Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Are there other Gettysburg stories like Amos Humiston's?

An enlargement of a CDV of 154th New York Sergeant Amos Humiston's children.
(Library of Congress)

Amos Humiston
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The heart-rending account of Amos Humiston, one of the Civil War's most famous casualties, touches many of us more than any other human-interest story from the Battle of Gettysburg. Carrying no identification, the 154th New York sergeant was found clutching an ambrotype of his three young children after suffering a mortal wound near John Kuhn’s Brick Yard, north of the town square, on July 1, 1863.

Thousands of carte-de-visites of the ambrotype were created and distributed in the hope someone would recognize the children and thus lead to the soldier’s name. The publicity campaign worked. Months after the battle, Humiston was identified by his widow, who learned of his fate after reading a detailed description of the photograph in a religious publication. (In 1999, Mark H. Dunkelman's definitive Humiston biography was published — the book was reprinted in 2020 by Gettysburg Publishing. Read a Q&A with Dunkelman on my blog here.)

In the aftermath of the three-day battle, other photographs — a torn portrait of a fiancĂ©e, a blood-spattered image in a captain’s stiff fingers, a baby’s likeness smeared with blood, and many others —were discovered among bodies, bibles, scraps of letters, clothing, and weaponry. In his book, The Lost Children of the Battlefield, G. Craig Caba details some of the photo finds.

Four years after the battle, a daguerreotype of a woman—in her early 20s with “dark hair, combed back and falling loosely over her shoulders”—was found inside a cartridge box near a soldier's remains. Presumably the image was of the soldier's wife or sweetheart. This story was originally reported Oct. 30, 1867, by the Gettysburg Star and Sentinel and subsequently picked up by other Pennsylvania newspapers (see newspaper clip in this post). 

"There was nothing to indicate the corps, division, regiment or name," the newspaper reported. "From the locality, it is presumed to be that of a Rebel soldier. The cartridge box was marked U.S., but many of these, captured during the war, were carried in the Rebel ranks."

The Star and Sentinel reported the image was in possession of M.J. Emory, a Pennsylvania College student.

What happened to the photograph? Was it ever identified? 

Do you know of similar stories involving photographs found on the battlefield?

I'm working on a story about two photographs found on the Gettysburg battlefield with fallen Confederates and could use your help. 

E-mail me at jbankstx@comcast.net if you know more.

-- Have something to add (or correct) in this post? Email me here.

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