James M Ginn/Guinn (c. 1861)

29 November 2021

This is Oberlin graduate and part-time teacher James M. Ginn before he enlisted as a Private in the 7th Ohio Infantry in April 1861. An Antietam veteran, he changed his name to Guinn about 1868 and was later a principal in Anaheim (1869-81) and superintendent of Los Angeles (1881-83) schools in California, and a prolific writer of California histories.

This photograph accompanies an excellent piece about his life from the Sidney Daily News – the original is probably in Guinn’s papers at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA.

Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Rina R for the poke to look back into James.

Maj Francis A Walker, AAAG

29 November 2021

Major Walker was Assistant Adjutant General to General Darius Couch (First Division, Fourth Army Corps) in Maryland in 1862 and later with the Second Army Corps to 1865.

He had quite a post-War career, being twice Superintendent of the US Census (1870, 1880), professor at Yale (’72-’79) and the third president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 1881-1897).

This page from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (Vol. 2, p. 672; 1884) features two field hospitals shortly after the battle of Antietam, both on Dr. Otho J. Smith’s farm near the Upper Bridge over the Antietam northeast of Sharpsburg.

Mentioned are Doctors Samuel Sexton, 8th Ohio and Anson Hurd, 14th Indiana Infantry – Assistant Surgeon and Surgeon, respectively, of two of the regiments in General Nathan Kimball’s brigade of General William H French’s division. These men, along with other surgeons and staff, treated wounded soldiers on the day of the battle in a barn on the Roulette Farm close to the action and about a mile south of Smith’s, but, being under fire there, moved with their patients back to the main Divisional Hospital here on the Smith Farm late on the 17th or early on the 18th of September 1862.

The pictures in B&L are from two stereo photographs taken about 20 September 1862 by Alexander Gardner:

Keedysville, Maryland (vicinity). Smith’s barn, used as a hospital after the battle of Antietam [Library of Congress]

Keedysville, Md., vicinity. Confederate wounded at Smith’s Barn, with Dr. Anson Hurd, 14th Indiana Volunteers, in attendance [Library of Congress]

Dr. Thomas McEbright

28 November 2021

This is a considerably post-war engraving of Dr Thomas McEbright, who as Surgeon, 8th Ohio Infantry, established his “operative depot” in the Roulette barn and treated wounded soldiers there after the battle of Antietam.

On 24 September 1862 on Bolivar Heights near Harpers Ferry he wrote a letter to the editor of his hometown newspaper describing the battle and the horror afterward. Notable in the letter is this brief description of Sharpsburg farmer William Roulette during the battle:

Covered by the houses and stone wall, the barn and out houses, the natural features of the ground, the home of Mr, Rulette [Roulette] was the pivot of the field, when our Regiment passed his cellar door the gentleman who had been up to this time cooped in the cellar emerged and with hat in hand I think did some of the tallest one man hollowing and tip-toe shouting I ever witnessed.

Tallest one man hollowing and tip-toe shouting, indeed.

Carrie E Cutter

28 November 2021

Daughter of the 21st Massachusetts Infantry’s Surgeon Calvin Cutter, Miss Carrie Eliza badgered her father into letting her accompany the regiment as a nurse (hospital matron on the rolls) on the North Carolina expedition of 1861-62. She tended sick and wounded soldiers up to her own death, of “spotted fever” aboard the transport Northener off New Bern on 24 March 1862.

Regimental historian Captain Charles F. Walcott called her “the Florence Nightingale of the 21st” and wrote of her

… aged nineteen years and eight months. Miss Cutter, an intellectual, refined, and delicate woman, the daughter of our surgeon, had embarked on the Northerner with us at Annapolis, and had accompanied the regiment since that time. A blessing to the regiment, she had bravely and patiently endured the discomforts of the crowded steamer – a thousand times greater to her, the only woman on board, than to any of us, and with constant, unremitting devotion had added her gentle, womanly care to her father’s wise and faithful energy in helping and nursing our sick and wounded men.

Her body was carried to Roanoke Island and buried by the side of that of her admired friend, Sergeant Charles Plummer Tidd, the heroic companion of John Brown, whose eyes she had closed so sadly during the battle of Roanoke Island.

This photograph is in the MOLLUS Massachusetts Collection now at the US Army Heritage & Education Center, Carlisle Barracks, PA.

Walcott’s History, source of the quote here, is online from the Hathi Trust.

The Late Duel

27 November 2021

Lieutenant Colonel William R. Holmes was killed in dramatic fashion at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862 while in command of the 2nd Georgia Infantry. As the Georgian’s defense of the Lower Bridge over the Antietam began to collapse that afternoon, he ran down to the stream bank “and with a cry of defiance shook his sword in the faces of our men [Union troops across the creek] for a moment, and then fell pierced by a dozen bullets.”

The story below, from June 1860, suggests that “fire-breathing” spirit wasn’t a recent development.


The quote at the top about Holmes’ death is from Charles F. Walcott’s History of the Twenty-first Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers … (1882). Walcott was Captain of Company B at Antietam, and he’s the narrator of the event.

The news piece about the duel is from the Planters’ Weekly (Greenesboro, GA) of 13 June 1860, and it’s online thanks to the Georgia Historic Newspapers database, a project of the Digital Library of Georgia. My transcription, with breaks for ease of reading, follows:

The Late Duel.

We clip this account of it from the Savannah correspondent of the Charleston Mercury.

“Screven’s Ferry, on the Carolina side of the river, is fast becoming famous as a dueling ground. Only a few days ago, as you have been already advised, an affair of honor was amicably settled there, after an exchange of harmless shots.

This morning tho Ferry was the scene of another duel, between Dr. William R. Holmes, of Waynesboro, and Llewellan A. Nelms, of Warrenton, both of this State. The weapons were double-barrelled shot guns; distance, forty paces. At the first fire, Mr. Nelms received a portion of the discharge of his opponent’s gun in the body, which terminated tho affair for the present, though we understand that Mr. Nelms, in his wounded condition, insisted on having a second shot, which his friends, of course, would not allow. The wounded gentleman was conveyed to the Pulaski Hotel, where the extent of his injury was more definitely ascertained. Four grains of buckshot had made as many flesh-wounds in his body and left arm, neither of which, however, is considered serious.

The difficulty originated in some proceedings which took place in Burke county immediately after the adjournment of the Charleston Convention. It appears that the citizens of that county were not satisfied with merely endorsing the course of the seceding delegates, but they had determined to express their dissatisfaction with the members of the Georgia delegation who remained in the Convention. With this view, they burned in effigy the non-seceding delegates, among whom was Mr Nelms. Dr. Holmes was one of the principal actors in this demonstration, and hence the cause. Both gentlemen are considered excellent shots, and exhibited much firmness and bravery on the field. Dr. H. escaped unhurt.”

Private Preston Warren, a 39 year old carpenter from Fitchburg, MA was slightly wounded in the head at Antietam on 17 September 1862, and was in hospitals in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and finally, Boston well into 1863. Not so much because of the head wound, but because he was found to be insane – with “paroxysmal mania.”

His diagnosis from Doctor W.W. Godding supported his discharge from the Army for disability on 13 May 1863.

On 8 June 1863, however, he was arrested in his hometown of Fitchburg and taken to Fort Independence in Boston as a deserter. A number of people tried to convince the Provost Marshal that Private Warren had previously been found insane and discharged. Captain J.B. Collins, 4th US Infantry, in whose charge he was, was having none of it:

It was eventually straightened out and Preston was allowed to go home.

Surprisingly, that was not the end of his service. He enlisted again and served with the Veteran Reserve Corps from August 1864 to August 1865 when he was honorably discharged.


Both documents pictured here are from Private Warren’s Compiled Service Record jacket at the US National Archives, Washington, DC; online via fold3.


William Whitney Godding (1831-1899) was born, like Preston, in Winchedon, MA. Dartmouth ’54, he graduated Castleton (VT) Medical College in 1857. He was a physician specializing in mental illness. He practiced in New Hampshire and Massachusetts before and during the War and was later the superintendent of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC (1877-1899). He was president of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII) from 1889- 1890. He testified as an expert witness in the trial of Charles J. Guiteau, assassin of President Garfield (1881).

His picture above is from the Thanatos Archive, contributed to his Find-a-grave memorial. Here is is about 1877 from the Library of Congress:


Washington, DC-born Captain Joseph Benson Collins (1824-1888) had enlisted in the US Mounted Rifles in 1847 for service in the Mexican War and lost the use of his left eye from a wound at Cerro Gordo. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th US Infantry in 1848, was a Captain by 1861, and was later commended by brevets for his service in 1862 at Gaines’ Mill and 2nd Bull Run, where he was seriously wounded. In 1863 he was stationed in Boston and was a mustering officer and Military Commandant there. He was promoted to Major in the Second US Infantry in 1865 and retired from US Army service in 1871. See much more about him in 1879 Congressional testimony about his retirement.

A certification by Dr Charles L Duffell in support of a 30 day furlough for Private Eugene A Puffer of the 21st Massachusetts Infantry. Written on 29 September 1862 at the Big Spring field hospital on the Russell/Geeting Farm not far from the Antietam battlefield in Keedysville, MD. It was also known as the Crystal Spring or Locust Spring hospital.

This document is from Private Puffer’s Compiled Service Record jacket at the US National Archives.

Lt. Henry S Hitchcock

22 November 2021

Lieutenant Henry Sparhawk Hitchcock here in a photograph from his great-great-granddaughter Martha Hitchcock Price, as published in the 2014 edition of his brother George’s diary.

Here he is again, in a seated portrait, which was among a large collection of his personal items sold by J. Mountain Antiques.

George A Hitchcock c. 1868

21 November 2021

This is photograph of George A Hitchcock, late Private, 21st Massachusetts Infantry, Antietam veteran and Andersonville survivor. Probably taken about 1868, it was contributed to the Family Search genealogical database by Julie Munsterman [free membership required for access].

Here he is in an earlier photograph probably taken at his initial enlistment in August 1861, on the cover of the 2014 publication of his wartime diary: