|On a muggy spring morning, I returned to Henry Pearson's grave with a war-time tintype of him.|
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
|Henry Pearson is buried under Grave No. 4103 at Fredericksburg (Va.) National Cemetery.|
Sometime during the Civil War, maybe shortly after he enlisted in the Union army, Henry Pearson posed in a studio for a tintype photograph. Grasping a long sword, the boyish-looking soldier with neatly combed hair stood proudly in his officer's uniform.
Perhaps the image was meant as a keepsake for his parents, a girlfriend or other loved ones. Somehow the photograph left the family, passing from Civil War collector to who-knows-where to auction house to another collector ... until it ended up with me. I bought it for a small price on eBay several weeks ago not with the intention of storing it in a shoe box in a musty closet but to find out more about Pearson.
Sadly, Henry did not survive the war. A lieutenant colonel in the 6th New Hampshire, the 24-year-old officer was mortally wounded at North Anna River in Virginia on May 26, 1864. Pearson's body was placed by comrades in a large, wooden box found at a nearby abandoned residence and hastily buried, the soldier's gravesite marked with his name on a piece of a bread box. Then "... we left him alone," another officer noted, "in his glory."
After the war, Pearson's remains were recovered and reburied in the national cemetery in Fredericksburg, Va. -- one of more than 15,000 Union soldiers buried in the beautiful grounds on Marye's Heights. This morning, the image of Henry returned for a visit to Pearson's final resting place, a small way to honor a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice.
|Pearson, 24, was mortally wounded at North Anna River on May 26, 1864.|