Military Images

Finding Aid: Spring 2020

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Vol. XXXVIII, No. 2
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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.

Finding Aid: Spring 2019

The complete issue

Vol. XXXVII, No. 2
(80 pages)

No print issues in stock
Download PDF from JSTOR ($16.00)
Subscribe to MI ($24.95)
Explore the MI Archives: Browse | Advanced search | Tutorial


Cover image
A ninth-plate ruby ambrotype from the Kevin Canberg Collection pictures a federal enlisted man holding a photograph of another soldier.
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Table of Contents (p. 1)
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Editor’s Desk (p. 2)
The editor discusses two new ventures, Military Images Live, a bi-monthly video broadcast on Facebook, and the first-ever Civil War Faces Show and Sale, a joint venture with Doug York, Editor of Civil War Faces.
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Mail Call (pp. 3-4)
Feedback includes memorial for late collector John Sickles, an alternative view of an Antebellum Warrior and the discovery of a wooden bowl in the Iowa Historical Museum.
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Military Anthropologist (p. 4)
An analysis of 5 less discussed factors that negatively impacted prisoners of war, based on scholarship by David Keller, author of The Story of Camp Douglas, Chicago’s Forgotten Civil War Prison.
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Passing in Review (p. 6)
Death, Disease and Life at War: The Civil War Letters of Surgeon James D. Benton, 111th and 98th New York Infantry Regiments, 1862-1865 (Savas Beatie) by Christopher E. Loperfido notes the refreshing honesty revealed by the Union officer in his wartime letters.
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Photo Sleuth by Kurt Luther (pp. 8-9)
In “Civil War Photo Sleuth: An Update,” Kurt shares statistics about user-created accounts, adding photos, identifying photos, plus information about the current status and future plans for the popular application.

Antebellum Warriors (p. 10)
A sixth-plate ambrotype from the Thomas Harris Collection is a portrait of a naval 1st assistant engineer dressed in an 1852 regulation uniform.

The Honored Few (p. 12)
Aaron Steven Lanfare, a first lieutenant in the 1st Connecticut Cavalry, captured the flag of the 11th Florida Infantry during the Battle of Sailor’s Creek in April 1865. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Most Hallowed Ground (p. 14)
Georgiana Willets took a break from her duties as a teacher of freedmen in Washington, D.C., to help soldiers suffering wounds and sickness during the 1864 Overland Campaign. She survived the war and married a veteran, James M. Stradling of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry. They are buried side-by-side in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Citizenry by Jeff Giambrone (p. 16)
After the fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the Union army assumed the difficult role of occupier. An uneasy peace followed, and in one of the many episodes of friction between soldiers and townspeople, Miss Emma Kline was arrested on suspicion of smuggling. She’s pictured here standing between two guards from the 5th Iowa Infantry.

A Million Hells of Screaming Flame: Portraits of Blue and Gray at Shiloh (pp. 18-28)
We remember one of the most significant battles of the war and the Western Theater through representative portraits and stories of more than two dozen soldiers who were killed, wounded and captured, and others, during the chaos and confusion that reigned in and about Pittsburgh Landing during two days in April 1862. Stan Hutson of the National Park Service played an important role in bringing this stories to light.

Infernal Gates: Lt. Borger and the Hornet’s Nest Brigade at Shiloh by Ronald S. Coddington (pp. 30-33)
The fighting at the Hornet’s Nest is remembered for the grit of Union troops who defended this sector of the battlefield against Confederate attackers. A brigade of Iowa infantry played a critical role in its defense. One of the regiments, the 12th Iowa, found itself in the center of the fury. The story of one of these Iowans, 2nd Lt. John Herman Borger, a German immigrant and former Marine, is representative of the Union soldier experience.

Reunion and Reconciliation at the Point: Lookout Mountain and the Linn brothers after the war by Dr. Anthony Hodges (pp. 35-41)
In our third and final installment tracing the history of Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga, Tenn., before, during and after the Civil War, Dr. Anthony Hodges explores the area and its development as a hotspot for Union and Confederate veteran reunions, the center of the battlefield preservation movement, and a tourist attraction documented in photographs by Robert M. and James B. Linn.

Requiescat in Pace: Memorial photographs of the Civil War by Richard Leisenring, Jr. (pp. 42-50)
A newspaper ad for Mathew Brady’s New York City gallery warned readers, “Never delay the important business of getting your Portrait; you cannot tell how soon it may be too late.” The author suggests these words can be loosely attributed to the creation of the memorial photograph, which is rooted in the European custom of memorial cards. A history of these images includes examples of three types: Formal Cards, Informal Cards and Mourning Wreaths. Also included is a section about unverified cards.

Soldier Photographs, Reunited by Daniel J. Binder (pp. 52-54)
Tintypes and ambrotypes were extremely popular during the Civil War. But they did have one drawback—they could not be easily and inexpensively reproduced. Soldiers fond of the format sat for more than one portrait during a sitting. Many of these pairs of images were separated over time. The author brings three of these pairs together, and shares his insights.

Undivided by Robert Lee Blankenship, Jr. (p. 55)
A poem.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Is Jane Perkins pictured in this iconic Civil War image of Confederate prisoners of war? by Shelby Harriel and Mark Hidlebaugh (pp. 56-58)
An iconic Mathew Brady photograph of Confederate prisoners of war at White House Landing in Virginia is a study in contrasts. One of them is the presence of what appears to be a woman who may be a known female soldier, Jane A. Perkins. The authors make a compelling case that the individual is Perkins by placing the scene in context to events in 1864 and her documented military service, as well as a comparison of the individual pictured to known descriptions.

A New Look at Old Abe’s Color Guard: Researchers combine classic and cutting-edge techniques to reexamine the identities of soldiers in an iconic image by Tyler Phillips, Kenneth E. Byrd and Xukai Zou (pp. 60-64)
Three researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis use classic and cutting edge techniques to reexamine the identities of soldiers pictured in a well-known photo of members of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry with their live eagle mascot, Old Abe. The results of the study confirm the identities of some of the eight men—and raise questions about the others.

Red-Whiskered Artillery Genius: New York’s Capt. Jacob Roemer by Mike Fitzpatrick (pp. 65-69)
Jacob Roemer’s military exploits are largely forgotten. In his four years as captain of the 2nd New York Light Artillery, the German immigrant survived numerous wounds and established a reputation as something of a tactical genius. His knack for improvisation, quick thinking and bold action in the face of adversity belied his lack of a formal military education.

Legacy Fulfilled: One Virginian’s Journey from West Point to Confederate artillery leader by Fred D. Taylor (pp. 70-73)
Virginia’s William Rice Jones left his beloved West Point as a matter of honor and principle after his home state seceded and cast his lot with the Confederate army. The young man eventually rose to become an artillery chief in Texas, and returned to the Lone Star State to make a new life for himself after the end of hostilities.

Stragglers: Distinctive Images from MI contributors (pp. 74-79)
Union and Confederate images include a young men with a fawn outside a photographer’s studio tent, Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cousin, Capt. Albartus Forrest of the 31st Tennessee Infantry, and a post mortem of Pvt. Alonzo “Lon” Clark of the 31st Maine Infantry, who died of disease only six weeks after he enlisted.

The Last Shot (p. 80)
A quarter-plate tintype from the Ronald S. Coddington Collection is a portrait of Union officer thumbing his nose at the camera.