Faces of the Civil War
An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Into this unusual and moving volume Ron Coddington has gathered the portraits of dozens of ordinary soldiers—junior officers and enlisted men rather than the famous generals—giving us a portrait gallery of Union soldiers on the brink of a war that would change their lives forever...
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The Union men who enlisted and served have never been part of our collective consciousness as unique individuals. Rather, they are memorialized en masse, perhaps a fitting tribute to the solidarity and sacrifice of a generation compelled to come together and defeat an enemy that threatened...
Cartes de Visite
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One of the War’s First Casualties
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Gourley served the remainder of his three-month enlistment with the Sixth and then joined Company B of the First Massachusetts Cavalry as its bugler. In 1862, he was appointed to the staff of Col. Robert Williams as an aide-de-camp. The colonel resigned a...
Saving Old Ironsides
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The Eighth had been formed within days of the start of the war and consisted of men from the greater Boston area. From the suburb of Marblehead, eighteen-year-old shoemaker William Dutcher enlisted and was assigned to Company B. He barely had time to say goodbye to his pregnant wife and...
Wounded and Captured at Bull Run
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In July 1861, Pvt. Conant and his regiment, the Eleventh Massachusetts Infantry, had been in reserve near Manassas, Virginia. But on the 21st, after its brigade battery had been crippled by enemy fire, the Eleventh marched in with the Fifth Massachusetts Infantry to get the guns out. According...
Wild About Harry
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Activated for a three-month enlistment after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Eighth fought at the First Battle of Bull Run. Graham mustered out with the regiment in August 1861, then enlisted in the National Guard. He was called up two more times during the Civil War: in 1862, by...
“My Goodness, Man, Don’t Go Over There”
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Pierson described the events that followed: “The guards off duty had lain down and were asleep; all was quiet except the patter of rain. Just at this time Gen. Prentice and seven hundred men who had been captured at Shiloh, were marched in front of the building. The guards, anxious...
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The new lieutenant colonel was William Bullock of Cambridge. His resumé was impressive. A member of the Massachusetts militia since 1849, he had made brigadier general in 1858. His service in the Thirtieth did not live up to expectations, and he lasted only a year-and-a-half in the regiment...
Pursuit of His Dream Interrupted
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McCornal lasted only a few months with the regiment. He suffered ill health, possibly from exposure incurred on frequent patrols during the winter months, and resigned in the spring of 1862. In late 1863, he enlisted again, this time as first lieutenant in the Fifteenth New York Cavalry....
After His Return from the Front
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Clark and his regiment, the First Rhode Island National Guard, were called up for emergency service in May 1862 after 20,000 rebels led by Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson launched a hard-hitting, fast-marching raid up Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and threatened...
In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
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Masters, a twenty-two-year-old native of Canada, had been living in New York City when the war started. In October 1861, he accepted a first lieutenant’s commission and joined the state’s Fifty-fifth Infantry, a unit nicknamed the “Garde de Lafayette” for its large number of French...
“He Was Wounded Bad”
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By 2 p.m., with the Union front caving in at nearby Gaines Mill, Virginia, Porter ordered in his reserves. According to Lt. Col. Joseph Fisher of the Fifth, the regiment took its assigned position and held it “for nearly four hours under a heavy fire of the enemy, our officers and men behaving...
“An Unusual Amount of Patriotism”
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A few days after he fought in the Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, in July 1862, Norton fell ill with typhoid fever and diarrhea. A month later, his health unimproved, doctors sent him to a military hospital in New York, where he remained nearly two months. After his release, he found...
“Daring and Courage”
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Moore, formerly captain of the Sixty-first New York Infantry’s Company B, told the steward of the tough predicament his command had been in at Nelson’s Farm, near Malvern Hill, Virginia, on June 30, 1862: Late that summer afternoon, after having been under fire all day in support of...
He Stayed at His Post
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In the summer of 1862, he was commissioned as assistant surgeon of the Tenth Massachusetts Infantry. The following April, he took ill in camp at Falmouth, Virginia. “I was prostrated by Malaria Neuralgia,” a nervous disorder that caused excruciating pain along the nerves in his...
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First, as a second lieutenant, he was appointed recruiting officer, and in December 1863 he reported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Six months later he returned to the Eleventh Cavalry, after his appointment and commission expired. Thanks to another nomination letter signed by officers from...
Under the Shade of Beautiful Trees
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Gus Blanchard, delirious from typhoid fever, tossed and turned in his bed at a tent hospital in Winchester, Virginia. “About half the time I did not know whether I was dead or alive, did not expect to live,” he recalled. He was in no condition to be moved, but after news of an imminent...
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Williams opposed the Republican Party. His minister described him as “staunch in the conviction that the success of that party, following the long agitation at the North of the disrupting question of slavery, had precipitated the Rebellion.” But after the war began, the Boston bachelor...
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That summer, Union Army of Virginia commander Maj. Gen. John Pope, stymied by enemy maneuvers, reacted by concentrating his army around Manassas to guard his communications and protect the federal capital. Pope’s confusion was understandable. In an unconventional move, Confederate...
Wounded at Bristoe Station
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Back in 1862, twenty-one-year-old Powell had served as a lieutenant and adjutant with the Seventy-first New York Infantry. He and his father, Dr. James Powell Sr., had joined the regiment a year earlier. His father enlisted as the regimental quartermaster and later became a staff surgeon. At the...
“I Was Carried from the Field Utterly Helpless”
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According to Oliver, “At or about six p.m. or it may have been a little earlier in the day, when nearly and safely through that terrible day, by the explosion of a shell, a fragment of which cut a piece from my hat, another fragment nearly severing my badge of rank from my left shoulder, I was thrown...
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George Pierce was wounded in three Virginia battles: at Malvern Hill in July 1862 he was shot in the right arm, at Spotsylvania Court House in May 1864 he received a slight head injury, and at Winchester in September 1864 a gunshot in the right shoulder ended his war service. Just before...
Making a Scene
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Medler, a twenty-three-year-old boatman in Sullivan County, New York, joined the state’s 143rd Infantry in the summer of 1862. October 8 was enrollment day for the volunteers, but not for Medler—he missed the muster due to illness. He joined the regiment after he recovered but was...
Hell’s Half Acre
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The Sixth and another regiment advanced and saw Union troops “flying in wild disorder, and hotly pursued by the enemy.” Col. Nicholas Anderson formed the 383 men of the Sixth into a line of battle. Anderson recalled, “In a few minutes a terrible fire was opened on us, scarce one hundred...
Latitude 29°20', Longitude 75°30'
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Hagar, an intelligent young man of promise from Westminster, Massachusetts, taught school and painted in his hometown when the war started. In the autumn of 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company I of the state’s Fifty-third Infantry and was soon promoted to first sergeant. Two weeks...
A Pension for the Old Man
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Havens was ill on September 19, 1862, the day he mustered in as a private (the nature of his illness was not recorded), and he was sent to a New York hospital, where he recuperated over the next three months. In December 1862, he joined his comrades in Company G and sailed for New...
Another Farmer Turned Artilleryman
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In early December, Pvt. Lisk and his regiment shipped out to New Orleans, Louisiana. Rough seas damaged their ship twice en route, but the battery arrived intact in late January 1863. It spent the Civil War in Louisiana and Alabama and saw little combat. No men were lost to enemy fire but...
“He Was Generally Broke Down”
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In 1846, McAtee, a Jefferson County, Illinois, blacksmith, signed up as a private in the state’s Third Infantry. He saw limited action with the regiment during the Mexican War. After the Third’s one-year term expired in 1847, he went home and married. At the start of the Civil War, McAtee was...
He Heard the Call
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Ashley was a natural choice to deliver words of thanks and praise to the captain and crew of the Continental, because the thirty-four-year-old combat officer was an ordained Baptist preacher. The Nova Scotia, Canada, native had been schooled at seminaries in Rhode Island...
In the Valley of the Shadow of Death
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A rash of blue pimples covered his body, and, Thomas wrote, “sores broke out all over me and formed abscesses at places which were long in healing.” He was sent to the hospital, and his arm remained sore and partially paralyzed for six months. “My whole body seems to be poisoned and my...
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Stambaugh mustered into the Seventy-fifth Illinois Infantry as a first lieutenant in September 1862, and, a month later, fought in his first battle, at Perryville, Kentucky, where he was slightly wounded in the side. In February 1863 he accepted a promotion to captain and company command. A month...
Walt Whitman’s Boss
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Hapgood, a native of Maine and a banker in Boston, Massachusetts, was driven to achieve “my most earnest desire for the complete and triumphant success of universal liberty to all men without regard to race, color or condition.” He dedicated himself as a “true and efficient laborer in the...
“Charge, Double Quick!”
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Denny, a thirty-six-year-old merchant from Boston, was a founder of the regiment. Before the war, he had been a private in the Boston Cadet Company, a militia unit formed in 1741 to act as bodyguards for the royal governor. In 1765, the company had helped quell riots waged by irate...
The Fatal Forlorn Hope
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O’Brien had labored under adversity since emigrating from Ireland’s County Tipperary in 1850. He and his wife settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, a hot bed of anti-Irish and anti- Catholic sentiment outside Boston. Despite racial and religious animosity, he became one of...
The Second Storming of Port Hudson
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A sixth-generation descendant of Massachusetts colonists, Abbott had grown up in Lawrence, a small town twenty-five miles north of Boston. At the start of the Civil War, he was married, had an infant son, and worked as an express messenger. In the summer of 1862, he enlisted as a private...
Model Soldier and Citizen
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He had earned the esteem of his regiment before they left his hometown of Clinton, Massachusetts, through hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Orphaned as a child, he was raised by an uncle, who provided him with a rudimentary education that did not satisfy his studious, industrious...
Determined to Get Back into the War
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The musket ball that slammed into Washburn’s thigh fractured the upper third of his femur. At the regimental hospital, an assistant surgeon removed a bone fragment and piece of lead from the wound and concluded that the captain’s injury would result in a shortened leg. To prevent extreme...
Yielded Up His Life
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On June 27, 1863, Rhoads and his regiment, the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, had received orders to attack entrenchments in front of Shelbyville. A Confederate private witnessed the action and gave this account: “On either side of the highway, in columns of fours, they advanced at a steady...
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Ramsden, a twenty-four-year-old clerk from London, England, had joined the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry in August 1862. He went on the sick list soon after, suffering from a persistent cough and other respiratory ailments. Despite his illness, he traveled with the regiment to Nashville, Tennessee...
Caught in a Deadly Crossfire
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Brownlee, a twenty-four-year-old farmhand born in Ireland, beat the odds. “Strange to say he recovered from his wounds,” one surgeon reported. His bladder injury leaked urine for ten days, probably saving his life—the urine may have prevented fatal infections from occurring. His weight...
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Before the war, Pierce was a young, popular lawyer, “possessed of noble impulses and high aspirations after excellence,” who had been admitted to the New York bar and was working in the prestigious law office of Horatio Ballard, later New York’s secretary of state. He rarely lost a...
Slightly Favored at First
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The Twelfth, part of the Army of the Potomac’s Third Corps, arrived at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Corps commander Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles violated orders when he marched his men ahead of their assigned place in the Union line, creating a half-mile gap between his force and the...
Hot Skirmish before Pickett’s Charge
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His company commander and sole surviving captain, Winfield Scott, recalled, “Without exception, I think it was the hottest skirmish I was ever in. The enemy held their line at the Emmitsburg Road, and they stuck to it as though they were ordered to hold it at all hazards.” The...
Escorting Rebel Prisoners after Gettysburg
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Davis, who was living with his widowed father and three brothers in Fairfax, Vermont, when the war began, was the first in his family to join the army, enrolling in the Tenth in July 1862, a week shy of his seventeenth birthday. His brothers signed up in 1864; two enlisted in the First Vermont...
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The thirty-six-year-old English immigrant spent the next two months recuperating, then returned to his duties as quartermaster and principal musician in the Eleventh Wisconsin Infantry. His condition proved to be chronic, however, and he suffered repeated bouts of loose bowels. He described...
Learning from Experience
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At Chickamauga, Georgia, in the afternoon of September 19, 1863, the Seventy-fourth formed a single line of battle on the left flank of a three-regiment assault force. At 2 p.m., it advanced through dense woods, engaged the enemy, and drove them back for over a half-mile, suffering few...
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Phelps was marched to Richmond and incarcerated in Libby Prison. He remained there through the winter, suffering rheumatism from the cold, dank conditions. In the spring of 1864, he was moved to Camp Oglethorpe in Macon, Georgia. After Union forces led by Maj. Gen. William...
Injured at Rappahannock Bridge
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Brig. Gen. Russell replaced the skirmishers from the Forty-ninth with men from the Sixth Maine and ordered the column to form a line of battle. According to a member of the Forty-ninth, “General Russell gave us orders to charge, and in less than two minutes he gave us orders to not...
Saving a Skirmish Line at Chattanooga
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Late that autumn afternoon, the Thirty-third and its brigade lined up in a field five hundred yards in front of Fort Wood. Ahead, rebel pickets lay beyond Citico Creek, protected by dense woods and a railroad. The regiment advanced ten paces before enemy fire peppered its two-company...
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During the night of December 7, 1863, according to Lt. Augustus Keene of the regiment, “the Quarter Masters tent took fire from a candle burning down to the desk, igniting paper on the desk and the tent.” Marshall, “in endeavoring to save the tent and contents, burned his hands...
Compelled to Leave the Service
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He returned to his home near Pittsburgh. About a year later, in August 1864, Copeland rejoined the army in a role better suited to an individual with his physical limitations. He enlisted as recruiting officer, with the rank of second lieutenant, for the 212th Pennsylvania Volunteers, later designated...
“When Rebels and Rebellion Are No More”
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Twenty-eight-year-old Dempsey, an Irish immigrant, was working as a clockmaker in Winsted, Connecticut. Two weeks after the war began he joined the Seventh as second lieutenant of Company E. He shipped out with the regiment to South Carolina and participated in actions along the...
Captured during Dahlgren’s Raid
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Kingston was interred in Richmond’s Libby Prison, where he joined five officers, including Lt. Bartley, who was captured the night after Kingston was taken. Bartley remembered that the group were “put into a Dungeon in the cellar of the prison and informed that we had been...
Injured near Sabine Cross Roads
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In the pre-dawn hours of April 8, 1864, Union infantry marched towards Moss Plantation, in Louisiana’s Red River country. Reinforcements were requested after the federal troops encountered Confederate horsemen, and Capt. Breese received orders to lead the advance with his command...
Under the Protection of the Star-Spangled Banner
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On the evening of Nov. 3, Burke and two fellow officers slipped across the guard line and disappeared into the night. “We traveled through the fields and woods, until we struck a road which ran parallel with the Congaree River,” a major tributary some 100 miles from the Atlantic Ocean...
Three Generations of Warriors
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In 1861, with civil war looming, Sullie implored his father, Col. Sidney Burbank, to help him get a commission in the army. Col. Burbank, an officer in the regular army and an 1829 graduate of West Point, arranged for his son a second lieutenancy in the Second U.S. Cavalry, an elite regiment...
The Route to Belle Plain
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On the morning of May 6, 1864, the regiment formed battle lines, after an attack led by Confederate Gen. James “Pete” Longstreet drove back advanced parts of the Union line. Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth, commanding this part of the federal front, rode out and ordered the Twentieth...
“P.S. The Fighting Today Was Terrible”
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Braman, a twenty-one-year-old lumber dealer from Troy, New York, set about recruiting soldiers during the first summer of the war, and, with two others, formed a company which joined the state’s Ninety-third Infantry. The rank and file elected him first lieutenant, and his administrative...
Tragedy Times Three
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Eaton enjoyed life in the Sixth, where he “possessed the esteem of the regiment.” In an 1862 letter from Beaufort, South Carolina, he explained to a friend that the “life that I have lived the past year has worked me down to a mere nothing, but I never felt better in my life than at present...
The Hero of Drewry’s Bluff
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That day, according to the regimental historian, the Twenty-first was “engaged in battle against fearful odds, and Chaplain Brown was with us, not in the rear, but on the front line where shot and shell were flying, ministering to the wounded and dying, wounded himself but staying at what...
From Commissary to Combat
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Aaron Ingraham had lived a life of borderline poverty before the war. The twenty-two-year-old bachelor had eked out a living on a fifty-acre farm with his parents and three siblings in Amenia, New York, a small village near the northwestern corner of Connecticut. The family could...
“Courageous to the Last”
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Company H was ably led by twenty-seven-year-old Capt. Joseph Baxter, a cigar maker with an energetic spirit and “restless nature” from the Boston suburb of Cambridgeport. He joined the Twenty-second in 1861 as a sergeant and earned a reputation as “an honest man and faithful...
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After his shooting, surgeons ordered Hardy to a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. According to one doctor, “if the ball had varied a hair’s breadth either way it would have killed him instantly.” His wound discharged pus and bone fragments for seven months, finally closing in January 1865. Hardy...
Foraging in the Green Briar
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His finger became inflamed, and the swelling spread to his palm and gradually his whole arm. Those who saw the swelling described it as “violent,” “extensive,” “enormous,” and “great.” Ten days later, his condition unchanged, he was admitted to the hospital, where his inflamed...
Wounded after the Mine Explosion
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One of the few staffers to escape was 1st Lt. Robert Chamberlin of the Twenty-first Massachusetts Infantry, who served as Bartlett’s ordnance officer and an aide-de-camp. He and Bartlett shared a common birth year, 1840, and hometown, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Both enlisted in the army...
Shot at the Crater
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The Fourth came under severe enemy fire that enfiladed its ranks. Col. Louis Bell, commanding the regiment and its brigade, reported Union troops “dashing through my men with arms at a trail and bayonets fixed. The officers and men of my command tried to resist the dash of those...
He Followed the Sea
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Johnson, a twenty-six-year-old sailor from Westbrook, Maine, had mustered into the state’s Tenth Infantry as sergeant in May 1861. On September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, he was promoted to first lieutenant and slightly wounded in the head. He mustered out and went home...
On Assignment in New Orleans
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There can be little doubt that Imbert enjoyed his assignment in New Orleans, where he was in charge of the draft center and commissary department for black troops. Compared to his regular assignment as a line officer with the Seventy-third, his current job increased his responsibilities, and...
A Fortuitous Meeting
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Capt. Bowen was looking for officers to lead the two new regiments, and he offered nineteen-year-old Babcock a second lieutenancy in the Sixth Cavalry. He accepted, was assigned to Company D, and joined his new command in late October. He had missed the Sixth’s first battle, at Saltville...
“Dangerously Hurt Internally”
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Hacker, a dedicated journal keeper, had recorded his own wounding on September 19, 1864: “We were ordered forward under a heavy fire of grape and musketry, our lines advanced in good order for about 3 or 400 yards when the enemy opened a masked battery on us and a cross fire of...
The Fighting Fifer
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Thirty-five-year-old Cheney, a Lunenburg, Vermont, farmer, had enrolled in the state’s Eighth Infantry as a fifer in the winter of 1861. His leadership abilities attracted the attention of the regiment’s top command; he rose steadily through the ranks and joined the officer’s corps as second...
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Andrews led the animals to his home county and left them with an acquaintance at an undisclosed location, presumably to collect them at a later date. His plans were foiled after his absence was discovered. Charges were filed against him for stealing and for leaving his company without...
The Order That Never Came
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To learn the cavalryman’s art, Pvt. Madden traveled to Hart Island in New York Harbor, where facilities had been established a year earlier to educate recruits. Up to 3,000 men at a time were housed there; a total of 50,000 soldiers ultimately received training on Hart Island. After his arrival...
Answering the Call
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Life had not been easy for Masten. In 1857, when he was seventeen, a serious illness had crippled his father and left him and his mother without financial support. Daniel went to work at a local foundry, and his pay kept the family afloat. He became his mother’s sole source of income...
Faithful and Meritorious Service
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On January 15, 1865, after a two-day bombardment, Terry’s force moved in and took the fortress and rebel garrison at Wilmington after a bloody assault—the mission was a complete success, and the last remaining major port along the Atlantic coast was closed to the Confederacy...
A Man to Be Counted On
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When the war started, Cook, a nineteen-year-old bachelor, was working as a clerk in his hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts. A month later, he enlisted as a private in the local military corps, the City Grays, which became Company A of the Seventeenth Infantry when it formed...
“A Better Man Never Lived”
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Cooper served with the Thirty-third Iowa Infantry for most of his enlistment, joining as a sergeant and working his way to first lieutenant of Company A, whose members regarded him as “a first class soldier.” “He was our best officer—always ready for duty,” remembered a corporal, “he used to...
“Ever Afterwards My Enemy”
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When the war broke out, twenty-three-year-old Pearce, a mountain of a man at six-foot-five, was a struggling father of four eking out a living on his small Kansas farm. In the spring of 1861, he joined the Second Kansas Infantry, a three-months’ regiment, and made a fine soldier, rising...
“He Was Determined to Die”
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George Decker, an intelligent, enterprising and industrious young businessman, had moved from his home in Orange County, New York, to Liberty and entered the booming tanning business as a partner in the firm of Dutcher and Decker. Through hard work and savvy dealings, he became...
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First and foremost, I thank my wife, Anne, for her patience, understanding, encouragement, and commitment. She has given much in my pursuit to chronicle old soldiers. Her candid observations and honest critiques have made this a better book, and her keen sense of humor raised my spirits...
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Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 77 halftones
Publication Year: 2004