Historically Important and Rare Outdoor Albumen of U.S. Medical Corps Officers at Fort Burnham (Ft. Harrison)
Historically Important and Rare Outdoor Albumen of U.S. Medical Corps Officers at Fort Burnham (Ft. Harrison) – This rare outdoor image was originally made some time in after the retaking of the Confederate Fort Harrison, on September 29, 1864. The original wet plate that was the source of this albumen, now resides in the Library of Congress’ Civil War image collection. The descriptor that accompanies the wet plate in the LOC, entitles the image – “Fort Harrison, Va. Group of surgeons of the Army of the James”, then states the following – “Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, the Army of the James, June 1864-April 1865. Surgeon C. C. Radmore, 114th U.S.C.T.; Surgeon J. F. Stevenson, 29th Connecticut; Assist. Surgeon J. M. Rand, 29th Connecticut; Surgeon W. A. Conover, U.S.V.; Surgeon D. McKay, 29th U.S.C.T.; Surgeon N. Folson, 45th U.S.C.T.”, thereby identifying all of the officers depicted in the image. Inscribed in pencil, on the pasteboard backing of the albumen, is – “Surgeon McKay & Others (near Fort Burnham)”. There are several interesting elements visible in this image, to include some of the surgeons wearing their Medical Corps swords, Surgeon Folson’s 10th Corps badge on his slouch hat (he was a surgeon in the 45th USCT, assigned to the 10th Corps) and what appears to be a USCT soldier standing in the right background. The image remains in excellent condition, with some minor age staining along the edges, that do not impinge on the image proper; the pasteboard backing has some chips along the edges, with the lower left corner torn off, although again, not impinging on the image. The image measures – Width: 9.5”; Height – 7.5”; cardstock or pasteboard backing – Width – 10”; Height – 9”. Large outdoor images, such as this, with identified individuals, other than Alexander Gardner’s “Incidents of the War” series, are rarely offered.
Fort Harrison, later renamed Fort Burnham, was an important component of the Confederate defenses of Richmond during the American Civil War. Named after Lieutenant William Harrison, a Confederate engineer, it was the largest in the series of fortifications that extended from New Market Road to the James River that also included Forts Brady, Hoke, Johnson, Gregg, and Gilmer. These earthworks were designed to protect the strategically important Chaffin’s Bluff on the James.
On September 29, 1864, 2,500 Union soldiers from Major General Benjamin Butler‘s Army of the James overran Major Richard Cornelius Taylor’s 200-man Confederate garrison and captured the fort in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm. Brigadier General Hiram Burnham, a native of Maine and a brigade commander in XVIII Corps, was killed in the assault, and the Union-held fort was renamed Fort Burnham in his honor.
Although the attacks of September 29 had succeeded in capturing only Fort Harrison, General Robert E. Lee saw the potential threat to Richmond and ordered a counterattack on September 30. The attack failed, but Brigadier General George J. Stannard lost an arm while resisting Lee’s assault. This failure forced the Confederates to realign their defenses farther west. Fort Burnham remained in Union hands until the end of the war.
In 1930, members of the Richmond Parks Corporation, a local preservation society, constructed a log cabin on the site to serve as their headquarters. Today, this building serves as the Fort Harrison visitor center, part of Richmond National Battlefield Park.
On September 22, 2014, park staff at Richmond National Battlefield Park discovered an artillery shell within the moat of a Confederate fortification known as Fort Gilmer in the park’s Fort Harrison battlefield unit. Although it did not explode, the shell was a 12-pound explosive round, possibly used by Confederates at Fort Gilmer as one of several improvised hand grenades rolled down the side of the fort against Union soldiers from the 7th United States Colored Troops.
On September 29, 1864, Grant gave ordered to General Benjamin F. Butler to attack New Market Heights north of the James River. Butler surprised the Confederates by staging a two-prong attack on the right and center fronts. At the same time, Butler assigned General Edward Ord to attack Fort Harrison to the west. Since both areas were being attacked simultaneously, the Confederates couldn’t parry both thrusts.
Fort Harrison was the strongest part of the defense because of its strategic placement with clear site lines toward the James River. With only 1,750 Confederates in the fort compared to the 4,150 Union soldiers that surrounded them, the Fort quickly fell. In the battle, General Hiram Burnham lost his life and in honor of his death the fort was renamed Fort Burnham. General Ord was critically wounded in the altercation and was unable to command for several months. Knowing the importance of Fort Harrison, General Lee attempted to recapture it the following day. This attack suffered from poor coordination, however, and failed.
- Historic Photograph of Fort Harrison, Va. Group of surgeons of the Army of the James | 1865 April.| Summary: Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, the Army of the James, June 1864-April 1865. Surgeon C. C. Radmore, 114th U.S.C.T.; Surgeon J. F. Stevenson, 29th Connecticut; Assist. Surgeon J. M. Rand, 29th Connecticut; Surgeon W. A. Conover, U.S.V.; Surgeon D. McKay, 29th U.S.C.T.; Surgeon N. Folson, 45th U.S.C.T. Notes
- : Civil War photographs, 1861-1865 compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1977. No. 0344 Title from Milhollen and Mugridge. Corresponding print is in LOT 4180. Forms part of Selected Civil War photographs, 1861-1865 Subjects: United States–History–Civil War, 1861-1865–Medical aspects. Surgery. Radmore, C.C. Stevenson, J. F. Rand, J. M. Conover, W. A. McKay, D. Folson, N. United States–Virginia–Fort Harrison
Charles C. Radmore
|Residence Wenona IL; a 34 year-old Physician. Enlisted on 7/6/1861 at Wenona, IL as a Surgeon. On 9/13/1861 he was commissioned into Field & Staff IL 44th Infantry He Resigned on 12/4/1861 On 9/4/1862 he was commissioned into Field & Staff IL 107th Infantry He was discharged for promotion on 7/5/1864 On 7/5/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff US CT 114th Infantry He was Mustered Out on 4/2/1867 Promotions: * Asst Surgeon 9/4/1862 (As of 107th IL Infantry) * Surgeon 7/5/1864 (As of 114th USCT Infantry)|
John F. Stevenson
|Residence was not listed; Enlisted on 1/15/1864 as a Surgeon. On 1/28/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff CT 29th Infantry He was Mustered Out on 10/24/1865|
John Milton Rand
Residence Milford NH; a 29 year-old Physician. Enlisted on 1/14/1864 as a Asst Surgeon. On 2/3/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff CT 29th Infantry He was Mustered Out on 10/24/1865 Other Information: born 12/1/1834 in Lyndeborough, NH Member of GAR Post # 4 (James A. Garfield) in Newark, NJ died 12/18/1905 in Newark, NJ (Son of John & Fanny D. (Symonds) Rand. Married Orlin A. Wilson in 1858) After the War he lived in Newark, NJ
William Arthur Conover
|Residence was not listed; Enlisted on 10/4/1862 as a Asst Surgeon. On 10/4/1862 he was commissioned into US Volunteers Medical Staff He was Mustered Out on 3/13/1866 Promotions: * Surgeon 5/8/1863 * Lt Colonel 11/24/1865 by Brevet * Colonel 11/24/1865 by Brevet Other Information: born in New Jersey|
|Residence New York City NY; 30 years old. Enlisted on 6/16/1863 at Milldale, MS as a Asst Surgeon. On 6/16/1863 he was commissioned into Field & Staff NY 79th Infantry He was discharged for promotion on 6/2/1864 On 6/10/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff US CT 29th Infantry He was Mustered Out on 11/6/1865 Promotions: * Surgeon 6/10/1864 (As of 29th USCT Infantry)|
|Residence was not listed; Enlisted on 4/10/1864 as a Surgeon. On 10/19/1861 he was commissioned into US Army Medical Cadets He was discharged on 10/18/1862 On 11/14/1863 he was commissioned into US Army Medical Staff He was discharged on 11/28/1863 On 4/10/1864 he was commissioned into Field & Staff US CT 45th Infantry He was Mustered Out on 11/4/1865 at Brownsville, TX Promotions: * Asst Surgeon 11/14/1863 (As of Medical Staff) * Surgeon 4/10/1864 (As of 45th USCT Infantry) * Lt Colonel 3/13/1865 by Brevet Intra Regimental Company Transfers: * After the War he lived in Cambridge, MA|