June 21, 2019 10:00 AM EDT Cincinnati


Civil War Military Execution Stereoview, The Hanging of Private William Johnson, 23rd US Colored Troops

Stereoview taken at Petersburg, VA, 1864, titled on mount, "783. Execution of a Colored Soldier." Mount verso with printed description of the scene and credit to publishers, Taylor & Huntington, Hartford, CT. 

On June 20, 1864, Private William Johnson, 23rd USCT, was hanged, although the execution is not included in the List of US Soldiers Executed by US Military Authorities during the Late War that was produced in 1885. According to a Harper's Weekly article, dated July 9, 1864, the facts known about Private Johnson were that he deserted and..."attempted to commit an outrage on a white woman at Cold Harbor. Considerable importance was given to the affair, in order that the example might be made more effective. Johnson confessed his guilt and was executed within the outer breastworks about Petersburg on an elevation, and in plain view of the enemy. A white flag covered the ceremony."

Civil War photo historian William Frassanito discovered that two different photographers took four photographs of Johnson's execution and sold the images to the public. While working for Alexander Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan produced two stereoscopic images entitled "The execution of William Johnson, Jordan's Farm, Petersburg, June 20, 1864," and Mathew Brady's studio is credited with taking the other two known photographs of the hanging (Frassanito, pp. 216-222).


Overall very fine condition. 

Estimate: $500 - $700
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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