SAMUEL J.D. McCARGO, CO. B 14th VIRGINIA CAVALRY, WITH PISTOL AND SABER - DIED OF WOUNDS AT GETTYSBURG JULY 3 ON THE EAST CAVALRY FIELD!

$3,950.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1138-1985

This sixth-plate ambrotype of Samuel J.D. McCargo was published with its identification in the 1979 Confederate Calendar by Lawrence Jones and sold in April 1998 at Swann Galleries in New York. McCargo was identified by his name and home county in period pencil in the back of the original case, still with it at 1998 Swann sale. The case was apparently later swapped out by a collector in favor of the figural thermoplastic case in which it now resides, either before or after it made its way into the collection of the late Bill Turner, noted Virginia collector and dealer.

McCargo is shown seated in a half-length view, with a no-nonsense look, wearing a frock coat and sword belt with a rectangular plate. He has moved his revolver, a Colt Navy, to the front of his belt for the camera and holds a saber in profile on the viewer’s right. Judging from the even curve of the guard, the saber is a Third Model Virginia Manufactory cavalry saber, many of which had their blades slimmed and scabbards altered to modernize them and were carried by Virginia troopers. The pommel seems to be the correct bird’s head form, though the photographer thinly gilded it along with the buttons and belt plate, making it a tad indistinct. McCargo’s collar appears just a tad darker than his gray coat, which may be the lighting or perhaps a yellow or other color facing. The latch tab of his revolver holster seems to show over the revolver grip, indicating that he likely turned his whole belt rig over to give the impression the revolver was on his right and the sword on his left, a not uncommon attempt to correct for the reversal of the photographic process.

According to a history of the company penned by its later captain Edwin E. Bouldin, McCargo was among the original members of the company when it organized at Charlotte Court House in April 1861 as an independent company under Capt. John G. Smith, though his compiled service records only pick up when the company formally became part of the 14th VA Cavalry in late 1862. Born in 1845, he was the son of James M. and Alice McCargo of Charlotte County, VA., is listed both as Samuel J. and Samuel J.D. in the records, and was a student when he enlisted. He is picked up in the 1860 census as age 15, living with his parents and five younger brothers and sisters, on their farm. The family seems to have been well-off: his father lists real estate valued at $17,000 and a personal estate of $27,000 or $37,000 and the slave schedule of 1860 names 41 people of whom James M. is listed as the owner.

The Charlotte Cavalry marched to a camp of instruction at Ashland on May 16, 1861, and was there mustered in for state service on May 27, serving the next two years mainly in western Virginia. It saw its first action under Genl. Garnett, arriving at Laurel Hill July 6, 1861, and was at Carrick’s Ford, where Garnett was killed. It spent the winter at Franklin, WV, guarding the right flank of the army in that section and was in several skirmishes. “The service of the men and non-commissioned officers were arduous, indeed, owing to the severity of the cold in that mountainous country,” according to Bouldin. In 1862 it served in Maj. George Jackson's squadron at Valley Mountain in West Virginia, and was reorganized in April 1862 at Churchville, Va., (perhaps having its state service extended to two years from its enlistment) and served in the Kanawha Valley under Genl. Loring. Bouldin credits the company as one of several engaged in a raid over mountainous terrain against s Federal post at Nicholas County Courthouse that netted Federal prisoners equaling the number of raiders in a surprise attack at dawn.

The 14th Virginia Cavalry was formally organized for Confederate service in September 1862, the Charlotte cavalry joining it under Bouldin’s command in December as Company C (redesignated as Company B in March/April 1863.) McCargo officially mustered in on 1 December 1862 and was later described as having black hair and eyes, a fair complexion, and standing 5’10.” In some sources his enlistment is said to have been for two years, in others it was “for the war,” which is more likely at this date and for Confederate service. Officially listed as 18, he would have been 17 at the time.

 

The company was assigned with one other to act as the regiment’s “charging squadron” and the regiment was assigned to a brigade commanded by A.G. Jenkins. In Spring 1863 the brigade was assigned to the Army of the Northern Virginia for Lee’s move north, and stayed with the main army, leading the advance and engaging in a number of skirmishes and small actions (Woodstock, Middletown, Winchester, White Post, and Bunker Hill are named in some sources,) before seeing heavier fighting at Martinsburg, and then moving on to take Chambersburg, Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, and scout the outskirts of Harrisburg.

The brigade was the subject of some controversy, blamed by some for not cutting off the Union retreat from Martinsburg and for taking many local supplies for their own use rather than the army’s as a whole (particularly horses) during the invasion, as well as alerting Federals to the presence of the army, which allowed other supplies to be removed. As the army concentrated at Gettysburg, some of the brigade saw action on July 1 and Jenkins was to have played an important role in guarding Ewell’s left during the assault on Culp’s Hill on July 2, but was wounded before taking position, causing Ewell to use two needed infantry brigades in its stead.

On July 3 the brigade, now under the command of Vincent Witcher, joined Stuart and the cavalry corps on the “east cavalry field” and saw heavy fighting, being posted forward at the Rummel barn in the center of the action. Some sources maintain they had only ten rounds apiece for their Enfield rifles, though Witcher later said they had more, and they seem to have put up a good fight against the 1st NJ Cavalry, the 3rd Pa, the Purnell Legion and an attack by Custer’s 5th Michigan. At some point in the fighting McCargo was hit in the left pelvis, suffering a gun-shot wound to the “left Iliac.” Some records list him as killed in action, but his service record makes clear he was removed to a field hospital and then on July 13 was put in charge of the provost marshal and transferred to a general hospital where he died six days later, on July 19.

McCargo’s father filed a claim in late 1863 for his son’s outstanding pay and allowances from the Confederate government. The account was settled about a year later. His descriptive list and account of pay signed by Capt. Bouldin in late 1864 says under “remarks” that McCargo was in, “several skirmishes & battles besides Gettysburg.” After a deduction for drawn clothing, his father received $183.47.

Young McCargo is shown bareheaded and clean-shaven. There are a few rubs and spots, but they do not affect the figure. The gilding applied by the photographer was very thin, has faded somewhat, and is not obtrusive. The image is matted, glassed and framed, and thermoplastic case now housing it has raised floral motifs and purple velvet facing pad. This is great image of an identified and armed Confederate cavalry trooper killed in the most famous battle of the war.   [sr] [ph:m]

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