This excellent photograph is in the collection of the Library of Congress and was taken in February 1863. It is of Captain James William Forsyth, then US Provost Marshall at Aquia Creek, VA – a large supply base for the Union Army. He’s sitting on a 50 pound crate of “Army Bread”, better known as hardtack, a staple of the soldiers’ diet.

Forsyth had been on the staffs of Generals McClellan and Mansfield on the Maryland Campaign, and was assigned to the Army of the Potomac’s Provost Marshall General after Antietam on 17 September 1862.

Probably typical of the work of the Provost Marshall after a battle, here’s an example of Forsyth’s signature on a parole given by Private John H. Reynolds of the 15th South Carolina Infantry who was captured at Sharpsburg (touch to enlarge). Slightly less typical, I expect, was Private Reynolds’ request to not be exchanged or returned.

That document is from Reynolds’ Compiled Service Record file, US National Archives. I got my copy from fold3.

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