Nearly half of the 240 men and officers of the 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry who fought in the Battle of Fair Oaks, Va., on May 31, 1862, became casualties. One of them, Pvt. Henry Harrison King, suffered a slight wound in the arm. A 21-year-old farmer’s son from Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, he is pictured here on the right along with his eldest brother by 13 years, William C. King. Both served in Company G of the regiment. An inscription inside the case dates the portrait to Feb. 14, 1862, at which time the Pennsylvanians were in winter quarters in Washington, D.C.
William marched with the survivors to fight another day. Henry landed in the hospital at Savage’s Station, where he was detached on light duty as a nurse while he recovered. On June 29, 1862, he and his hospital mates fell into enemy hands. Three months later, Henry received a parole and returned to the 52nd after his exchange.
Henry and William went on to participate with their comrades in operations along the South Carolina coast against Charleston. The brothers mustered out at the end of their term of service in December 1864. Many of their comrades re-enlisted and were present for the surrender of Charleston, and then joined Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army for the final months of the war.
Henry and William returned to their homes in Pennsylvania and lived productive lives. William died in 1895, and Henry passed in 1914.
Holding an Austrian Lorenz rifled musket and clad in a standard issue overcoat, this Northern soldier appears ready to invade the South. His belt buckle suggests he is a corporal or sergeant, and the attachment of the company letter I to the underside of the visor of his cap is uncommon.
Though these casually dressed soldiers are not known, an inscription inside the case dates the image to April 7, 1863, in Suffolk, Va. Four days later, Union troops garrisoning Suffolk came under siege by Confederates led by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Operations continued until early the following month, when Longstreet withdrew without capturing the federals. The fate of these men is not known.
The Model 1850 Foot Officer’s sword identifies this man as an officer. Though his shirt and trousers are decidedly civilian, the tongue and wreath waist belt buckle, cap box and slouch hat with tassel are military. A large handkerchief appears tucked into his shirt-pocket. His origins are not known.
This soldier is perhaps familiar to those acquainted with Still More Confederate Faces, the landmark 1992 book by Domenick A. Serrano.
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