Military Images

Antebellum Warriors

A quarter-plate daguerreotype of John Reynolds by renowned photographer Jeremiah Gurney may have been a portrait promised to his sister, Ellie, in an 1858 letter. For details, see our finding aid.

The Civil War Through the Magic Lantern

During the years following the Civil War, American audiences packed venues across the country to experience the late conflict through glass plates projected on a big screen—the precursor to motion pictures. For details, see our finding aid.

Finding Aid: Summer 2020

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Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3
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Inside

Cover image
A quarter-plate ambrotype from the Dan Schwab Collection pictures Newton J. Ragon of the 13th Mississippi Infantry.

Table of Contents (p. 1)

Editor’s Desk (p. 2)
The editor dedicates his column to “Publishing in a Pandemic.”

Mail Call (pp. 3-4)
Feedback includes comments about the loss of historical context when mats and cases are replaced on hard-plate images, details about Col. John R. Hart’s 6th Georgia Cavalry, and inherent problems with colorization.

Military Anthropologist (p. 4)
Visualizing Edward and Henry T. Anthony’s November 1862 Catalogue of Card Photographs as a pie chart.

Passing in Review (p. 6)
MI Senior Editor Ron Field reviews American Zouaves, 1859-1959: An Illustrated History (McFarland & Company, Inc.) by Daniel J. Miller.

Photo Sleuth by Kurt Luther (pp. 8-10)
In “How to Trust the Worthiness of an Identification,” Luther reveals the results of a survey of collectors to gauge various forms of image identification. He grouped the data into three categories, high-, medium-, and low-touch sources. Period inscriptions on the photograph with validation scored highest, and images identified only with military records and other textual documents scored lowest.

Antebellum Warriors (p. 12)
A quarter-plate daguerreotype of John Reynolds by renowned photographer Jeremiah Gurney may have been a portrait promised to his sister, Ellie, in an 1858 letter.

The Honored Few (p. 14)
Christopher C. Bruton of the 22nd New York Cavalry told the story of his capture of the headquarters flag of Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early to a group gathered at the War Department in Washington, D.C., in March 1865. Among those present were Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Libby Custer, the wife of the general in whose division Bruton served. A son of Ireland, Bruton received the nation’s highest military honor for his act.

Most Hallowed Ground (p. 16)
William Henry Gobrecht, surgeon of the 49th Pennsylvania Infantry, enjoyed high name recognition among health care workers. In 1858, his American edition of the textbook Wilson’s Anatomy become the standard text for doctors. His postwar career brought him to Washington, D.C. for a job at the Pension Bureau. Upon his death in 1901, his remains were interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Citizenry by Alison Renner (p. 18)
A tintype, believed to be previously unpublished, features Lavinia Ellen “Vinnie” Ream, the sculptor who rose in prominence during the Civil War. Her best known works are of Abraham Lincoln—an 1864 bust for which he sat, and an 1871 statue that stands in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

Fakes, Forgeries and Frauds by Perry M. Frohne (pp. 22-23)
In “Rembrandt You Are Not, Sir!,” Frohne details how fakers use paint to transform ambrotypes and tintypes of civilians into soldiers and sailors.

Three Days in July: Faces of Union and Confederate Soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg, edited by Charles Joyce (pp. 24-39)
A collection of more than two dozen ambrotypes, cartes de visite, and tintypes of Union and Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg, each accompanied by the story of each man’s experience during the fight. Among those included are 1st Lt. Robert C. Knaggs of the 7th Michigan Infantry, Pvt. Clark Stevens of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, Pvt. Hiram Gilbert of 76th New York Infantry, Lt. Col. Theobold Alexander Von Mitzel of the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry, Pvt. David “Davy” Barnum of the 5th Alabama Infantry, Capt. James Washington Beck of the 44th Georgia Infantry, Lt. Col. Wharton Jackson “Jack” Green of Tennessee and more. Contributions of images and text included Rick Carlile, Ronald S. Coddington, Guy DiMasi, Thomas Harris, Tom Huntington, Britt C. Isenberg, Ross J. Kelbaugh, Jeff Kowalis, C. Paul Loane, August Marchetti, Paul Russinoff, Dan Schwab, Karl Sundstrom and Daniel Taylor.

America’s “Good Death”: Capt. Charles W. Billings of the 20th Maine Infantry at Little Round Top by Paul Russinoff (pp. 40-45)
Capt. Charles W. Billings of the 20th Maine Infantry suffered a mortal wound at Little Round Top. Russinoff brings together primary sources and artifacts for the first time to tell Billings’ story, which underscores historian Drew Gilpin-Faust’s concept of “The Good Death.”

A Romance Fueled by Photographs: At Gettysburg, an Iron Brigade Bandsman and a former tavern keeper’s daughter find love and likeness by Charles Joyce (pp. 46-49)
The Adams County Courthouse in downtown Gettysburg became a scene of death and dying during the fighting as the recently constructed building became a makeshift hospital. It also provided the backdrop for love between Susie Herr, the daughter of a former tavern keeper, and German immigrant Jacob F. Gundrum, a musician in the band of the famed Iron Brigade. This is their story.

The Likeness and Legacy of The Children: A history, study and survey of an iconic Civil War image by Mark H. Dunkelman and Richard Leisenring, Jr. (pp. 50-53)
The death of Amos Humiston of the 154th New York Infantry at Gettysburg and the ambrotype of his three children clutched in his hands is one of the best-known stories of the Civil War. Historian Dunkelman, who has written extensively about Humiston and the 154th, and MI Contributing Editor Leisenring team up to examine surviving images of “The Children of The Battle-Field.”

Old Abe and the Army of the American Eagle by Richard Leisenring, Jr. (pp. 54-57)
Chicago printer Alfred L. Sewell devised a novel fundraiser to support the Union army: Selling carte de visite sized portraits of Old Abe, the famed Eagle mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry. Sewell targeted kids, who purchased tens of thousands of the images under the auspices of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Children earned commissions in Old Abe’s army, and a small number received Medals of Honor for the number of images purchased.

Before Movies, Americans Viewed the Civil War Through the Magic Lantern by Robert Marcus (pp. 58-61)
During the years following the Civil War, American audiences packed venues across the country to experience the late conflict through glass plates projected on a big screen—the precursor to motion pictures.

The Last Parade: Cameras captured the pomp and circumstance in New York City on July 4, 1860. Nine months later, the Civil War began by Ron Field (pp. 63-66)
Photographer Edward Anthony and his assistants set up stereoscopic cameras at two locations to capture the city’s militia marching along the Independence Day parade route. Field details the regiments pictured in nine surviving stereo cards.

Mariner. Teamster. Refugee. Surgeon’s Steward. The life and naval service of William Tyler Cross by Jack Hurov (pp. 68-70)
William Tyler Cross became an unlikely pawn in game of political brinkmanship between the U.S. and Mexico in 1862. He managed to return safely and went on to serve in one of the Navy’s most underappreciated positions—surgeon’s steward. The role was similar to its counterpart in the army, the hospital steward.

Journey to Lynchburg: William Hawkins of the 15th New York Cavalry in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley by James Crane III (pp. 72-74)
Hawkins suffered a gunshot in the head an instant death during an action in the Diamond Hill neighborhood of Lynchburg, Va., on June 17, 1864. He had been in uniform for less than a year. A farmer, he left behind a widowed wife and three orphaned children—and two photographs in civilian clothes and a military uniform.

Stragglers: Distinctive Images from MI contributors (p. 75)
Included are portraits of two revolver-packing Union troopers, a Bluejacket, and a teamster taken in Corinth, Miss.

Behind the Backdrop: Origins, artistry and photographers by Adam Ochs Fleischer (pp. 78-79)
In “Wartime Letters Document the 2nd Cavalry Division Backdrop,” Fleischer examines the distinctive painted canvas with tents, a guard and hills with forts.

The Last Shot (p. 80)
A cabinet card from the Robert Elliott Collection pictures a painting of Col. Harry Burgwyn of the 26th North Carolina Infantry, who suffered a mortal wound in a charge against elements of the Iron Brigade on July 1, 1863. The photograph was presented to the officer who succeeded Burgwyn in command, Lt. Col. John R. Lane.

Georgians in Gray

More than 15 years ago, a gallery of David W. Vaughan’s portraits of Georgia Confederates debuted in this magazine. Since then, the collection has been recognized across the country, including the landmark 2013 exhibit Photography and the American Civil War at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Vaughan has continued to add to his collection. This gallery highlights recent acquisitions.

Behind the Backdrop

In his inaugural column, “A Daguerreian Pioneer at the Rendezvous of Distribution,” Adam Ochs Fleischer examines the distinctive painted canvas depicting a scene that includes Sibley tents and a palm tree. His investigations highlight the man behind the backdrop, John Jones, and the gallery he operated.

The Honored Few

Willie Johnston, an 11-year-old drummer in the 3rd Vermont Infantry, managed to hold on to his instrument during the desperate march from the Malvern Hill battlefield to Harrison’s Landing. On July 4, 1862, after Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan ordered a review to boost morale, only Johnston had a drum to play. Other musicians had either discarded their drums during the march or put them in temporary storage aboard baggage wagons. Word of Willie’s lone performance made its way to Washington, D.C., and resulted in his receipt of the nation’s highest military honor.

Sherman at 200

Commemorating Uncle Billy’s 200th Birthday in Portraits with images from the Jerry Everts Collection. William Tecumseh Sherman is front center in 25 portraits that document his rise from major general in 1863 to General of the Army to his retirement.

Finding Aid: Spring 2020

The complete issue

Vol. XXXVIII, No. 2
(80 pages)

Purchase ($8.00 plus postage)
Download PDF from JSTOR ($16.00)
Subscribe to MI
Explore the MI Archives:
Browse | Advanced search | Tutorial

Inside

Cover image
A half-plate ambrotype from the David W. Vaughan Collection pictures William Houston House of the 13th Georgia Cavalry.

Table of Contents (p. 1)

Editor’s Desk (p. 2)
The editor introduces two new departments, Behind the Backdrop by Adam Ochs Fleischer and Material Culture, which is guest hosted. The editor also notes a modification in policy regarding colorized images, which will be allowed for educational purposes. Such images reproduced in the magazine will be accompanied by the un-colorized image.

Mail Call (pp. 3-4)
Feedback includes comments on Fakes, Forgeries and Frauds,and a note regarding a misidentified epaulette.

Military Anthropologist (p. 4)
A tree map diagram visualizes enlistments in the Union and Confederate armies.

Passing in Review (pp. 6-8)
Featured media includes The 16th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War (Michigan State University Press) by Kim Crawford, 100 Significant Civil War Photographs: Atlanta Campaign (Historical Publications LLC), and the movie short Hold My Horse (Look Around You Ventures, LLC) starring Christian Stolte and Patrick Webb.

Photo Sleuth by Kurt Luther (pp. 8-13)
In “Lost and Found in the Library of Congress,” Luther details his journey that began with a questionable caption on a single glass plate negative and ended with an extensive examination of captions attached to 16 negatives—11 of which he found proved incorrect or unclear.

Antebellum Warriors (p. 14)
A sixth-plate ambrotype discovered in Florence, S.C., pictures a militiaman. He may have been a member of the Darlington Rifles, a local militia company.

The Honored Few (p. 16)
Willie Johnston, an 11-year-old drummer in the 3rd Vermont Infantry, managed to hold on to his instrument during the desperate march from the Malvern Hill battlefield to Harrison’s Landing. On July 4, 1862, after Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan ordered a review to boost morale, only Johnston had a drum to play. Other musicians had either discarded their drums during the march or put them in temporary storage aboard baggage wagons. Word of Willie’s lone performance made its way to Washington, D.C., and resulted in his receipt of the nation’s highest military honor.

Most Hallowed Ground (p. 18)
Navy Rear Adm. Richard Worsam Meade was an irascible man, a trait he shared in common with his famous uncle, Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade. Rear Adm. Meade’s temper got the best of him late in his career when he insulted President and Commander-in-Chief Grover Cleveland. The incident ended with Meade’s dismissal from the Navy. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Citizenry by Alison Renner (p. 20)
Four-year-old Major Willie Bagley, “The Wisconsin Infant Drummer,” enjoyed a brief stint in the spotlight as a performer for P.T. Barnum. The legendary Barnum posted with Bagley to mark the association.

Fakes, Forgeries and Frauds by Perry M. Frohne (pp. 22-23)
In “The Weaponization of Technology and Psychology,” Frohne details how today’s forgers  “are far smarter, have far better technology, and are very close to producing perfect fake cartes de visite.” He illustrates the column with two cartes that fooled him.

Georgians in Gray: Images from the David W. Vaughan Collection, with text by August Marchetti (pp. 24-35)
More than 15 years ago, a gallery of David W. Vaughan’s portraits of Georgia Confederates debuted in this magazine. Since then, the collection has been recognized across the country, including the landmark 2013 exhibit Photography and the American Civil War at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Vaughan has continued to add to his collection. This gallery highlights recent acquisitions.

Commemorating Uncle Billy’s 200th Birthday in Portraits, with images from the Jerry Everts Collection (pp. 36-45)
William Tecumseh Sherman is front center in 25 portraits that document his rise from major general in 1863 to General of the Army to his retirement.

Chivalrous Legacy: The story behind Tunis A.M. Craven’s last recorded words at Mobile Bay by Ronald S. Coddington (pp. 46-48)
The Battle of Mobile Bay is known for two distinct human moments connected to torpedoes: Read Adm. David Farragut’s utterance paraphrased as “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” and Cmdr. Tunis Augustus Macdonough Craven’s words as his ironclad Tecumseh sank, “After you, sir.” This story puts Craven’s words in context, and is illustrated with four portraits of him.

Antebellum Midshipmen: A survey of Navy portraits with images from the Dr. William Schultz Collection (pp. 50-54)
Fourth in a series of galleries of pre-Civil War daguerreotypes from the Schultz collection, this survey examines nine portraits. They include an early view of a midshipman by pioneer photographer John Plumbe, John “Jack” Wilkes, Jr., the son of career naval officer Charles Wilkes, and John Gardner Mitchell, for whom Mitchell Bay in Alaska is named.

A Merchant Prince Goes to War: Baltimore’s Lt. Noah Dixon Walker, C.S.A. by Ronald S. Coddington with Ross J. Kelbaugh (pp. 56-60)
Noah Dixon Walker received an offer of $200,000 ($6 million in today’s dollars) not to enlist in the Confederate army. The man who made the offer was his father, wealthy Baltimore merchant Noah Walker. His son passed on the offer to become an officer in the 44th Virginia Infantry. This is his story.

Accidental American, Soldier, Artist, Photographer: The notable journey of Civil War veteran William Kurtz by Scott Valentine (pp. 62-65)
After fate dashed his dream to start a new life in China, Germany’s William Kurtz found himself stranded on the shores of the U.S. with little money and prospects. He managed to find a job in a New York City photographer’s studio, and it launched him on a prosperous high-profile career.

Inside “The Empty Sleeve” by James S. Brust (pp. 66-67)
Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard is perhaps best remembered for his post-Civil War roles with the Freedman’s Bureau and the establishment of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Far less known is a speech he gave in Maine soon after the amputation of his arm after it was severely damaged during the 1862 Battle of Fair Oaks, Va. Howard’s words inspired poet David Barker’s “The Empty Sleeve,” which holds a unique place in American popular culture.

Seamless Sharpshooters: How a revolutionary breakthrough in garment design proved undesirable in war by Brian T. White (pp. 68-70)
Seamless overcoats proved the rage in the late 1850s, thanks to innovative efforts to manipulate wool into form-fitting clothing. Among those who took advantage of the latest technology was Col. Hiram Berdan, the engineer, inventor and crack marksman who raised two regiments of sharpshooters for the Union army. His men received seamless overcoats as part of their standard issue uniform.

Behind the Backdrop: Origins, artistry and photographers by Adam Ochs Fleischer (pp. 72-75)
In his inaugural column, “A Daguerreian Pioneer at the Rendezvous of Distribution,” Fleischer examines the distinctive painted canvas depicting a scene that includes Sibley tents and a palm tree. His investigations highlight the man behind the backdrop, John Jones, and the gallery he operated.

Material Culture by Frederick C. Gaede (pp. 76-77)
In this inaugural column, guest author Gaede investigates leather neck stocks from 1851-1865. Though they are long gone from the military, they live on in the Marine moniker “Leatherneck.”

Stragglers: Distinctive Images from MI contributors (p. 79)
Included are three portraits of Union soldiers, including a Zouave who served in the 9th New York Infantry from the Anthony F. Gero Collection.

The Last Shot (p. 80)
A sixth-plate tintype from the Paul Russinoff Collection pictures a man reading a newspaper. He is dressed in shirtsleeves and what appears to be a military vest.

Brothers at Arms

Tennessee’s Edward and Gabriel Fowlkes grew up together in Hickman County. Then the war came, and the went separate ways—one into the Union army and the other into the Confederate army. Their story is representative of how the war tore families apart. Learn more about this story and others with our finding aid.

The Honored Few

Edward Hill, a captain in the 16th Michigan Infantry, earned the Medal of Honor for leading a charge against Confederate forces during the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864. Hill survived a serious gunshot wound in his hip and ended the war as the regiment’s lieutenant colonel. Learn more about this story and others with our finding aid.