John Lysander Marshall

In a recent Ted Spaulding donation was a tintype of a Civil War soldier. A very faint pencil inscription notes the soldier is John Lysander Marshall (who I hereafter refer to as Lysander) of the Popple Dungeon section of Chester. Ted had a little history on Lysander but more research was needed.

I looked Lysander up in my reference books and found additional information, but I knew there was more. So I called my friend Dennis Charles. Dennis has access to Civil War records that I don’t have. Below is what Dennis found.

John L. Marshall in his Civil War uniform. Photo provided by Ted Spaulding.


“Chester VT; Enlisted on 9/3/1861 as a Private. On 9/21/1861 he mustered into ‘K’ Co. Fourth Vermont Infantry. He died of wounds on 8/8/1863 at Gettysburg, PA (Died at Letterman Hospital) He was listed as: * Wounded 7/2/1863 Gettysburg, PA (Estimated day) Other Information: Buried: Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg, PA Gravesite: A-27, VT plot”

  Official Records of the Union & Confederate Armies:

“Aug 3rd, 1863. Report on Gettysburg by L. A. Grant, Col. Commanding Vt. Brigade.

  “On the morning of 3d, the brigade advanced a short distance and took a position with its right resting on Round Top Mountain and its left on the Tannytown Road, in which position it remained that day taking no active part in the battle, though exposed at times to solid shot and shell from the enemy’s guns.

  “On July 3rd the brigade held substantially the same position and during the day the Fourth Vermont then on picket, was ordered forward to feel the enemy’s position. It advanced about 1 1/2 miles and had a slight skirmish with the enemy’s pickets.

  “John L. Marshall of the Fourth Vermont was severely wounded in the arm and the knee. He was the only casualty in the brigade.”

Family history as told to me by Ted is that Lysander was wounded by an exploding shell and struck with shrapnel. While in hospital, Lysander’s knee became infected. He died of that infection. Dennis told me when he goes to Baltimore, Md. this March, he is going to stop in Gettysburg and put a small flag on Lysander’s grave. This is fitting.

I include two photos with this article. One shows Lysander in his Civil War uniform. The other photo is Lysander in civilian dress. Now let’s talk about the civilian photo.

Lysander as a civilian

John L. Marshall in civilian dress. Photo provided by Ted Spaulding.

This “Carte de Visite” “CDV” photo of Lysander was taken in Chester by A.S. Hayward. Hayward came from Proctorsville to Chester sometime in 1867 establishing a photographic studio on Main Street in Chester. Lysander died August 8, 1863. So when Lysander’s photo was taken by Hayward in Chester, Lysander had been dead for three years. How would this be possible?

Lysander’s civilian photo was taken before he enlisted in 1861. He would have purchased his portrait from the photographer for family and friends. There might have been a dozen photos produced.

In those days, it wasn’t uncommon for a family member, usually living far away, to want a photo of the deceased. In order to do this, the family would take an existing photo to the photographer and have it photographed. So you end up with what we have here.

Looking at the civilian photo, you’ll notice Lysander’s portrait is surrounded with an embossed mat. This mat is a very thin brass, nicely embossed. When a photographer took your photo in those days, he would take the brass mat, a piece of glass for a protector and wrap it around the photo. It was then placed in a small case. The case opens and closes like a book.

Hayward’s photo is a paper photograph that would have been inserted in a photograph album. These CDV’s were seldom placed in a case.

At the Chester Historical Society we have a few photos of Chester boys who served in the Civil War. Lysander’s photo is an excellent addition to our collection.

Lysander was a new name for me so I looked it up. “Lysander (died 395 BC) was a Spartan statesman and general who famously defeated the Athenian navy at the Battle of Aigospotamoi in 405 BC, which finally won the Peloponnesian War.”

The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Thursday, Jan. 24, upstairs of Chester Town Hall, at 7 p.m. The monthly slideshow will be photos donated by Ted Spaulding. Most of these photos have not been seen before. Weston, Springfield, Saxtons River, and other area towns will be included. All are welcome, whether members or not.

This week’s old saying. “I don’t often listen to heavy metal, but when I do so do the neighbors.”

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