SOME BUTTERFLIES DO STING
I normally do not participate in a lettersto-the-editor exchange, but Mr. Tom Phillips’ letter [“Mail Call,” March-April 2000] criticizing my statement that “these particular Butterflies (the 3rd New Jersey Cavalry) had a sting” has particularly irritated me. As a result I wish to make these points clear:
1. I am fully aware that butterflies do not sting. That was exactly the point of my words — that the 3rd N.J. had a “sting” even if called “Butterflies.”
2. Proudly not a sports enthusiast, I can assure Mr. Phillips that the quotation of Mr. Cassius Clay (aka Muhammed Ali) was not in my mind at the time of writing the article and has no bearing upon it.
Rather than setting “things straight,” Mr. Phillips, with his inane and inappropriate remarks have only once again reminded me that writers do not always have attentive or understanding audiences.
Michael J. McAfee West Point, New York
ANOTHER TYPE OF STING
Your continued suggestions on how to detect fakes were of great assistance to me of late. On e-Bay recently I purchased a carte de visite of two Rhode Island officers, supposedly taken by A.H. Messinger of Rhode Island. When the image arrived in the mail, the first glance told me it was wrong: it had the coppery cast which one often sees on laser copies. A closer examination with a glass brought out the dots and lines of some form of digital reproduction. I then took the image to a local photographer who confirmed my assumptions. I am awaiting a refund.
Don Wisnoski Chadwicks, New York
HOOSIER SURGEON IDENTIFIED
Editor: I have in my collection a carte de visite of John McChristie, assistant surgeon of the 9th Indiana Cavalry. He closely resembles the unknown officer of the 9th Indiana on page 27 of the July-August 1999 issue (“Mystery Photographer of Pulaski, Tennessee, ” by John Sickles) Although the cut of McChristie’s beard is slightly dif ferent, I feel the facial features and general build appear very similar to the unknown officer. Both images show a man who is a bit on the portly side, something that was probably rare for a Civil War cavalryman. What do you think?
Bill McFarland Topeka, Kansas
Although our recent track record is not the best (see “Editor’s Desk” this issue), this pair certainly looks like a match, particularly when one considers that both portraits are linked to one regiment.
The New York issue was well done. Congratulations. I offer a minor clarification to Robert Mulligan’s Introduction. He states on page 7 that “New York troops… also served in a special cavalry regiment to guard the border with Canada after Confederates raided St. Albans, Vermont.”
This might lead a person to think that this was an all-New York unit. It wasn’t. While it was called the 26th New York Cavalry, it actually was composed of three Massachusetts companies, two from Vermont and seven from New York. The regiment was never in camp together and the Vermont and Massachusetts companies were stationed independently from the New Yorkers and were officered by men from their own states. In fact, the Vermonters did not much care for the Yorkers and preferred to call themselves the “First and Second Companies of Frontier Cavalry,” which is the way they are still listed on Vermont military records.
Marius Peladeau Readfield, Maine
Some folks feel much the same way today.
MORE NEW YORK ISSUES
As a long time reader of MI, I was very pleased to see the all New York issue. And it was time that someone wrote an article on the New York State jacket. But as I read through the issue, I became more and more disappointed. The State of New York had some of the finest artillery units in the U.S. Army, yet not one photo and hardly even a mention of the finest arm in Federal service. Frank Cutler
Sodus, New York
What you see is what we get. It is regrettable that no one submitted an article on an Excelsior gun unit. Tony Gero’s excellent article on the separate companies of the N. Y. National Guard did include two photos of gunners, however, plus a reunion portrait of the veterans of Cowan ‘s Battery at Gettysburg. At right is a late arrival, from collector Guy Smith.
German-born John Farmhals enlisted August 15, 1862 in the “Black River Artillery, “which became part of the 1st New York Heavy Artillery. The York State Heavies were not armed with flintlock muskets, however — the antique weapon in the photo no doubt belonged to the photographer, John Holyland of Washington.
Regarding the photo on page 12 labeled “unidentified early NY volunteers…,” I believe the man on the left is Cyrus Stone from the 16th N.Y. I came across him when I was doing research on Colonel James Howland of the 16th. Private Stone had written a letter describing the battle of Gainer Mills, which I had used in research on the presentation of a saber to Colonel Howland. I believe the Military History Institute also has this same photo. Many thanks! Regina M. Goehring
I enjoyed Daniel Lorello’s article on New York’s Bureau of Military Statistics. The North Carolina State Archives has a draft of a unit history of the 3rd N.Y. Cavalry compiled by Capt. Rowland Hall, who was not content merely to fill out the Bureau’s questionnaire. The thirty-page manuscript contains a wealth of information and offers us a glimpse of the nowlost potential of the material compiled by the Bureau of Military Statistics for future generations. David A. Norris Greenville, North Carolina
Copyright Military Images May/Jun 2000
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