Isaac Bonsall Collection of Photographs: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Diann Benti.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© 2015
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Overview of the Collection

Title: Isaac Bonsall Collection of Photographs
Dates (inclusive): approximately 1862-1880
Bulk dates: 1862-1864
Collection Number: photCL 491
Creator: Bonsall, Isaac, 1833-1909, photographer.
Extent: 54 photographs in 2 boxes: albumen prints; various sizes
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Abstract: This collection contains 54 photographs by photographer Isaac H. Bonsall (1833-1909) chiefly depicting the landscape and Union Army operations during the American Civil War in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the surrounding regions, from approximately 1862 to 1865. The prints primarily document encampments, buildings, artillery, steamships, railroad bridges, and soldiers. Two images were not taken by Bonsall and include copyright information for photographer N. Brown.
Language: English.
Note:
Finding aid last updated on February 25, 2020.

Access

Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

Administrative Information

Publication Rights

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Isaac Bonsall Collection of Photographs, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Provenance

Received as four separate accessions:
  • Items 13-30, and 41, gift of John Boland, December 2008.
  • Items 40, 42-45, and 47-51, purchased for the Huntington from the Andrew Smith Gallery by the Library Collectors' Council, January 2009.
  • Items 1-12, 31-39, 46, and 52-53, gift of John Boland, November 2009.
  • Items 29.1, 29.2, 29.3, gift of Claire Lozier and Andrew Smith, December 2019.

Biographical Note

Isaac H. Bonsall (1833-1909) was born in December 1833. He grew up around Cincinnati, Ohio, and opened his own photography studio there in the 1850s. In the late 1850s, he moved to Kansas, and worked primarily in the Leavenworth area, including in a brief partnership with ambrotypist John T. Needles. During this time, he also worked in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bonsall returned to Ohio in late 1859.
In September 1862, Bonsall joined the Union army. He was attached to the engineering department of the Army of the Cumberland and assigned to photograph maps at the headquarters of General William S. Rosecrans. While with the Army, he also photographed soldiers and officers and documented military building and engineering projects and the aftermath of battles. In particular, Bonsall documented the area and projects around Chattanooga, Tennessee, during the Siege of Chattanooga in late 1863 and into 1864.
Bonsall was discharged from the Army in 1865 and following his wartime service returned to running his photography gallery. In 1871, he returned to Leavenworth, and in 1872 relocated to Arkansas City, Kansas, where he worked as a photographer, as well as in local government. In Arkansas City, he apprenticed photographer William S. Prettyman. Bonsall died on September 8, 1909.

Scope and Content

This collection contains 54 photographs by photographer Isaac H. Bonsall chiefly depicting the landscape and Union Army operations during the American Civil War in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, Corinth, Mississippi, and the surrounding regions, from approximately 1862 to 1865. The prints primarily document encampments, buildings, artillery, steamships, railroad bridges, and soldiers. The collection also includes some portraits of soldiers and Union officers, including the officers of the 1st United States Veteran Volunteer Engineers (Items 52-53) and Generals William S. Rosencrans (Item 2), John H. King and George H. Thomas (Item 45), and Joseph Hooker (Item 47). Among the images are two images of African American Union troops (Items 34 and 44).
Item 29, a landscape view of grazing farm animals near Arkansas City, Kansas, dates from circa 1875-1880, and is the only image carrying Bonsall's imprint. Items 29.1 - 29.3 also date from after the Civil War. Two images in the collection were not taken by Bonsall and include copyright information for N. Brown (Items 30 and 31).

Alternative Form of Materials Available

Visit the Huntington Digital Library: United States Civil War   to view digitized items from this collection.

Arrangement

The photographs are housed in 2 boxes according to the item numbers assigned by Huntington staff, with larger items removed to Box 2; items are not arranged according to any organizational schema.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

Subjects

Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879
King, John H. (John Haskell), 1820-1888 -- Photographs.
Rosecrans, William S. (William Starke), 1819-1898 -- Photographs.
Thomas, George H. (George Henry), 1816-1870 -- Photographs.
United States. Army. Veteran Volunteer Engineers Regiment, 1st (1864-1865) -- Photographs.
United States. Army -- Officers -- Photographs.
African American soldiers. -- Photographs.
Soldiers -- Portraits.
Military camps -- Photographs.
Waterfalls -- Georgia -- Photographs.
Arkansas City (Kan.) -- Photographs.
Chattanooga, Battle of, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1863 -- Photographs.
Chattanooga (Tenn.) -- Photographs.
Lookout Mountain, Battle of, Tenn., 1863 -- Photographs.
Lookout Mountain (Ga.) -- Photographs.
Tennessee -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Photographs.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- African American troops.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns -- Photographs.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Engineering and construction -- Photographs.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Military facilities -- Photographs.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Photographs.

Forms/Genres

Photographs.

Additional Entries

Brown, N. (Nicholas), 1820-, photographer.


Collection Contents

 

Photographs

Note

Titles devised by the cataloger are enclosed in square brackets.
Box 1

Photographs (Items 1-13, 16-33, 35-41)

Item  1

[Portrait of a Union soldier], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 11 x 7.5 cm
Item  2

[U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Wm. S. Rosecrans], approximately 1862

Physical Description: 11 x 7 cm
Item  3

[Line of shelters covered with branches near Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 7 x 11 cm
Item  4

[Tents of Battery Mitchell & Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  5

[Stone house with men on porch and with horses, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  6

[Artillery squad in a Union Redoubt, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  7

[Aiming siege guns at Lunette Mitchell, inside of Fortress Rosecrans, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  8

[Artillery and infantry squads by siege guns in Redoubt inside Fortress Rosecrans], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  9

[Overview of Chattanooga, Tennessee, looking toward Lookout Mountain], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  10

[Army post below Signal Hill, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  11

House presented to Lt. Genl. U.S. Grant by the Citizens of Galena, Ills., approximately 1865

Physical Description: oval 18.5 x 13.5 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten note on verso.
Item  12

[Machinery and elevation drawings of Chattanooga Water Works], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 20.5 x 24 cm

Note

Photograph of drawings.
Item  13

[Union army artillery squad posed with cannon], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 13.5 x 18.5 cm
Item  16

[Tents of Battery Mitchell & Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  17

[Skirmish site at farm near Lookout Mt.], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 13.5 x 18.5 cm
Item  18

[Union cavalry squad and carriage traveling, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 13.5 x 18.5 cm
Item  19

[Back view of large clapboard house, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  20

[Two-story house with veranda, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 7 x 11 cm
Item  21

[Large wooden clapboard house, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  22

[Large wooden clapboard house, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm
Item  23

View of mess at supper [Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 22 x 15 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten note on verso.
Item  24

[Group of 7 Union Army soldiers posed in demonstration of eating at mess, possibly Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1862-1863

Physical Description: 11 x 7 cm
Item  25

[Seated Union army officer], approximately 1862-1863

Physical Description: 11 x 7 cm
Item  26

Union Army Major/Lt. Colonel, possibly at General Rosecrans' headquarters, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1862-1863

Physical Description: 11 x 7 cm
Item  27

[Elevation drawing of Chattanooga Water Works by C.H. Elliott], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 12 x 25.5 cm

Note

Photograph of drawings.
Item  28

[Crawfish Spring, Georgia], 1863

Physical Description: 26 x 33 cm
Item  29

[Grazing cattle and pigs in Rocky Valley near Arkansas, Kansas], approximately 1875-1880

Physical Description: 20 x 25.5 cm
Item  29.1

[Group portrait of large group of men, well-dressed, with hats and many wearing ribbons, as for a convention], approximately 1881

Note

Includes several U.S. flags and numerous rifles. Concession tents in background. Possibly Arkansas City, Kansas or nearby. (Former Sgt. I. H. Bonsall was one of a roster of veterans that established a new encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1881. Possibly a scene of veterans.)
Physical Description: 25.5 x 31 cm
Item  29.2

[Portrait of an unidentified man with beard wearing white shirt and plain coat], approximately 1875-1880

Note

Attributed to Bonsall by donor. Possibly a self-portrait[?].
Physical Description: 15 x 12 cm
Item  29.3

[View of stores and businesses on Summit Street, Arkansas City, Kansas], approximately 1875-1880

Note

Shows storefronts, boardwalk, horses, carriages, businesses with signs. C. R. Sipes' hardware store, seen at left, was established around 1870 on Summit Street. (Source: William G. Cutler, “History of the State of Kansas, Cowley County, Part 9").
Physical Description: 20 x 25.5 cm
Item  30

After the charge, 1862

Physical Description: image 15 x 22 cm, mount 25.5 x 30.5 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten frame. Matted; "Entered … 1862, by N. Brown, Photographer …"--copyright statement on image; "Fort Robbinette near Corinth … Sept. 6th & 7th 1862"--note on verso
Item  31

Fort Robbinette at Corinth [Mississippi], 6th & 7th of Sept. 1862

Physical Description: image 15 x 22 cm, mount 25.5 x 30.5 cm

Note

Title and date transcribed from handwritten mote on verso. Matted; "Entered … 1862, by N. Brown, Photographer …"--copyright statement on image
Item  32

[Three-story house with picket fence, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: image 14.5 x 18 cm, mount 29.5 x 24.5
Item  33

[Military Bridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee, taken from the Navy Yard], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 26 x 31.5 cm
Item  35

[Chattanooga Railroad Yards #3, Tennessee], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 25 x 33 cm
Item  36

[Man at Lulah Lake, Lookout Mt., Georgia], approximately 1863

Physical Description: 32 x 26 cm
Item  37

[Slope of Lookout Mt., Georgia], approximately 1863

Physical Description: 26 x 33.5 cm
Item  38

[Lulah Falls, Lookout Mt., Georgia], approximately 1863

Physical Description: 26 x 33 cm
Item  39

[Tennessee River near Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1863

Physical Description: 26.5 x 32.5 cm
Item  40

[Indian Mound, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, sanitary garden for convalescents], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 26 x 32.5 cm
Item  41

[Lulah Falls, Lookout Mt., Georgia], approximately 1863

Physical Description: 26 x 33.5 cm
Item  43

[Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 26 x 32.5 cm
Item  44

[Camp of U.S. Colored Infantry at Chattanooga, Tenn., near Sanitary Garden], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 26.5 x 33 cm
Box 2

Oversize and matted photographs (Items 14-15, 34, 42, 45-53)

Item  14

[Partial artillery squad in a Union redoubt, Fortress Rosecrans, Murfreesboro, Tennessee], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm

Note

"No. 5" written on verso; matted with Item 15.
Item  15

View of the tents of Battery Mitchell & Company …, approximately 1863

Physical Description: 15 x 22 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten note on verso; matted with Item 14.
Item  34

[Close-order Black Platoon Drill in Parade Plaza near Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1864

Physical Description: 26 x 31.5 cm

Note

Matted.
Item  42

[Group of Union Military and Civilian Men, Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 31 x 26 cm

Note

Matted.
Item  45

Military bridge across the Tennessee River at Chattanooga, built Oct 1863, approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 27 x 34.5 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten note on verso; matted.
Item  46

Genl. Thomas and Staff, and Genl. King, Point Lookout, Lookout Mt., approximately 1863

Physical Description: image 28 x 22 cm, mount 40.5 x 38 cm
Item  47

Genl. Hooker on Point Lookout, Lookout, Mt., approximately 1864

Physical Description: image 28 x 21.5 cm, mount 45 x 38 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten caption.
Item  48

Steamboat [Bridgeport], U.S. Navy Yards, 1864

Physical Description: image 25 x 33 cm, mount 33 x 43 cm

Note

Title and date transcribed from handwritten caption; matted.
Item  49

[Steamboat Kingston on River Chattanooga, Tennessee], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: image 26 x 30.5 cm, mount 35.5 x 43 cm
Item  50

[Infantry company in formation, Chattanooga Railroad Yards], approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: 32.5 x 36 cm

Note

Matted.
Item  51

The Navy Yard Chattanooga, Tenn., Capt. Slayton's Mill. I.H. Bonsall, photographer, approximately 1863-1864

Physical Description: image 26 x 32 cm, mount 38 x 45.5 cm

Note

Title transcribed from handwritten caption.
Item  52

Officers, 1st U.S. V.V. Eng'rs … I.H. Bonsall, Art., approximately 1865

Physical Description: mount 38 x 46 cm

Note

39 head-and-shoulder portraits of the officers of the 1st United States Veteran Volunteer Engineers, centered around a larger portrait of Col. William E. Merrill, pasted on board with decorative border, with names captioned below each photograph. Title transcribed from handwritten caption.
Item  53

Non-Com'd State, 1st U.S.V.V. Engr's, approximately 1865

Physical Description: mount 38 x 46 cm

Note

8 head-and-shoulder portraits of non-commissioned officers of the 1st United States Veteran Volunteer Engineers, centered around a larger portrait of Lieutenant Horace D. Olds, pasted on board with decorative border, with names captioned below each photograph. Title transcribed from handwritten caption.