Civil War Portraits

During the American Civil War, photography was coming into it’s own as an art form and widespread practice. For the first time, photographers ventured out into the battle field, sending home poignant images of the horrors of war. Soldiers lined up to have their portraits taken and requested the same from beloved and missed family members at home. As you read through the letters, at several points William specifically requests that pictures of Sarah and very specifically his daughter Melissa, be taken and sent to him.

There were several basic processes for photography during the civil war. These were daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, iron tintypes and cartes de visite (or card photographs) and stereographs. Tintypes were enormously popular during the Civil War because they were inexpensive, quickly produced, durable and could easily be mailed without fear of damage. During the civil war, it became common for soldiers who were about to leave to pose in uniform so their loved ones had a photo before they left. Itinerant photographers also visited the encampments, setting up temporary studios near the army camps to take portraits of the soldiers to be sent home.

Tintype photos are made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. There were two different processes that could be used, wet and dry. In the wet process, a collodion emulsion with silver halide had to be formed on the plate just before it was exposed in the camera while still wet. Chemical treatment then reduced infused crystals to microscopic particles of metallic silver in proportion to the intensity and duration of their exposure to light, resulting in a visible image. The dry process was similar but used a gelatin emulsion which could be applied to the plate long before use and exposed in the camera dry. With both processes, an underexposed negative would be produced where densest areas appeared gray whereas the darkest areas of the subject would be transparent. Once set against the dark lacquer backing of the metal plate, these transparent areas would appear black.

Many soldiers felt it important to document their lives and existence through portraits just prior to and during the war.  Thus enters an interesting conflict with this portrait of James Grigg.

The photo is clearly labeled as being of James Grigg and the website we obtained it from identified him as being from the Indiana 10th.  However James was not an officer, but the man in the portrait is wearing an officer’s uniform, thus lending some doubt as to if this was our James. Some extensive discussion among family members and the Indiana State Library, followed by a process of elimination for all other James Grigg we can find in Civil War archives for the State of Indiana, basically identifies the man in the portrait as my own ancestor. So why then the officer’s jacket? The best answer we have is that the jacket had been loaned to James to wear for his portrait.

Having your portrait taken during this time was considered a formal occasion.  Most portraits of this period featured individuals in their “Sunday best” and if a subject did not have appropriate clothing, the photographer may have kept a stock of suitable items for their patrons to borrow for their sitting. In the end, these portraits would become valuable and important keepsakes for friends and family to remember their beloved soldier in his absence and possible death. On the soldier’s end, portraits from home helped them keep a connection to their sorely missed loved ones and serve as a reminder of their purpose.

For us, these portraits that endure gives us a glimpse into the determined, sometimes eager and brazen, individuals who fought in the most divisive wars in US history. It puts a face to the conflict like no other. For more information on Civil War Portraits, Yale University has an online exhibition here.

Morgan’s Raid

On July 8, Confederate John Hunt Morgan crossed over the Ohio River in to the state of Indiana near Maupuck using two stolen steamboats. There he and a troupe of about 1800 men proceeded to conduct raids on the local communities such as Corydon Vernon, Dupont, New Pekin, Salem, and Versailles. Governor Morton put out a call for every able bodied man to take up arms as a home defense. The resulting Home Guard comprised of enthusiastic but poorly trained men who fought valiantly, but in the end failed to entirely stop Morgan’s progress. The result was weeks of looting, damage and civilian causalities Ripley County, Indiana. One formal battle was fought at Corydon between Morgan’s men and some 400 assembled volunteers. The volunteers managed to delay the Confederate’s advance but in the end were captured and paroled. Morgan’s main targets appeared to be rail depots, bridges, and sources of food, funds and fresh horses for his men. Reports of the time indicated he demanded ransoms and taxes from the locals to not burn mills and businesses. One amusing antidote indicated that Morgan’s men burned the storehouse in DuPont, Indiana and stole some 2,000 hams. Unable to keep them due to flies, they discarded them in route to Salem, leaving a trail of hams for the pursuing Calvary to follow.

Eventually, a large Calvary force under the command of General Edward Henry Hobson, chased Morgan from Indiana with support from the some 65,000 home guard men and Union U-boats on the Ohio River. Morgan and his men left Indiana at Harrison on July 13 and entered Ohio.

There appear to be three distinct goals with these raids. The first was to draw the northern armies away from the confederate lines in support of the civilian populations in Indiana. The second was to disrupt supply lines, as evidenced in Morgan’s focus on depots and bridges. The third appeared to be to drum up further enthusiasm with the local Coppperheads. Morgan, being a flamboyant, handsome, and dashing figure was thought to inspire others to follow in defiance of the Union.

However, Morgan failed to meet any of these goals.

Despite the reign of destruction and terror, Morgan failed to disrupt any communication or supply lines. Locals quickly repaired any damage to the depots he hit, causing mostly inconvenience. He did not occupy any major Indiana city, and regular Federal troops sent in to stop him were insufficient release pressure off Confederate the lines in Kentucky. Finally, Morgan failed to inspire a Copperhead uprising and instead his raids had the opposite effect on the morale and attitudes of the locals. Instead of flocking to him as recruits or inspiring a lasting fear, the locals instead became angry, outraged, and determined to stop him.
In total, Morgan spent three weeks in Indiana and Ohio.

While this is not directly related to the Indiana 10th, the raiders appeared to have passed through Darlington and the incident is referred to in several of the upcoming letters.

May 11, 1863

May the 11th 63

This is Monday morning. I thought I had rote anuf this time but I feald so good over the good news that I must tell you. The news reached hear last nite a bout 7 o’clock that we had Richmond and of all the cheering and yelling I ever heard it took place at that time. It went around the lines like the roling waves of the see. It made very loyal hart bound with joy. The word was braut to the preacher while he was preaching last nite. He stoped short and says the stars and stripes are waving over Richmond and you better believe their went forth to the skies and meity chear.

We all feald as thoe the war can’t last mutch longer. My prayer to God is that the time has come that this war shall close. This is a beautful morning every thing looks chearing to the to the loyal.

I must close for this time. I want you to rite a great big long letter. Yours forever

Wm Forder
G Hubbard

Note: This bit of news is somewhat surprising and may be a false or incorrect report to the men. According to all historical accounts I can find, the Confederate Capital of Richmond was not taken by the Union Army (even on a temporary basis) until 1865. During this general period of time, the only happenings of note within the city is an event referred to as the “Richmond Bread Riot”. On April 3, 1863 the women of Richmond marched on Governor Letcher’s office to demand action on the massive overcrowding, inflation and other issues plaguing the city.  They were turned away and this resulted in a full two days of rioting throughout the city.

A perceived victory in Richmond could have been confused with the capture of Fredricksburg during the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, also in Virginia, which ultimately would be part of the bigger yet doomed Chancellorsville Campaign.

Indiana 10th Inventory

An Artillery Battery is a unit that specializes in heavy fire power weapons.  Modern day artillery units carry rockets, mortars, and missiles.  However, during the time of the civil war, this generally meant one thing.

Cannons. 

And variations thereof.

Historically a “Battery” consisted of a group of cannons, howitzers, and mortars coordinating fire.  The Cannons and Howitzers are defined by the weight of the ordinance it can hurl.  Therefore, a 10lb cannon can fire a 10lb cannon ball.  According to www.civilwarhome.com, the term “Light Artillery” indicated that the cannoniers were mounted and therefore could move faster than their unmounted counterparts.  The guns were typically lower in weight in order to aid in their mobility. 

Another civil war blog, To the Sound of the Guns, lists ordinance records and inventory from various Indiana Batteries including the 10th.  According to these inventories, the unit carried two 12pd field howitzers and four 10pd Parrotts.  For those who are interested, To the Sound of the Guns also lists inventories of related equipment gleaned at various points from the units. 

Image of a 10lb Parrott

Image of a 12 lb Howitzer

Excerpt from Regimental History

On the morning of the 26th of December with Wood’s division, it broke up its encampment in the vicinity of Nashville, and marching with the left wing of the Fourteenth Army Crops to Lavergne, portions of the enemy were there encountered and some fighting ensued. On the 29th, the division moved forward, Cox’s battery supporting Wagner’s brigade, and on arriving within two miles and a half of Murfreesboro the rebel army, under Bragg, was discovered in full force, in line of battle. The division was halted for the afternoon and night. On the following day, the skirmishers kept up an active fire with the enemy, the rebels and about nine A.M., opening fire upon Cox’s battery (which was between the pike and the railroad, and it’s front partly covered in woods.) The artillery fire of the enemy was soon silenced by the well directed shots of the battery.

On the 31st the engagement became general and during the day the extreme left of the division became the object of the enemy’s attention. Skirmishers were seen descending the slope on the opposite side of Stone River, as also working their way down the stream for the purpose apparently, of gaining our left flank and rear. A few well directed charges of grape and canister from Cox’s battery, drove the enemy’s artillery, posted on the heights on the southern side of the river. The enemy concluded his operations against left as night approached, by opening on it with his artillery. Cox’s battery gallantly and effectually replied, but darkness soon put an end to this battery dual.

On the 1st of January, 1863, the division lay in line of battle all day, with nothing more than picket firing and an occasional artillery dual to break the silence. On the 2d the artillery firing was kept up quite heavily during most of the day, and on the following day the battle ended with occasional picket firing. During the entire engagement at Stone River the Tenth Battery had one killed and four wounded.

A Brief History of William Forder

William Forder was born in Alton, Hampshire, England in 1837 and was named after his father, William Forder Sr.  William Sr., his wife Maria, William Jr., and younger son James came to the United States about 1840.  William Jr. would have been about 3 years old. They first settled in Indiana and had about ten more children.  William married Sarah Hubbard August 28, 1860 and their daughter Milissa was born a year later.  Sarah and William were married only 2 years and their child was a year old when he enlisted. 
 
Photo of a young William Forder.  Notations on the photo indicate it may have been a tin type.
 
William Forder had three brothers who also served the Union during the Civil War.  According to the collection’s inventory, there are letters to and from these brothers which are not included at this time.
 
James Forder, Pvt, enlisted at age 22, on Sept. 18, 1861, Co. D, 38th Indiana Infantry. Listed as missing at Chickamauga. Reenlisted as a veteran volunteer on Dec. 28, 1863, at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sent to Chattanooga hospital Nov. 20, 1864, for chronic Rheumatism. Transferred to a Nashville hospital. Mustered out July 15, 1865.
 
Albert Forder, Pvt, enlisted at age 18, on Sept. 18, 1861, Co. D, 38th Indiana Infantry. Died in Nashville hospital, April 1, 1862, of Typhoid Fever.
 
Robert H. Forder, Pvt, Co. B, 16th Rgt, Indiana Volunteers. Wounded at Vicksburg on May 19, 1863. Died at Washington hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, Nov. 10, 1863.

Excerpt from Regimental History

Note:  The following is a section from the official Regimental history as recorded in the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, Volume 3, by W.H.H. Terrell, Adjutant General, Indiana, 1866.  Additional excerpts will be posted prior to each major movement of the regiment, with links to sites detailing the histories of the battles that are indicated in the report.

The Tenth Battery of Light Artillery was ordered to be raised on the 13th of November, 1861 and was recruited in the Eight Congressional District during the remainder of the fall and winter of that year, with recruiting headquarters at Lafayette. Rendezvousing at Indianapolis it was there mustered into service on the 25th of January, 1861 with Jermone B Cox as Captain and on the same day left the state capital for Louisville. At that place it went into Camp Gilbert, where it remained until February 1862, drilling and preparing for the Tennessee campaign. Joining General Nelson’s division of Buell’s army, it marched with it to Nashville, assisting in the capture of that place.

In March, the division moved to the Tennessee river and crossing over participated in the Battle of Shiloh on the second day. The battery, however, owing to the lack of transportation, was compelled to remain at Savannah until after the battle. After camping on the field of Shiloh for a brief period the battery moved with the army against Corinth and participated in the siege of that place. Upon its evacuation it marched with Buell’s army into Northern Alabama to Athens where it was placed in the reserved artillery. Remaining there until the latter part of July, it then moved to Decherd Station, Tennessee, where it joined Gen. Thomas J. Wood’s division and, with that division, campaigned through Northern Alabama and Southern Tennessee. Upon the advance of Bragg’s army it fell back to Nashville, and from thence marched through Kentucky to Louisville. From Louisville the battery moved through Kentucky, participating in the campaign that ended in driving from that state the rebel General Bragg’s invading army.