Web Faces of War




Columnist, Civil War News Faces of War

The column began with the idea of writing a book, a childhood dream that might have gone unfulfilled. However, in my late thirties, I decided to make it a reality. After spending several months looking for a subject, I turned to my collection of Civil War cartes de visite with the thought that they might make an interesting photo book. I selected a number of excellent examples of vernacular photography from the period, then set about the task of writing captions. My first subject, Capt. Edward Richmond Washburn of the Fifty-third Massachusetts Infantry, had military service and pension files at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. He died from the effects of a leg wound suffered in one of the desperate assaults against Port Hudson, Louisiana. His story moved me like no other war account. I had found a focus for my book: Stories of the soldiers, each accompanied by their carte de visite portrait.

I wrote about a half dozen profiles in 2000. About this time, Henry Deeks discontinued his column called Images in the Civil War News. I had been a big fan, and was sorry that it ended. Thinking that perhaps CWN might be searching for a new column, I mustered the courage to send my profiles to Editor Kay Jorgensen. Kay liked what I had sent, suggested the title Faces of War, and launched the first column in April 2001 It featured Pvt. John Pierson of the Seventh Iowa Infantry. I have been writing each month since then. I am fortunate to have the opportunity, and honored to contribute to Civil War News.

View the column index from 2001 to the present.

Washburn and Pierson
Capt. Edward Richmond Washburn, Fifty-third Massachusetts Infantry (left), and Pvt. John Pierson of the Seventh Iowa Infantry.

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