Home History Can You Help Solve These Gettysburg Photo Mysteries?

Can You Help Solve These Gettysburg Photo Mysteries?

by Enochadmin

The Amos Humiston story resonates like few others from Gettysburg. On July 1, 1863 — Day 1 of the epic, three-day battle — an area resident found the physique of the 154th New York Infantry sergeant close to John Kuhn’s brickyard, north of the city sq.. The soldier clutched in his hand a picture of three kids. He carried no identification.

To determine the kids and thus reveal the soldier’s identify, a physician had tons of of cartes-de-visite of the {photograph} created and distributed. “Whose Father Was He?” learn the headline above a narrative concerning the picture in The Philadelphia Inquirer and different Northern newspapers. The publicity effort labored. Months after the battle, Humiston’s widow recognized him after studying an in depth description of the {photograph} of the kids in a non secular publication.

Extra Gettysburg Picture Mysteries

However the Humiston saga wasn’t the one thriller involving Gettysburg pictures. Within the fast aftermath of the battle, burial crews found different poignant photos — a torn portrait of a fiancée, a blood-spattered picture in a captain’s stiff fingers, a child’s likeness smeared with blood and plenty of others — amongst our bodies, Bibles, scraps of letters, clothes, and weaponry.

In November 1867, a daguerreotype of a girl — in her early 20s with “darkish hair, combed again and falling loosely over her shoulders” — was unearthed, together with a soldier’s stays and a cartridge field containing 43 bullet, close to the Emmitsburg Street at Gettysburg Based mostly on the situation on the battlefield, the grave was believed to belong to a fallen Accomplice. As one newspaper reported: “We’ve been specific in describing the daguerreotype, as it could result in its identification.”

Identification of this soldier and the picture of the younger girl, nevertheless, weren’t ascertained. The names of different topics in pictures discovered on the battlefield even have been misplaced to historical past.


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CLoser to Solutions

However sufficient clues have surfaced for us to inch nearer to fixing two different Amos Humiston-like Gettysburg mysteries. Every includes a Accomplice soldier, whose stays — like Humiston’s — had been discovered with a mysterious {photograph}. We don’t have all of the solutions but.

So, jumpstart your brains, go online to family tree websites, and scour previous newspapers. Greater than 158 years after one Gettysburg picture thriller was settled, you’ll be able to help in fixing two extra.

Confederates attacking the middle of the Union traces throughout Pickett’s Cost on July 3, 1863—Gettysburg’s third day—had been repelled, leading to greater than 50 p.c complete casualties.
(Bridgeman Photos)

A Bloody Memento

At about daybreak on July 4, 1863, the 87th anniversary of the creation of america and the day after Pickett’s Cost, Russell Glenn of the 14th Connecticut Infantry searched the battlefield with comrades close to the Bloody Angle. The troopers discovered a “horrible valley of dying”: bloodied and battered enemies, physique components, and the detritus of struggle.

Whereas a few of Glenn’s comrades assisted wounded Rebels, others looked for struggle trophies, a standard exercise of troopers following a battle. Then the 19-year-old corporal occurred upon a Accomplice mendacity face up close to a boulder, his blue eyes broad open as if staring on the sky.

He’s good-lookingeven noble-lookingand so lifelike that he seems he can converse, Glenn thought to himself concerning the fallen enemy, maybe a teen. Then he observed the ugly, bloody gap within the Insurgent’s chest, maybe from a bullet or canister, and knew dying should have come rapidly.

When Glenn stooped to look at the curly-haired Accomplice, clad in a grey shirt and coat, he observed one thing in his hand, close to his left breast. He broke the dying grip and examined the item, a daguerreotype of a younger girl in her late teenagers or early 20s. She was clad in a high-necked costume with what gave the impression to be a brooch pinned close to the highest. Her hair, parted within the center, shaped a bun. With a Mona Lisa–like trace of a smile, she stared straight forward. The case was battle-damaged, however the picture itself remained unscathed.

Glenn questioned if the {photograph} was a sweetheart: Did this man stare on the picture as he died? Utilizing the Accomplice’s coat, the teenager wiped blood from the {photograph}’s glass cowl and slipped the memento into his coat pocket. Burial crews tossed the stays of the unknown soldier — maybe from the sixteenth North Carolina or an Alabama regiment — into an extended trench with dozens of his comrades.

Glenn After the Discover

Glenn was barely wounded within the head and face at Gettysburg, severely wounded within the breast at Hatcher’s Run, close to Petersburg, and suffered two different struggle wounds. By February 1865, he had change into a 1st sergeant for the hard-fighting unit that had seen motion at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Morton’s Ford and elsewhere. However Glenn survived the struggle and returned to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

As a civilian, Glenn served as a police officer and a truant officer and have become an influential member of veterans’ organizations. The struggle — and the Gettysburg {photograph} he had introduced residence with him — remained seared into his mind. In 1911, Glenn gave such a graphic description of Pickett’s Cost to a Grand Military of the Republic gathering that “the viewers had however little problem in seeing why” Confederates “gladly surrendered after their terrible expertise.”

Two years later, weeks earlier than Glenn attended a fiftieth anniversary reunion at Gettysburg with 14th Connecticut comrades, a Bridgeport newspaper made the daguerreotype topic of a page-one story. “Glenn’s Trophy Tells Tragedy of the Civil Warfare,” the headline learn, adopted by “Worn Daguerreotype Is Token of Romance Blighted by Battle” and “Bridgeport Soldier Has Not Sought to Restore It Scared of Inflicting Heartaches.”

Concluded the newspaper: “This little incident of a horrible battle, certainly one of a thousand too trivial to be observed by the historian but a mighty purpose why there ought to be no extra struggle, remained to be advised by the camp-fire and after the struggle concerning the fireplace.”

After the struggle, the story defined, Glenn tried to seek out the younger woman within the daguerreotype, which had remained within the veteran’s possession since its discovery. “A lady who misplaced [a] father, brothers and [a] sweetheart at Gettysburg is believed to be the unique of the image,” the newspaper reported. Glenn was sure of her identification, however he was “terrified of reopening an previous wound [and] he shunned speaking together with her.”

Irritating future historians and beginner detectives, the newspaper provided no identify or different clues that would result in the identification of the lady or the fallen Accomplice discovered with the picture.

14th Connecticut monument at Gettysburg
A monument to the 14th Connecticut Infantry was devoted close to the Bloody Angle on July 3, 1884—21 years after Corporal Russell Glenn discovered his picture thriller close to the identical spot.
(Picture by Steve A. Hawks, courtesy stonesentinels.com)

In 1906, a duplicate of the picture appeared within the 14th Connecticut regimental historical past. Within the accompanying textual content, Glenn referred to as the {photograph} “essentially the most beneficial relic of his struggle expertise.”

On Nov. 29, 1919, the morning after he attended the funeral of a buddy, Glenn died of coronary heart illness at 74. He left a widow and two sons. No point out of the veteran’s prized Civil Warfare memento appeared in his obituary in The Republic Farmer, an area newspaper.

The destiny of the picture, in addition to the names of the topic and proprietor, stays unknown. Maybe with deeper analysis, extra data will floor about Glenn and the {photograph} that had such an impression on his life. He, in fact, wasn’t the one veteran to have a unprecedented expertise involving a picture discovered on the battlefield.

Postwar Discovery

On a heat day in late July 1878, as Accomplice fallen had been exhumed on William Blocher’s farm north of Gettysburg, a cranium surfaced from a grave; so did a “C.S.A”-stamped belt buckle, a brass “3,” “1,” and “F” from a kepi, and different accoutrements. And, as a Civil Warfare veteran Henry Mark Mingay watched the tedious work, a exceptional artifact appeared between two rib bones: an ambrotype — {a photograph} produced on a glass plate — of two ladies and a younger woman.

The lady, with jet-black hair and red-tinted cheeks, gave the impression to be in her late 20s. The kids, between 4 and 10 years previous, had the identical options because the younger woman. Newspapers revealed contradictory stories on how the picture ended up with Mingay, who was visiting Gettysburg with comrades.

“The case had decayed,” a Gettysburg newspaper reported days after the invention, “however the image remains to be good, exhibiting options, clothes, coloring and gilding with the clearness of current taking.”

Based mostly on the etching on an previous grave marker and the corporate and regimental designations from the kepi, the Accomplice served with the thirty first Georgia. (One other newspaper account famous that the fallen Insurgent served with the seventh Georgia, however Blocher stated he was a thirty first Georgia soldier.)

On July 1, the thirty first Georgia fought throughout the Blocher Farm north of Gettysburg. However no identification was discovered with the fallen soldier in Firm F, a unit raised in Pulaski County. Might the soldier’s spouse and kids be the themes within the ambrotype — “their final present to papa,” as a Pennsylvania newspaper speculated days after its discovery?

Soldiers' bodies on the Gettysburg battlefield
The corpses of hundreds of troopers lined the Gettysburg battlefield within the days after the three-day battle. Many had been buried in shallow graves, however not earlier than being picked over for mementos or treasures.
(Library of Congress)

The Story Behind the Blocher Farm Picture

Like Russell Glenn’s relic, the Blocher Farm {photograph} has a tantalizing historical past — one intertwined with Mingay, a diminutive man with a eager humorousness. “A pure ham,” a newspaper reporter as soon as referred to as him.

Born on Dec. 3, 1846, in Filby, England, Mingay immigrated to america together with his household in 1850, finally settling in Saratoga, New York. In 1860, he left college to change into a shoe shiner and a “printer’s satan” — an apprentice in a newspaper’s printing division. In April 1861, he heard information of the shelling of Fort Sumter from a telegrapher, who advised him to dash like hell to ship phrase to his employer.

On Aug. 29, 1864, 17-year-old Mingay enlisted as a non-public in Firm D of the 69th New York — a part of the famed Irish Brigade — and served by the remainder of the struggle. In June 1865, he mustered out as a sergeant.

After the struggle, Mingay was lively in veterans’ organizations — it was at Grand Military of the Republic occasion in Gettysburg that he acquired the ambrotype, presumably from Blocher, who reportedly witnessed the thirty first Georgia soldier’s burial by U.S. Military troopers in 1863. Mingay took the treasure residence to Penn-Yann, New York, intent on returning it to the fallen Georgian’s household.

In August 1878, a Gettysburg newspaper reported Mingay deliberate to “have the information [about the image] effectively revealed, with the view to the restoration of the image to the household of the deceased.” In response to one other Pennsylvania newspaper, the {photograph} was taken to Philadelphia, the place copies had been to be made after which despatched to Georgia “within the hope of discovering the kin of the lifeless soldier.” However it’s unknown whether or not the ambrotype ever made it to Philadelphia or any copies had been made and distributed.

In 1897, the {photograph}’s path picks up in Colorado, the place Mingay had moved 12 years earlier. By the late Eighteen Nineties, the profitable newspaperman was concerned with discovering a house for his assortment of different struggle relics — mementos that included not solely the {photograph}, however a bit of the tree close to the place a bullet fatally wounded Union Maj. Gen. John Reynolds at Gettysburg; a penny dug up at Dutch Hole Canal in Virginia; a pen-holder Mingay used at Petersburg; slivers of the 77th New York’s regimental and battle flags; and a bit of overcoat, with the button connected, from the thirty first Georgia soldier’s grave.

In August 1897, Mingay donated artifacts — together with the prized ambrotype and the button connected to the overcoat— to the State of Colorado for inclusion in a show of struggle relics on the state capitol in Denver. Even 34 years after the battle, Mingay hoped the soldier’s kin may declare the {photograph}.

This text first appeared in America’s Civil Warfare journal

Fb @AmericasCivilWar | Twitter @ACWMag

Colorado Clues

In the Rocky Mountain Information on Aug. 16, 1897, a narrative concerning the veteran’s donations included an illustration of the ambrotype with this description: 

“The middle individual is a woman of apparently 30 years of age, with darkish hair, and carrying a verify costume, with a white collar. She wears a gold breast-pin and a hoop on the third finger of her left hand. On both facet of her are two ladies … one with darkish hair of a lighter tint …. Every of the women has a gold chain round her neck.”

The body of the ambrotype was “considerably discolored,” the newspaper reported, “however the options of the sitters within the portrait are nonetheless distinct.”

The day of the story’s publication, the custodian of Colorado’s struggle relics mailed a duplicate of the Rocky Mountain Information article to Georgia’s adjutant basic with a letter searching for help in figuring out the themes of the portrait. “I used to be a soldier within the federal military,” wrote Cecil A. Deane, “and understand how drastically the ambrotype will probably be regarded if its rightful proprietor will be discovered. It can afford me nice pleasure to help in restoring it to such individual.”

Every week later, The Atlanta Journal-Structure reprinted the illustration with particulars concerning the ambrotype’s discovery. “Who Claims This Image?” learn the headline. The reply was within the veteran’s personal yard.

In a front-page story in END on November 24, 1897, “Mrs. Frank Smith” wept as she stared on the ambrotype throughout a go to to the struggle relic museum in Denver. These are my sisters, the Como, Colorado, girl declared. The soldier it was discovered with is my brother. One of many sisters within the ambrotype additionally lived in Como. The newspaper didn’t report the whereabouts of the opposite sister.


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In 1861, “Mrs. Smith’s brother enlisted within the Accomplice military, taking with him the image answering identically this description of this one,” the Put up reported. Added the newspaper: “A peculiar function of this case is the truth that the person who discovered the image, and two of the ladies whose portraits are on it, reside in Colorado.”

However the Put up omitted many very important particulars, together with: Who was Mrs. Frank Smith? What was her maiden identify and names of her sisters and fallen brother? Neither the Information nor the Put up adopted up on their Gettysburg picture tales.

At Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, solely three troopers within the thirty first Georgia in Firm F — the “Pulaski Blues” — suffered mortal wounds: Privates Samuel Jackson and Thomas Lupo and Sergeant George H. Gamble. Might certainly one of these troopers be linked to “Mrs. Frank Smith”? Searches on ancestry.com and different family tree websites have didn’t yield a definitive reply. 

In 1914, Mingay — one of many males who impressed this hunt — moved from Colorado to California. Thirty-one years later, the blind widower married once more, after a 12-year courtship — his new bride was 68; he was 98. “I’m the luckiest boy on the planet,” the oldest member of the Nathaniel Banks Grand Military of the Republic Put up of Glendale, California, advised reporters after the nuptials.

Henry Mingay news article
Henry Mingay and his picture discovery periodically made newspaper headlines. Mingay, who grew to become an area celeb after transferring to California, lived to be 100 years previous.
(Burbank Occasions)

When Mingay died at 100 in 1947, the native celeb left behind a daughter, three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and a Burbank (Calif.) elementary college that bore his identify. Just like the fallen thirty first Georgia soldier, the “Three Younger Girls within the Gettysburg Grave” {photograph} remained an enigma.

A Massive Clue in 2021

In 2021, essentially the most tantalizing clue of all surfaced on-line — the situation of our thriller {photograph} was revealed because the Historical past Colorado Heart museum in Denver. An examination of the picture might uncover a reputation on the plate or one other clue. However like wisps of gun smoke on a battlefield, the {photograph} has disappeared within the museum’s assortment. “[A digital copy] of the picture that you’ve got requested and paid for is inaccessible to us right now,” wrote a museum consultant.

John Banks is the writer of two Civil Warfare books and his common Civil Warfare weblog (john-banks.blogspot.com). Banks, who by no means misses an episode of the crime present “Dateline,” loves mysteries. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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