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Mississippi Cavalryman, Maynard Carbine

By Rick Brown 

While shopping during setup day at the 2020 Chickamauga Civil War Show in Dalton, Ga., I came across this image. The dealer did not know the identity of the horseman, but mentioned there was an association with Corinth, Miss.

The image seemed familiar to me. It reminded me of a similar view in one of the old Confederate Civil War Calendars published by Lawrence T. “Larry” Jones. Based on the strength of this memory, I took a chance and purchased it.

Pvt. James Lawrence Secrest, Jeff Davis Legion of Cavalry, pictured with Sela. Quarter-plate ruby ambrotype by an unidentified photographer. Rick Brown Collection of American Photography.
Pvt. James Lawrence Secrest, Jeff Davis Legion of Cavalry, pictured with Sela. Quarter-plate ruby ambrotype by an unidentified photographer. Rick Brown Collection of American Photography.

Upon my return home, I was delighted to find that it was the exact image published in Larry’s Calendar. The cavalryman sits on his horse with one hand on the reins, and the other grasping the barrel of a breech-loading Maynard carbine. Behind them is a clapboard building with a small window notched towards the top.

The trooper is Pvt. James Lawrence Secrest, a Mississippian who served in Company C of the Jeff Davis Legion of Cavalry. He enlisted at Iuka in the summer of 1861, and is pictured here with Sela, his trusted mount. Secrest’s military records indicate he suffered a wound on Aug. 1, 1863, at the very end of the Gettysburg Campaign during an action near Brandy Station, Va. Details of his wounding and the fate of Sela are unknown. Secrest survived his injury and the war. He died at age 45 in 1885, and is buried in Soles Chapel Cemetery in Scooba, Miss.

The image conjured another memory. About 10 years earlier, I had a conversation with the late John Sickles, a good friend and fellow collector. Kind-hearted and generous to a fault, John possessed a wealth of information and had a great passion for collecting, particularly images connected to Indiana and Michigan cavalry, guerrillas, partisan rangers and men who served with John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Sickles also had a special focus on carbine images. During our talk, he mentioned this very image and another companion portrait that he had seen in the Confederate Calendar. He hoped to acquire them someday.

Sickles passed before he was able to add them to his collection. I like to think that he was with me during dealer setup day in Dalton.


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