Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Tom Liljenquist Continues to Amaze

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 5, 2014

Nval Officer Full Small


As many of you know, Tom Liljenquist is a longtime collector of Civil War-era images, particularly ambrotype portraits of soldiers, sailors and civilians. Starting with an initial gift of almost 700 images in 2010, Liljenquist has donated these images to the Library of Congress, where they’ve been indexed, scanned and put online in high-res format for the general public to use and download. Liljenquist’s perseverance in collecting these images is surpassed only by his commitment to sharing them with the rest of us.

One thing I didn’t realize until recently is that Liljenquist’s donation was not a one-time event, but continues as he acquires new material. I was initially surprised to find this image of an unidentified Confederate naval officer, sure I would have seen it before. But it turns out that Liljenquist only acquired the image last year, and it was cataloged and scanned by LoC as recently as last month, April 2014.


Naval Officer Cropped 720


This particular image is interesting. Portraits of C.S. naval personnel are uncommon. This officer seems particularly well-accoutered, dressed in a standard naval uniform under the regulations adopted in 1861.


Naval Officer Cropped Closeup


If you reverse the image left-to-right, and look closely under the hand-applied gilt paint, his cap appears to carry an Old English letter E within the wreath, which would be the badge of a Second- or Third Assistant Engineer (right). I wonder who he is.




4 Responses

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  1. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on May 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

    As someone relatively unfamiliar with Civil War-era photography, was it common for photographers to add color to images, as is shown on the cap and, it appears, the buttons, in this image? It certainly makes for a striking photo.

    • Andy Hall said, on May 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

      It’s very common with these types of images, to apply gilt or color to bring out certain features, e.g., chevrons on a military uniform. Lots of images like this have pink “blush” — not sure there’s a better word for it — added to suggest flesh tones.

  2. said, on June 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    The subject is William Ahearn. Here is his bio:

    Ahern, William

    Born 12 October 1840 at

    Lansingburg, Resselaer County, New


    Father: Jeremiah Ahern

    Mother: Alba Cynda Lyon

    Appointed third assistant engineer, CSN from Virginia, 30 September 1861. Promoted to second assistant engineer, 22 January 1863, and to first assistant engineer, 15 August 1863. Appointed first assistant engineer, PNCS, 2 June 1864.

    CSS Jamestown, 1861. Richmond Naval Station, 1861-1862. Jackson Naval Station, 1862. CSS Georgia (Ironclad), Savannah Naval Station, 1862. CSS Palmetto State, Charleston Naval Station, 1862-1863; participated in the attack on the Federal blockading squadron off Charleston Harbor, 31 January 1863. CSS Drewry, Richmond Naval Station, 1863-2 June 1864. Ordered to CSS Florida (cruiser), 2 June 1864. CSS Florida (cruiser) 19 June-7 October 1864. Captured at Bahia, Brazil, 7 October 1864. Held at Point Lookout 15 November 1864. Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D. C., 15-18 November 1864. Point Lookout 18-25 November 1864. Fort Warren, 26 November 1864-6 February 1865. Held in close confinement for plotting to escape as of 10 January 1865. Paroled, 1 February 1865.
    Married Mary Jane Gill at Richmond, Virginia, 30 September 1860.


    Carolyn Louise

    James Jeremiah

    John Thompson

    Mary Alba

    William Joseph

    Willie Elizabeth

    Julia Francis
    Machinist , Richmond, Virginia, postwar.
    Died at Richmond, Virginia, 6 November 1901.
    Buried, Maury Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.
    Source: Ianthia J. Payne.

    His brother was also an engineer in the CS Navy:

    Ahern, Holmes

    Born 14 April 1844 at Lansingburg, Rensselaer County, New York

    Father: Jeremiah Ahern

    Mother: Alba Cynda Lyon

    Private, Company A, 4th Battalion Local Defense Troops, 20 June 1863.

    Appointed third assistant engineer, CSN, from Virginia, May 1864. Appointed third assistant engineer, PNCS, from Virginia, 2 June 1864.
    CSS Drewry, James River Squadron, 1864 1 October -24 January 1865; Battle of Trent’s Reach, 24 January 1865. Ordered to CSS Richmons, 24 January 1865. Ordered to report to Lt. Charles W. Read, CSN, for temporary special duty, 1 February 1865; took part in the unsuccessful torpedo boat expedition commanded by Lt. Charles W. Read, CSN, 3-13 February 1865.
    Married Margaret Tinsley, 12 December 1871.


    Harry Hartwell

    Mary Elizabeth
    Machinist at Richmond, Virginia, postwar.
    Died 6 February 1902.
    Buried, Maury Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.
    Brother of William Ahearn (q.v.)
    Source: Robert L. Toombs IV.

    • Andy Hall said, on June 25, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      That’s wonderful, thank you. How did you identify him, please?

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