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Ronald S. Coddington
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LECTURE TONIGHT: WHAT A PHOTOGRAPH TELLS US.—Many of you will recognize this recently unearthed photograph of 11 African American soldiers and a chaplain. Their stories appear in the current issue of Military Images magazine. Tonight in Alexandria, Va., the owner of this unique photograph, Charles Joyce, will present a lecture at The Lyceum. The setting is appropriate, as the stories of these men all connect at a U.S. military hospital located in Alexandria.

Join me, Ron Coddington, editor and publisher of MI, this evening at 7:30 p.m. for the event. Magazines will be available for purchase.

Here's the official announcement from the fine folks at The Lyceum:

What a Photograph Tells Us: 11 Black Soldiers’ Fight for Equality on the Battlefield and in the Hospital, lecture by Charles Joyce guest researcher and writer for the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. Sponsored by The Alexandria Historical Society. Learn how Mr. Joyce traced the history of Francis Snow’s historical photograph of United States Colored Troops (USCT) at L’Ouverture Hospital in Alexandria. Images of USCT soldiers are uncommon, and remarkably, each man is identified on the back of
this albumen photograph. These names provide an unusual opportunity to determine what happened to the men after the Civil War. Mr. Joyce is a lifelong student of the Civil War, and he has been collecting and writing about Civil War images since 1999. Free lecture for members/non-members $5, begins at 7:30 p.m. and ends at 8:45 p.m. sponsored by the Alexandria Historical Society, www.alexandriahistorical.org.

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COL. McCLAIN, WHIG BULLY OR HERO?—This wonderful daguerreotype is currently up for auction at Cowan's. To best appreciate the portrait, I recommend a read of this fascinating anecdote from the official Cowan's lot description:

Lot of 3, featuring quarter plate daguerreotype of a bearded officer, sword in hand, his shako with feather plume resting on the table beside him, with inked note identifying the subject as Col. Andrew McLean (variation of proper spelling “McClain”), housed in full case. Previous owner’s notes indicate that plate is stamped L.B. Binsse & Co., NY, which made plates ca 1843-1845.

Accompanied by 2 commissions issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to McClain, the first document, 13.25 x 16.5 in., commissioning him Second Lieutenant of the “Native American Rifle Company” attached to the “Second” Regiment of the Militia…in the Third Brigade of the First Division, signed by Governor Francis R. Shunk, January 18, 1845. The second document, 14 x 17 in., commissioning him “Major” of the First Battalion Phild. Co. Volunteers of the Uniformed Militia…in the Third Brigade of the First Division, signed by Governor William F. Johnston, June 4, 1849. With original seal in top left portion.

At 10 am, Sunday morning, July 7, 1839, panicked Philadelphians heard the boom of cannon fire outside St. Phillip Nerri’s church instead of the serene ringing of church bells. For two long days, the city transformed into a war zone after a group of American nativists (associated with the Whig party) began to riot. The angry mob prepared to storm the church to free Charles Naylor, a political prisoner being held by the state militia.

“The excitement was awful, men running about hunting their relations, women in search of their children, I myself threw my children hastily into the entry…dead bodies were falling around me, and the excitement lasted till 9 o’clock at night,” said John Graves (Philadelphia Public Ledger, “The Trial of Andrew McClain,” November 16, 1844, 1).

Native-born Americans and Irish-American Protestants felt threatened by the influx of Irish-Catholic immigrants. Overcome by rage from a perceived threat to reading the King James Bible in the public schools, many became violent and burned two Catholic churches that May (http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/nativist-riots-of-1844/). Preparing for the worst, St. Phillip Nerri’s armed itself against an anticipated attack after a 4th of July parade. The siege did not occur on Independence Day. The next day; however, a hoard of men assembled outside the church when they heard it equipped itself. Militia men and local police organized to protect the city.

In the crowd was American nativist leader, Andrew McClain. “I saw McClain when the battering ram was used to break into the church,” said Francis S. Johnson (Philadelphia Public Ledger, “Southwark Riot Cases, Court of Oyer and Terminer Before Judges Kind and Parsons. Trial of Andre McClain,” November 11, 1844). McClain was born in Lancaster, PA in 1803. He was a prize fighter for some time, slugging it out with Jim Reed 54 rounds at Bell’s tavern in 1832. “[He is] a whig bully—who makes his living by ring fighting…It seems now he has turned traitor, murderer, ricter, and church burner,” raged the Illinois State Register (“More Whigs Arrested for Treason and Murder”, August 13, 1844). Riots surged across the country in the 1830s, but very few lasted for more than a day. The 1844 riots in Philadelphia, known as the Southwark riots, were much more severe. It resulted in the death of twelve people, citizens and soldiers, and 50 wounded. A few weeks later, on July 18, 1844, McClain surrendered himself to the mayor. Outraged, the Mayor ordered that he be “committed as an accessory to murder of Sergeant Guyer and corporal Troutman,” two militia officers killed while protecting the church (“More Whigs Arrested for Treason and Murder”, August 13, 1844). As much as the papers demonized him earlier, witnesses testified that McClain had a much different role in the riots than believed.

“I saw McClain urging people to go away [from the cannons],” said John Graves, a member of a sheriff’s posse. “His conduct at the time was as that of every other peaceable person on the ground; to preserve the peace and protect property…I saw [him] endeavoring to prevent the mob from bursting in the doors of the church, and gaining an entrance…[he] was engaged with myself and others in preventing the use of the battering-ram against the door” (“More Whigs Arrested for Treason and Murder”, August 13, 1844).

“[I] saw McClain in the organ gallery,” reported David Ford, another member of the posse. “Two young men, who removed the table from the front organ; they said they were going to play upon the organ; others came to their assistance and I beckoned to Mr. McClain and others who came and assisted me to keep the boys [from destroying it]; McClain said to them ‘If anyone enters here, they do it over my dead body’” (“More Whigs Arrested for Treason and Murder”, August 13, 1844)! McClain also interceded a group of men determined to beat Judge James Campbell, a well-known Catholic in the area (The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, Vol. 10, p. 208).

A large crowd gathered to watch the proceedings of his trail. The jury deliberated for 50 hours until reaching the unanimous decision that McClain was not guilty. The “Court house shook with pearls of applause,” and a procession formed to take the hero home (Boston Courier; November 21, 1844). The next month, on January 18, 1845, Governor Francis R. Shunk appointed him a 2nd lieutenant of the Native American Rifle Company attached to the 2nd Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division of the Philadelphia Militia. He served in that position until Governor Johnston promoted him to major of the 1st Battalion, Philadelphia Company Volunteers in June 1849, but demoted him to lieutenant colonel that February.

Condition: Few spots on plate, some light scratches including few along bottom edge of plate, plus a scratch that extends through feathers in hat. Not removed from seals, which consist of scotch tape. Housed in full case completely separated at hinge. Horizontal and vertical folds in each document.

Register to Bid: http://www.cowanauctions.com/lot/quarter-plate-daguerreotype-of-colonel-andrew-mcclain-plus-pennsylvania-militia-commissions-891299/

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GREAT GREATCOATS!—The cold front sweeping across the East today brings to mind one of the features you can look forward to in the winter issue, currently in development—a look at greatcoats in all their forms. West Point's Mike McAfee examines the history of these coats in his column, Uniforms & History. Plus, we'll have a gallery of greatcoat-wearing soldiers like this one from the Brian Boeve collection. By the way, big thanks to Brian for originating the idea.

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CLASSIC CIVIL WARRIOR.—"This appears to be a photo of a Civil War Confederate foot soldier. He's wearing what looks like a campaign hat and grey trousers. The checkered shirt is also similar to other photos of Confederates we've seen. Best of all, you get a pretty good look at his tin drum canteen and how its slinged around its circumference. I'm not an expert on canteens but this looks to be a pretty typical Confederate type drum canteen. We found this photo in Kentucky and came with no provenance. Image itself is in very good condition...one spot on the back which has made a spot on the image....otherwise near perfect."

SOURCE: http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/civil-war-ambrotype-confederate-csa-soldier-2.htm

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WHAT THE EDITOR DOES OUTSIDE MI.—When not wrapped up in various editorial and business dealings related to Military Images magazine, I'm involved in other activities—like writing Civil War books! I'm pleased to announce my latest, "Faces of the Civil War Navies: An Album of Union and Confederate Soldiers," is now available. My friends at The Johns Hopkins University Press did a fantastic job with the design, and I'm thankful to a long list of collectors who shared of their time and knowledge.

Copies available at Amazon and other fine book stores: https://www.amazon.com/Faces-Civil-War-Navies-Confederate/dp/1421421364

—Ron Coddington, Editor and Publisher, MI.

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PISTOL, KNIFE AND OIL-COTH CAP.—This image is currently posted on AntiquePhotographics.com with this description: Sixth-plate tinted tintype of Confederate Civil War Soldier with pistol and knife. His kepi has an oilcloth cover and is in his lap. He sports big shoulder scales a la Federal dress uniforms which was often worn by Confederates. General opinion is that he is likely from Georgia, possibly North Carolina. This image was obtained from an estate of a family that lived in NC along with another identified Confederate North Carolina soldier and a silhouette of Governor Turner of NC who was governor in the early 1800’s. Housed in a full, split leather case.

NOTE: Image lightened to show detail.

This image is available for purchase: http://antiquephotographics.com/tintypes/soldiers-tintypes/

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BREVET MAJOR GENERAL SAM DUNCAN.—Samuel Augustus Duncan (1836-1895), according to this biographical sketch by Russ Dodge, "Served in the Civil War first as Major of the 14th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, then as Colonel and commander of the 4th United States Colored Troops. He was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers on October 28, 1864 for "gallant and meritorious services in the attack upon the enemy's works at Spring Hill, Va.". On March 13, 1865 he was brevetted Major General, US Volunteers for "gallant and meritorious services during the war". After the end of the conflict he became a patent lawyer, and served as Assistant United States Commissioner of Patents from 1870 to 1872. In 2003 his and his 4th USCT's participation in the Civil War was detailed in the work "A Regiment of Slaves" by historian Edward Longacre."

Source: https://www.excelsiorbrigade.com/products/details/CDV-5154

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TWO OF THREE UNION OFFICERS IDENTIFIED.—On the back of this image is written three names in pencil: Leu. Hines, Cap. Graybell, Leu. Milliken. (Leu indicates lieutenant, and Cap indicates captain.) The writer likely intended the order of the names to match the order of the men pictured, from left to right. The shoulder straps worn by the men on each flank are those of a lieutenant, which supports the theory. A commission document that accompanied the image notes the appointment of William D. Milliken as a first lieutenant in Company D of the 22nd U.S. Colored Infantry. He had previously served in the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery.

I recently exchanged emails with Kevin West, whose great-great grandfather was an officer in the 22nd. West was able to confirm the identities of two of the three men using the Levi S. Graybill Papers at the Huntington Library: http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/search/searchterm/Levi%20S.%20Graybill%20papers./field/physic/mode/exact/page/1

The officer in the center is indeed Capt. Levi S. Graybill of Company E. He had previously served as a sergeant in the 4th Ohio Infantry. To his right is Milliken. He joined Company E of the 22nd as a second lieutenant in January 1864. Seven months later, on Aug. 13, he was promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to Company D. As Milliken wears the shoulder straps of the latter rank, this portrait was taken after August 1864.

The officer on the left is as of yet unidentified.

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DEATH ON VIRGINIA’S ‘SACRÉ’ SOIL.—Wheat fields played famous host to some of the bloodiest carnage at the landmark battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. They also marked a number of lesser-known engagements, including a forgotten battle waged in the Shenandoah Valley on June 9, 1862, when Union and Confederate forces clashed near Port Republic, a bucolic village located in the heart of the valley along the south fork of the Shenandoah River. For one Southern patriot, the battle in this wheat field was where a sentimental vow he made to leave his bones on the sacred soil of Virginia was tragically fulfilled.

Charles de Choiseul, the chivalrous lieutenant colonel of the Seventh Louisiana Infantry, had made the solemn pledge in a letter to a lady friend. He had put his heart and soul into the Confederate cause, and had become a renowned figure as a result. In January 1861, as a New Orleans militia officer, de Choiseul distributed ammunition to volunteers who proceeded to capture the Union arsenal at Baton Rouge. After Louisiana seceded from the Union later that month, he climbed to the top of City Hall in New Orleans and raised the state’s pelican flag to wild cheers and a 20-gun salute.

The scion of a French aristocrat, de Choiseul had been groomed for greatness since his privileged childhood in France. About 1830, when he was 9 years old, his father became a consul to the United States and relocated with his family to South Carolina. The de Choiseuls lived comfortably among the slaveholding social elite in Charleston. When the oppressive summer heat stifled the city, they and other prominent families fled to the cooler climes of western North Carolina. They built cottages in the hamlet of Flat Rock, which came to be known as “Little Charleston.”

By 1850, de Choiseul had become a naturalized citizen and moved to New Orleans, where he thrived as an attorney and militiaman among the French creoles in the city. After the start of the Civil War, de Choiseul joined the Seventh as second in command to a fellow New Orleans lawyer, Col. Harry T. Hays.

The regiment traveled to Virginia in time to participate in the First Battle of Manassas on July 21, 1861. Hays and de Choiseul led the regiment, part of the brigade commanded by Jubal Early, in an attack that helped turn the day in favor of the Confederates.

Perhaps emboldened by his military success, de Choiseul later wrote to Miss Emma Walton, with whom he had been corresponding regularly, with a touch of his native French, “I have made up my mind to leave my bones on the ‘sacré’ soil of Virginia.” He wouldn’t get his chance until almost a year later, at Port Republic.

Key to the Union position during the early part of the fight at Port Republic was an artillery battery, perfectly placed to defend against an enemy advance across an adjacent wheat field. The cannon “belched forth one incessant storm of grape, canister and shell, literally covering the valley, so that the work of attack on our part seemed almost hopeless,” remembered Capt. Daniel A. Wilson, a Virginian present that day.

Finally, the Seventh Louisiana and other Confederates advanced through the field. According to Wilson, they marched in a line of battle “across the low grounds, right after the battery. From its mouth now, with renewed violence, poured streams of shell and shot, mowing down our men like grass. The earth seemed covered with the dead and wounded.” Still the Confederates advanced. Colonel Hays ordered a charge. The Seventh dashed across the field with a yell, de Choiseul urging the men forward.

On the Union side, another Seventh regiment waited — the Seventh Ohio Infantry. Commanded by Col. William R. Creighton, it was one of the Union regiments that defended the battery. Creighton and his men waited for the Seventh Louisiana along a gulley, hidden by the chaffs of wheat.

As the historian of the Seventh Ohio reported,

The regiment reserved its fire until the rebel column approached within easy range, when, by order of Colonel Creighton, the regiment, which had been hitherto concealed by the tall spires of wheat, rose to its feet, and delivered its fire. This shower of lead made a fearful gap in the lines of the advancing column. It staggered, and finally halted. The Seventh now plunged into the midst of the foe, when an awful scene of carnage followed.

The Confederates suffered heavy casualties. “The gallant Col. Harry Hays, commanding the Seventh Louisiana Regiment, was badly wounded. His Lieutenant-Colonel, De Choiseul, was shot through the lungs, and after again and again endeavoring to hold his place on the field, was borne off almost insensible,” reported Captain Wilson.

Soldiers carried the mortally wounded de Choiseul to safety as the charge collapsed and the gray troops fell back. But a renewed attack successfully silenced the battery and turned the tide of battle in favor of the Confederates.

The Union forces were ultimately forced to retreat, leaving the Confederates, under Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, in control of a significant part of the Shenandoah Valley. The victory freed Jackson to send reinforcements to Gen. Robert E. Lee, who stood with his army between Richmond and Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac as it advanced up the Virginia Peninsula.

On the day de Choiseul fell, a Northern newspaper announced the arrival of his parents, brother and a servant at the federal-held of Fortress Monroe in Virginia under a flag of truce from Richmond, having reportedly fled Charleston to avoid the Union blockade. The family could not have known that their eldest son and beloved brother had been wounded, and were likely not present when he succumbed to his injuries in a Richmond hospital. De Choiseul was about 42 years old. He died unmarried.

A reference in the writings of the renowned diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut, who saw his coffin being transported, notes, “A pine box, covered with flowers, was carefully put upon the train by some gentlemen.” A woman who inquired whose remains were in the coffin was told by a doctor, “In that box lies the body of a young man whose family antedates the Bourbons of France. He was the last Count de Choiseul, and he has died for the South.” Chesnut added, “Let his memory be held in perpetual remembrance by all who love the South.”

De Choiseul left his bones in Virginia, but they did not remain there. The coffin was sent to North Carolina and delivered to his two sisters in “Little Charleston.” They arranged to have their brother’s remains buried in the cemetery of St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church in Flat Rock. The flag of de Choiseul’s homeland, a gift of the government of France in his memory, is still displayed in the church.

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CUSTER AND HIS ROOMMATE PART WAYS.—On Feb. 15, 1862, the Confederate Congress approved a second lieutenant’s appointment for Jim Parker, a thickset, redheaded West Pointer with eyes that matched the color of his uniform. Strangely, it was Parker’s second stint at this rank.

The first time around, Parker had worn Union blue. In 1861, he received and accepted a brevet commission as a second lieutenant in the regular United States Army, following the traditional career path for West Point graduates. But this was an appointment he technically did not earn.

A chronic underachiever, Cadet Parker had habitually ranked toward the bottom of the class in demerits and academics, and he was eventually kicked out. The source of his troubles may have been the company he kept, which included his roommate, a future Union commander destined for infamy, George Armstrong Custer.

The stout, slow-moving Parker and the lanky, energetic Custer had been fast friends since they first met at West Point in 1857. A fellow cadet, Morris Schaff, who occupied a room near Parker and Custer in the West Point barracks, recalled “with that well-matched pair I fooled away many an hour that should have been devoted to study.”

All three belonged to Company D, “the distinctively Southern company,” Schaff noted, with somewhere between half to two-thirds of its ranks coming from the Southern states. It included the future Confederates John Pelham, the gallant Alabamian who achieved glory in gray before his death in battle in 1863, and the daring cavalry general Thomas Rosser of Virginia. Parker fit the company’s Southern, well-to-do profile: he was the youngest of six children of the successful Kentucky physician John Todd Parker, and his first cousin was Mary Todd Lincoln.

West Point was less impressed with his background than others may have been, however, and he was let go in the last semester of his senior year, just before receiving his diploma and commission. But with the the nation lurching toward war, diplomas were suddenly less important than skills, and Parker was given a brevet commission and an assignment to the Fourth Infantry in Washington.

On the morning of July 20, 1861, Parker lay asleep in a rented room at the Ebbitt House in Washington, when Custer showed up unannounced from New York. After the two men greeted each other, Custer anxiously asked Parker for the latest news from Virginia, where two opposing armies were converging near Manassas and all expected an imminent engagement. (The First Battle of Bull Run occurred the following day.)

Custer then asked about Parker’s plans. Parker pointed to a document lying on a table near his bed. Custer read the paper, an official order from the War Department dismissing Parker “for having tendered his resignation in the face of the enemy.” Like many of his Southern brethren, Parker would not fight against his homeland.

Custer and Parker spent another hour discussing the war. Custer, as he later recalled, then bade a fond farewell to my former friend and classmate, with whom I had lived on terms of closer intimacy and companionship than with any other being. We had eaten day by day at the same table, had struggled together in the effort to master the same problems of study; we had marched by each other’s side year after year, elbow to elbow, when engaged in the duties of drill, parade, etc., and had shared our blankets with each other when learning the requirements of camp life. Henceforth this was all to be thrust from our memory as far as possible, and our paths and aims in life were to run counter to each other in the future.

Parker went immediately to Richmond, where he soon received his new commission in the Confederate Army — to fight, Custer later wrote with ill-concealed enmity, “under a flag raised in rebellion against the Government that had educated him, and that he had sworn to defend.” There is no record that the two men ever crossed paths again.

Within a day’s time Custer arrived on the battlefield of Bull Run and became caught up in the chaotic retreat following the collapse of the Union lines. Thus began the legendary career of the dashing and flamboyant cavalry officer: He charged into the war with boldness and reckless courage, slashing his way to glory at Gettysburg and other memorable battlefields. He ended the war with the stars of a major general and one of the most distinguished records of any horse soldier, North or South.

Meanwhile, Parker received his second lieutenant’s bars and an assignment to the Confederate artillery corps. In May 1862, military authorities dispatched him to the Mississippi River stronghold of Vicksburg with the stars of a lieutenant colonel on his uniform collar. As commander of the First Mississippi Light Artillery, he and his gunners successfully defended the key bastion against Union ironclad warship attacks during the summer of 1862.

He left Vicksburg later that year for duty at Port Hudson, La., just upriver from Baton Rouge, where he served as chief of heavy artillery to Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner. Though the Union controlled New Orleans, possession of this fortress city enabled Confederates to control the 240-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between it and Vicksburg. Parker served in this capacity during the 48-day siege that ended in surrender on July 8, 1863, four days after the fall of Vicksburg made Port Hudson untenable. Parker would spend the rest of the war as a Union prisoner.

In July 1865, Parker signed an oath of allegiance to the federal government and gained his release, after which, like his more famous former roommate, he headed west. He settled in the New Mexico Territory county of Sierra, living in the silver-mining boomtown of Kingston. He put his West Point education to work as a civil engineer and also served as the county’s first assessor.

One townsman recalled that Parker led a grand opening march into a new dance hall in Kingston in 1882. “He managed to get his 275 pounds into his old West Point dress uniform. His partner in the grand march was Big Annie, a lady from Missouri. She was corn-fed and the least that can be said about her size is that she was a grand partner for the colonel. She was dressed to kill.”

Parker died in 1918 at about age 79, outliving Custer, who fell at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory, by more than four decades. He never married.

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