Many of you who know me are aware of my passion for history, and my interest and collection of Civil War-related items. For several years, that has included a focus on identified items in which I can bring the stories of the men and women from that period “to life.” Particularly, period images. Nothing brings history to life more than a photograph, where one can see a face and look into the eyes of an individual…. and the period just prior to and during the Civil War was truly the awakening of photography, such that these images tell a story as significant as battle reports, letters, or books.
I explain all of this to proudly debut my first (of many, I hope) article to appear in Military Images magazine. MI is one of the foremost historical publications in existence today, and the only one whose exclusive focus is the study of photographs of Civil War soldiers. I began my journey here when I discovered (rediscovered?) an albumen print of Lieutenant Otway Berryman of the United States Navy. Prior to obtaining this image, I had never heard his name mentioned. But he was a Virginian, and that interested me, and I quickly learned he died at the outbreak of hostilities. That also piqued my curiosity. Armed with this information, I began a quest some eight months ago researching this “unknown” naval officer. What I learned from that research moved me so much that I knew his story needed to be told. So this article is the culmination of that research, and from my perspective, a tribute to Lt. Berryman and his service. For those of you who already subscribe to Military Images, I hope you enjoy the article. If you do not, but are interested in such history, please check out their website, and consider a subscription. The current issue can be purchased, as well as subscriptions from the following link.
I cannot conclude without also thanking my family and my dear wife who tolerated my many hours locked away in research, and ultimately for her critique of this article. I also knew that if I was going to write for a scholarly publication, I needed to run this article by historians and image collectors who not only had previously contributed to MI, but whose advice (and criticism) I knew would make this a better read. Those gentlemen include my dear friends Rusty Hicks, William Stier, and Doug York. Finally, I cannot say enough about the courtesy and professionalism extended to me by MI Editor and Publisher Ron Coddington who truly helped bring this story to life with his recommendations as we drafted our way through to the final version.