Monday, February 7, 2011

Military Monday - My Civil War Photos Arrived!!!

Way back in October I was at work eating lunch at my desk, as usual, and catching up on my blog reading. On that day I ran across a posting on Photo Detective with Maureen A. Taylor regarding ways to locate photos of your ancestors who fought in the Civil War.  Maureen states in her posting that "according to the 1860 census, there were at least 1,500 individuals who operated as photographers just prior to the war. This number only includes those who claimed it as their primary business and doesn't include individuals who had side businesses snapping pictures. That's a lot of photographers."  "......these photographers took an estimated one million pictures, but only several thousand still exist."

So how to go about finding them?  One of the ways she suggested was to check the United States Army Heritage & Education Center. The site has thousands of images and an online database. Not everything is online, but I took a shot and put in the surname BOTKIN.   Here's what I found:

Results for "botkin" in AHCO Digital Document System
View results by databases. View combined results.

1/2 sitting image of Pvt. William T. Botkin, Co. D, 69th Regt., Ind. Vol. Inf.

1/2 sitting wartime image of Pvt. John W. Botkin, Co. D, 69th Regt., Ind. Vol. Inf.

I gave a shout of disbelieve at my desk.  These are my ancestors!  John and William are brothers who enlisted in the 69th Indiana Volunteer Infantry along with 3 of their cousins!  I've written about John and William here, here and here.  I immediately began reading the site trying to determine how to order copies of the pictures. 

In true government style, the site was a bit difficult to understand.  Even after calling ahead to check, I still sent in the wrong amount of money the first time around and had to start the process all over again.  But 4 months and $62.00 later I found the package I have been waiting for in my mail.  Inside was a CD with the digital photos of John and William.  Here they are:


William T. BOTKIN

I'll admit, seeing the photo of William made me cry.  He died during the civil war in St. Louis, MO at the age of 21 of consumption.  I have a son of my own near that age and I felt the sorrow his mother must have felt at losing her son so young.  In fact, she herself died just 6 months later.  But I'm so happy to have copies of the photos in my possession!

If you are searching for photos of your Civil War ancestors be sure and read Maureen's posting here.  She gives other ideas where to look.  The search may be like looking for a needle in a haystack but the results can be tremendous!


  1. These photos are wonderful! You are very lucky to have found them!

  2. I am going to have to try this! Wonderful images! Thanks for sharing this experience.

  3. Your post gave me chills of joy. I'm thrilled for your good luck. And, since I'm a little late in reading blogs, I wanted to say, I also enjoyed your previous piece about Google Alerts, which I use. You could even use a common name with the word obituary and get useful hits.

  4. How completely fabulous! I'm with Barb - shivers down my spine. I've added this to the top of my research to-dos for when I get to do research.

  5. This is fabulous news - and thanks for passing on the tip; I'm going to check it out!

  6. Love your photos. And thanks so much for that link...I will check it out immediately.

  7. Thank you for the comments everyone! Be sure and let me know if you find anything good!

  8. I agree with Barbara! these pictures give me chills! How wonderful! I'm so happy for you.