August 2014 | Nate Pedersen

Library of Congress Acquires Unusual Civil War Image

civil war chandler pic.jpg
Last week, the Library of Congress acquired a unique and iconic Civil War image of a Confederate soldier leaving for war with his slave. The image was donated by photograph collector Tom Liljenquist, who has been actively purchasing Civil War photos for the Library of Congress over the last four years.
The photograph - a 150 year old tintype - shows Sgt. Andrew Chandler of the 44th Mississippi and his slave Silas Chandler armed with a shotgun, two pistols, and two large knives. The enigmatic photograph raises questions about the involvement of slaves with the Confederate army. At the time of the photo, Andrew Chandler was 17 years old while Silas was about 23.

The photograph was privately owned by descendants of the Chandler family, but had made appearances in recent years on the shows History Detectives and Antiques Roadshow. It was also featured in a recent book, "African American Faces of the Civil War" by historian Rod Coddington. Collector Tom Liljenquist, who thought the photograph should be part of the holdings of the Library of Congress, convinced a family descendant to sell the photo for an undisclosed price.  (When the photograph was appraised on Antiques Roadshow, it was estimated at $30,000 - $40,000).

As for Andrew and Silas, they both survived the war.  Andrew was severely wounded in the leg at the Battle of Chickamauga and was helped home by Silas who was promptly sent back to the front with Andrew's brother Benjamin. By the end of the war, Silas had seen four years of action.

[Image from the Library of Congress]