? by William Gladstone (p. 25)
This vignette on its own is interesting, but the story behind the man in the image is just at intriguing. The image is a double tintype—a tintype of a tintype—that allows the unique stenciling of the soldier’s name on his rifle sling to be read properly rather than in mirror image. It clearly says “Bancroft” and is of Connecticut soldier William C. Bancroft who mustered in with the Company G, 28th Connecticut on November 15, 1862 after having enlisted with the New Haven unit a month earlier. It was not unusual to allow new enlistees to return home for a time before reporting for muster, which might explain why a William C. Bancroft enlisted with, collected his bounty from, and then deserted Company I of the 25th Regiment in West Hartford between October 31 and November 12, 1862! Bancroft also deserted the 28th, making his service and his image quite unique: that of a bounty-jumper.

Diary of Sgt. John Fleming, 165th New York: the 2nd Duryee Zouaves in 1863 edited by Ronald Beifuss (pp. 26-27)
The unit in which Sgt. John Fleming served was formed after representatives of the Duryee Zouaves returned to New York City to bolster their losses at Second Manassas with recruits. So many showed up that the 2nd Duryee Zouaves were formed. Fleming’s short but interesting entries comprise a glimpse into the life of this soldier during 1863, who served in Louisiana as sergeant of Company A. Fleming’s image, as well as that of his friend, Sgt. George Cogswell of Company B, who died of illness in April, is included, illustrating the uniforms worn by these Zouaves.

Stragglers (pp. 29-31)
Many truly unusual images are shared in this issue of MI. A carte de visite of Lt. G. Gerrard of the 1st New York (U.S.) Marine Artillery is presented; photographs of this unit are extremely rare. A unique image of a reclining John Flehr, Company K of Reading, Pennsylvania comes with a request for more information about the soldier from the owner of the quarter-plate tintype. Another image is possibly a carte de visite of a Confederate Marine, given the hat and upturned chevrons; that the soldier is wearing a lighter colored shell jacket has given some of the MI staff pause, and requests reader input. Other rare images include a ninth-plate leathertype image of a Confederate, a post war cabinet card image of the only known Chinese Confederate (William Henry Kwan, Co. B, 12th Virginia Battalion Artillery), and a carte de visite of Chaplain William H. Hunter, 4th U.S. Colored Troops, who was only one of a dozen chaplains who served with black regiments.

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