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Cargo (Pittsburgh, PA)
A uniformed sailor and double amputee, Bernard Toby/Tobey (named spelled variously), with both arms missing below the elbow, having ribbons on his shirt and a strapped "hurdy-gurdy," or hand organ, at his hip.
Carte de visite
Cowan Auctions, Inc
American History: Premier Auction, 26 June 2018, Lot: 65
Carte featuring uniformed sailor and double amputee, Bernard Toby/Tobey (named spelled variously), with both arms missing below the elbow, having ribbons on his shirt and a strapped "hurdy-gurdy," or hand organ, at his hip. He is posed next to a small cart flying an American flag, with a similarly uniformed young boy (possibly Toby's son) posed on the opposite side. The cart clearly shows a sign reading, in part, "Stanton's Official Dispatch," and proclaiming the victory at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher. Credited to Cargo, Pittsburgh on verso. Verso also bears a printed copy of Stanton's Official Dispatch, dated January 17, 1865, announcing the fort's fall. It reads, in part, "Troops arrive at Fort Fisher, Thursday, Jan. 12th; were landed Friday, Jan. 13th; assault made Sunday, at 3 1/2 o'clock P. M.; fight lasted seven hours...Explosion on Monday, Jan. 16th, between 6 and 7 o'clock, A.M."
Bernard Toby, a Dutch-born Crimean War veteran, moved to the United States with his wife in 1856, and enlisted in the US Navy after the Civil War broke out in 1861. Service in the war did not come without its personal tragedies, and Toby was no exception. On January 16, 1865 a powder magazine exploded while he was inside the surrendered Fort Fisher. Two-hundred men were killed or wounded in the accident, including Toby, who lost both of his arms. Needing to make extra money, Toby thought of a creative way to make the most of his situation. He purchased a hand organ and used it to perform concerts around the country with his son. These events, along with photographs such as the one featured in this lot, provided additional income for his family. Throughout his performing career, Toby met President Andrew Johnson, Lieutenant General U.S. Grant, and Admiral David Farragut. Research shows that Toby must have stopped touring and performing around 1869, perhaps in order to spend the rest of his time with his family. This CDV is a fascinating reminder of the cost of war, and a sailor who bore that cost with courage and ingenuity.
Source: Leisenring, Jr., Richard. "Philanthropic Photographs," Military Images, Spring 2018.