Friday, August 24, 2018

Help Me Identify This Unidentified Company G, 48th PA, Sergeant

Several months ago, I happened upon several images of 48th PA soldiers, including this tintype of an unidentified sergeant in Company G, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. The image was taken in either late May or early June 1862 when the soldiers of Company G sat to have their images taken in a New Bern, NC, photographer's studio. The members of the company then presented their tintype photographs as a gift and measure of respect to Captain Philip Nagle who had resigned due to poor health. 

I wrote at length about this in a post in May of this year. 

Unidentified Sergeant, Company G, 48th PA 

The soldier in this image is clearly a sergeant--and having examined the roster of Company G, it would appear that in May/June 1862, there may have been as many as six sergeants within the ranks of the company.  Those six were: Henry Clay Jackson, Richard M. Jones, Robert Smith, Theodore Patterson, Reuben Reeser, and George Farne

Of these six, however, I think we can immediately eliminate Jackson, Jones, Patterson, and perhaps Farne, as I have identified images of these soldiers, which are seen below. .  .

Henry C. Jackson
(Courtesy of Ronn Palm and the Museum of Civil War Images)
George Farne
(From Gould, The Story of the Forty Eighth

Richard M. Jones
(From Bosbyshell, The Forty Eighth in the War

Theodore Patterson

Eliminating these four from contention, then--and I am not totally convinced Farne should be eliminated since I see a little resemblance--leaves us with only two other possibilities: Robert Smith and Reuben Reeser. 

Here are the physical descriptions of these two men: 

Reuben Reeser: Age at enlistment: 43; 5'11" tall; Light Complexion; Blue Eyes; Dark Hair. 
Robert Smith: Age at enlistment: 23; 5'7" tall; Florid Complexion; Blue Eyes; Dark Hair. 

From the physical description of Reeser and Smith, it would seem that the man in the photograph can be identified as Robert Smith, since he appears closer in age to 23 than to 43. 

But what do you think?  Is this man Sergeant Robert Smith, Company G, 48th PA?  

Or could it be George Farne. . .again, to me at least, there does appear to be a resemblance. 


Stu Richards said...

I think you hit it correct John great detective work.


Anonymous said...


Julie said...

I think it is Farne. The chin, eyes, and lips are very similar.

Unknown said...

I believe that is definitely my Great Grandfather Robert Smith, Co G 48th Sergeant. Betty Tyndall

Unknown said...

My brother has looked at the photo and immediately said yes it is Grandpap Smith. Contact me for further info and war stories Betty

Betty said...

Its Robert Smith no doubt about it. Hes my Great Grandfather . contact me for stories and more information .Betty

John David Hoptak said...

Hello Betty
Thank you so much for your comments!
I would love to hear stories and the additional information you have on Robert Smith! Please send me an email at
johnhoptak at hotmail dot com


Theresa said...

Thanks for posting this! It’s crazy to think I might be looking at a picture of my great great grandfather! Really amazing!
-Theresa Farne