I have been busy with the business of life, but not entirely ignorant of the world outside! I certainly noticed the October 2010 announcement of the incredible generosity of the Liljenquist family who donated their collection of more than 700 Civil War ambrotypes and tintypes to the Library of Congress. The Library is creating a physical exhibit for them opening in April 2011 as part of the Sesquicentennial observations.

In the meantime, they’ve scanned and posted the collection online on their own pages and through a Flickr photostream.  I’ve explored this treasure a little, and found some intriguing images with connections to our favorite battlefield.

[Unidentified woman wearing mourning brooch and displaying framed image of unidentifed soldier] (LOC)
Woman wearing mourning brooch and displaying framed image of soldier (1861 – 1865, Library of Congress via Flickr)

I’m sorry that so few of the subjects of these pictures are identified.  Only a couple of dozen are named, another dozen or so are identified by military unit from clues on their uniforms or in the photo background.  The remaining hundreds are unidentified.

I am moved all the more, however, by the anonymity of this woman in her grief. I presume from the context that the soldier in her lap has recently been killed. Her husband? It reminds me again of the deadly way the War ripped through families and brings perspective to battle maps, memorials and markers …

[Unidentified young soldier in Confederate uniform with Company C, 11th Virginia Regiment slouch hat] (LOC)
[Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform of Co. E, "Lynchburg Rifles," 11th Virginia Infantry Volunteers holding 1841 "Mississippi" rifle, Sheffield-type Bowie knife, canteen, box knapsack, blanket roll, and cartridge box] (LOC)
11th Virginia Infantry soldiers (1861 – 1865, Library of Congress via Flickr (1)(2))

Slightly less anonymous, are these two soldiers from the 11th Virginia Infantry Regiment. I am struck by their apparent youth – though it should be no surprise, really. Boys of 16 were commonly enlisted in both armies. And the lad at the top of the pair can’t be older than that.

I can’t know if these men were on the Maryland Campaign of 1862, but their unit was. The Regiment saw action opposite the 8th Connecticut Infantry – at the ‘high water mark’ of Burnside’s advance – on the far right of the Confederate line at Sharpsburg on the afternoon of September 17th [AotW map].

[Lieutenant Horatio J. David of Company B, 16th Georgia Infantry Regiment] (LOC)
Lt Horatio J. David of Company B, 16th Georgia Infantry (c. 1861, Library of Congress via Flickr)

Ah, now here we’ve got someone we can look into more directly. A member of the ‘Center Hill Guards’ – Company B – of the 16th Georgia Infantry, Horatio David was 20 years old at the time of the Battle of Sharpsburg. His Regiment was in Maryland in BGen Howell Cobb’s Brigade – Cobb having been the 16th’s original Colonel. They suffered many killed, wounded, and captured at Crampton’s Gap on 14 September, including Company B’s Captain A. Monroe Reynolds KIA.

They were in the middle of the Confederate position at Sharpsburg on the 17th, lightly engaged from some distance behind the Sunken Road.

I’m no expert, but Horatio appears in this photo to be in a Private’s uniform. He enlisted at that rank on 17 July 1861 and was appointed 4th Corporal in September. He was elected Second Lieutenant of the Company on 2 March 1863, and wounded in action at Chancellorsville two months later. He was wounded again at Deep Bottom, Virginia in August 1864 losing sight in one eye. He was discharged on account of that wound in February 1865.

After the War he was a farmer, probably in cotton, in Banks County, Georgia. He died at Maysville in 1923 at just over 80 years of age.

[Private Charles H. Bickford of B Company, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment as a young boy] (LOC)
Private Charles H. Bickford of B Company, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment as a young boy (c. 1854, Library of Congress via Flickr)

Another stunning and highly evocative photograph! It’s particularly poignant given the sad fate of the subject.

Charles Bickford was born in 1844, and by 1861 was a machinist in Boston. He enlisted in Company B of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteers some time after the regiment was formed in May 1861. He was possibly at Antietam, where the regiment was heavily engaged in the Federal attack at the northern part of the battlefield on 17 September: through the Cornfield, and between the East and West Woods.

Private Bickford was killed in action at Chancellorsville in May 1863.

I estimate the age of the boy in the picture at 10 years – so I’d guess the photo was taken about 1854.

[Sergeant B. F. Smith of Company F, 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment] (LOC)
Sergeant Benjamin Franklin Smith of Company F, 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment (1861-65, Library of Congress via Flickr)

Sergeant Smith’s regiment, the famous 1st Virginia Cavalry was active on the Maryland Campaign in its role screening the main body of the Army and in gathering information about the movements of the Army of the Potomac. Smith was about 19 years old that September.

He is shown in roster records as having mustered both into and out of the regiment as a Private. Clearly those are sergeant’s stripes above. So either the record is incomplete – which is likely – or he lost his stripes before the end of his service. Thankfully he survived the War, dying in 1895 at age 52.

Update 1/15/2011: There’s another explanation for the stripes. Smith was enrolled in the 52nd Virginia Infantry 15 July 1861 at age 18, and was 4th Sergeant, Company B. He served with them until February 1862, when he furnished a substitute and was discharged (3 March). It is likely, then, that the photo above was taken between July 1861 and March 1862.

He enlisted as Private in the 1st Cavalry in either the spring of 1863 or early 1864.  Clearly, he was not with them at Sharpsburg. He was wounded in action at Kennon’s Landing (24 May 64), then in hospital in Richmond and on furlough into September. He returned to his unit and was paroled at Staunton, Virginia in May 1865. For most of his life he was a farmer and merchant near Waynesboro, where he is buried at Riverview Cemetery.

[Brothers Private George W. Detrick of Company F, 23rd Ohio Infantry Regiment and Private Samuel Detrick of Company A, 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in a brooch] (LOC)
Brothers Private George W. Detrick of Company F, 23rd Ohio Infantry Regiment and Private Samuel Detrick of Company A, 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment (c. 1861, Library of Congress via Flickr)

The 23rd Ohio Infantry was in the thick of the fighting at Fox’s Gap on South Mountain on 14 September enroute to Antietam. Regimental commander Lieutenant Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes was wounded there, and Ninth Army Corps commander Jesse Reno was killed. Another famous member of the regiment was Sergeant William McKinley, who came away from the Antietam campaign unharmed.

Also killed in the fight at Fox’s Gap was George Detrick, pictured above at left. He’d enlisted in Company F of the 23rd Ohio in July 1861, at about which time he had this picture taken with his brother.

His brother Samuel enlisted in the 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry in August 1861 at Pittsburgh. His regiment was ‘left behind’ in the defenses of Washington DC while George and the 23rd Ohio were in Maryland in September 1862. They returned to active field operations with the Army of the Potomac afterward.

Samuel Detrick mustered out of service in August 1864 at the expiration of the regiment’s term of service, apparently uninjured during his three years of hard service.

[Brothers William and Philip J. Letsinger of Company D, 14th Indiana Regiment posing with rifles in front of Camp Michigan painted backdrop] (LOC)
Brothers William and Philip J. Letsinger of Company D, 14th Indiana Regiment posing with rifles in front of painted backdrop showing military camp (c. 1861, Library of Congress via Flickr)

Another pair of brothers. These more warlike than the previous pair, but with a similarly sad future. Both William and Philip Letsinger mustered into Company D of the 14th Indiana on 17 June 1861 for three year terms at Terre Haute, and were from Greene County. They and the regiment saw service in Western Virginia into the Spring of 1862, then joined the Army of the Potomac at the tail end of the Peninsular Campaign.

On 17 September 1862 the 14th Indiana was in the vanguard of French’s Division’s assault on the center of the Confederate line in the Sunken Road [AotW map] at Antietam. More than 55% of the Indiana boys were casualties in that fierce combat – from about 320 present, 150 were wounded and 30 killed.

Among the dead was Philip Letsinger.

William was discharged from the regiment a little more than a month later on 29 October, and entered service with the 6th United States (Regular) Cavalry. At least 8 other men from his company were similarly transferred to the Regulars on the same day, seeming the work of an efficient recruiting officer.


A browsing view of the Liljenquist collection is hosted by the Library of Congress, with nearby links to more about the Liljenquists and how they see the collection.

Information about Lieutenant Horatio David and Company B of the 16th Georgia comes from roster data assembled by the Georgia branch of the USGenWeb project and his death certificate at the Georgia State Archives.

Charles H. Bickford’s details from Regimental roster data posted online by Lynne M. Kennedy, which correlate well with notes found with the photo.

Service detail for George Detrick is found in a roster of Company F, 23rd Ohio Infantry posted by on RootsWeb. Notes on the box containing the broach read:

“This pin was given to grandmother Ann Kepner Detrick by grandfather, Samuel Detrick when he and his brother George enlisted in Civil War in 1862. Uncle George was killed. Right is grandfather, left is Geo.”

Bates’ roster for Samuel’s Company A of the 63rd Pennsylvania is online thanks to Alice Gailey.

Thanks to Terry Conners for gathering and posting the roster for Company D, 14th Indiana containing the basics of the Letsinger brothers’ military service.

Update 1/1/2011: Letsingers found in 1850 Federal Census for Greene County, Indiana. The boys were among 11 children counted in the household that year. William was 14, Philip 12.

Newer information about BF Smith’s service from Robert Driver’s Regimentals for the 52nd Virginia Infantry and the 1st Virginia Cavalry, published by H. E. Howard.

4 Responses to “The Liljenquist photographs and Sharpsburg”

  1. Great News – and Coming Up… « Bull Runnings says:

    […] this year (work commitments kept him away for most of 2010).√Ǭ† To show he is in earnest, he has a new post up at Behind Antietam on the Web.√Ǭ† Welcome back, […]

  2. Larry Freiheit says:


    Welcome back! I hope you will also be able to continue with your excellent daily maps for the campaign as well as your other excellent contributions to Antietam scholarship.


  3. Brian says:

    Hi Larry! I am getting back to the Campaign maps at last, and thanks for the nudge :)

  4. The real Sixteenth Georgia | KNOXVILLE 1863, the novel says:

    […] “After the War he was a farmer, probably in cotton, in Banks County, Georgia. He died at Maysville in 1923 at just over 80 years of age.” […]

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