HALF-PLATE DAGUERREOTYPE OF JOHN MARSHALL JONES - 7th U.S. INFANTRY, CONFEDERATE BRIGADIER GENERAL WOUNDED AT GETTYSBURG, KILLED IN ACTION AT THE WILDERNESS

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This wonderful half-plate daguerreotype shows then lieutenant John Marshall Jones in uniform, seated third from left, with three men in civilian garb. Jones holds his 1839 pattern officer’s forage cap on his lap, prominently displaying for the camera its infantry hunting horn insignia on the front, with a number “7” in its loop, indicating his posting to the 7th U.S. Infantry. He wears a regulation officer’s frock coat, dark trousers with wide stripe, and medium width shoulder straps that appear to have an empty field, but may hide a single bar at each end against what appears to be a double row of bullion embroidery along the borders. The photographer has very delicately gold his buttons and hat insignia gold, and perhaps the borders of his straps, but this has not obscured much detail and photographer seems to have not tinted the “7” in his hat insignia, indicating he is likely wearing the gilt horn and silver number that came in 1851. This gives an approximate lower date to the photo. An upper date is provided by his rank, since he was promoted to captain March 3, 1855. The photo was likely taken 1854-1855, when he was serving on a board to revise the U.S. infantry tactics in between periods of frontier duty.

The Charlottesville photographer fits perfectly with Jones’s background: he was born in Charlottesville July 26, 1820. The men are likely local friends or relatives.

He was appointed to West Point from Virginia, entering as a cadet July 1, 1837, and graduated in the class of 1841, which had a notable number of later Civil War officers in it, ranking number 39 and, unfortunately acquiring the nickname of “Rum” along the way. As usual, he was appointed a brevet 2nd Lieutenant pending a vacancy, and was assigned to the 5th U.S. Infantry, serving on frontier duty at Ft. Mackinac 1841-43; Detroit 1843-45; and Fort Wood, La., in 1845. He received a commission as a full 2nd Lieutenant April 18, 1845, and was assigned to the 7th U.S. Infantry, which was posted to Zachary Taylor’s “Army of Occupation” in Texas as tensions rose with Mexico over its annexation. In December, however, he was ordered back to West Point, where he served as Assistant Instructor of Infantry Tactics from December 16, 1845, to Nov. 18, 1852, during which time he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the 7th U.S. on Aug. 20, 1847.

Jones then returned to frontier duty in 1853-1854, escorting Lt. Amiel Whipple’s topographical survey from Fort Smith, Arkansas, toward Los Angeles, followed by assignment in 1854-55 to a board to revise the U.S. rifle and infantry tactics, a revision adopted in March 1855, shortly after Jones was promoted to Captain. He then returned to frontier duty at Fort Washita, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1855; Belknap, Texas 1855-58; Jefferson Barracks, MO, in 1858; and then service in the Utah Expedition 1858-60; the March to New Mexico and posting to Fort Defiance, 1860; and then to Fort McLane, NM, in 1861. He was on leave in 1861 and sent in his resignation, which was accepted May 27.

In the meantime, Jones had already been appointed from Virginia as major of artillery in the Confederate Army on May 24, with rank from May 16, though records first really pick him up in September when he is appointed lieutenant-colonel and assistant adjutant general on Magruder’s staff, reporting to him for duty at Yorktown. By January 1862 he had been sick at home in Charlottesville for a time and relieved from duty with Magruder, being ordered in April to report for duty on Ewell’s division staff as A.A.G., seeing action at Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys and Port Republic, in Jackson’s Valley Campaign, being several times commended by Ewell for the coolness and efficiency. He saw further action with Ewell in the Seven Days' Battles, Cedar Mountain, and Groveton, where Ewell was wounded, and continued on duty under Early. At Fredericksburg Jones had his horse killed under him and was commended for gallantry by Early, who retained him on the division staff as inspector-general, after he took over from Ewell in January 1863.

After Chancellorsville Jones was promoted brigadier-general on May 15 and given the brigade formerly commanded by Gen. J.R. Jones, no relation, in Edward Johnson’s Division, formerly Jackson’s, though it supposedly took a personal promise to Lee not to indulge in his old drinking habits. At Gettysburg on July 2 his brigade led the opening attacks by Johnson’s division on the Union entrenchments on Culp’s Hill. Repeatedly leading his men forward on the right of Johnson’s line, over rough terrain against the Union breastworks, he was seriously wounded in the fighting and had to withdraw from the field. He returned to the brigade in September and was wounded again on November 27 Payne’s Farm, also known as New Hope Church, in the Mine Run Campaign, where his brigade held the right of the Confederate line. The wound, a head wound, was deemed serious by some, but Jones returned to duty a few days later as the campaign seemed about to reach a critical point.

Jones was killed in action at the Wilderness on May 5, 1864. As part of Johnson’s division his brigade had helped open the battle in confronting attacks by Warren’s Fifth Corps along the Orange Turnpike. When his brigade was driven back by a flank attack on his right, he turned his horse to rally his men and face the enemy, and was killed alongside his aide-de-camp. Ewell reported, "I consider his loss an irreparable one to his brigade."

The image is in excellent condition, with great clarity and sharp detail. It is housed in an embossed leatherette case with simple octagonal mat and glass, and is pressure-mounted in the back of the case without a frame. The facing pad is embossed, “W.A. Retzer / Daguerreotypeist [sic]/ Charlottesville.” This is likely the same W.A. Retzer listed as a photographer in Philadelphia 1844-45 and the “Retzger” listed as partner with Van Loan in Richmond in 1845, and perhaps with R.S. Jones in Charlottesville in 1852.     [sr] [ph:m]

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