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Fort Burnham: 1864

Fort Burnham: 1864

Virginia circa 1864. "Chapin's Bluff. Fort Burnham, formerly Confederate Fort Harrison, near James River." Wet plate glass negative. View full size.


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The 41st

The 41st Regiment was one of the 164 regiments and 10 batteries of light artillery of the segregated United States Colored Troops that served as part of Northern forces. Between 178,000 and 200,000 black enlisted men served, all under white officers and producing 14 Medal of Honor winners. By the end of the Civil War, one out of every ten Northern soldiers was black. All of them served in the segregated forces of the USCT.

The 41st, pictured here, was only at Fort Burnham for one day. The next day, they marched off to battle. The 41st USCT regiment was present at Lee's surrender at Appomattox. They ended up doing guard duty in Texas before being mustered out back in Philadelphia.

Many interesting details

In construction and framing. Note what appears to be a gantry hoist in the distance.


Nearly all of the soldiers are African-American. Does the regimental history mention this?

Sweet Digs

You should have seen it before we cleaned the place up!

Pvt. Basket

Is he selling corncobs?

In the trenches

Looks like trench warfare includes the soldier with the honey bucket to be deposited. I also like the ghost shadow on the tent up front.

41st Regiment Infantry, around Oct. 27

From "The Civil War Archive":

History of 41st Regiment Infantry:

Organized at Camp William Penn, Philadelphia, Pa., September 30 to December 7, 1864. Ordered to join Army of the James, in Virginia, October 18,, 1864. Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, to December, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 25th Corps, to January, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 25th Corps, January, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 25th Corps, and Dept. of Texas, to December, 1865.

SERVICE.--Guard duty at Deep Bottom, Va., until October 20, 1864. Moved to Fort Burnham on line north of James River, before Richmond, October 27. Battle of Fair Oaks October 27-28. In trenches before Richmond, and picket duty on Chaffin's Farm, until January 1, 1865. Near Fort Burnham until March 27. Moved to Hatcher's Run March 27-28. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Hatcher's Run March 29-31. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Moved to Petersburg April 11, and duty there until May 25. Embarked for Texas May 25, arriving at Brazos Santiago June 3. Moved to Edenburg and guard and provost duty there until November. Consolidated to a Battalion of four Companies September 30. Mustered out at Brownsville, Texas, November 10, 1865. Disbanded at Philadelphia, Pa., December 14, 1865.

Camp Latrine

All those soldiers gotta go potty somewhere. The tentlike structures in the foreground seem to be the proper place for that necessity.


Great photo! Real history under fingers!..

Is that you, Napoleon?

It seems like every Civil War era group photo has to show at least one soldier with his right hand tucked into his coat at his chest. It was apparently the 19th century equivalent of the bunny ears.

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