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 Post subject: USAHEC
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:51 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:18 am
Posts: 162

I have to write a little AAR about this past weekend's research interests in Carlisle and Gettysburg. My business partner Dan Wambaugh and I headed out to Red Lion, PA to pick up another huge load of fabric from Family Heirloom Weavers and had time to stop by the United States Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA. For those of you who have not yet been to this excellent facility and studied their holdings, I highly recommend it. They have several dozen U.S. Sharpshooter images on file and waiting to be scrutinized; some of these are owned by the USAHEC and others are in storage but the owners allow high resolution scans to be viewed in lieu of the actual original image. For the life of me I cannot remember how I successfully navigated their on-line research catalog but before the trip I wrote down the call numbers of every image I wanted to view while I was there. The list contained a pretty good number of Sharpshooters I've never seen before, a few that I have seen, and one mysterious photo of mounted officers that I suspect is Lt. Col. Caspar Trepp and adjutant.

The Research Center at the USAHEC is practically brand new and the staff is more than helpful. While Dan was getting details about some replica clothing we're making for the museum, I was led into the research room. Not a whole lot except reference texts are available directly off the shelf so you have to really be prepared with your call numbers, etc. before your visit unless you have all day! After a brief yet very enlightening and helpful "orientation" I signed in at the desk, read and signed a waiver, recited some of the simple rules (no pens, pencils only, keep everything flat on the table, wear gloves, no phones, no flash cameras, etc.), and handed the professional (and very attractive) research staff my pre-organized list. I took a seat at a table, got my photographic research gear ready, and waited.

Within five minutes a staff member pushed out a metal cart containing nine archival boxes. Each one was labeled in detail and I found out that each box contained approximately ONE HUNDRED original images or high-res copies of images not owned by the USAHEC. I simply went down the list. My first order of business was to compare the unidentified mounted officers of the "1st Regiment" to my early war profile CDV of then-Captain Caspar Trepp. Although I did not know it at the time, this very tiny, CDV sized image of mounted officers was the ONLY original image in about a dozen folders I pulled that day! Through my loupe I could discern a few similar details in the two officers but nothing definitive; the mounted man's beard combined with the shadow of his hat and the washed-out portions of his face due to direct sunlight could not give me an answer. I had been hoping to identify the man as Trepp, and his orderly as Lt. Rudolph Aschmann (a CDV of him is owned by a prolific collector, who has about 40 USSS images in total) but it was not to be. Dan was with me by this time and he too could not say if it was or was not Trepp.

The photos I viewed after this first one were, without a single exception, absolutely outstanding in every way. I won't go into lengthy details about each one but I will say that they contained a variety of features that got me so excited I thought I was dancing....armed images with bayoneted Sharps rifles, stacked Sharps rifles, green tinted uniforms, clear-as-day rubber eagle buttons, giant Third Corps badges on forage caps, random "photo-bombers" in the background ruining the subject's portrait, dark green chevrons on dark green frocks, the infamous "US Picture Tent" (which I have now seen in approximately 26 images, 17 of these being USSS and dated between March-June 1863), and coolest of all....a young Sharpshooter who had transferred into the 4th Vermont after the USSS disbanded. His blouse had a giant white Sixth Corps badge sewn to a giant red Third Corps badge, and above it in stamped brass, formed in an arch, was "1 USSS F." Wow!

The USAHEC is located in Carlisle, PA, and is well worth the trip. Not only do they have photographs but they have full copies of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, letter groups, and other publications. I know I've said it before, but if you go make sure you give yourself a few hours. If you want copies of the images xeroxes are $1, scans are $30, and you can take digital photos yourself if you do not use a flash. Phones are a no-no, so are most other electronic devices, and I was told the only things I were allowed included paper, a pencil, my own reference material (in my case the CDV of Trepp)...and that's it! If you decide to spend a few hours at the research center you will be told and also read about these procedures...but I hope that I can save you a little time!

I must also suggest Ronn Palm's Museum of Civil War Photography on Baltimore St. in Gettysburg. He mentioned a few familiar names (Dave Rider in particular) so I'm sure those of you in the area have been there and back several times. Not only does Ronn own a fairly important collection of Pennsylvania images, he also has three USSS CDVs and two identical war-time albumen prints of three Co. C 2nd USSS men and their brother who was, remarkably, a Bucktail. The CDV's are great but only one is identified. One is a Sharpshooter with Colt revolving rifle, cap and frock, wearing a Tiffany & Co. knapsack with his seamless gray overcoat on top. The second is Pvt. Hiram Herrick, Co. G 1st USSS, who is in a full green uniform and is holding a Sharps rifle with SABER bayonet...and on his waist belt is a saber bayonet scabbard! Herrick enlisted in August 1862, so I cannot say if this is a prop, his own personal rifle, or if he got the short end of the stick and was somehow issued an infantry version (and not even the right version). The final image is a one-thirds standing profile of a tall bearded man wearing his buttoned seamless gray overcoat and cradling a target rifle. A few hours later it struck me that this unidentified man could be William Humphrey, Co. E 2nd, a private upon enlisting in 1861, a friend of Frank Tilson, and later wounded by the same shell that took Tilson's leg on April 2nd, 1865. I sent Ronn a scan of a late-war CDV of Humphrey and he said it's very close if not right on, save for the part in the hair. The final, most impressive image is the albumen; I remembered it from eBay several years ago and I guess Ronn was the guy who won the auction! It depicts Robert, Hiram, and Horace Warner, all Co. C 2nd USSS, and William Warner (a Bucktail, cannot recall with regiment), all together in uniform. The back states the image was taken in Washington DC, presumably sometime before Antietam when Hiram Warner was killed.

Anyway....sorry for the long-winded message but I'm pretty excited! To top off the weekend I found a photo of Edward Dow, 2nd Lt. in Co. G 2nd USSS, in civilian clothing (I'll post a scan soon). I highly recommend both the USAHEC and Ronn Palm's museum if you want to spend a few hours scrutinizing some truly amazing images of U.S. Sharpshooters.

Brian White
Wambaugh, White, & Company
Randolph Mess, U.S. Sharpshooters

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