Monday, June 28, 2010

Tipton Photo - Gettysburg

Who Are These Guys ?

     A collector shared with me a great photo of the veterans of the 13th Mass., taken at the dedication of their monument at Gettysburg, September 25th 1885.  The photo came from the Clements Library, University of Michigan, Tipton Collection.  None of the veterans in the photograph were identified.

     The image has a very good resolution, and I'm able to zoom in and get a good look at the faces. (click on the image and you should be able to also).   I began to wonder who these guys were.

     I had pictures of several of the soldiers; both war time and post-war images.  The gentleman who shared it with me pointed out Colonel Leonard standing in the back, on the left.  Leonard appeared very much like his war time image.  Others were easily identifiable; James Fox, A.N. Sampson, and John H. White to name a few.  I tried to identify some of the others by comparing images in my collection to the Tipton photograph.  To aid in this endeavor, I sent copies of the photograph to descendants of soldiers with whom I had contact.

Some of them were able to help me positively identify their ancestors, like David Sloss and George Henry Hill.  Others weren't as sure, such as James Ramsey and Sam Webster.  In a few cases a little logic helped.

     I figured Charles Davis, Sam Webster, John H. White, and William Warner would all be up front, center.  This factor helped pinpoint the identity of George Hill too.  Its funny how much these guys look like each other.  For instance, notice how many bald men with mutton chops (or mustaches) there are!  In the back row, I thought I could pick out Elliot C. Pierce, but the guy right next to him looks almost identical from this distance.  Same with Moses Palmer in the front row, on the right.  See how similar the guy next to him looks ? Moses needed a cane to walk, he was shot up in the knee at Gettysburg,  and the gentleman I identified has an umbrella to lean on. The hat he's holding is also a clue that this is Moses Palmer.

     Much later, another friend sent me a digital file of the Gettysburg Star & Sentinel, (pdf format) with a column describing the events at the dedication.  From the article I learned that David Sloss was one of the speakers as well as James Fox and Jacob A. Howe.

    Sloss carried the state colors for the regiment during the final months of their 3 year enlistment. I never could have identified him from his war time image.  But his descendant shared a post war image with me and he was suddenly identifiable.

Captain James Fox, was the initial captain of Company A, later Mayor of Cambridge and a successful politician/public figure.  He was easily identifiable from a post war image I found on the internet.

 Jacob A. Howe saved the colors from capture during the battle of Gettysburg.  As the regiment fell back, overwhelmed by the enemy, Howe took the colors and made a dash for Cemetery Ridge and safety.

"A corporal who had the colors was severely wounded here and I took the flag and carried it along to the main street of the town where I had to run the gauntlet of the rebels, who were now pouring in in large numbers.  In the doorways of the houses were many of our officers and men who offered to make room for us, but I felt that having command of the color company it was my duty to save the colors.  I finally reached Cemetery hill, where i found a small number of the regiment who , like myself, were worn out with the fatigue and excitement of the day."
     Unfortunately. I don't have a picture of Howe and I can't locate one.  But,  I know he's in this photo somewhere.

     Some of the identities are educated guesses, and I put question marks to note that.  This is an on-going project.   Meanwhile I've shared the identities with the people at the Clements Library, University of Michigan.  I also shared it with the re-enactors back east who portray Company F of the 13th Mass.  They laid a copy of the photograph at the base of the monument later that year when they made their annual November trip to Gettysburg a couple years ago.

   One interesting note about the Tipton photo and the monument; - at the dedication, many of the veterans were disappointed in the direction the monument faced (westward).  It should have faced more to the north, the direction the regiment faced during the battle.  A committee of the veterans was formed to look into the matter of re-orienting the statue, a quarter turn more to the north,  which was done successfully a couple of years later.

One last parting shot...It's the 13th Mass., Gettysburg Monument with the photograph laid at its base.  Click on any of these images to enlarge them.  And, if you can help with the identity of any of these men in the photo, I'd like to hear from you.

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