Is this Stonewall Jackson in Camp?

Jackson Winchester

 

Stonewall Jackson had two portrait photographs taken during the Civil War – one in Winchester, Virginia, in November 1862 and the other near Fredericksburg, Virginia, in April 1863. No other period photographs of Jackson were believed to exist. 

The image above, however, supposedly shows Stonewall Jackson leaning on a fence in camp during the spring of 1862, also in Winchester, Virginia. The original ambrotype was said to be owned by Capt. Fred A. Briscoe, an assistant quartermaster in Jackson’s army. According to the Briscoe family, Fred is the individual standing in front of the tent to the right. The soldier seated inside the tent was identified by the family as James Briscoe, while a slave named “Smitty” was said to be the young man standing outside the fence.    

The ambrotype was passed down to Fred Briscoe’s niece, Mrs. Louise Briscoe of Charles Town, West Virginia. Following Mrs. Briscoe’s death in 1979, the family discovered that the original ambrotype, which had been kept in a chest, had been replaced at some point with a fake. According to news reports at the time, the fake was a modern-day photograph of the original image pasted to a piece of glass and shellacked to resemble an ambrotype. 

In 1984, a Sharpsburg, Maryland, man was arrested, charged, and subsequently acquitted at trial of receiving and transporting the stolen ambrotype. The image itself was never recovered and remains missing. Fortunately, the Briscoe family also owned a circa 1910 photographic print of the ambrotype that had been produced in Washington D.C. by the Klinedinst studio. Photographs of the print were produced in 1984 by the Associated Press to accompany newspapers articles reporting the theft of the ambrotype. A picture of the print was also published in the Spring 1988 issue of the now defunct photographic magazine Incidents of the War.

The Klinedinst photo left the Briscoe family and changed hands twice before the new owner of the print put it up for auction with Christie’s in May 1998. Described by the auction house as the “only surviving print of the one original ambrotype,” it reportedly sold for $21,850. 

But is the person leaning on the fence really Stonewall Jackson? If so, it would be the only known full-length, standing image of him, and the lone one taken of him in the field. Newspaper reports of the 1984 theft trial recount some experts testifying they did not believe it to be Jackson in the image. Others have suggested it may be mapmaker Jedediah Hotchkiss instead. Below is a close-up of the individual in the print next to the two known Civil War images of Stonewall Jackson.  Is it him?

 

Comparison2

  11 comments for “Is this Stonewall Jackson in Camp?

  1. October 19, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I really don’t think that it is Jackson. He was 6′ and this chap doesn’t look close to that.

    • Mary Jane adams
      August 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Whether it’s Jackson or not, note the beleaguered slave to the right of the picture….a person who will remain ‘unnamed for all of history….

  2. Andrew Kent Ferebee
    October 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I do not believe that is Jackson. Looking at the two photos I know to be him I would say that is definitely not Jackson. By the shape of his head, eye sockets and the way his hair on the side of the temple lie.It isn’t him.

  3. Richard
    March 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I think it is Stonewall and Jeb Stuart.

    • Richard Gillespie
      March 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      and maybe Jed Hotchkiss

  4. Christine Bell
    August 9, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I do not think this is Jackson because: 1. he was cavalry & they generally worn hats with a bream, 2. he was a general & generals generally wore double-breasted coats even when in the field, with the arrangement of buttons showing their rank, i.e, groups of 2 buttons or groups of 3 buttons or the highest rank at 4 buttons. The person shown on left does have cavalry boots on. The man on the right who is identified as a member of the family in the military, interestingly, is wearing a coat that appears to be double-breasted with brass buttons on both sides which would indicate a general’s rank. Would an assistant quartermaster be a general? The body language suggests that the man on the left is just stopping by, & the tent belongs to the man on the right hanging on his clothes line.

    • August 29, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Christine, I agree with much that you cited in your comment, but Jackson was never in the cavalry. Upon graduation from West Point, he was commissioned a 2nd Lt of artillery, and served in that branch in the Mexican War. He later was an instructor in artillery at VMI. During the War Between the States, he was an infantry officer, period.

  5. Alice Dobbs
    August 29, 2014 at 1:56 am

    If it was Stonewall, and I say that loosely, there would have been a greater outcome on the part of the Confederacy at Gettysburg and beyond. The man was a strategic genius, who’s strategies were used in WWI and II and beyond. Granted, unless his remains are exhumed at Lexington, plus his arm near Chancellorsville, to prove DNA, we really won’t know. For now, though, I do not believe this is Stonewall and that he has in fact, crossed over the river and is resting under the shade of the trees.

  6. Warren Doyle
    August 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    If this is Thomas Jackson, he was very relaxed in this picture. He has his hand in his pocket, but whos to say he wasn’t relax in camp. What Photographers took Confederate photos that where you need to start.

  7. Tom
    September 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Yes, it’s Thomas J. Jackson. His dress is how he was described by many, including his habit of pulling his “kepi” hat down over his eyes.

    • Warren Doyle
      September 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      If you want to believe something then you try to prove it, the same go for the opposite. I have been looking into this for over a week. Im no excerpt, but first of all if this Jedediah Hotchkiss then why does he have on a Confederate Uniform he was a map maker not a Soldier, and if you were going to put on a Uniform to blend in you sure as hell would not put on a Generals uniform. The guy standing and leaning on the fence has on a Generals Uniform. Now let’s look a picture of Jedediah Hotchkiss, his ears stick out from his head, the guy on the fence his ears do not stick out. Then look at the hands Thomas Jackson had long hands, ears nose and hands never change. And last but not least I found a service record for one Major Fred A. Briscoe. In his service record is a Prisoner of war release form on Fred A. Briscoe he is describe as being 5 foot 11 inches, all this matches up with the Photo. I also looked who could have taken the photo. I believe it was taken by J.D. Edwards a Confederate Photographer who did a lot of outdoor shots. I have read other review Thomas Jackson was not Calvary he was Infantry during the War. So in my opinion after looking at all the evidence, there is nobody this could be other than Gen Thomas Jackson. I love this photo it a great piece of History !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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