SIXTH PLATE TINTYPE OF CHRISTOPHER C. SHOFNER, CO. K, 8th TENNESSEE INFANTRY, CSA, DIED AS PRISONER OF WAR 1864

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Item Code: 846-205

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These two images from the Shofner family of Tennessee portray Jeptha Shofner (1811-1886) in a nicely tinted daguerreotype, and his son Christopher Columbus Shofner (1842-1864) in a Confederate uniform while a member of the 8th Tennessee Infantry, CSA, in sixth-plate tintype.

Christopher Shofner is shown in a half-length seated view with one hand slightly tucked into the lapel of his frock coat in a modified Napoleonic pose. He is bareheaded, but wears a regulation coat that the photographer has lightly tinted light blue on the collar and cuffs. The artist also touched the buttons lightly with gold to highlight the brass, and seems to have added a couple small ones to each cuff.

The image is matted, framed, and glassed and is in the bottom section of its original photographic case. His name, “C.C. Shofner” is written twice, lightly, in pencil on the paper backing of the case. More darkly written over it in pencil are notes to a photographer, apparently named Bell, from his brother R.T. Shofner (Reuben T. Shoffner, 1847-1928.) Shofner seems to have asked for an “8 x 10” copy, “full size.” In even darker writing at the bottom is the note: “Remove the uniform without fail.”

Christopher Columbus Shofner was born 2 February 1842 at Mulberry, Lincoln County, Tennessee, one of ten children born to Jeptha and Nancy Shofner. In 1860 he was working on the family farm with the other three eldest sons of the family and at the outbreak of the war he enlisted in the “Mulberry Riflemen” along with his brother Newton on 18 May 1861 at Camp Harris, near Winchester, Franklin County. The company then moved to Camp Trousdale, in Sumner County, where they became part of the 8th Tennessee Regiment in the Provisional Army of Tennessee. They entered Confederate service in August and were reorganized in May 1862, Shofner’s company, initially designated “H,” becoming Co. K.

Ordered to Virginia, the regiment took part in Lee’s Cheat Mountain campaign as part of Donelson’s brigade, and was then sent to Port Royal, SC, in late 1861. In April 1862 they were ordered to Corinth, MS, and fought at Munfordville, Perryville (where they suffered 38 casualties) before joining the Army of the Tennessee. At Murphreesboro (Stones River) they took 474 men into action and lost sixty-five percent, among whom was Newton Shofner, killed in action on Dec 31. Christopher Shofner continued with the regiment, seeing action at Chickamauga in September 1863 and at Missionary Ridge in November.

Shofner is listed in Confederate as “captured by the enemy November 25, 1863,” which indicates he was captured in the fighting on Missionary Ridge or in the Confederate army’s immediate retreat. U.S. records, however, list him as being captured on November 27 at Ringgold Gap, where Patrick Cleburne made a successful stand against Hooker’s pursuing troops that enabled the army to regroup and fight on. In either case, U.S. records indicate he was sent to Louisville, KY, “for exchange,” but was transferred to the Rock Island, Illinois, Prison Camp, on December 16. He died there a little over six weeks later, just one day after his twenty-second birthday, on 3 February 1864. He is interred in plot 359 at the Confederate cemetery of the Rock Island prison camp in Moline, though under the name “Shiffner” and listed as in the 28th Tennessee, but the family saw to it that he also has a memorial stone in the Old Shofner Family Cemetery in Lincoln, County, Tenn.

With this image is a very clear sixth-plate daguerreotype of Christopher Shofner’s father Jeptha, dating to the early 1840s. He is shown in a studio view, seated at a table in front of a painted backdrop wearing a light-colored suit with delicately tinted hands and cravat. He looks fairly prosperous, which accords with the 1850 census that gives him real estate worth $5000 and the 1860 census, which shows his real estate had grown to a value of $15,000 and his personal estate was more than $18,000. The image is matted and glassed. The seals on the reverse are dry but in place. It is in its original half case.

This is a touching portrait preserved by a family who lost two sons in Confederate service.  [sr]

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