How An Obscure Photograph Triggered A Search For the Fate of 5 Union Soldiers


Editor’s be aware: The Civil Conflict is well-plowed floor. This text, nonetheless, proves there are new discoveries to make if one solely appears to be like. Each gravestone of a Civil Conflict veteran; each picture of a stiffly posed soldier, civilian, or enslaved particular person of the period; each doc in an archive, museum, or historic society holds a novel story ready to be unlocked by curiosity and analysis. And the Jersey Boy who wrote this text will not be a lot older than the boys he researched after they enlisted. That’s a superb signal for Civil Conflict historical past.


In early December 1861, a gaggle of newly minted squaddies walked right into a Washington Metropolis photographer’s studio dressed of their freshly issued sky blue overcoats and organized themselves to have their likeness taken. The 5 males have been both straight associated to one another or have been mates earlier than they answered Abraham Lincoln’s name for volunteers and enlisted a couple of month earlier. Their overcoats have been unstained from the trials of any marketing campaign and their fabric forage caps have been stiff from the warehouse. As they waited for the photographer to carry the quilt off his lens, they made last-minute changes to these coats and caps, the place of their arms, and the expression on their faces. None of those males had any thought of the trials and tribulations that lay forward through the course of their three-year enlistment.

The inexperienced troopers have been part of Firm H of the seventh New Jersey Infantry, a regiment recruited out of Cumberland and Gloucester Counties in southern New Jersey. Cedarville and Fairton, the place these males hail from, are small cities near Delaware Bay. The realm is interlaced by tidal rivers and streams, and plenty of buildings from way back to the 1750s to the flip of the early twentieth century stay. The holiday vacation spot of Cape Could will not be distant.

Some 160 years after it was taken, that picture would ship me on a quest to study all I may about these males. The journey began within the spring of 2017 after I moved to Cedarville with my spouse and son to begin a brand new chapter in our lives. After the primary few days of settling and organizing the home, we began to discover our new little city. It didn’t take lengthy in any respect for me to search out the historic society, surrounding cemeteries, and fall in love with the handfuls of previous houses that we walked by.

I might rapidly discover out that Cedarville and Cumberland County have a wealthy and proud Civil Conflict historical past. On my first exploration across the cemetery behind the good-looking First Presbyterian Church, I saved my eyes peeled for Grand Military of the Republic insignia that mark the graves of Civil Conflict veterans. I began out simply strolling down the rows and snapping photographs of headstones of those veterans and was instantly moved by what I used to be studying.

The First Presbyterian Church in Cedarville can hint its roots again to the late seventeenth century, when White settlers moved to the realm from Connecticut. Due to the city’s location near Delaware Bay, plenty of males within the seventh New Jersey made their dwelling on the water. (Photograph by Dan Casella)

“Died of Typhoid,” “Killed at Williamsburg,” “Musician,” “Assistant Surgeon” have been a few of the designations on the grave markers. I’ve been passionate and fascinated by historical past my entire life and knew the inscriptions on these growing old stones have been going to ship me down some analysis rabbit holes. Shortly after, I shared my findings with some mates on-line and began down the trail to attempt to discover who these troopers have been.

One buddy alerted me to findagrave.com, and one other despatched me a hyperlink to the New Jersey state library web site, which has the official report of just about each soldier, sailor, marine, and member of the U.S. Coloured Troops to come back from the Backyard State. The websites would grow to be key instruments in my seek for solutions to what these males had seen and completed.

Digging Deeper

After which I actually acquired concerned. In January 2020, the Lawrence Township Historic Society had its yearly elections. I gave slightly speech about some concepts I had and a plan to get the individuals of Cedarville concerned with the society, akin to preservation, fundraising, and networking within the historic neighborhood. A member nominated me as president and I used to be elected to that function. I used to be bowled over to say the least.

To study extra about my new residence and higher put together me for my function with the society, I adopted a hyperlink and located a e-book known as The Historic Days of Cumberland County. I used to be going by means of the e-book on-line when I discovered, on web page 53, the picture of these 5 troopers with contemporary uniforms accompanied by the phrases “Group Fairfield Boys Co. H, Seventh N.J. Reg. Inf. Vols.” After which it said their names: “Joseph H. Diver. Benjamin F. Ogden. Joseph Burt. Elmer B. Ogden. Lorenzo D. Paynter.”

I used to be captivated by the faces watching me, and the identify Benjamin Ogden additionally appeared acquainted. I adopted my hunch and went again to the Brick Church Cemetery, and there was his stone. It learn:

Capt. Benj. F Ogden,
Aug twenty seventh, 1839-Dec twentieth, 1915
Co. H. & Regt. N.J. Vol
third Corp 2nd Division
He fought a superb combat 

This was the beginning of an unbelievable journey. I introduced my findings to the following historic society assembly and the members have been delighted by my discovery and went on to tell me that each one the household surnames talked about within the picture nonetheless had dwelling kinfolk within the instant space, together with one of many attending members.

The nationwide flag of the seventh New Jersey bears the battle honors the regiment received throughout three years of arduous campaigning with the Military of the Potomac. (Courtesy of the New Jersey State Museum)

unplanned break

A couple of quick weeks after our February assembly, Covid-19 introduced a brief finish to visiting archives. Thankfully, I nonetheless had the Web. So, with free time and the keys to the Historic Society constructing, I used to be ultimately in a position to dig by means of the Francis A. Stanger Civil Conflict Assortment. It didn’t take lengthy to search out an necessary main supply.

Sitting on a shelf was a bit of paper encased in glass, and written in light pencil, I used to be in a position to make out the phrases:

“Washington D.C. Campe
Cassee, Meridian Hill
October 22th 1861”

This was a letter from the very starting of the struggle, when nobody knew what the following 4 years held for the nation. It was signed, “Joseph Burte.” A lightweight went off! Joseph Burt was one of many names within the picture. I sat down, and after a couple of hours studying this man’s handwriting and spelling habits (e.g., placing additional letters into phrases that shouldn’t have them, significantly “e” and “n”) I used to be in a position to transcribe the entire thing. Burt’s letter to his Aunt Susan talks about lacking residence, and mentions two extra males within the picture: Elmer B. Ogden and Lorenzo Paynter.

Burt wrote his Aunt, “[W]e have began a prayer assembly in oure tent and have good conferences…we maintain them foure instances per week and they’re very properly attended however we will heare them onn all sides of us…some swareing and a few enjoying playing cards and all other forms of wickednefs that was ever thought off.” The seventh was in Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s division, and Burt described occurring parade and being inspected by “Olde Abe and his Girl.”

Shortly after I completed Burt’s letter, I went on the lookout for his grave on Discover a Grave, and noticed he had a stone on the town. After a brief stroll to find it, I discovered it snapped in half and mendacity on the bottom. It was initially put up by Burt’s oldest son, William, within the Eighteen Eighties and damaged within the late Eighties.

studying the ledgers

Within the days that adopted, I continued my search within the historic society for extra info on the 5 space males and got here throughout a pile of “scrapbooks.” These books, nonetheless, are in truth ledger books from the 1820s and ’30s by which somebody within the Eighties began gluing newspaper articles from two native papers, The West Jersey Pioneer and The Bridgeton Chronicle. The Pioneer has most of its points on-line and plenty of current originals are housed within the library of the Cumberland County Historic Society in Greenwich, N.J.

Alfred Waud drew Union Basic Phil Kearney main troops on the Could 5, 1862, Battle of Williamsburg. (Library of Congress)

I discovered extra info in these ledgers than I anticipated. There have been dozens of firsthand accounts from native South Jersey males through the early a part of the struggle, particularly concerning the Could 5, 1862, Battle of Williamsburg, fought throughout Maj. Gen. George McClellan’s Peninsula Marketing campaign. Instantly I discovered an obituary of Elmer Ogden, one other of the boys within the {photograph}.

As I flipped the pages, I discovered that these males and several other others from Cedarville had acquired a field from residence whereas at a spot known as Camp Revere in Decrease Potomac, Md. Additional alongside within the e-book I discovered an article printed within the Pioneer by the primary man I discovered from the picture, Benjamin Ogden. Listed here are a few of the quotes from his letter titled “Camp Correspondence,” dated Could 18, 1862, by which he described the engagement at Williamsburg, which was fought in a rainstorm from dawn till dusk. By the top of the day, each man within the seventh was soaked, and most had misplaced their knapsacks. That they had been engaged for therefore lengthy that they had fired each cartridge they have been issued.

The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth New Jersey shaped the third Brigade in Hooker’s 2nd Division of the Military of the Potomac’s third Corps—a unit that glided by the nickname “Second New Jersey Brigade.” At Williamsburg, Hooker’s males attacked a powerful line of Accomplice redoubts anchored by Fort Magruder guarding the japanese approaches to Virginia’s colonial capital. The battle can be one of many worst fights of the struggle for the seventh and different Jersey Blue regiments—a impolite awakening of what the struggle was like.

“I need to converse of our contest,” Ogden wrote, “though it makes me really feel unhappy each time, I point out it; for it renews the recollection that certainly one of our quantity nonetheless lies beneath the battle floor…when the battle commenced, six of us Cedarville males have been within the entrance rank. At evening, one lay useless on the sphere, and two in hospital wounded. Three got here out and not using a scratch, though I had three bullet holes in my overcoat cape….”

The map under exhibits the placement the place Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s division incurred heavy casualties whereas attacking Fort Magruder. (Library of Congress)

He continued: “I had not seen any of them besides Jos. Burt. He advised me that Elmer B. Ogden had been killed, for he noticed him fall; and that A. Bateman was wounded earlier than he fired a gun and L. Paynter was additionally wounded….Sergeant Stiles and myself dug the grave and buried [Elmer]. This was arduous to do. The rebels had taken all the pieces out of his pockets and even the rings on his fingers. The one factor they left was a pair of gloves, which I despatched to his mom.”

Ogden, nonetheless, completed the letter on a convincing be aware: “Basic Hooker says we have been whipped 3 times yesterday however didn’t comprehend it; he says we aren’t Troopers, however Bulldogs! We don’t keep in a single place lengthy however maintain closing on Richmond.”

brothers in arms

To proceed my search, I made a decision to look by means of the Library of Congress to search out previous maps of Cedarville and Fairton, and situated some that have been up to date each 10 years or so. I used to be capable of finding a lot of the houses these males owned. Many are standing to this present day. Together with that, I purchased a subscription to ancestry.com to attempt to discover as a lot out concerning the males and their households as I may. Here’s what I used to be in a position to give you about every man.

Joseph Diver was born in Maryland in 1843 and moved to Cedarville along with his father, a Presbyterian minister, and Amanda, his mom. The 1860 census lists Joseph as 17 years previous and the oldest of seven kids. He served with the regiment by means of its formation in September 1861 to the top of his enlistment in October 1864. Diver was current at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. After he mustered out of service, data hint him to Salem, N.J., the place he would marry Sarah Stretch and quiet down. They’d go on to lift three kids collectively. Diver handed away in 1892 on the age of 49.

Benjamin Ogden, the primary identify I acknowledged from the picture, was born on August 27, 1839, to George and Mitilda Ogden. He was the youngest son listed within the household’s 1850 census report. His father and older brother Joseph are listed as laborers whereas Benjamin is listed as attending faculty. An unique copy of his account of Williamsburg is housed within the assortment of the Lawrence Township Historic Society. He and his mates would see greater than two dozen engagements together with one on his twenty third birthday in 1862, the little-known Battle of Kettle Run, Va., simply previous to the Second Battle of Bull Run. Benjamin would survive the struggle and within the 1880 census can be listed as “Head of Home” who labored as a “Waterman.” The census additionally lists his spouse, Martha, and their 5 kids.

Ogden handed away December 20, 1915, on the age of 76. He’s buried within the Brick Church Cemetery in Cedarville. It’s unclear why he has the rank of “Captain” on his gravestone, for he was a personal throughout his time period of service. A
thriller but to be solved. 

Joseph Burt was born someday in 1831 in Fariton. He wed Mary Ogden on March 11, 1852, and by 1860 that they had six kids collectively. The 1860 census lists Burt as a “Home Carpenter.” His handywork nonetheless possible exists to this present day within the native space. He can be promoted twice throughout his service. On February 10, 1863, nonetheless, Burt handed away in camp from illness. It’s uncertain that his physique was ever returned to Cedarville. His oldest son, William, positioned a cenotaph on his personal gravestone to honor his fallen father. 

Elmer Ogden was certainly one of eight kids of David and Martha Ogden of Fairton, and was born in 1841. Elmer and Benjamin have been cousins. Elmer was struck within the brow and killed immediately at Williamsburg whereas standing within the entrance rank, shoulder to shoulder along with his mates. He can be buried on the sphere, and it’s unlikely his physique was ever introduced residence. His father would go away in 1866 and had a cenotaph for Elmer on his personal gravestone in Brick Church Cemetery. Elmer was 22 years previous when he died.

The Lawrence Township Historic Society raised greater than $1,700 to restore the damaged grave marker that honors Joseph Burt. The stone shall be changed, and the unique displayed on the society with Burt’s letter. (Photograph by Dan Casella)

Lorenzo Dow Paynter was born in 1842 to Lemuel, a shoemaker, and Susan Paynter. Referred to as “Lore,” he was in all probability named after the Evangelical minister Lorenzo Dow, who wrote a very talked-about spiritual tract and who gave a sermon on the Historic Stone Church in Fairton and once more in Bridgeton, simply up the street from Fairton. Within the 1860 census, he was 17 years previous and had just one sibling, Susan. Lorenzo was wounded within the arm at Williamsburg, and took part in each combat of the seventh. In 1877, he married a lady named Lynda, turned a waterman, and fathered two kids. He’s final recorded within the 1910 census as “Head of Home” at 67 years previous. He handed away in 1912 on the age of 69 and is buried on the Outdated Stone Church in Fairton.

To cite The Historic Days of Cumberland County, “Cumberland County rose as one man in unison with the individuals of different States to assist the Authorities to the final man and final greenback for the suppression of the rebel. No county within the republic furnished extra volunteers for the Union Military in proportions to its inhabitants than did this good previous commonwealth named in honor of the Duke of Cumberland for his heroic conduct on Collondon Area.”

I’m glad my transfer to a brand new residence helped lead me to retell the tales of 5 of these courageous volunteers. The Lawrence Township Historic Society is at the moment constructing a show to showcase this story in full particulars to share with the neighborhood and the world at massive.

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