National Park Service
Three Connecticut Officers of the United States Colored Troops,
Quarter-Plate Melainotype Taken at Chaffin's Farm, Virginia, January 20, 1865.
Written on Back: "Chaffin's Farm, Va. Jan. 20, 1865 / ETC / Theo. C. Glazier / Lieut.
When I asked Bob Krick of the Richmond National Battlefield Park about the historical context of this image, I received the following reply from him:
Rusty, Here are some details on the guys in your lovely photograph. Nothing ever goes exactly perfectly, as you know, so there are some discrepancies here.
1. Edward T. Carrington ("E.T.C.") was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 13, 1839. He apparently served for three months in 1861, in some short-lived unit, and then did nothing more that I can discover until he wrangled a commission as Lt. in Company I, 45th U.S.C.T. That commission was dated August 17, 1864, and the 45th was a newly created regiment. No doubt he used some political leverage somewhere to get the commisssion. the regiment came to the Richmond/Petersburg front in September, arriving about September 25, just in time for Butler's offensive below Richmond. The 45th was in William Birney's Brigade of U.S.C.T.'s. It did not participate in the attack at New Market Heights, but was present later in the day when Birney botched some attacks against Fort Gregg and Fort Gilmer, just north of Fort Harrison. The 45th then took a hand in repulsing Lee's counterattack against Fort Harrison the next day (Sept. 30). Despite being a Lieutenant, Carrington commanded Company I during those operations. He was promoted to regimental adjutant on January 1, 1865. There is a document in his service record that says he was detailed on court martial duty at Fort Monroe on January 13, 1865. If so, that is only one week before the date of your photograph (presuming the caption is correct). He might have been back from the court martial; or, maybe he never went. He was present with the regiment around Fort Harrison and adjacent area from Feby. to April, 1865, and probably went into Richmond in April. The regiment was transferred to Texas later in the spring, and while there he resigned his commission and was honorably discharged on July 22, 1865. He was a resident of Colebrook, in Litchfield Co., Connecticut, and the reason for his resignation/discharge was that his only brother had been killed at Natural Bridge, Florida, in March, 1865, while serving on the staff of General Newton.
2. Theodore C. Glazier was born in Hartford on June 28, 1837. He served from August to December, 1862 as a sergeant in Co. D, 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, during which he probably saw no action. He was a lieutenant and regimental adjutant in the 10th U.S.C.T. from September to December, 1864. He also served for a very short time as Capt. in the 116th U.S.C.T., also acting adjutant general at that time, presumably on the brigade staff. I'm not sure what he was doing while the armies fought around Fort Harrison. He was appointed Major of the 45th U.S.C.T. on January 31, 1865. He was still with the 45th in Texas in October, 1865, after which I lose track of him. His subsequent service records are probably at the National Archives; the wartime service records end in 1865.
3. I cannot 100% positively identify the "Lieut. Pickering," but suspect he was Lt. Edward N. Pickering, of Company F, 114th U.S.C.T. that regiment was in the same corps (the 25th Corps, all U.S.C.T.) effective January 3, 1865, so Pickering would have been around in the right area at the right time. The service records for the 114th have not yet been posted online, so I can't learn much about him. A good guess is that he might have been from Connectibut, and thus possibly a pal of Carrington and Glazier.
I see nothing about Glazier being on court martial duty at Fort Monroe, by the way.
There also was a Lt. Col. Charles H. Pickering with the 17th U.S.C.T., but that regiment was not with Butler and thus it is unlikely to be a match with your officer in the photograph.
I know there was a photographer with the Army of the James who took photographs of individual soldiers during the course of the winter. I think, but am not positive, that it was Harris and Bancroft. Another option is a mysterious guy named Hathaway, who I think was affiliated with the Army of the James in some fashion. He took a series of super-rare albumens of Richmond in April, 1865. Either way, I do not recall ever seeing a glass plate image [ed.: Bobby had the mistaken impression that it was an ambrotype; actually it is a melainotype] from that winter of the sort that you own. Some of the famous photographers visited the Army of the James in December, 1864, and possibly later, but they took outdoor shots, most of which are at the Library of Congress.