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Author Topic: Boston Corbett Civilian Photo  (Read 1520 times)
BettyO
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« on: October 31, 2011, 02:47:43 PM »

I have never seen this photo before....Steven?  Anyone else?  It's pretty neat -  I've never seen a picture of Corbett in a civilian suit....



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Houmes
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2011, 05:55:45 PM »

I have never seen this photo before....Steven?  Anyone else?  It's pretty neat -  I've never seen a picture of Corbett in a civilian suit....

It's not the "only" one of Boston Corbett in a civilian suit, but it's very uncommon--and usually found in a vignette presentation.  Mr. Miller can provide you with far more information.
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2011, 09:00:12 PM »

Shortly after the shooting of Booth, Sergt. Corbett was at the offices of the Christian Commission in Washington City where he met a man named Byron Berkley Johnson from Massachusetts. Johnson was a lawyer and employee of the War Department, and he was also what Corbett would later call a “good Christian”. They struck up a friendship and Johnson offered to be a friendly face in the War Dept and to advise Corbett should he leave the employ of the Union government.
Fifty years later, Johnson was a respected attorney and retired mayor of Waltham, MA. During the war Johnson had brief connection with the martyr president and the Avenger. He first wrote up a short pamphlet containing stories of both men. It was popular and he expanded it into a short book called ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND BOSTON CORBETT; WITH PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF EACH.
He told several stories about the two main characters, including the tale – otherwise unsubstantiated – of the meeting between Edwin Stanton and Corbett. Johnson quoted that Stanton released the sergeant from any legal investigation of his role in shooting Booth by saying, “"The rebel is dead — the patriot lives ... he has saved us continued excitement — delay and expense— the patriot is released.”
He also told how the photo that Betty posted was taken. This image, which was actually one of a pair, was printed in Johnson’s book.
“Corbett went home to dine with me. A great crowd gathered and clamored for him. Out of respect for Secretary Stanton, he promised he would not make a speech. I then took him up to the porch, and when the people had shouted until tired, he said, "Fellows, I am glad to see you. Johnson won't let me make a speech. Good bye."
“After dinner we went to Brady's for his photo to be taken, the one which follows this chapter. On the back it is endorsed "To Mr. B. B. Johnson with kindest regards. Boston Corbett."
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Randal
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2011, 05:21:32 AM »

Betty,
here it is in an E-book form.

http://www.archive.org/details/abrahamlincolna00johngoog
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2011, 05:40:13 AM »

There are two books in "our field" that sell for astonishingly high prices": the Guttman's wonderful and indispensable JOHN WILKES BOOTH HIMSELF, and Johnson's little book. The former has been the subject of much discussion here on the ol' forum. Of course, it sells these days for a hefty price.

Johnson's book is sort of worthwhile, but it is selling for something like $300 a copy -- for reasons I don't understand. There seem to be quite a number of them floating around.

Randal is right, of course. Just down the load the file from the InterWeb and save yourself a few hundred bucks.
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rich smyth
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2011, 07:02:55 AM »

Thanks for the link Steve. Very interesting little book. I know we have discussed the issue of Corbett's wife dying in childbirth but the records do not indiicate that a child is buried with her. What do you think?
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2011, 10:17:48 AM »

Contrary to the often repeated story, there is NO evidence that Susan Rebecca Corbett died from complications of childbirth. She died from liver disease.

The child birth tale, and the subsequent purple prose of "the infants body was already cold beside her" and so forth, is a FICTION.

There is no evidence of a pregnancy, so there is no lost baby or any such silliness. The cemetery records support this, the story told by Thomas/Boston support this and the evidence from the doctor support this.

It's just another Rubber Spider story, as my late friend Benedict Marynick called them. The tale was never true, but, like a rubber spiders, which were never alive, cannot be killed by stomping on them.
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Dave Taylor
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2011, 05:55:37 PM »

Steve,

I'm guessing this is the other picture from the book?  If not, then it's the other half of this stereoscope picture:



Also, while he's not in civilian clothes, I've always liked this one.  It's so patriotic with Boston's hand on the flag and all:

« Last Edit: November 02, 2011, 05:57:40 PM by Dave Taylor » Logged
BCorbett1865
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2011, 07:33:23 PM »

Any idea who started (or first put in print) the death by childbirth story about Mrs. Corbett?

Laurie,
Byron Berkeley Johnson mentions it in his book. He says "...went to New York City. He married and lost his wife and infant child at birth." That book was published in 1914. I am not sure if this is the first mention about this.
According to a deposition taken before John Corbett's imposter trial. A Mrs. Susan C. Sorgatz stated that Corbett himself had lived for three years with his wife before she died and "she died without issue." This was in 1904.

Craig
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2011, 03:06:44 AM »

Johnson incorrectly says that Corbett "went to New York". He implies that Corbett was living somewhere else before and I don't believe that was the case. He grew up in New York -- Manhattan -- not Troy like most writers say. He and his wife moved to Troy in the fall of 1854.

These stories, from what I can tell, were guesses by later writers who really, really, really wanted to "fill in the blanks" but didn't have evidence. They speculated as to what might have happened, but didn't bother to label their statements as not being backed by facts.

Two cases in point: the story of the prostitute(s) tempting Corbett which resulted in the self-castration. This seems to be another WAG (wild ass guess) and not supported by any evidence. It has been repeated over and over again and has entered the Rubber Spider realm.

The second one that I've discussed on the forum before, is the saga ("it grew with the telling") of the insubordination against Col. Daniel Butterfield. A minor comment by Corbett -- which landed him in legal trouble -- was recounted by his former company commander in the newspapers in 1865. The retelling of it has Butterfield bellowing commands to haul Corbett away and all sorts of other dramatic flourishes. According to the officer who put Bos' on report, it didn't happen that way.

B.B. Johnson is not to blame for all these tales, but his bio is the source of a lot of mis-information and doesn't seem worthy of the hefty modern selling price that it commands.
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rich smyth
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2011, 06:13:43 AM »

Steve, so Boston did mutilate himself but not because of temptation?
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BCorbett1865
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2011, 06:25:51 PM »

Steven, I agree, B.B. Johnson can't take all the blame. There are tons of newspaper articles out there that spread the mis-information also.

Craig
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2011, 08:57:02 PM »

Craig,

Yes, there are tons of newspaper articles that recycle myths about Corbett, Booth and Lincoln, and these stories become imbedded in the popular cultural. Take for instance, the story of the death sentence that Corbett supposedly received and the commutation by President Lincoln.

There isn't a shred of truth in the tale, but the story goes that Corbett believed that his term of enlistment was up on a certain date, but his officers disputed this saying it was a few days later. He was supposedly on guard duty when, at midnight, he felt he had served his time. He laid down his musket, abandoned his post and headed to his tent to pack up belongings for a trip back to civilian life. The dereliction of duty was soon found out and Bos' was arrested and charged with desertion in the face of the enemy and quickly sentenced to be shot. The case was reviewed by kindly Father Abraham and his sentence was overturned.

The myth states that Boston re-enlisted in a few days and went back to his regiment with nary a problem. The story is wrapped up by saying that it was ironic that Lincoln saved the life of the man who avenged his murder just a couple of years later.

This story was told by FRANK LESLIE'S in 1865 and was incorporated into the Lincoln Assassination lecture of Luther Byron Baker (he of the Garrett's Farm patrol). It has mostly disappeared from the literature, but occasionally it resurfaces.

Neat story isn't it? The only problem is that it isn't true. There is no verification in Corbett's service record, the unit history of his regiment, nor in his pension file. These records document other legal problems -- minor ones -- but not this one. Likewise, there were gaps between his enlistment dates and none that meet the key element of a quick re-enlistment following Lincoln's pardon.
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2011, 11:32:09 PM »

BTW, there are five known photos of Corbett in civilian clothes. There the two that were taken in the 1865 Brady sitting that B.B. Johnson mentioned. These were posted by Dave Taylor.

There is the 1876 photo id card for him from the Centennial Expo in Philadelphia. I use it as my avatar on occasion. This photo was used to help expose John "Bastan" Corbett, the traveling patent medicine salesman who tried to obtain Bos' arrears pension and was sent to the Federal Pen in Atlanta in 1905.

Another one that I use for the forum is a small circular image of him from later in life -- I believe it's from 1887, but can't prove it. There's a photocopy in the James O. Hall Papers with the notation that it came from Art Loux. Mr. Hall couldn't remember when I got it and Mr. Loux has no recollection of giving it to JOH or where it might have come from.

There is a fifth that a friend purchased recently. There's no way to identify when and where it was taken, but it shows Boston with another book, probably the Good Book. My friend is letting me have first publication rights for the Corbett bio.

Randal also asked me if there are photos of Corbett from before the death of Booth. My answer is yes, there are. The photo posted earlier in this chain shows Corbett seated, with his arm resting on an American flag, in front of a patriotic background. I believe this was taken in 1862. Here are my reasons for this conclusion: he is clearly wearing the uniform of an infantry private; the scene in the background is of the sea battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, March 8 - 9, 1862, an icon that was very popular at that time, but had faded in popularity by the time that Corbett served his last hitch as a foot solder; lastly, he is stouter than he would be later in the war.

There is a gaunt photo of him in uniform and standing with his cavalry kepi and arm on a balustrade. A woodcut vignette portrait of this was used in a NY newspaper in
April 1865 and it says it was taken from a photo taken in New York in January 1865.
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