Archives for : Civil War

Military Images Live!

On Monday, July 9, the debut episode of MI Live made its debut on Facebook. For all of you who joined us, thank you! If you missed it, now worries. Join us Monday nights at 9 pm ET for a live broadcast from Military Images HQ. We’ll offer up tips and advice for novice and advanced collectors. Have a question you want answered? How about an informed opinion about a unique image? Visit us on Facebook and let us know.

Saluting Four Who Make MI Great

It is my pleasure to announce four individuals who have been promoted to Contributing Editor in recognition of their contributions to Military Images. Their experience, knowledge and generosity touches many of the images and stories you see and read in the magazine. Over the last year, you’ve seen their names listed in the magazine under the heading Special Thanks. Now, they are full-fledged Contributing Editors:

Dan Binder: Dan’s passion for photography is infectious and his knowledge of buttons and equipment impressive. His willingness to share this information to educate and inform is a credit to the collecting community.

Mike Cunningham: Mike’s passion for uniforms, hats and general knowledge of Civil War material culture is outstanding. He also offers strong theories to help explain why we see what we see.

Ron Maness: Ron brings a depth of knowledge of edged weapons that confirms existing identifications and helps us better understand those who are nameless—and hopefully lead to their positive identification.

Phil Spaugy: Phil’s knowledge of muskets and revolvers, and the extent to which he researches them, adds a new layer of information to portraits. His dogged determination to identify weapons, sometimes working with only a small visual fragment, is incredible.

Please join me in congratulating our new Contributing Editors!

Military Images Magazine at the Gettysburg Civil War Show

Join Military Images at the 45th Civil War Artifact and Collectibles Show in Gettysburg, Va. Stop by our table and bringing your best Civil War images—we’ll scan them free of charge and featured selected images in upcoming issues. We’ll be side-by-side with Kurt Luther and Civil War Photo Sleuth, a new website that uses technology and community to rediscover lost identities in American Civil War-era photographs. The show is sponsored by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association.

Event Details
45th Civil War Artifact and Collectibles Show
Eisenhower Hotel & Conference Center Allstar Expo Complex
2634 Emmitsburg Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Saturday, June 30, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday, July 1, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Admission: Adults: $8. Children 12 and under free if accompanied by an adult.

July 1 Talk: Cardomania! The Rise and Fall of the Carte de Visite

The Civil War Generation was the first to grow up with photography. This transformative medium made it possible for Americans from all walks of life to preserve their own likeness, a privilege once reserved only for the wealthy. During photography’s early years, daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes ruled the portrait world. Then, on the eve of the Civil War, a curious new format landed in America—the carte de visite. After hostilities began, hundreds of thousands of citizen soldiers and sailors posed for their likenesses. Countless millions of photographs were produced. Significant numbers of these most intimate and personal artifacts survive today. Some are finding a place among the iconic images of the war. Join Ron Coddington, author of four books of collected Civil War portraits and editor and publisher of Military Images magazine, as he tells the story of the rise and fall of the carte de visite—and what became of them.

Also appearing at the event are our friends from Gettysburg Publishing, represented by Kevin Drake and several of his authors:

  • Mark H. Dunkelman
  • Cindy Small-Jennie Wade of Gettysburg
  • Patricia Rich
  • Scott Mingus, Sr
  • Bernadette Loeffel-Atkins
  • Lisa Shower

Event details:
Sunday, July 1, 5-6 p.m.
Gettysburg Heritage Center
297 Steinwehr Ave.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
No admission charge

For more information, visit:–artist-events.html

Finding Aid: Summer 2018

The complete issue

Vol. XXXVI, No. 3
(80 pages)

Print edition: Visit our store to check availability
Digital edition: Visit to purchase
Subscribe to MI ($24.95)
Explore the MI Archives: Browse | Advanced search | Tutorial


Cover image
A ninth-plate tintype from the Doug York Collection pictures a young enlisted soldier with a knife and Colt Root Revolver.
Download (free)

Table of Contents (p. 1)
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Editor’s Desk (p. 2)
In “Our Digital Preservation Effort,” the editor announces a deal with the non-profit digital library Journal Storage (JSTOR) to digitize and make searchable the entire run of Military Images.
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Mail Call (pp. 3-4)
Feedback includes praise for personal soldier stories, feedback on the Father of the American Cavalry, comments on a soldier identified as a prototypical Confederate, and clarity of terms and titles used in our Nathan Bedford Forrest gallery.
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Military Anthropologist (p. 4)
An analysis of the residences reported by 1,275 men of color upon their enrollment in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.
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Passing in Review (p. 6)
The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham (Savas Beatie) edited by Janet Elizabeth Croon is the writings of an invalid Georgia boy who observed the rise and fall of the Confederate nation.
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Antebellum Warriors (p. 8)
A sixth-plate ruby ambrotype by from the Ron Field Collection is a portrait of Michael G. Stapleton, an Irish-born soldier who served in the 65th New York State Militia. He went on to serve in the Civil War with the 164th New York Infantry but did not live to see the end of hostilities.

Most Hallowed Ground (p. 10)
Carlos Alvarez de le Mesa, a native of Spain who served an officer in the 39th New York Infantry, also known as the Garibaldi Guard, was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. The bullet that struck his foot ended his active duty and he spent the rest of the war in the Veteran Reserve Corps. His grandson, Terry de la Mesa Allen, became a noted World War II general with the nom de guerre “Terrible Terry.”

Photo Sleuth by Kurt Luther (pp. 12-13)
In “Non-Traditional Research Tools—and Serendipity,” Kurt explains how he identified a group of officers pictured in a carte de visite that was partially inscribed on the back of the mount. Period newspapers, letters and other sources helped him out names to all four faces.

Uniforms & History by Michael J. McAfee (p. 14)
In “Men of the Military Telegraph Service,” McAfee profiles this agency run by the Quartermaster Department. The text is illustrated with portraits of service members Samuel M. Brown, David Strouse, David Homer Bates, Richard O’Brien, Homer W. Gilbert and C.A. Homan.

Gettysburg Album: Portraits of Union and Confederate soldiers in the Gettysburg Campaign (pp. 16-22)
A total of 13 images, 5 Confederate and 8 Union, of soldiers who participated parts of the three-day battle and/or related engagements following the rebel retreat. They include John Lewis Ells of the 3rd Georgia Infantry, Kirkbride Taylor of the 8th Virginia Infantry, Augustine Leftwich Jr. of Shoemaker’s Battery, Virginia Horse Artillery, Ludwig Kohn of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry and more.

“You Were Making History”: Faces of Maine men who fought at Gettysburg by Tom Huntington (pp. 24-29)
In this adaptation from his new book, Maine Roads to Gettysburg (Stackpole Books, 2018), the author provides an overview of the Pine State’s contribution to the Civil War through the varied experiences of its military volunteers. Profiles include Freeman McGilvery, Edwin B. Dow, Moses B. Lakeman, Abner Small, George Bisbee, Charles Mattocks, Holman Melcher, Ellis Spear and Samuel Keene. Each is illustrated with a portrait courtesy of the Maine Historical Society.

Reluctant Hero: Otis C. Billings and Cowan’s 1st New York Independent Battery at Gettysburg by Charles Joyce (pp. 30-34)
Billings, a young, battle-hardened soldier with a distinguished record, was unusually reluctant to fight on the third day at Gettysburg. He and his artillery battery, commanded by Capt. Andrew Cowan, went on to fight near The Copse of Trees during Pickett’s Charge. There the fate of Billings and the rest of Cowan’s gunners were decided.

Fallout from the Johnston Reconnaissance: A late-war letter by Robert E. Lee sheds light on an enduring Gettysburg controversy by Ronald S. Coddington with Dave Batalo (pp. 36-37)
In late January 1865, Lt. Col. Samuel Richards Johnston became a father after his wife gave birth to a baby boy. Johnston decided to name his son after the general on whose staff he served—Robert E. Lee. A reply letter from Lee thanking Johnston for the honor suggest the two men were on cordial terms. This suggests Lee harbored no ill will towards Johnston for a July 2, 1863, reconnaissance on Little Round Top that remains a hot topic for historians and other battle enthusiasts.

Silver for The Superb: Hometown tribute to a national hero by Matt Hagans (pp. 38-39)
The wounding of Winfield Scott Hancock during Pickett’s Charge is one of the most notable moments of the Battle of Gettysburg. His actions in helping to repulse the Confederate assault won him new admirers throughout the Union, especially in his hometown of Norristown, Pa. His neighbors and friends paid tribute to Hancock with a unique silver service.

Civil War Images; Fallen Soldiers by Robert Lee Blankenship  (p. 40)
A poem explores the connection between Civil War soldier photographs and the individuals who collect them.

Faces in Cases: Representative images from the Bryan Watson collection (pp. 42-51)
Wyoming’s Bryan Watson’s passion for collecting might be summed up in a fortune cookie he once received: “Where your treasure is there will your heart will be also.” A profile of Watson is accompanied by a selection of 25 of his finest portraits of Union and Confederate soldiers.

Old Pap: The neglected legacy of one of the Union’s most loyal brigadiers by Ben Myers (pp. 52-58)
Alpheus Starkey Williams commanded troops at many of the Civil War’s biggest battles and campaigns, including Gettysburg, Atlanta and the March to the Sea. His military record was exemplary. And yet history has forgotten him. The author examines Williams the soldier and the man, and reveals how his humble ways likely contributed to his lack of notoriety.

Fighting for Freedom: Portraits of soldiers and other Civil War participants (pp. 59-65)
No single group experienced such a dramatic change in fortunes during the Civil War than men of color. From an enslaved race to freedmen to post-war struggles, they served as soldiers, servants and laborers. A sampling of 13 portraits, some never before published, are featured here.

Memento of a Senseless Death: The portrait of a surgeon recalls a wartime murder by Daniel R. Glenn (pp. 66-68)
John Gore Johnson, a Massachusetts physician who served as a contract surgeon in Union-occupied North Carolina, treated an African American man shot and mortally wounded by a federal soldier. A court-martial convened in New Bern to try the soldier, who was charged with murder. Johnson testified, and posed for his portrait soon afterwards. A note tucked inside the image case suggests that the trial was one that the doctor wanted to remember.

A Navy Lieutenant Faces Divided Loyalties in His Final Discharge of Duty by Fred D. Taylor (pp. 70-73)
Virginia-born career navy officer Otway Henry Berryman found himself in command of a vessel in Florida as the Union broke apart and was consumed by war. In the face of divided loyalties, Berryman managed to navigate uncharted political and military waters as tensions mounted in Pensacola Bay. He might have gone on to become one of the Union’s best-known naval commanders—then fate intervened.

The Honored Few (pp. 74-75)
Charles Henry Tompkins, a West Point dropout whose father was a career army officer, was perhaps an unlikely choice for a war hero. On June 1, 1861, on a scouting mission just outside Washington, D.C., he encountered Confederate troops. What followed was an encounter that became known as the Battle of Fairfax Court House. His aggressive actions were recognized with the Medal of Honor in 1893.

Stragglers: Distinctive Images from MI contributors (pp. 76-77)
“Confederate Portraits” features three images of unidentified soldiers.

Sutler’s Row (p. 79)

The Last Shot (p. 80)
A carte de visite from the Michael J. McAfee Collection is a portrait of a trio of young ladies who have surrounded their captive, a Union first sergeant.

Our Digital Preservation Effort

The toughest part of my job may surprise you—fielding specific search requests. Want to know how many times the 54th Massachusetts Infantry is mentioned in all of our issues? How about the 6th Virginia Cavalry? I couldn’t tell you without a huge investment in time.

The root of the problem is that there has been no easy way to search our 200-plus issues archive. My predecessors, to their credit, anticipated the need, and created two indexes: one for stories and another for regiments. But they were not maintained and are now out of date. A substantial effort is required to bring them to current times. And they’re not digital native.

I’ve been concerned about how to make 40 years of content available since becoming editor.

Our first effort to address the problem was to create finding aids. We began cataloging in November 2015 and completed the work last December. These aids can now be browsed by volume by volume and issue number in the Back Issues section of our site. Though these finding aids do not satisfy larger search needs, they do document the contents of each issue.

What we really needed was a fully searchable digitized collection. I investigated a few options early on in my tenure, but could not find a way forward.

Everything changed on Sept. 26, 2016, with an email from Robert Sedgwick, a Senior Editor at the non-profit digital library Journal Storage, or JSTOR. “I write today to invite your publication, Military Images, to join our archive,” Sedgwick stated. He added, “Participation in the archive is by invitation, and Military Images was selected after a careful review of its publication history, as well as recommendations from academic librarians and scholars.”

I accepted the offer and soon the archive of printed magazines was in the hands of JSTOR staff. They scanned and converted each page to optical character recognition, then made everything searchable on The work finished last month.

The JSTOR team has my eternal gratitude for preserving Military Images for all time.

Thanks to their efforts, Military Images can be searched by anyone. Modest fees apply to download stories and issues. So go forth and explore! Visit to begin searching. Before you do, I recommend our guide for how to get the most out of your JSTOR visit. It is available on

Oh, and the answers to those questions? The 54th Massachusetts appears 22 times, and the 6th Virginia Cavalry makes 14 appearances.

Ball’s Bluff is Nominee for 2017 AHF Award

More than two years ago, when Ken Fleming first approached Military Images about telling the story of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff through the portraits and stories of those who were there, we knew it was a unique way to explore this unusual engagement.

Turns out we were not alone! The fine folks at the Army Historical Foundation (AHF) notified us today that our story, “Exhilaration and Anguish at Ball’s Bluff,” is a finalist in their annual Distinguished Writing Awards competition.

The AHF was “established in 1983 as a member-based, charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We seek to educate future Americans to fully appreciate the sacrifices that generations of American Soldiers have made to safeguard the freedoms of this nation. Our funding helps to refurbish historical Army buildings, acquire and conserve Army historical art and artifacts, support Army history educational programs, research, and publication of historical materials on the American Soldier, and provide support and counsel to private and governmental organizations committed to the same goals.”

Military Images is honored to be a finalist. Congratulations to Ken Fleming for his vision and Jim Morgan for writing the main story.

Franklin Civil War Show: Champ Ferguson’s Last Days

It seems somehow appropriate that while at the Franklin Civil War Show we should scan this carte de visite of Tennessee’s Samuel “Champ” Ferguson. In August 1865, he posed for this portrait with his guards from the 9th Michigan Cavalry in Nashville for photographer C.C. Hughes. Ferguson, a Confederate guerrilla leader in Tennessee, is the tall man in the middle. A military tribunal convicted him on 53 counts of murder, and he was hanged in October 1865.

Ferguson was one of many Southerners who stood before military tribunals. The best known is Henry Wirz of Andersonville notoriety. For more information, read this article:

The show was great for Military Images: Hanging our with old friends, making news ones, scanning some incredible images and setting a one-day record for subscriptions. From the team at MI, a big thanks to all!

Young Historians Receive Notification (and the MI Pin!)

In tomorrow’s mail, we’ll send out formal notification to the first six winners in our Young Historians program. Each package contains an announcement letter and the coveted MI pin! The letter says it all:

On behalf of the team at Military Images magazine, I offer my hearty congratulations on your selection as one of our Young Historians. As a result, you will receive a complimentary 1-year subscription to our magazine. Please accept the enclosed pin as a token of our appreciation.

You were selected as a Young Historian because your Civil War story inspired us! A big thanks to [NAME OF PERSON], who nominated you for this honor.

Your first issue will be mailed early next month. If you would like to receive the digital edition, please send your email address to

Our Young Historians program is part of an ongoing effort to educate and raise awareness about the Civil War. The program is funded by the generosity of Kevin Canberg, a longtime subscriber and contributor.

We sincerely hope that the stories you read and the images you view will deepen your appreciation of this landmark event in the history of our country. We also hope the magazine encourages you to learn more about the Civil War and American history.

If you’re interested in participating in the program as a donor or participant, please contact

Results of Our 2017 Young Historians Initiative

Recipient Joseph Sorace with one of his Civil War heroes.

Our 2017 Young Historians Initiative has ended with the recognition of six students, selected from a group of nominees across the country. Each will receive a formal notification letter and an enamel MI pin, and their 1-year subscriptions will begin with the next issue:

  • Holden Hankins of Zionsville, Ind., is thoroughly knowledgable about the war and is a strong critical thinker to boot.
  • Thomas Holland of Newport News, Va., has a favorite Civil War spot— The Railroad Cut at Gettysburg.
  • Lane Lackey of Bowling Green, Ky., is the great-grandson of a World War II veteran.
  • Joseph Sorace of Independence, Ohio, has traveled to numerous battlefields with his family, and has a special place in his heart for Gettysburg.
  • Ryan Tapee of Jacksonville, Fla., told his father that he felt the battlefield of Gettysburg, noting it was eerily quiet and heavy.
  • Ryan Walker of Santa Anna, Texas, spends countless hours poring over Civil War books.
The mission of the Young Historians Initiative, the first in the history of Military Images, is to encourage boys and girls to study Civil War history. The funds for the initiative were made available through the generosity of subscriber and contributor Kevin Canberg, to whom we are grateful.