browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Pictures from America

Posted by on February 5, 2013

With the release of the film Lincoln I thought I might explore Joseph Hanshew’s Civil War history.  In my tin boxes I have two images I associate with this period in his life.

General Kearney - Union Army

General Kearney – Union Army

The first, this photocard of General Philip Kearney taken just before his death, is from a gallery on Broadway and is one of the most commonly reproduced pictures of him.  Now, why would Joseph have sent this image home?  Certainly he was one of the more, experienced, competent and exciting officers in the Union Army and, had he not been killed at the Battle of Chantilly on September 1st 1862, it was rumoured he might have replaced General McClellan in leading the Army of the Potomac.  It would be logical to think that Joseph purchased this as a souvenir of an officer he had served under, but the only thing I know for sure is that he was enlisted in Veteran Reserve Corps 10th Regiment Company A; if this was the start of his service it would postdate Kearney’s death.  The Invalid Corps, later named the Veteran Reserve Corp, was established in April 1863 and consisted of soldiers who would otherwise have been invalided out of the army.  The existence of this photocard may give me further evidence as to Joseph’s earlier service.  There is a record of a Joseph Hanshaw who enlisted in 40th New York Infantry Company E in June 1861 and received a disability discharge in January 1863.  The different spelling is not uncommon but this Joseph has given his age on enlistment as 21, 20 years younger than Joseph Hanshew would have been.  The 40th New York was part of the Army of the Potomac and was present at the Battle of Chantilly but perhaps that is not enough evidence for me to assume these two Josephs are one.

Joseph or Abraham

Joseph or Abraham

The second image is this lightly coloured tintype or ferrotype; these were popular in the United States from the mid-1850s although scarcely recognised in Britain until 1872.  Sometimes they were used to provide cheaper copies of more expensive daguerreotypes.  Initially I believed this was a portrait of Joseph but none of the props, the pistol and sheaf of papers, would indicate an artist’s occupation.

I then wondered if it might be a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, certainly it superficially bears a resemblance to him.  I  trawled through every image of Lincoln I could find; it had been so easy to confirm the identity of General Kearney surely it would be simple to confirm this as Lincoln.  However I have been unable to do that, there are no image of Lincoln similar to this, no images of him wearing brocaded waistcoats or knee boats, and very few of him seated and full length.


Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation

The closest I have found is this, an engraving by J Serz after a painting by John Dainty, that shows him seated holding the Emancipation Proclamation.  So possibly I do have an image of Joseph, I wonder..








4 Responses to Pictures from America

  1. Mailed Cullen Mhic Dhonncha

    Thank you so much for this and I look forward to perusing Joseph’s obit. and seeing his artwork. When I googled Joseph Hanshew earlier I found refs to another artist of the same name – any relation?
    Marie E had a brother Henry S. Bird,died in 1891, left a most interesting will. Seems to have been a rather Wildean character, arty. Among the many bequests of books, china, jewellery and so on , was mention of paintings – portraits of Maria Emily and of his mother, landscapes of California, France and Australia. I had presumed that these were Henry’s own oeuvres but today the thought struck me – could they have been Joseph’s?

    • Barbara Selby

      That’s really interesting, I’d only ever found mention of her father, William. Do you know Henry’s birth date? Maybe he was the reason Maria and Joseph met? Could he also have attended the Royal Academy School? I don’t think the landscapes are by Joseph, I don’t think he traveled that much, the only painting I’ve a place for is a waterfall in the Catskills (my brother has this one) but we were told they related to his time in the Union Army during the Civil War. I think there is only one Jospeh Hanshew, artist, so any references are for him. I’ve been doing some different research recently as I arrived at too many dead ends with the Hanshews but will pick it up again soon. I’ll send the obit and a photo I think is his as soon as I can.

  2. Mairead Cullen Mhic Dhonncha

    Apologies for inaccurate, rushed previous comment. When I checked Henry S. Bird’s will I find there were 5 portraits plus an album of family portraits bequeathed.
    I have the following passenger list records for Joseph and family:
    Joseph Henshew, 23, Liverpool to N.Y., 24/03/1848
    Joseph Henshew arrived N.Y. from Liverpool on “Yorkshire” 16/01/1852
    Joseph Henshew, 36, artist, Emily 7 and Robert 4 . Port of London to N.Y. June 1853. Boat: Patrick Henry.
    Maria Henshew and Louisa 6, England to Canada and N.Y. 8 April 1856. Ship: Rowena.

    • Barbara Selby

      I only found the later sailings but it makes sense that he may have traveled earlier and returned given that Elisha went over in 1850

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *