VERY HANDSOME FRAMED PICTURE OF MAJOR GORDON TANNER OF THE 22ND INDIANA INFANTRY KILLED IN DECEMBER OF 1861

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Item Code: 128-1174

A 1905 newspaper article found in the Jackson County Banner announces that a “fine picture” of the late Major Gordon Tanner was presented to the GAR Post bearing his name by his son George G. Tanner. The news article quotes a letter from George Tanner which says:

“I LEARNED SOME TIME AGO THAT THE GORDON TANNER POST HAD NO GOOD PICTURE OF MY FATHER… I HAVE HAD EXECUTED IN INDIA INK WHAT I CONSIDER A FINE LIKENESS OF MY FATHER, REPRODUCED AND ENLARGED FROM THE LAST PICTURE HE HAD TAKEN WHILE PASSING THROUGH ST. LOUIS WITH HIS REGIMENT ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT. WILL YOU BE KIND ENOUGH TO PRESENT THIS PICTURE TO THE GORDON TANNER POST IN MY NAME AND WITH MY BEST WISHES.”

The same newspaper has a resolution of thanks to George Tanner and states that the photograph of his father will be displayed on the wall of the Post next to their charter.

There is no solid evidence that the photo we are offering below is the one mentioned in the news article, but from the quality of the image and the ornate gold gilt plaster decoration of the frame, we believe that it could be.

The framed image is of major Gordon Tanner in full uniform. He wears a dark forage cap bearing a “US” in a wreath on the front, a dark double-breasted frock coat with major’s shoulder straps and matching dark trousers. At his waist is his sword belt with rectangular plate and sword. The image is crystal clear. The facial features are of photographic quality while the uniform looks to have been heavily retouched or done in “India ink” as mentioned in the above letter. The striking clarity of the image really makes this a stunning piece.

The image is housed in a wonderful gold gilt mat with a recessed oval at center. The oval meas. approx. 5.00 x 7.25 inches. The mat is housed in a recessed frame that meas. approx. 13.00 x 15.00 inches. The frame has a splendid plaster scrollwork decoration that is 1.50 inches thick and is covered in gold gilt paint. Three of the four corners have light chips and one of the raised scrolls at top center is cracked but the rest of the frame is excellent. The reverse of the frame has a wood backing covered in modern brown paper. Despite the paper backing the wood panel on the reverse wiggles a bit.

Indiana’s Roll of Honor published a biography of Tanner, who incidentally was born as Moses Gordon C. W. Tanner, that reads in part:

“Gordon Tanner was born near Brownstown, Jackson County, Indiana, July 19, 1829… Gordon was the eldest of five sons. From infancy he was of weak frame and had ever to contend with bodily infirmities. Early in life he exhibited genius, intellect and mental energy of an extraordinary character. At six years of age, he could read and write with remarkable correctness. With his father's assistance, at home, he made rapid advances in scholastic attainments. All his leisure was devoted to reading; and this mental food was supplied from the Franklin Library of Brownstown, an association of which his father was a member.

At the age of thirteen, he commenced a thorough preparation in the languages and mathematics for a collegiate course. Just as he was ready to enter the State University, his father died, and he was left at the age of sixteen with the care and responsibility of providing for his mother's family.

When war was declared against Mexico, he entered the army in an Indiana company of volunteers under the command of Capt. Ford. On his way to the seat of war at New Orleans, he was attacked with yellow fever and lay sick for three months. On his recovery, he was appointed recruiting officer for the Third Regiment Indiana volunteers which position he held until the war was ended. He then resumed his collegiate course and was a student at the State University at Bloomington, Indiana, during the years 1848-9. In the latter year he commenced the study of law.

On the second of August (1861), Gordon Tanner was appointed major of the Twenty-Second Regiment Indiana volunteers. In that regiment were two of his brothers, one a captain (Thomas) and the other a second lieutenant (John). On the sixteenth of the same month, his regiment was order to service in Missouri. He left home with a sad presentiment. He never expected to return. Alas! These sad forebodings too soon became reality.

On the eighteenth of September, the Eighteenth, Twenty-second and Twenty-sixth Indiana regiments were order up the Missouri River toward Glasgow. On nearing the town, three companies of the Eighteenth and Twenty-second, under command of Major Tanner, were detailed for a reconnaissance, in the performance of which duty he received a mortal wound. On the thirtieth of September, his brave, patriotic and gallant spirit took its flight.

The remains of Major Tanner were taken to his home, Indianapolis, for interment and received the honor due a patriot and a soldier. On the fourth of October, 1861 (sic), the mortal remains of Major Gordon Tanner were laid in their final resting place with all the honors of war, and every manifestation of respect, by the citizens of Indianapolis. A faithful wife and a son eight years old are left to mourn the loss of a devoted husband and father.”

This biography leaves out the fact that Major Tanner was killed by friendly fire when two wings of the Union reconnaissance party met each other in the darkness and shots were fired killing three men and mortally wounding Major Tanner.

Today Major Tanner rests in Indianapolis, Indiana at Crown Hill Cemetery in section 2, lot 65.  [ad][ph:L]

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