This lovely photograph is online in the MOLLUS Massachusetts Collection (Vol. 40, pg. 1994) at the US Army Heritage & Education Center. It was listed in the catalog for Photographic Incidents of the War; from the gallery of Alexander Gardner, photographer to the Army of the Potomac (1863) as having been taken in November 1863, though the MOLLUS mat notes say October.

It was also published in F.T. Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War (Vol. 8, pg. 327; 1911), which is where these men are identified:

Standing, left to right, Lt. Frederick E. Beardslee, Lt. William H.R. Neel, Lt. George J. Clarke, [unknown], Capt. Charles L Davis;
Seated, left to right: Lt. Charles J. Clarke, Lt. William S Stryker, and Lt. Adin B. Capron.

From their pictures in Brown’s The Signal Corps, U.S.A. in the War of the Rebellion (1896), I think the man seated at left is Thomas R Clarke, not Charles; Charles was wounded at Fredericksburg in December 1862 and discharged in March 1863. And the “unknown” officer may be Capt. Robert Patterson Hughes, much later Major General, USA.

Here are Clarke and Hughes from Brown:

Other sources have the man seated on the box as Lt Fountain Wilson rather than Stryker, and I agree. From Brown, again:

Of this group of 8 signal officers, two, Lieutenants George J Clarke and Fountain Wilson were on the Maryland Campaign of 1862; Lt Clarke was one of several signal officers and men on the battlefield of Antietam under fire on 17 September 1862.

After his service in 1861 as First Sergeant of Company C, Duree’s Zouaves, pictured here, Norman Henry Camp was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 4th New Jersey Infantry. He was on detail to the Signal Corps at Antietam in September 1862.

This photograph is online from the US Army Heritage & Education Center [CWP 189.66].

This Brady Studio portrait of Captain Joseph H Spencer was probably taken soon after he was commissioned Captain in the Signal Corps and assigned to the Office of the Signal Officer of the Army in Washington, in April 1863. He been a signal officer since being detailed from the First Minnesota Infantry in August 1861, and was on the Peninsular and Maryland Campaigns.

The original print is online from the Library of Congress.

Lieutenant Charles Henry Cary was an Acting Signal Officer in Maryland in September 1862, detailed from the 3rd Michigan Infantry. He was only 24 years old at his death in 1863, seen in this notice in the New York Times of 9 August 1863.

A clipping from the San Antonio Daily Express of 12 October 1910, online thanks to The Portal to Texas History.

Mentioned as the youngest attendee was Frank E. Yates. In addition to his history with the Zouaves, Yates was a First Lieutenant and Acting Signal Officer on the Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Joseph L Bartlett is seen in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies as a Captain in the Confederate States Signal Corps at both Manassas in August 1862 and near Harpers Ferry in September. He was surely a signalman, but it is more likely he was actually a Private in both places.

There are very few records of him, but I did find this voucher he signed when he bought a condemned CSA horse in May 1863.


I first heard about Bartlett in a 2005 email conversation with David Winfred Gaddy, retired NSA cryptanalyst and historian, who clued me to the fact that he probably wasn’t actually a Captain as the Official Records compilers assumed.

I am sorry to have just learned that Dave passed in 2015; I think he would have been amused to see this scrap of paper.

Here he is on temporary duty in Vietnam in 1960, with NSA cryptologist Gene Raymond, in a photo from the 2017 edition of his translation of A History of the Cryptographic Branch of the People’s Army of Viet Nam, 1945-1975 (1994), online [pdf] from the Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency.

The three Majors (1916)

15 November 2022

A clipping from the front page of the Seneca (NY) County Courier-Journal of 25 May 1916, online from NYS Historical Newspapers.

The Major in the center, John H. Fralick, was a Lieutenant and Acting Signal Officer on the Maryland Campaign of 1862, detailed from his regiment, the 34th New York Infantry.

Credited to Timothy O’Sullivan, but probably by Alexander Gardner, this photograph is titled Signal tower on Elk Mountain, Maryland, overlooking battlefield of Antietam, and was taken in late September or early October 1862, not long after the battle of Antietam. It is one of several taken of this place and these men.

Here’s a blow-up of the two officers seen in this view.

The man seated at the top is Lieutenant Aaron Brainard Jerome of the First New Jersey Infantry, detailed as a Signal Officer since March 1862. The other, with the telescope, is Lieutenant Edward Corbin Pierce of the 3rd Maine Infantry, a Signal Officer since December 1861. Not in this view was the third officer at this station, Lieutenant Frederick Wooster Owen, detailed from the 38th New York Infantry.

Standing on the ground at the left is Private Robert J. Morgan, on detail from the 3rd Maine, as is the flagman on top, Private Harrison Winslow “Harry” Gardner.

Although it was the site of a signal station the day of the battle, neither the log tower nor these officers were there on Elk Ridge on 17 September; the tower built afterward, Lieutenants Pierce, Jerome, and Owen assigned on September 20.

Here’s a lovely photograph of the group of signalmen on Elk Ridge, also by Gardner, titled Signal Corps Detachment, Elk Mountain, Md., October 1862.

… a group portrait that may have been taken on a different day [from those of the signal station]. Seated against the tree to the left is Private Morgan. Lieutenant Owen is posed seated with his left hand on his thigh in front of and to the left of the white signal flag; the man seated to the right of him, a telescope in his lap, is Lieutenant Jerome. Standing behind Jerome to the right is Private Gardner … And finally, the last seated officer on the right is Lieutenant Pierce. (The black men in this scene are servants.)


My copy of the top photograph is from the Library of Congress, online, as is the group photograph below.

Details about these pictures from William A Frassanito in Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America’s Bloodiest Day (1978).

Gottfried Heinrich Theodor Ferdinand Axt was an acting Hospital Steward with his regiment, the 20th New York Infantry, on the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Like many in the regiment, he was born in Germany, but had excellent English as well.

He was later commissioned an Assistant Surgeon, first of Volunteers and then in the Regular US Army. This suggests prior medical training, perhaps in Germany, though I’ve not yet found evidence of it.

In January 1870, a month before he resigned his US Army commission, he applied for a passport in Washington, DC indicating he was planning travel overseas. This lovely document helped me nail down his full name along with place and date of birth, and includes details of his physical appearance. I found it online via

“The woman at the left of our picture, the mother,” Mrs Adams explained when she showed me the picture, “is my great and Minna Mar’s great-great-grandmother. Her grave is at Pittsfield. She came to Illinois in 1830. Her name was Elizabeth Kennedy [1779-1850] and she married Kennedy Long [1763-1821] of Baltimore, a colonel in the War of 1812. The baby standing on the sofa next to his mother, the little fellow in the dress, is my great-granduncle George Long [1798-1815]. Next to him sits my great-grandaunt Elizabeth [1802-1870]. She’s the one extending her hand with proud, patronizing largess toward her brother, the little chap in the dark jacket helping himself to the cherries in the basket. His name was Andrew Kennedy Long [1804-1866] and he grew up to be a member of the antarctic exploring expedition led by Captain Charles Wilkes – the Wilkes who later almost caused a war between England and America when he insulted the British flag by snatching Mason and Slidell from the deck of an English packet.”

“Andrew Kennedy [Long] served also as a captain in the Mexican War,” Minna Mar reminder her mother. “And his son acted as secretary for Andrew Johnson.”

To bring this back to the Maryland Campaign of 1862, that son was Andrew Kennedy Long, Jr.

He enlisted in the 3-month 9th Pennsylvania Infantry in early 1861 at age 18, then in the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves, and was in action with them at Antietam. He was appointed First Lieutenant in the 12th Tennessee Cavalry (US) in February 1864 and in 1865 commissioned Major and Assistant Adjutant General – a staff officer – in the US Volunteers. It was probably in that role that he was military secretary to President Johnson. He was an officer in the Regular Army after the war and was a Captain and Commissary of Subsistence at his death by suicide in 1878 at age 34.



The quotes above are from the painting’s owners in 1941, Minna Adams and her daughter Minna Margaret Adams of Jacksonville, IL, as published in Jay Monaghan’s Old Masterpieces Discovered in the Corn Belt in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Volume 34, Number 3 (September 1941).

I think Mrs Adams had the children George and Andrew confused. From their birth dates according to family genealogists, Andrew was the younger boy, with sister Eliza between them. In 1805, Andrew would have been a baby in a confirmation gown and George about 7 years old.

The painting is by the “earliest documented professional Afro-American painter”, Joshua Johnson/Johnston (c. 1765-1830) [National Gallery of Art bio sketch]

This copy of the painting was shared online to the FamilySearch database by Peggy T Robinson in 2014 (free membership required).

This work and others of Johnson were part of a 1976 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York [catalog pdf].