Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Motivated by Flickr Success

Motivated by two recent successful image identifications on Flickr,* I've started hunting for other unidentified soldiers in my holdings. Today I scanned in a carte added to my collection before the Internet went mainstream. The image, pictured here, is identified as J. Frank Monroe, alias Charles Wallack. No unit identification is present. My efforts many years ago to confirm his identity failed, and I filed the image away.

I scanned the image this morning and planned to post it on Flickr in the Unidentified Veterans set. In preparation to write the caption, I did a search on Ancestry.com and quickly learned that he was drafted in 1864 and served in the First Connecticut Infantry.

Monroe/Wallack is now posted in the Current Soldiers Under Research set.

What a difference technology makes! I look forward to learning more about him.

* The two Flickr postings are a confirmed identification of Capt. John Huey Weeks of the Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry and a tentative confirmation of Capt. William Hydorn Jr. of the Ninety-seventh New York State National Guard.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Two Views of Capt. Barnes

I recently added a carte de visite of Capt. Dennis Edwin Barnes (left) of the Ninety-third New York Infantry to my collection and am extremely pleased to have it.

I owned a carte of Barnes once before, and those familiar with the Daniel Lorello thefts know that I later returned the image to the state of New York. That image is shown here to the right. It is very likely both were made during the same sitting.

During the course of my research and the writing of his profile, I came to admire the story of his life as a successful peacetime businessman and mourn his tragic death during the Battle of the Wilderness.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Illuminated History

Vicki Profitt has created a unique entry point into the Civil War experience by leading the inaugural "Civil War Soldiers of Pittsford Tour" at Pittsford Cemetery in Pittsford, N.Y.

What began as a project to document veteran headstones has become a larger effort to learn more about the 120-plus men who served, their contributions to the Union cause, and, for those who survived, their impact on the community.

Vicki notes, "My goal is to put together a book with the information I have collected about each soldier and offer it for sale through our historical society." She maintains a blog, Illuminated History, to document her journey. I was particularly drawn to the compelling image on her latest post, which features the headstone of Sgt. John Buckley Bacon, Fourth Wisconsin Cavalry. The stone is flanked by a post-war image of Bacon and an American flag.

It is efforts like these that keep history alive, and help all of us to better understand and appreciate our roots.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Impressive New Market Event

Spent today signing Faces of the Civil War and Faces of the Confederacy in the Museum tent along Sutler's Row at the New Market reenactment. I enjoyed meeting several people known previously by email, notably Nick Sekela and Nick Picerno, and meeting new friends, including Mike Zucchero, author of Loyal Hearts: Histories of American Civil War Canines.

I did manage to snap a few images during the battle reenactment, before a thunderstorm tore through the area, reminiscent of the rains reported during the battle 145 years ago today.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mystery of William Hydorn Jr.

This Civil War era carte de visite, identified in period pen as William Hydorn Jr., has been in my possession for years. The inscription does not include the unit in which he served. I've never been able to link him to a military organization. His name (using this spelling or variations) does not appear on any federal rolls, and is curiously absent from databases online and at the National Archives. I've speculated that he may have served under an alias, or perhaps his record is misfiled, mislaid, or listed under an alternative spelling with which I am not familiar.

Recently I posted this image on Flickr, hoping to make a connection. Late last week, Sam Small of The Horse Soldier in Gettysburg contacted me. He had recently purchased a Union captain's coat and a sword. He had the saber professionally cleaned, which revealed an inscription: William Heydorne. Eventually his online search results led to my Flickr posting.

Turns out the sword is an exact match with the one held by the soldier in this image, and the rather narrow shoulder straps on the uniform coat in Sam Small's possession also line up with the coat worn by this officer.

Since then, I have been obsessed with discovering this man's military service record. Yesterday I made the first connection that aligns the information on this carte with a record: Capt. William Hydorn, Company F. Ninety-seventh Regiment, Tenth Brigade, Third Division, New York National Guard. His rank dates to Dec. 24, 1864. His residence is Grafton. This information from the Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York (1866, Vol. 1).

This is a promising lead, and I am currently seeking more information.

My working theory is that this is William Willard Hydorn Jr. (1837-1874) of Grafton, N.Y., who served in the Ninety-seventh New York State National Guard. Commanded by Col. Schuyler Greenman, the 500-man regiment served the state from late 1864 until it disbanded in 1868. The unit never mustered for federal service.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book Signing at New Market

Thanks to sutler Nick Sekela, I will be signing copies of my books at the The Battle of New Market Reenactment. I'll be set up in the bookstore tent, adjacent to sutler's row, on Saturday, May 16, from 10-3, and Sunday, May 17, from 10-2. I am informed that this year's event will be especially impressive, due in part to the cancellation of the Spotsylvania reenactment.

Hope to meet you there!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In Living Color

I am a purist by nature and by training as a visual journalist. For these reasons, the thought of colorizing images instantly strikes me in a negative tone. However, when I reflect on the many Civil War period photographers who tinted cartes de visite, or employed colorists to artfully add a bit of pigment to enhance a black and white image, my gut instinct is challenged. Moreover, when I consider the value of examining images from different perspectives, and realizing the power of modern technology (in this case, scanners and Photoshop), my curiosity is aroused. What did these soldiers look like in living color? We'll never see these men exactly how they appeared. But, thanks to Photoshop, as shown here in this carte de visite of Maj. Edward Burgin Knox (left) and Capt. Alexander McRoberts of the Fourty-fourth New York Infantry, we can get an idea of what they might have really looked like.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Searching for United Service Club of Philadelphia Address

A profile of Capt. John Huey Weeks (pictured here) that appeared in an 1887 edition of The Railroad Record and Investor's Guide mentions a paper that he delivered at the United Service Club of Philadelphia. The paper included a graphic account of the Battle of Fredericksburg, in which Weeks participated as an officer with the Ninety-first Pennsylvania Infantry.

Any leads on where I might obtain a copy of this paper are appreciated.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Brothers' War

The title of this post conjures up images of soldiers North and South, Union and Confederate, Billy Yank and Johnny Reb. It is also a fitting headline to describe the esprit de corps that existed between two federal infantry regiments, the Second Massachusetts and the Third Wisconsin. Both organizations fought side by side in the same brigade during major operations through the war, including Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Sherman's campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas.

During the course of my research of Capt. Henry Newton Comey of the Second Massachusetts, I found this paper, reproduced in a regimental history book, presented by Comey and his fellow officers to the men of the Third Wisconsin:
Second Massachusetts Infantry, Camp Slocum,
Near Washington, D.C., June 4, 1S65.

We, the undersigned, officers of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, wish to express to the officers of the Third Wisconsin Infantry our heartfelt regret, that the fortunes of the service are about to separate our respective organizations.

From the campaign of 1862, in the Shenandoah Valley, to the present glorious close of this bloody war, we have fought and marched side by side with you in almost every rebellious State. To have been brigaded together for so long a time is in itself remarkable; no less so is it that between our two regiments there should have always existed such strong feelings of friendship and mutual regard, untinged by the slightest shadow of jealousy.

As we recall, now, some of the hard positions we have been in, we cannot help remembering how often our anxiety was lessened by the knowledge that the old Third Wisconsin was close at hand to support us. We know that you have had the same thoughts about us. Nothing in this whole war will be pleasantcr for us all to look back upon than this feeling of mutual respect and reliance. It not only elevated the tone of both of our regiments; but, we honestly believe, it went a great way towards making our brigade and division what they are now acknowledged to be, — among the very best organizations of the army.

We assure you that in our own State, wherever the Second Massachusetts is known, its brother regiment is also famous.

Whenever any of us have been at home, among the first inquiries would be, " How is the Third Wisconsin ? " It has been with pride that we have answered, "It is the same staunch old regiment that fought at Antietam and Chancellorsville."

These are not compliments, but expressions of plain, honest feelings. We have been knit together by deeds, not words; deeds, which, as time goes on, we shall look back upon with continually increasing pride.

Together we have shared dangers and hardships, victories and defeats, and it is hard now for us to part; but, in the natural order of things, the war being over, you go towards your homes in the West, we stay near ours in the East. Let us not, however, though separated by thousands of miles, forget these old associations. Let us rather cherish them with our fondest recollections: let it be a story to hand down to our children and children's children, how the Second Massachusetts and Third Wisconsin fought shoulder to shoulder through the great rebellion, and achieved together glory and renown. We ask you to accept this testimonial as a slight evidence of our affection and esteem. We bid you farewell, and God bless you, one and all.

C. F. Morse, Lieutenant-Colonel, com.
James Francis, Major.
C. E. Munn, Surgeon.
John A. Fox, Adjutant.
E. A. Howes, Quartermaster.

Captains. — Daniel Oakey, F. W. Crowninshield, E. A. Phalen, George A. Thayer, Theodore K. Parker, Dennis Mehan, Henry N. Comey, William E. Perkins.

First Lieutenants. — George J. Thompson, Jesse Richardson, Moses P. Richardson, William T. McAlpine, Jed. C. Thompson, William D. Toombs.

Source: Quint, The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65, pp. 282-284.
The Third Wisconsin responded with an equally respectful and heartfelt reply. While espirit de corps between regiments was not uncommon, it is rare in my experience to come across and exchange of papers that recognize and honor the bonds between them.

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