CAPTAIN W.W. RANDOLPH: LIKELY WILLIAM WELFORD RANDOLPH, 2nd VIRGINIA, LATER LT. COLONEL, KIA THE WILDERNESS 1864

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Item Code: 1138-1803

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Identified as Capt. W.W. Randolf (sic) in the files of the late Bill Turner, noted Virginia collector and dealer, this six plate ambrotype shows Randolph seated with one hand on his thigh and the other resting on a book atop a photographer’s table with cover. He wears a narrow goatee and mustache with the ends slightly twirled. He has combed his hair back and slightly to one side, apparently oiled or dressed like his mustache. He wears a single-breasted gray jacket with standing collar, shoulder tabs and eight buttons showing, that have been lightly gilded, with perhaps a ninth hidden under the fold at his waist.

We find two listings for a W.W. Randolph on CS staff or quartermaster duty, but out man wears a private’s jacket and candidate we find who went from private to captain is William Welford Randolph of the 2nd Virginia. The style of jacket fits the Richmond Depot Type-II, with shoulder tabs, but no branch of service piping. Jensen dates the introduction of the jacket to Spring 1862, which is appropriate for William Welford Randolph, who enlisted at Bolivar Heights, VA., as private in Co. C of the 2nd Virginia Infantry on 6/1/1861 and was elected Captain on 4/20/62. Born in 1837, he enlisted with his older brother Robert in the Nelson Guards of Clarke County on 4/18/61 at Millwood. He listed his occupation as laborer and his brother as a farmer, which was something of a romantic gesture: both were sons of Physician and farmer Robert Carter Randolph, born at Carter Hall and worth $30,000 in real estate and another $17,500 in personal estate in the 1860 census, for which none of his children thought it necessary to list an occupation.

William enrolled for 12 months service, as did most at the time, and mustered in 6/30/61, and would have seen his service extended to the duration of the war in 1862. Brother Robert actually made officer first, becoming the company 1st Lieutenant, but William apparently had some authority and after several stints on recruiting duty was elected Captain 4/20/62. He also seems to have been elected to the state legislature, for which he received a leave of absence from September 1863 to March 1864, which he also used to get married. The regiment fought at First Bull Run, and Kernstown, Cross Keys and Port Republic in Jackson’s Valley Campaign, Gaines Mill in the Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, where he was complimented by his regimental commander in helping to command the left wing of the regiment. He returned to the regiment in March 1864 and at the Battle of the Wilderness commanded the regiment as it struggled to hold the left of Johnson’s Division north of the Orange Turnpike, where he was killed in action. In typical army fashion, he had been appointed Lt. Colonel on April 30, and given rank from April 26, which was then confirmed on May 18, thirteen days after his death.

The image is housed in a nice thermoplastic case with a military theme: a border of floral scrollwork with US Shields and United State flags surrounding a central panel of cannonballs, crossed cannon, crossed swallow tail pennants, and a Liberty cap on pole at center. The image is very clear, with a slight solarization ring around the edge, very nice architectural mat, with glass, frame, and facing pad in place. [sr] [ph:m]

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