Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Timing is Everything

While scrolling through a microfilmed version of the Doles-Cook Brigade history at the Library of Congress, I came across a brief biography of Lt. William Crawford Wimberly of the Fourth Georgia Infantry. The name jogged my memory — I remembered scanning his carte de visite in April 2005 while visiting collector David Vaughan in Atlanta. I had originally dismissed the image from inclusion in the book because I was not able to track him after the war. Now, with new information in hand, I reopened his file.

I posted requests on and The Civil War Message Board Portal, and within twenty-four hours received an e-mail from the president of a Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. One of the men in his organization was a descendant of the lieutenant! Soon I was in contact with Milo Wimberly, who informed me that a rededication of Lt. Wimberly’s gravesite was scheduled in two weeks.

Milo will be in contact with more information after the ceremony — and I can’t wait to hear more!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Hunt Begins

After identifying a carte de visite, research begins online at and The Civil War Message Board Portal. Both are excellent resources. My normal entry is worded this way “Searching for letters, journals, and other personal and public documents referencing the life and military service of (name of soldier),” and finished with brief details about their war service and civilian life.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

“Handsome and Humane Civil War Book”

These are the words written by Pennsylvania State University’s Michael Barton in a recent review of Faces that appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. I am pleased that Barton commented on the social history thread that connects the profiles. Moreover, he is he first reviewer to my knowledge to note the range of poses and suggest a separate book on this topic. Read full review.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Final Book Images Secured

Yesterday’s visit with a top collector of Confederate cartes de visite yielded the final group of images needed to complete the book. I feel a great sense of relief that digital scans of all of the portraits are now in hand, and also much thankfulness to all the generous private collectors who have agreed to share their photographs.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Confederate Section

Yesterday I braved temperatures in the one hundred degree range to visit Arlington National Cemetery and locate the grave of my current research subject, Capt. Fred Beall of Mississippi. Until now I had no idea that a Confederate section existed, and that the remains of 439 Southern veterans are buried there. Beall’s grave is located in the fourth of six rings arranged in a great circle around an imposing bronze memorial dedicated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

This circle is surrounded by many thousands of graves of those who served in peace and war. Some made the military a career and lived long, while other lives were cut tragically short during armed conflict. The death dates on their graves — 1864, 1917, 1943 and 1968 — poignantly punctuate the end of their young and unfulfilled lives, and cause me to lament their passing and honor their service.