I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Old soldiers never die — They simply fade away.” It is usually attributed to General MacArthur’s farewell speech, where he refers to an old soldiers ballad. One can go into practically any antique store and find a pile of old photographs, perhaps finding some old soldiers among them. They are usually unmarked and unidentifiable- tangible evidence of a forgotten old soldier who is literally fading away as his photograph deteriorates.
Recently while attending a holiday party I spotted just such an old photograph and asked my host who it was. He told me that the photo had been given to him years ago by an old aunt and may have been a long lost relative. In fact, he told me, the photograph had fallen out of a stack of papers that very morning as he was preparing for the party and he put it on display knowing I was planning to attend. He asked me what I thought about it and let me take it home to investigate. Here was an old soldier who would NOT fade away!
In the dim light of a holiday party it was hard to identify more than a few obvious clues. We see an bearded elderly man wearing a a Military blouse with a couple of medals. My first guess is a Civil War Veteran, but there didn’t seem to be any other identification. Moving into better light, It looked like there was something written in pencil on the back. Maybe a name and a regiment?
When I got home to my office, I looked more closely under bright light with a magnifying glass. There was a name!
I scanned the back of the photo, uploaded it to my computer and photoshopped it to bring out the writing more clearly. It said:
C. S. Harris U. C. V. [United Confederate Veterans]
4th N. C. Inf. [Infantry]
Signal Service – in the
Valley of Va. [Virginia] [most likely refers to the Shenandoah Valley]
Aug. 6th 1837 [most likely a birth date, making him about 24 years old in 1861]
Who is C. S. Harris?
Now I had something to go on. I began by searching the Confederate Compiled Service Records on Fold3.com and quickly found a C. S. Harris, Age 24, Company A, 4th NC Infantry. He enlisted February 24, 1862 at age 24. His roll of Honor listing states: “Wounded in battle at——, Now in Signal Corps.” This would appear to be a very good match.
Further investigation into his records revealed He was captured Sept 15 (1862) at South Mountain. The 4th N. C. S. T. was part of Anderson’s Brigade and played a vital role in holding the mountain passes before falling back to Sharpsburg. He appears on a roll of prisoners sent for exchange from Fort Delaware. He was transferred to a Hospital ( U. S. A. General Hospital #1) in Frederick, Md. on Sept 18, 1862, then to General Hospital No. 24 (Richmond) on October 19, listed as a Paroled Prisoner. One Card lists his “complaint” as Rheumatism.
General Hospital No. 24, per my friend Mike Gorman, a park Ranger in Richmond, was also called: Moore’s Hospital, Harwood’s Hospital, and the North Carolina hospital. It was in the former tobacco factory of George D. Harwood, a three-storied, flat-roofed, brick building. It opened in the summer of 1861 and was first used for Union prisoners. It had a capacity of over 120 with 30 employees. It was taken over by North Carolina on 29 July 1864. Rosa Lee Sanzay was the matron and Dr. Otis Frederick Manson the surgeon-in-charge. the Hospital was located on the southwest corner of 26th and Main Streets.
After recovering and returning to his regiment, Harris is listed as appearing on a roll of privates employed for extra duty as a Signalman during the month of Jul 1863 for Maj. Gen D. H. Hill and during the months of Aug & Sept 1863 for Maj. Gen Rhodes. He received 40 cents per day for this service.
Harris is wearing two medals. The large light colored one is a badge commemorating the North Carolina United Confederate Veterans reunion held in Winston-Salem, N.C. on August 7-8, 1912. Contemporary newspaper accounts describe one of the finest reunions ever held, attended by over 2,000 aging Confederate veterans. The reunion featured a grand parade, meals for the veterans at a warehouse “commissary”, concerts, a watermelon feast and, of course, plenty of speeches and socializing. I was able to find several examples of this badge on the internet like the full color example pictured below.
The second badge is a bronze Southern Cross of Honor. This medal was established by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1898. It was intended to be awarded to all Confederate Veterans who served honorably in the Confederate forces and could demonstrate an honorable discharge. These were applied for by the veterans, approved by a local United Confederate Veteran Chapter and awarded on one of three special occasions: Decoration day on April 26 (the date of the surrender at Bennett Place), Jefferson Davis’ birthday on June 3 or Robert E. Lee’s Birthday on January 19, all of which were legal holidays in the south at the turn of the 20th century.
A 1900 newspaper article(1) described the metal:
“The Medal is of bronze, is simple in design and shows a southern cross suspended from a plain bar. The obverse side is adorned with a confederate flag, surrounded by a laurel wreath, and the prongs of the cross have the following in bas relief: “United Daughters of the Confederacy to the U. C. V.” the reverse side shows “Deo Vindice, 1861-1865” with-in a laurel wreath, and “Southern Cross of Honor” is inscribed on the four ends of the medal.”
Some of the many examples I have seen on the internet have the veteran’s name engraved on the bar.
One final, obscure clue is present on the photograph. What at first looked like a scratch or scuff on the bottom right corner is actually the photographers signature. I tried to blow it up and photoshop it to make it clearer.
You may have to just trust me on this. Tilting it in the light with a magnifying glass I figured out what it says: T. C. Newman, Concord, N. C.
I was able to confirm T. C. Newman was a photographer in Concord, N. C. with a studio across from the courthouse. He was active around the time frame this was taken, which had to be later than August 1912 but prior to October 1913 when Newman relocated to Kansas City (2).
The actual photograph is 3-3/4″ x 5-1/4″ and is mounted to a heavy embossed card that measures 5-3/4″ x 8-3/4″. The edges of the photo have a shiny, almost reflective, iridescent sheen.
Having gathered a lot of information from the photo itself, I can now try to learn more about C. S. Harris. Using Ancestry.com I have discovered a North Carolinian named Charles Stanhope Harris who shares the same birthdate of Aug. 6th 1837. Coincidence? probably not, but more investigation is needed to see if we can keep this veteran from fading away.
- The Charlotte News, Charlotte, North Carolina, Tuesday, June 19, 1900 – Page 8
- Bulletin of Photography, Vol. XIII, No. 325, Oct 29, 1913, Page 565. “T. C. Newman, formerly of Concord, N. C., has bought James M. Moore’s photographic studio at Chanute, Kan.