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John R. Holmes 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Melainotype

Arm amputated at Champion’s Hill

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Item No. HA7923MF Category


Ninth plate melaiontype identified as John R. Holmes of Howardsville, Illinois. John would muster as a private with Company E of the 45th Illinois Infantry late in November, 1861. Known as the  “Washburn Lead Mine Regiment”, they would participate in many of the leading campaigns in the Western Theater of the war beginning with the capture of forts Henry and Donelson. In April of 1862 the regiment would take part in the Battle of Shiloh but would not be engaged again until the following May when they would fight at Port Gibson. The month of May, 1863,  would be a busy one for the regiment, taking part in the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson and Champion Hill. For John’s part, Champion’s Hill would be his last battle. He would be severely wounded when his left arm was amputated at the forearm by a shell fragment on May 16th. He would receive a medical discharge in October. This view most likely shows the eager recruit around the time of his enlistment, dressed in civilian clothes and sporting an Allen & Wheelock sidehammer revolver. His name has been scratched into the emulsion of the plate itself in the upper left hand corner reading “J R Holmes”. Inside the case, behind the image is written the inscription, “Mollie E. Holmes Santa Anna ????”. Santa Anna Township is located in Dewitt County, Illinois. Also written inside the case is “J. R. Holmes” followed by numerous hash marks. A paper note dated June 8th, 1863 was also found behind the image reading “Piatt County, Illinois. June the 8th, 1863. ???? I am at some what of a loss to know what to say to you. Respectfully”.. This image is a bit dark as melainotypes tend to be. Housed in a leatherette case with a split spine.

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