VIRGINIA ARTILLERYMAN ROBERT P. TUCKER IN A RICHMOND DEPOT TYPE-I JACKET: “LUNENBURG REBEL ARTILLERY”

$2,250.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 1138-1815

This sixth-plate tintype of a Confederate artillery private is housed in a very nice thermoplastic figural case bearing a scene of farm implements, beehive, sheaf of wheat, etc., on its cover. It contains the original paper liner inscribed in period pencil: “R.P. Tucker / ‘Blessed are they who die in the Lord,’” a sentiment likely added by his mother or young widow.

Robert P. Tucker served in the “Lunenburg Rebel Artillery,” and is shown seated wearing his gray jacket, with piping tinted red by the photographer on his collar, shoulder straps and cuffs. Seven buttons are visible down the front of his jacket. Another two are likely hidden behind his hands, which rest in his lap. The buttons appear to be dark, plain, and relatively flat. The jacket fits the Type-II Richmond Depot pattern, but could well be a copy. Tucker’s records indicate he received commutation money for his clothing until January 1863, when he drew a jacket, cap, and other items for the first time. His face is clean-shaven, but he wears a full chin-beard.

He was born about 1839 in Lunenburg County, Va., and described as having blue eyes and dark hair with a dark complexion, standing 5’ 11” and a farmer by occupation. He had married Ann E. Nash in May 1860 and when the census taker caught up with them in July, they were living with his parents, two younger brothers and sister on the parents’ farm. Robert gave his age as 21, giving him an 1839 or early 1840 birthday. His father listed his occupation as “farmer.” The only other person listing an occupation was Ann, just 17-years old, who also listed her occupation as “farmer,” which seems like a playful gesture of independence and equality in the household.

Robert enlisted at St. John’s Church, Lunenburg County, Va., on Jan. 25, 1862, in a company organized on Jan. 23 for one year’s service by Capt. S.W. Hawthorne, a local doctor. Hawthorn was petitioned by the community to remain home, so he never joined the company in the field, leaving command to Lieutenant C.T. Allen, who succeeded him as Captain in September. Organized as the “Lunenburg Rebel Artillery, the unit became Company F of the 2nd Regiment Virginia Artillery. Just four months later, about May 23, 1862, the regiment was broken up, with eight of the companies consolidated into five and made the 22nd Battalion of Virginia Infantry. Tucker’s company was one of two made into independent artillery companies and officially reorganized as such on June 5, at which point he reenlisted “for the war.” The company remained in some records as part of the 22nd Infantry Battalion until 1864, but never served with that unit and are usually referred to as C.T. Allen’s Company of Heavy Artillery. Early postings of the unit are unclear, but by September they were assigned to the strategically important fortifications on Chaffin’s Bluff, on the north side of the James River, opposite Drewry’s Bluff. From here their heavy guns controlled a major bend in the river about eight miles below Richmond.

Tucker is noted as doing two bits of duty as a carpenter and plasterer, perhaps building quarters in the fortifications, but is listed as present in the company throughout his service, with the exception of a ten-day furlough in February 1863. This could be the occasion of his photograph, though he would likely be wearing the jacket issued to him in January and the jacket shown has early-war style colored shoulder straps and cuff chevrons. In any case, that was likely the last time he saw his family or wife. He was reported has having “died suddenly” at Chaffin’s Bluff on September 21, 1863. Records show his wife filed for, and received fifty-some dollars owed him by the government.

This comes from the collection of well-known Virginia collector and dealer Bill Turner. The mat, glass, frame and crimson facing pad are intact. The clarity is excellent and the plate shows only a small, thin stain at upper left. Tucker has slicked down his hair for the photograph and wears something of a wistful expression.  [sr] [ph:m]

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