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2nd Battalion Virginia Volunteers Ambrotype

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Item No. HA5763SM Category


Early ninth plate ambrotype of an unidentified member of the 2nd Battalion Virginia Volunteers. Probably taken sometime in 1860 or very early 1861. A prewar volunteer militia company, they would be called upon for active state service in 1860 as a result of John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry. When war finally did come, the 2nd Virginia would assemble at Charles Town in April, 1861, then moved to Harper’s Ferry to seize the armory there. It would became part of the famed Stonewall Brigade in June of that year and served under Generals T.J. Jackson, R.B. Garnett, Winder, Paxton, J.A. Walker, and W. Terry. These guys had one hell of a service record. They would fight in every major campaign in the Eastern Theater. First Manassas, Second Manassas, Kernstown, and in Jackson’s Valley Campaign. It went on to fight with the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Cold Harbor except during the Maryland Campaign when it was detached to Martinsburg as provost guards. Later the unit was involved in Early’s operations in the Shenandoah Valley and the Appomattox operations. It reported 90 casualties at First Kernstown, 25 at Cross Keys and Port Republic, 27 at Gaines’ Mill, and 77 at Second Manassas. The regiment lost 2 killed and 19 wounded at Fredericksburg, had 8 killed and 58 wounded at Chancellorsville, and had about eight percent of the 333 engaged at Gettysburg disabled. At Appomattox they would surrender a mere 62 men and 9 officers. They would be one of only two regiments initially to adopt any resemblance of a regimental uniform. The uniform would be based off of the 7th New York Regiment’s black-trimmed gray uniform with white waist and shoulder belts following the 7th’s visit to Richmond during the summer of 1858. The 1st and 2nd Virginia would adopt a nearly identical uniform consisting of a long-skirted cadet grey frock coat, National Guard style dress cap with pompon and white webbing cross belts and waist belts. In this view the letters “NG” can be seen pinned to the front of the shako representing the “Nottoway Greys” which was the moniker given to the 2nd Battalion. This example was done by famed Richmond photographer, Charles Rees. While it is not signed it unquestionably his work. Housed in a doubled sided leatherette case. The other side does have a period pencil inscription inside the case which I can only partly make out. It does appear to be a short love poem which leads me to believe at one time the other side probably housed a photograph of his wife. Exceptional image of a very hard fought southern unit!

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