A.J. Waters brandishes a Whitney Pocket model .31 caliber revolver for the camera. Believed to be the trooper of the same name who served in the 4th Mississippi Cavalry, an excerpt of a prayer penciled inside the case speaks to the intensity of passion against his Union foemen:
O bless who in the battle Dies
God will enshrine them in the skies
For the men of the North shall bleed this day
And the sun shall blush with war.
A Confederate infantry officer stares at the camera operated by a photographer that captured his subject in perfect focus. Collector William J. Stier observes, “Judging by the officer’s dark blue frock coat, distinctive collar trim and peculiar shoulder boards, I am of the opinion that this gentleman hailed from the great state of Alabama. You will notice that there is the butt of a revolver protruding from the side of his belt. Another unique feature of his uniform ensemble is that his belt buckle appears to be just a polished, plain brass plate with no features.”
A Bowie and book—perhaps a Bible—suggest God and country motivated this bearded Southron to join the army. Of note is the handsome leather haversack hanging at his side.
Four soldiers posed for this portrait about two months after they enlisted in the New Albany Grays. The company had formed in New Albany, Pontotoc County, Miss., in May 1861.
In September 1861, the company was incorporated into the 21st Mississippi Infantry as Company K. The regiment participated in many of the war’s highest profile battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cedar Creek.
The man with the long red beard is the ranking member of the group. He is Capt. Nicholas M. Blackwell, a physician educated in Philadelphia, Miss., and who practiced in New Albany with his brother. He returned to his medical practice after the war. He died in 1910 at age 72. Seated middle right is farmer James Bowman Blackwell, who suffered a wound at Fredericksburg. He recovered, and became a first lieutenant. After the war, Blackwell married, and eventually settled in North Carolina, where he lived until age 83, dying in 1927. The soldier on the far right is believed to be John Calvin Pruitt of Capt. Robert W. Flournoy’s Company of Mississippi Volunteers. On Sept. 17, 1862, he died in action near the West Woods during the Battle of Sharpsburg. The man on the far left is unidentified.