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Military Images

The Official Launch of Civil War Photo Sleuth

Kurt Luther, pictured here, in the moment he launched our Civil War Photo Sleuth software on August 1 in the Innovation Lab at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Kurt (head of CWPS), Ron Coddington (editor of Military Images magazine), and the rest of the team introduced guests throughout the day to the website to learn how to identify unknown Civil War photos, find photos of Civil War ancestors, and add identified photos to our reference database.

Attendees included Garry Adelman of the Civil War Trust and the Center for Civil War Photography, Melissa Winn of Civil War Times, Karen Chittenden from the Library of Congress and Tom Liljenquist, whose collection is part of the Library of Congress.

Images and live video of the event were carried on Facebook.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. CWPS is a historic moment for anyone interested in Civil War soldier and sailor photography.

Confederate Soldier, Family Slave

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One of the most unique Civil War images to surface in recent years is now part of the Liljenquist Family Collection at the Library of Congress. According to Tom Liljenquist, the sixth-plate tintype of Sgt. Andrew Martin Chandler of the 44th Mississippi Infantry and his family slave, Silas, was delivered to the Library this afternoon.

Liljenquist, accompanied by Chandler Battaile Jr., a descendent of Sgt. Chandler, were met by senior staff and other Library employees to receive the photo about 3 pm today.

The image has been a focus of attention since it was shown on PBS in a 2009 episode of Antiques Roadshow, and again in a 2011 segment of History Detectives. The photo has been put forth by some as proof that Silas was a “Black Confederate” who fought for the South, while others have provided primary research that establishes Silas was no more than a slave who served two of his master’s soldier sons during the war.

The Chandler story has been the subject of numerous books and articles. Battaile has requested that the version included in my 2012 book, African American Faces of the Civil War, be posted with the image on the Library’s site along with the image. I wrote another version that appeared as part of the New York Times Disunion series, “A Slave’s Service in the Confederate Army.”

The image included here was taken from a scan that I made from the original tintype with permission of Chandler Battaile Jr. in 2009.