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Two officers of the 5th U.S. Infantry taken in Vera Cruz, Mexico
Daguerreotype, 1/4 plate
Private collection of Will Dunniway
The officer smiling on the left is Capt. William H. Chapman ( Not William W. Chapman) and the officer to the right is believed to be Capt. Moses Merrill, killed at Melino del Rey, Mexico, September 1847. 1/4 plate cased (Not original case) with original mat.
Background: The daguerreotype is of two officers of the 5th U.S. Infantry taken in Vera Cruz, Mexico in April, 1847. The officer smiling on the left is Capt. William H. Chapman (not William W. Chapman) and the officer to the right is believed to be Capt. Moses Merrill, killed at Melino del Rey, Mexico, September 1847. This daguerreotype has been published in the 1992 Daguerreian Annual on Mexican War daguerreotypes that John Graf edited, and has been published in three histories on the Mexican War, including a special by PBS Television.
The military record of Captain Wm. H. Chapman is stellar. Will Dunniway wrote a short bio on him in the Military Image Magazine called "The Fight For The City of Mexico" Issue September-October 1992. Without going over his long and gallant service in the US Army from the horrible battles leading up to the taking of Mexico City and the surrender of Mexico. He retired in the later part of the civil war having fought many battles with gallantry against his former friends and officers. This left him disheartened in his letters home to Annie. Copies of the transcribed journals are now archived at West Point.
Reasons this image is so significant in the history of the Military Ante-Bellum Daguerreotype:
- It is one of only around 50 'documented' images to have surfaced in the country of Mexico during the Mexico War of 1846-48.
- The condition is very good when compared to the abrades and fading of the General Wool and staff daguerreotype images in Mexico.
- The content, smiles, drunken? Over-shirt (Moses Merrill) made with the ribbed linen material sent for the officers to make new shirts after the Monterey Battles. This was sent to Vera Cruz in the spring of 1847. The studio 'cantina' location. The slouch hats, unbuttoned coat and pants which are totally non- regulation for these West Point grads.
- The ID and journals of this Captain W.H. Chapman are compelling historical documents plus the letter that accompanied the images home to Annie by a Lt. Robinson.
- Captain WH Chapman was on the court marshal board for the San Patricio Battn. that mutinied.
- Provenance. It came from Col. W.W. Chapman's family.
Notes prepared with the assistance of Will Dunniway, Matt Isenburg, Dr.William (Bill) Schulz, John McWilliams and Henry Mace.