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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2023 3:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 320
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Fellow Sharpshooters

On January 1, 2021, Gary Adelman released a video titled: Civil War Photographic Mysteries at Yorktown, on the American Battlefield Trust website with his discovery of a series of wet plates comprising a panoramic view of Camp Winfield Scott, taken by photographers James F. Gibson and John Wood in April 1862.

Featured in Adelman's video is the original home, (Allen House) that served as Major Gen. Porter's Headquarters. The home still stands but is now private property. Gary received permission to walk the grounds and video the exterior of the home, and the adjacent outbuilding. Unlike the wide open and expansive panorama of the 1862 images, the terrain today has been ’paved over’ with subdivisions. The outbuilding also survives but the rickety porch roof is gone. The man and woman, dressed in white, also appear in images taken outside the Allen House/‘Headquarters’.

Brian White and I have been studying this image for years. It was Gary Adelman/American Battlefield Trust’s video that has finally provided the location and context as WHY this image is important.

The link above is to the LOC image entitled: Girl fixing her hair. If you enlarge the image, to the left of the cavalryman resting over his saber, is a tall, solidly built, bearded figure. His uniform is slightly disheveled; his nine button Regulation coat is open to expose a vest beneath. His forage cap has a feather affixed to it. A brass powder flask stands out against his left side. He is holding a target rifle. What appear to be leather leggings cover the calves of his trousers. Unfortunately, the suspected Sharpshooter’s facial features is obscured by shadow, so it is unlikely his identity will be known.

As part of Major General Porter’s Fifth Corps, Berdan’s Sharpshooters (1st USSS) distinguished themselves on the approach and during the siege of Yorktown. Harpers Weekly Illustrated featured stories and illustrations of their sharpshooting exploits. The presence of the suspected Sharpshooter at Porter’s HQ poses some questions. Was he sent to HQ at the request of the photographer or the foreign military attaché (Gibson/Wood photographed the Comete de Paris and other dignitaries playing chess and enjoying a outdoor luncheon)? Or was he detached to serve on the guard detail posted at Porter’s HQ (the outbuilding designated as the guard house)?

Link to ABT/YouTube video:

Gary Adelman’s original research appeared in the Spotsylvania Civil War blog, entitled: Yorktown Images Pose Questions, Reveal Details:

Bill Skillman

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