Sunday, August 7, 2016

Officers of the 13th Mass.

Please, no stealing this image!

For nearly 9 years the following photo has graced the home page of my website, www.13thmass.org.

It is my favorite photograph, of the 9 or so images that were tucked into the side flap of my Great-Great Grandfather's war diary.  William titled the picture 'Officers of the 13th Regt" and carefully marked with x's, - and labeled the identities of Captain Charles H. Hovey, and Lieutenant Charles B. Fox, both at the time the image was taken, officers of his company, Company K.  After all these years, I'd like to try and take a guess at some of the other identities.

Starting at the far left, it took close examination but I discovered there is a soldier standing flush with the dark tree who barely shows up in the image.  I cropped him out and lightened the sample in photoshop so he might be seen more clearly.


He is a big 'hairy' fellow, not that they all aren't, in fact that is one reason that its so hard to identify these guys.  The facial hair gives them an uncanny resemblance to one another.  Anyway, the biggest and hairiest officer I have reference for is First Lieutenant Samuel Neat, of Company A.  I think this is him - unintentionally blending into the tree.  I hope you all can see him.  To be honest, Capt. Whitcomb of Co. F also looks very similar to the man in this image.  But Lt. Neat has bulkier shoulders and I think this man does too.  Another argument in favor of this being Lt. Neat, is that I think the man standing in front of him is Captain James A. Fox, also of Company A.

By the way, click on these images to see them larger...  Here is a more formal portrait of Lieutenant Neat. (above in near b&w)


Here is a picture of Capt. Whitcomb, Co. F.

Moving on to Captain Fox... This is a guess on my part. But here is another blurry image of Capt. Fox at Williamsport, with a positive ID.  See b&w image below.

In this image, Capt. Fox standing next to Quartermaster Craig.  The forage cap seems to be a match, and the pointy beard too perhaps?  The men standing in this image were carefully identified by its previous owner, George Tainter of Company A.  Unfortunately, this small blurry copy is all that I have.  The dealer who sent it to me claimed the original was also v. blurry.

I was going to say, that the next man in line, 3rd from left, (who appears to be 2nd from left because of the tree hiding Lt. Neat) is Captain Fiske of Company G.  That is because the man 4th from left is definitely First-Lieutenant Loring Richardson, of same company.  However, seeing this blurry image of Capt. Fox and Quartermaster George Craig, makes it clear this man standing third from left is indeed Quartermaster Craig.  He is wearing the same get-up with a tie beneath his frock coat.  There goes my theory of First-Lieutenants standing next to their Captains, out the window.  That would have made the job of trying to identify these guys much easier.

By the way, any experts on Uniforms, please jump in to help.  That is not my strong point.

Moving right along, I can give a positive ID to Lt. Loring Richardson, as I just stated. His distinctive side burns and strong jaw are clear cut identifiers.

My Great-Great Grandfather, Private William Henry Forbush has identified the soldier next to Loring Richardson as Captain Charles H. Hovey.  I would not have guessed this from other images I have of Hovey, but I can't argue with gramps, and, Capt. Hovey, was quite an imposing officer who rose to the rank of Lt.-Col. of the 13th Mass.(2nd in command) by the time Grant's Overland Campaign began in 1864.  The identified officer clearly has a martial bearing.

I don't know who the little guy is standing in front of him.  The detail is poor, for his profile seems noseless, or his head is turned further 3/4 to the rear than it appears, or its just blurred.  I'd like to conjecture its one of the 3 Cary brothers, probably Joseph or William,  but I can't really compare the images I have of the Cary' with this man, because he is turned away.

First-Lieutenant Charles B. Fox is easily recognized standing slightly apart from the first group, 7th from the left.  He would be a positive ID even if my ancestor hadn't pointed him out.  Behind Lt. Fox, Major J. P. Gould, his friend.  Both Fox & Gould  were outside of the 'clique' made up by the  other officers in the regiment.  In service, however, both Fox and Gould proved their unpopularity was unmerited.

Major Gould would have been a hard call, but he is positively identified in another image I have from camp, and the likeness between the two images is strong.

Although this edit from a xerox copy of the image is rough, I found the same image on file in the collection of images belonging to the Westborough Historical Society.  Most of the images in their collection had been labeled, probably by the town historian, Dr. Reed, in the 1940's.  This soldier was identified as Major Gould.  I have seen other copies of the same photograph at Carlisle's Army Heritage Center.

(Here is the full image.  By the way, spacing images with this blogger format isn't easy.)

So just to recap, in the banner image we have tentatively, standing left to right, Lt. Samuel Neat, Co. A;  Capt. James Fox, Co. A; Quartermaster George Craig, holding the sheet of paper; Lieutenant Loring S. Richardson, Co. G;  Captain Charles H. Hovey, Co. K; Unknown; Lieutenant Charles B. Fox, Co. K, (facing left);  Major Jacob Parker Gould, beside Lt. Fox; and then...

someone's head is peaking between Major Gould and the next man.  The face is very familiar to me for some reason, but I cannot put a positive ID on this soldier just now.  It could be Captain William Jackson of Co. C. pictured here.

For the longest time I thought it might be Lt. Col. N. W. Batchelder, with his long mustache and pointy beard, --and maybe it is.  The hat matches Batchelder's and the pictured man seems to have the proper facial hair.  The one thing that gives me pause is that Major Gould, and Lt.-Col. Batchelder did not get along, and its difficult to consider them standing this close.  Perhaps their dislike for each other had not yet ripened when this picture was taken.  But I would also think Batchelder would be more front and center considering his rank. 

The pose, with the angle of the face, and the squinty eyes and what seems to be a pointy goatee,  though its hard to see, also reminds me of the only portrait I have of Capt. David Brown of Company I.  (You really have to zoom in on the picture to see this guy. )  I'd like to think Lieutenant, (later Captain) Brown was in this picture.  He's one of those guys I know little about, yet he was with the regiment a long time.

 This guy needs some further work, but I'm hopeful I'll get it right one day.

When I began writing this post, I was certain the next man in line was Corporal Morton Tower.  I can't recall now what made me so certain at one time, but I do have another image with Tower taken during this time in the  history of the unit, but he is not wearing an overcoat, and the corporal stripes are clearly visible.  So I'm going to have to go with unknown for most of the rest of the officers pictured.

Lt. Edwin R. Frost, Co. E,  seems to be next (4th from the right).  Frost is pictured at right.

He is interacting with an officer I  always thought to be Captain Clark of Company H.  Clark is labeled in the xerox image I posted, but he is standing in a shadow and its difficult to see much of him.  I probably assumed this was also Clark in my image because he is holding about the same exact stance.  What appears to be a prominent lower lip on this officer would be characteristic of Capt. Clark's features, but the facial hair doesn't match the other existing image I have of him.  This doesn't rule him out - its just I wish I could get a better copy of that image up in Westboro to compare.

If its not Clark, it might be Captain Fiske of Co. G.  I'll refrain from posting Clark and Fiske, so as not to clutter this page up with any more images, but readers can visit the site map page of my website and find them there.

I don't know who the remaining two soldiers on the right of the picture could be.

So for what its worth, that's how it stands.  Some positive ID's and a lot of speculation.  But I'll keep working at it.  It's come a long way from just Hovey & Fox.


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