Prison Times (April 1865)

29 September 2022

New-to-me is this hand-made newspaper published in April 1865 by Confederate prisoners at Fort Delaware. Apparently it was the only edition and perhaps 3 or 4 copies survive. This one is online from New York Heritage, a project of the New York Historical Society.

I came upon this while looking into Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Curtright, 13th Georgia. He survived wounds at Kernstown, Sharpsburg, and the Wilderness, and was a prisoner at Ft Delaware after being captured at Winchester, VA in September 1864.

You can see his contribution to the newspaper in an advertisement in the right column of page one:

This beautiful photograph is of William Wesley Covin, a Sharpsburg survivor, late of the 13th Georgia Infantry, who was born, lived, and died in Hogansville, Troup County, GA over a period of 89 years. Rob Leverett, Jr posted this picture online on the WikiTree database.

David McDearmond (c. 1861)

28 September 2022

This is a copy of a retouched photograph of David McDearmond of Houston County, GA. He enlisted in the 13th Georgia Infantry at age 44 in July 1861 and was killed at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862. He left a widow and 5 children – his oldest, James (1843-1897), was with him and was wounded at Sharpsburg.

This copy of his photo kindly shared online by the General Lafayette McLaws Camp #79, Sons of Confederate Veterans in Fayetteville, GA.

He’s seen as Andrew David McDearmond on his modern memorial in Fayette County, GA and in some recent genealogies, but I believe that’s wrong. His name was probably just David. Andrew does not appear in any contemporary documents I’ve found; he’s referred to as David in every case. His wife called him David in her pension application, and her stone has his name as David also.

I think “Andrew” came from his listing (clipped below) in Lilian Henderson’s Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1865 (Vol. II, c. 1960), a great general reference, but somewhat notorious for errors large and small.

This application is typical of the work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in the early decades of the 20th Century. It’s for Sharpsburg survivor Henry Marcus Miller.

The original document is in the US National Archives in Washington, DC (United States Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1949; NARA microfilm publication M1916); I found it online thanks to Ancestry.com.

The applicant Mrs. A.L. Bowen was Alma Jessie Miller Bowen (1886-1962), Henry’s daughter from his second marriage to Mary Agatha Jane Lee McCall in 1885. Improbably, Alma’s husband’s first name was also Alma.

James Erwin (or Ervin) Lee was Junior 2nd Lieutenant of Company H, 13th Georgia Infantry when he was wounded at Sharpsburg in September 1862. He was wounded again at Spotsylvania Court House, VA in May 1864 and retired from field service in March 1865. A skilled mechanic and carpenter, he returned to his wife Sarah and their children in Terrell County after the war.

This photograph shared to the FamilySearch database by Jessica Reedstrom.

James A Seaman (1907)

24 September 2022

Sharpsburg survivor James A Seaman, late of the 33rd Virginia Infantry, was described as

a student all his life, and in addition to being remarkably well read is schooled in a knowledge of men–the highest type of education.

He advanced himself from a humble 17 year old laborer before the war to prominent attorney, prosecutor, and legislator in the years after. Here he is in the Manual of the State of West Virginia for the Years 1907-1908:

Sergeant Alexander Hamilton Keyser, Company F, 33rd Virginia Infantry was wounded at Sharpsburg, probably carried his regiment’s colors at Gettysburg, and was appointed Ensign in April 1864, but was captured at Spotsylvania Court House, VA the next month and spent the rest of the war a prisoner at Fort Delaware.

Here he is, probably as a new enlistee in June 1861, in a photograph contributed to his Find-a-grave memorial by user csareb.

John P Hite (1862)

21 September 2022

John Pendleton Hite of the 33rd Virginia Infantry was never officially appointed Sergeant, but did serve as such in November and December 1862, which helps date this photograph, contributed to his Find-a-grave memorial by Bryan Watson.

John sent a letter home shortly after the great battle at Sharpsburg of 17 September 1862 in which he describes his experience in Maryland:

Sept 21st
Camp near Martinsburgh [VA]

Dear Bettie:

As I have an opportunity of sending you a letter I embrace it. We are now about 6 miles below Martinsburgh on the road that leads to Williamsport. Since I last wrote I have been in Maryland 4 days, not there long enough to form an opinion about it. On Wednesday last there was a hard battle fought near Sharpsburgh MD. Some parts of the battle field we repulsed the yankees, whilst in others they repulsed us, neither party can claim much of a victory to my opinion. We captured a good many prisoners they also done the same. The next day after the battle I went over a good deal of the battle field; found the dead yankees at least twice as thick as ours. We were taken in the evening before the general engagement. I went in with them but as I have not been exchanged yet to a certainty the Capt. sent me to the rear. I went out under a strong cannonading, had many shells to burst all around me, one solid cannon ball rolled between my legs; supposed it would have broken my leg if it had struck it. The ball passed on some distance struck a solid fence rail which stoped it I then went to it. Capt. Walton will make out a report of my being captured, will send it to Jackson, then if I have not been exchanged I will be released immediately. I have not taken a gun yet, of course the officers will not let me until they know I have been exchanged.

John T. Johnston, George Griffith, A.H. Keyser are the wounded my company. G. B. Long missing supposed to be killed or badly wounded & captured. The Capt. told me this morning, that he expected I would be appointed Serg. Major of the Regt. you need not let the news get out of the family for the present. We captured the whole yankee force at Harpers Ferry about 13000 strong with every thing that is necessary to equip such an army which of course is a great deal.

I don’t know if the Dixie Artillery was in the recent engagement. Col. Buswell & son got to us this morning. If you see B. F. Coffman or any one that is coming to our company tell them to enquire at Winchester Post Office for a letter or letters for me individually. If you answer this send it by some one for I cannot tell where we will be soon.
John

I’m not sure who Bettie was, though his sister Sarah Elizabeth (1843-1863) is a good candidate – especially as he requested the news of his possible promotion “not … get out of the family for the present.” John was not married, though he may have had a sweetheart before he left home in 1861.

The Dixie Artillery, also formed in Page County, was indeed on the Maryland Campaign, under the command of Captain William H Chapman, though largely in reserve at Sharpsburg.

The letter quoted above is from Harlan R. Jessup’s The Painful News I Have to Write, Letters and Diaries of Four Hite Brothers of Page County in the Service of the Confederacy (1998). Thanks to the reenactors of The Stonewall Brigade for the transcription, shared via Facebook.

While looking into Private David Brinson (previous blog post) of the 13th Georgia Infantry, or more specifically, his wife Martha, I bumped back into her older brother James Dunbar Van Valkenburgh.

Captain Van Valkenburgh was briefly in command of his regiment, the 61st Georgia Infantry at Sharpsburg before being wounded in combat there. He was promoted to Major on the field at Gettysburg in July 1863 and was Lieutenant Colonel when he was killed on the Monocacy in July 1864.

Here are James, wearing very large Major’s stars, and his wife Mary E. K. Morgan. She was about 16 year old when they married in 1852 – this picture of her may have been taken about that time.

Both photographs are in the collection of The Cannonball House in Macon, GA, and were published in the Howling Dawg (August 2018) – the newsletter of the reenactors of the 16th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company G.

This is Private David Kellum Brinson, from Plains, GA, probably taken shortly after he enlisted in Company H of the 13th Georgia in July 1861. I’m guessing the small card in his hand is a photograph or other memento his his soon-to-be wife Martha Gilbert Van Valkenburg.

He was promoted on the field at Sharpsburg to Sergeant in September 1862, but seriously wounded in the groin/bladder and disabled at Gettysburg in July 1863.

His Gettysburg wound was still troubling him 25 years later, and probably continued to do so to his death at age 57 in 1899.

This photograph was shared on ancestry.com by family genealogist W R B Whittier in 2010.