AMBROTYPE OF JOSEPH T. ROWLAND Co. A 41st VIRGINIA

$1,250.00

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Item Code: 1138-1860

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This sixth-plate ambrotype comes from the collection of the late Bill Turner, well-known Virginia collector and dealer. It is housed in a leatherette case embossed with birds and floral motifs, and has the facing pad, mat, and glass in place. The soldier is shown seated, bareheaded, turned slightly to the viewer’s right, resting one arm on a table and the other in his lap. He wears a gray nine-button frock coat with epaulets. His cuffs show a narrow chevron and his collar appears to be piped along the upper and lower edge. The buttons were lightly gilt and the cuff chevrons seem to have been tinted slightly red. The epaulets appear to show a thin green. The clarity is quite good. The plate has spotting and freckling, but heaviest at upper left and upper right.

The case has an absolutely real, period pencil identification in the back of the case reading, “Mr. J. T. Rowland / Addyshore (?) / Va” followed by some notations that may be from the photographer as price or later fees for an enlargement. Bill purchased many of his pieces directly from family members and noted him as Joseph T. Rowland, Co. A 41st VA, enlisting at Sussex Court House. “Addyshore” (if we have it right) was likely the name of the family farm, where we find him living in 1860 with his parents and siblings. A similar image, purportedly of him, is in the Liljenquist Collection at the Library of Congress, having been purchased from a dealer in 2013. The uniform is the same, and the photographer is there identified as Rees. The men look similar, close enough to be relatives if not the same man. We do not know the source of the identification of that image. In this case, the period name in the case clearly identifies the sitter and we would suspect the other was actually a friend or relative, though certainly in the same unit.

Joseph Thomas Rowland was a twenty-four year old farmer when he enlisted as a private in Co. A 41st VA 5/24/61 for 12 months service at Sussex Court House, Va., a few days after his younger brother signed up in the 16th Virginia.  He was described as five-foot-seven, of a sallow complexion with light hair and eyes. He was a farmer by profession, but army an army medical board noted he had been in “bad health his whole life.” It was perhaps the enlistment of his younger brother that pushed him forward.

He was present with his company through the March-April muster roll and reenlisted for the war, with a $50 bounty due. He was taken sick, however, in late May 1862, sent home on medical leave and returned still unfit for duty, spending a total of 15 months and 7 days sick according to a medical board in August 1862, who noted he “cannot stand the least fatigue or exposure without immediate prostration and fever.” He was given a medical discharged 4 September 1863 at Orange Court House.

The 1860 census picks him up as born in 1838 and then living with his parents and several siblings on a farm in Sussex County, Va., with his father, Burwell, having real estate valued at $1000 and a personal estate of $4000. Despite his poor health in the army and reported poor health before that, his army experience seems to have done him good: he survived to return home after his discharge, marry in 1868, and father two children, and live at least until 1900. His death date is uncertain. We can only say it seems to have been before the 1910 census. During his period of service with the 41st Virginia, they were part of the Department of Norfolk and assigned to Mahone’s Brigade. They joined the Army of Northern Virginia after reorganizing “for the war” in Spring 1862, serving still in Mahone’s Brigade, but as part of Huger’s/Anderson’s Division and saw considerable fighting in the Peninsula Campaign defending Richmond.

Joseph’s younger brother, Charles W. Rowland, was wounded at Malvern Hill in July 1862 and was sent home. Given Joseph Rowland’s date of discharge, it seems unlikely he was able to return home to see his younger brother one more time before the latter’s death from his wounds on August 16, 1862.  [sr] [ph:M]

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