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.
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.
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.
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..