A soldier’s name lost to history

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on Mar 06, 2013 - 01:32 PM

Photo: This portrait has hung in the Mathews County courthouse for a number of years; the local UDC chapter is trying to find out who he was.

This portrait has hung in the Mathews County courthouse for a number of years; the local UDC chapter is trying to find out who he was.

He’s a young boy with an angelic face. But his uniform suggests that he’s seen the hell of war. And now the members of the Sally Tompkins chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy are trying to find out just who he was.

The faded portrait of the man (actually, little more than a child) wearing a gray Confederate shell jacket and trousers has hung on the wall of the Mathews historic courthouse for quite some time, but with no name or other identifying mark.

"He’s just adorable, whoever he is … and I’m dying to know" his identity, said UDC chapter vice president Christine Anthony. She was struck by how all the other portraits in the courthouse have corresponding name plaques, save this one.

At the February meeting of the Mathews County Board of Supervisors, the UDC chapter received permission to take the young man’s portrait, along with the chapter’s original 1908 charter (spelled "Sallie" Tompkins), to get the document and photograph preserved and reframed. Both items will then be returned to the courthouse, where they will be displayed once again. But not before the boy is identified, Anthony hopes.

The black-and-white photo has been hand-colored, with the soldier’s gold buttons and the bronze color of the back of the chair the most prominent features. A light blue trim was also added to the epaulettes and the cuff of the shell jacket, suggesting that he served in the infantry. His hair was colored a light brown.