A friend sent this to me today..
Del. acquires Civil War soldier's ID tag
By ROBIN BROWN, The News Journal
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007
A rare Civil War ID tag, belonging to Cpl. J.P. Barney of the 2nd Delaware Volunteer Infantry Regiment, has been purchased by state historical officials and returned to Delaware.
There is only one other known tag from a Delaware soldier in the Civil War, according to the state Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
The newly purchased ID tag "helps put a face on our history," said Jim Yurasek, a division spokesman.
The disk, one inch in diameter, has his name and unit on the front.
On the back is "WAR 1861," with an eagle holding arrows and a stars-and-stripes shield above the words "UNITED STATES." Tiny beading on the disk's edge survived time and some of the war's bloodiest battles.
The state bought Barney's tag -- "in very, very good condition" -- for $1,850 from a Gettysburg, Pa., antiques dealer, state officials said. The division gets annual allocations from the General Assembly, National Parks Service grants and profits from its History Stores at some state historic sites.
Plans to display the Civil War ID tag are not set, said State Archaeologist Chuck Fithian. The tag is in museum care, its location secret for security, he said.
The only other known Delaware Civil War ID tag was found at Gettysburg and belongs to the National Park Service, Fithian said.
Identification disks from any state are "very rare," and of varying condition and value, he said.
The U.S. Army says official tags began after the Civil War, but soldiers also improvised.
"Fearing that they might be killed or incapacitated in battle, and concerned that their families would not be informed of their fates, Civil War soldiers would frequently write their names on pieces of paper and pin the paper to their uniforms prior to going into battle," the state heritage agency said. "If a soldier had the means and inclination, he might purchase, from his own resources, a brass disk stamped with his personal identification."
A brass ID proved Barney a man of means, state officials said.
His service record showed he was born in Queen Anne, Md., and volunteered for three years on June 13, 1861, in Wilmington, joining a regiment that became part of the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
Barney listed "farmer" as his occupation, but his farm site is unknown. The records did flesh out a picture of the young man: enlisting at age 20, he was 5 feet 9, with sandy hair and blue eyes.
He was "a good soldier with no recorded infractions," state officials said, and earned promotion to corporal in May 1862.
Barney was with his regiment for the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and the battles of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, and Fredericksburg on Dec. 13, 1862. Antietam was the bloodiest one-day battle on U.S. soil, with 23,000 killed or wounded.
No details of Barney's actions in battle are known, Fithian said.
On March 22, 1863, Barney was discharged at Falmouth, Va.
His discharge cited "general physical and mental debility." That may be what later was called battle fatigue. "We just don't know," Fithian said.
Initial research found no information about his later life or death, Fithian said, but future research could solve that mystery.
With so few Civil War ID tags surviving, Fithian said, "to be able to acquire this for the state collection is very exciting."
Sources: U.S. Army, U.S. Army Mortuary Affairs Center, Stars & Stripes
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