Faces of the 47th Project Honors History-Making Civil War Soldiers from Pennsylvania

First Lieutenant William Wallace Geety, Co. H, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, c. 1864-1865.

A tantalizing new video released by 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story just opened an important new portal to the 19th century for Civil War enthusiasts, teachers, students, and genealogists.

Faces of the 47th is part of a larger, ongoing initiative to document and raise public awareness about the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry – the only regiment from the Keystone State to fight in the Union’s 1864 Red River Campaign  across Louisiana. The video presents the photographic and illustrated images of more than two dozen men who fought with the all-volunteer unit between 1861 and 1865.

“Each one of these images holds the potential to help family history researchers feel closer to their Civil War-era ancestors while also enabling teachers, students and Civil War enthusiasts to deepen their connections to one of the most painful chapters in the American narrative,” explains Laurie Snyder, managing editor for the project. “By ‘putting faces to the names’ on military muster rolls, we’re bringing history to life while also paying tribute to those who fought to eradicate slavery and preserve our nation’s union.”

The photo digitization project received early support from Thomas MacEntee, founder of High-Definition Genealogy, via The Genealogy Fairy™ program, which enabled Snyder to locate and digitize photographs of key members of the regiment. Among the images preserved in this initial collection are the faces of a regimental chaplain, musicians, prisoners of war (POWs), military surgeons, and officers and enlisted men who were grievously wounded or killed in combat, as well as several men who became inventors, leading business executives and elected officials in and beyond Pennsylvania after the war.

George Dillwyn John (third from left; formerly, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers), Grand Army of the Republic gathering, Will Robinson Post, Illinois, c. 1926.

“At the time I applied for the grant, there were hundreds of photographs tucked away in public libraries, historical societies, universities, and private family history collections from Maine to California and Michigan to Louisiana. Most had not yet been digitized and might have been lost for all time had Thomas MacEntee not provided the support he did when he did,” said Snyder. “More work still needs to be done, of course, because there are photos still not yet scanned, but the project took more than two dozen giant steps forward with just that one grant from Thomas. He’s a hero in my book.”

Other significant support for the project has been provided by the Burrowes and Wasserman families.

About the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers

Joseph Eugene Walter, Regimental Band, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, c. 1861.

Recruited primarily at community gathering places in their respective home towns, the soldiers who served with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were primarily men of German heritage whose families still spoke German or “Pennsylvania Dutch” more than a century after their ancestors emigrated from Germany in search of religious and political freedom. Still others were recent immigrants from Germany, Ireland and Cuba. Formerly enslaved black men who had been freed by the regiment from plantations in South Carolina and Louisiana were added to regimental rosters in 1862 and 1864.

In addition to fighting in the battles of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield, Pleasant Hill and Monett’s Ferry/Cane River during the Red River Campaign, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers also engaged in the defense of Washington, D.C. in 1861 and again in 1865, following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln; the capture of Saint John’s Bluff, Florida and Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina (1862); the garrisoning of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas, Florida (1863); Union Major-General Philip Sheridan’s tide-turning Shenandoah Valley Campaign (1864), including the battles of Berryville, Opequon, Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek; and provost (military police) and Reconstruction duties in Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina (1865). Most were finally released from duty when the regiment formally mustered out on Christmas Day in 1865.

Learn More and Support

To learn more about the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers and lend your support to this historic initiative, visit the website of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story, and follow the project on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube.

 

 

47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story Receives Grant to Digitize Historic Civil War-era Photographs

Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin, Co. C, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, c. 1862 (public domain).

Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin, Co. C, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, c. 1862 (public domain).

Thomas MacEntee, founder of High-Definition Genealogy, recently announced that 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story will receive a grant from The Genealogy Fairy to begin digitizing and making publicly available photographs of the officers and enlisted men who served with the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry during America’s Civil War.

“Five percent of all revenue at Genealogy Bargains is set aside each month to fund The Genealogy Fairy™ program,” explained MacEntee. “The goal is to give back to the genealogy community through a series of grants to organizations and individuals undertaking worthwhile genealogy-related projects.”

“This early support of our work is incredibly important,” said Laurie Snyder, managing editor for 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story. “There are currently hundreds of photographs scattered across America in public libraries, historical societies, universities, and private family history collections – carte de visite images of individual soldiers and the physicians who treated their battle wounds, as well as group photos of the companies in which they served. Most have yet to be digitized, and could be lost for all time if a fire or flood damaged one of the buildings where they’re held.”

William DeWitt Clinton Rodrock, Chaplain, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Fort Jefferson, 1 December 1863, public domain)

William DeWitt Clinton Rodrock, Chaplain, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Fort Jefferson, 1 December 1863, public domain)

Preserving the photographs of those who served with this particular Civil War unit is especially vital, explained Snyder, because the 47th Pennsylvania was the only regiment from the Keystone State to fight in the Union’s Red River Campaign across Louisiana during the spring of 1864 and was also the only Pennsylvania regiment to have men held as prisoners of war at Camp Ford, the largest Confederate Army prison west of the Mississippi. In addition, the 47th Pennsylvania was also stationed at Beaufort, South Carolina and fought in the Battle of Pocotaligo in 1862, garrisoned Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Florida, fought in the Union’s tide-turning Shenandoah Valley Campaign during the fall of 1864, helped to defend the nation’s capital following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and assisted with Reconstruction efforts in Charleston, South Carolina during the summer and fall of 1865.

“Each one of these photos not only holds the potential to help family members feel closer to their ancestors, but has the power to enable teachers to help students truly connect with and appreciate their Civil War studies. By ‘putting faces to the names’ on military muster rolls, we will be bringing history to life for those wanting to learn more about this regiment while also honoring those who fought to preserve our nation’s union.”

To learn more about the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers and lend your support to this historic initiative, visit the website of 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story, and follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.