Albumen Photograph of Capt. J. Albert Monroe, II Corps, AoP

Oval just under 8 x 10 in. maximum diameters. Photographer's ID of H. Ulke, Washington, DC.

John Albert Monroe (1836-1891) enlisted in the Rhode Island Battery after Lincoln's first call for troops in the spring of 1861. Although just twenty-years of age, he seemed to have a presence that caught the attention of those with much more experience. As the first group of Rhode Island troops was leaving - the three-month unit, and probably not yet arrived in Washington, Monroe approached the senior officer still in Providence and suggested that they form a company to replace or aid the one just gone, should they be needed. He also seemed to sense that the war would continue more than three months, and the unit would need to be replaced.

A meeting was called, and men responded, signing up by the hundreds. Monroe notes: "By general consent, rather than by appointment or election, I assumed the duty of conducting the drills and of reducing the matters to a system...The call for men to serve for the period of three years put a new phase upon the matters." He notes that men whose obligations required them to remain at home withdrew from the sign-up list, but there was still more than enough men to form a battery. With the call for long-term service, Monroe was commissioned a Lieutenant, and continued training his unit for the  trials to come.

At the beginning of June, 1861, they were mustered into Federal service and shortly thereafter left for Washington. There they joined the three-month units. They were placed under (then) Col. Ambrose Burnside's command, and within days began moving toward Manassas. Monroe reminisces: "..the air seemed to be filled with myriads of serpents, such was the sound of the bullets passing through it. Above us and around us on every side, they seemed to be hissing, writhing and twisting. I have been under many a hot fire, but I don't think that, in nearly four years experience, I ever heard so many bullets in such a short space of time. Suddenly thrown into a position, the realities of which had been only feebly imagined and underestimated, it is surprising that all did so well." That may have been true for Rhode Island troops, but not so much for the Federal forces overall. Their first battle, their first defeat.

Even as the Federal forces attempted to retreat, the rebel forces continued firing. Monroe remembers: "Unsophisticated as I was, I could not understand why they should continue to fire upon us when we were doing the best that we could to let them alone, and I said to Captain Reynolds, 'What do you suppose they're trying to do?' His reply was a characteristic one: 'They are trying to kill every mother's son of us; that is what they are trying to do," the truth of which was very forcibly impressed upon me as shot after shot came screeching after us in rapid succession."

And, of course, it did not end there. The Rhode Island militias fought at Antietam, Malvern Hill, Winchester, Fair Oaks, Fredericksburg, Marye's Heights, Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, Mine Run, Spottsylvania CH, Wilderness, Cold Harbor, Gaines' Farm, Petersburg, etc., etc. - all of the major Eastern engagements. Monroe showed his talents, earning promotions to Captain, Major and eventually Lieut. Colonel (Dec. 1862).

After the war he worked as a civil engineer in Providence. The 1880 Census shows him living with his wife, Mary C., and daughters Mary A. (14), Blanche (9), and Josephine (5). He died on 11 June 1891 at the age of 55.

Condition:Moderate to heavy toning.

Estimate: $300 - $400
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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