Groton, MA c. 1888: The Caroline Estelle Mudge Lawrence Photo Album

Somewhere around 1887 or so, possibly earlier, Caroline Estelle Mudge Lawrence familiarized herself with the then-still-arcane process of photography and, to my reckoning, did something which for the time was quite unusual: she took pictures. Of her land. Her neighbors’ land. Animals she and others owned. Her husband, her children, her friends. Domestic life, well before the turn of the last century. It was, in a phrase, a thoroughly modern thing to do, and it was way, way ahead of its time.

Here, for the sake of preservation, and for the fun of seeing the daily reality of a family approximately 130 years ago, is the album…

(A brief editorial note: these are going up un-captioned. I’ll try to get names, places, etc. attached ASAP.–LSL)


The Lost Sargents: ‘Recovering’ the Destroyed Portraits of Mr. And Mrs. James Lawrence

In 1881, the American artist John Singer Sargent painted dual portraits of husband and wife, James and Caroline Estelle Mudge Lawrence.

Much to many people’s everlasting grief, however, in 1939, both paintings were destroyed in a fire in Aunt Libby’s [Elizabeth Prescott Lawrence Emmons’] apartment.

For most of my life, it was my understanding that any substantive idea of what those paintings might have looked like had been lost, along with the originals, in the flames.

Over the last year, though, I have found two photographic reproductions of Estelle’s portrait, and one of James’  portrait. After some truly sparing and minimalist work in Photoshop, I offer them both below.

The best image of Estelle’s portrait came from a .pdf of an old Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog which had featured the painting: Memorial Exhibition of the Work of John Singer Sargent (January 4 through February 14, 1926). You can see a copy of it here; scroll to Plate 6.

The background, by the way, was described by contemporary viewers as being a brilliant red. Looking at the monotone image below, I can almost see the cadmium in my mind’s eye.



John Singer Sargent
Mrs James Lawrence
61 x 45.7 cm
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated upper right: John S. Sargent 1881
Destroyed by fire at Hingham, Massachusetts, Nov 21, 1938


The image of James’ portrait came from a photograph taken by Estelle herself. It was easily discernible on the far wall in an interior shot of the Lawrence Homestead at Groton.



John Singer Sargent
Mr James Lawrence
Exact dimensions unknown
c. 1881
Oil on canvas
Destroyed by fire at Hingham, Massachusetts, Nov 21, 1938


(Post Script: the newspaper article on the fire that destroyed the paintings can be accessed here, and here.–LSL)

A Street Map to Mudge’s Burial Site at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Lynn, MA

In the waning years of his life, Charley Mudge’s father, Enoch Redington Mudge, devoted himself to the construction of an Episcopal church in Lynn: St. Stephen’s.

The church has its own website, including a section on its history, here; there is a very good Wikipedia entry, here; and a recent newspaper article on the thought process that went into giving the building, interspersed with a short bio on Enoch Mudge, here.

Going there is profoundly different than reading about it. I urge you. Make the trip.

Contact Info:



The gravesite is in the center courtyard of the building, called “The Garth.” It’s best to call ahead, as there is no access during off hours.

A Visit to Gettysburg

Provoked by the foregoing research, I went to Gettysburg to look for the place, the actual place, where Colonel Mudge was killed: Spangler’s Spring, located near the foot of Culp’s Hill, at the tip of the Union “fish hook. ”

Google Map (GPS coordinates: 39.813324° N, 77.215871° W):


If you are reading this at Gettysburg, and currently searching a paper map, it is stop number 13 on the auto tour.]


Coming out of the woods on to a straight part of the road, with a large meadow on the right and a smaller one farther down on the left, your eye moves up across a long hill to a wall of woods. Just off to the left, and easy to miss, is a smallish rectangular stone monument fitted with a bronze plaque. It rests on a large slab of granite that was probably dumped as glacial till.


This is the memorial to the 2nd Mass. Volunteers, and, dedicated in 1879 by the survivors, it was the first such memorial to be placed on the battlefield at Gettysburg. The two faces of the plaque appear as follows:


“From the hill behind this monument on the morning of July Third 1863 the Second Massachusetts Infantry made an assault upon the Confederate troops in the works at the base of Culp’s Hill opposite. The regiment carried to the charge 22 officers and 294 enlisted men. It lost 4 officers and 41 enlisted  men killed and mortally wounded and 6  officers and 84 enlisted men wounded. To perpetuate the honored memories of  that hour the survivors of the Regiment  have raised this stone. 1879.”


“Lieut. Col. Charles R. Mudge                    Captain Thomas B. Robeson
Captain Thomas B. Fox                         Lieut. Henry V.D. Stone
Color bearers – Leavitt C. Durgin, Rupert J. Sadler, Stephen Cody
First Sergeant Alonzo J. Babcock, Sergeant William H. Blunt.
Charles Burdett, Theodore S. Butters, Jeremiah S. Hall, Patrick Heoy, Ruel Whittier, Gordon S. Wilson.
Samuel T. Alton  James T. Edmunds  Charles Kiernan
George M. Baily  William H. Ela  William Marshall
Henry C. Ball  John E. Farrington  Frederick Maynard
Wallace Bascom  Silas P. Foster  Andrew Nelson
John Briggs, Jr.  Willard Foster  Rufus A. Parker
David B. Brown  Joseph Furber  Philo H. Peck
William T. Bullard  Fritz Goetz  Sidney S. Prouty
James A. Chase  Daniel A. Hatch  Richard Seavers
Peter Conlan  John J. Jewett  Charles Trayner
John Derr  John Joy  David L. Wade”

Above: the front and back of the monument to the 2nd. Mass Volunteers, and their respective inscriptions.

Just in front of the stone, you see a gray, withered tree stump, maybe a foot-and-a-half across and coated in dust from the road. It stands up from the base of the huge boulder, almost pointing towards the hill. Its brush with the saw occurred long ago, but somehow it has held on.
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Consoling Words From One of Mudge’s Comrades

As the Civil War raged, in the aftermath of Mudge’s death, Adjutant John Fox subordinated his own grief over the death of his brother to ease that of the Mudge family. To the colonel’s father he wrote,


I esteemed it a great privilege to be the first friend to receive his remains, and, with Colonel Morse, to perform those last offices which none but a friendly hand should undertake. Of his gallantry I need not speak,–it will be a house-hold word of every survivor of the regiment. My brother and Charley were classmates, and I hold it the sacred duty of my life to fight for the flag they died for, and to see that the cause for which they suffered is in the end triumphant over all its enemies. I hope that God may comfort and bless you and yours , even as I pray He may comfort my poor father and mother, and all who were friends of the loved and lost.


–The 2nd Massachusetts Infantry
at Gettysburg (1-3 July, 1863):
Vignettes of the Battle


Charles Redington Mudge’s Death and the Fog of War

In his excellent study, Gettysburg, Day Three, 2001, pp. 70-74, military historian Jeffrey D. Wert details the command decisions on the day Mudge was killed, and the probable miscommunication and/or misunderstanding that led to the order to “take the hill”…an order Mudge followed though he knew it almost certainly meant his death.

It is gripping reading, which I strongly recommend, and a wrenching anecdote of what has come to be called the fog of war.

Sadly, copyright restrictions prevent me from reproducing it here, or I would share it in full.

I tried to look for a short passage or two to quote under allowances for fair use, but you really have to follow the whole argument from beginning to end to appreciate the futility and the tragedy of what transpired.

You can buy the book here.

A Recent Article on Col. Mudge

A worthy piece of research bearing on Col. Mudge and the events at Gettysburg – written in the modern era – is the article, A CALL OF LEADERSHIP; Lt. COL. CHARLES REDINGTON MUDGE, U.S.V. AND THE SECOND MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY AT GETTYSBURG, by Anthony J. Milano. It appeared in Gettysburg Magazine, January 1, 1992, Issue No. 6.

As usual, I would like nothing better than to reproduce it here, as it makes for fascinating reading. As usual, copyright restrictions prevent that.

I will offer though, from the article, a few excerpted lines from Mudge’s letters home.

They are just snatches, pieces, of an extended conversation between a son and his father. But I enjoy hearing the words in my mind, as he might have whispered them under his breath, writing in camp at night after a long day’s marching.


After Antietam:

…Our regiment went in, that is, was actually engaged three times in the battle of Wednesday. Twice we were very fortunate, making the rebels run and not suffering ourselves, but the other time we got the worst of it, losing fifteen killed and fifty-five wounded out of less than two hundred….I got a blow on the ribs from a ball which penetrated through my blouse, vest, and two shirts, and skinned my ribs, but only disabled me for a few moments. I thought I was killed when it struck me, but recovered almost immediately…there are no words left to express what Wednesday’s fight was,—the whole ground was fought over twice, each side feeling how great an issue was at stake.


–C.R. Mudge to E.R Mudge, Maryland Heights, September 25, 1862

Comey Family Civil War Papers, Box 1, Folder 13, Manuscript Collection of the American Antiquarian Society.

After Chancellorsville:

…Our men behaved better than ever. Cogswell was wounded early, and then I took command,—gaining and holding ground for fifteen minutes without a cartridge,—until ordered to retire, which I did very slowly, halting and facing frequently. We took in four hundred and thirty men and twenty­ two officers, and lost, as near as I can get it at present, twenty‑two men killed, ninety‑eight wounded, sixteen missing,—one officer killed, four wounded, several grazed. I think the killed is larger, as some of the wounded could not have lived long….The colors are getting to look a little hard….3


–C.R. Mudge to ER. Mudge, Extreme left of the Army of the Potomac covering the United States Ford, May 5, 1863

Comey Family Civil War Papers, Box 1, Folder 13, Manuscript Collection of the American Antiquarian Society.

Charles Redington Mudge, As Photographed By John Adams Whipple

At some point in the course of the war, Charles Redington Mudge sat for the well-known photographer, John Adams Whipple.

During that time, Whipple made several plates. At least three that I know of. One of Mudge standing, and two sitting.

In the preceding post, I showed the standing pose. But by far the most common, and emotionally resonant, are the two that show  Mudge seated– one with his hand under his chin, the other with his hands folded on the table.

There are many versions of the “hand under chin” frame. Most of them are cropped and low resolution. Good at best, not great.

In the early 2000s, I took a period print of this frame, currently in a family residence, to be archivally re-matted, and I used the opportunity to make a high resolution scan of it. This particular print is quite large and may actually have been part of the studio’s retouch process. A grayish wash or ink has been directly applied to the paper, smoothing out both Mudge’s uniform, and the drapery over the table.

Here below, is a version of that scan, sized for the Web.




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Charles Redington Mudge in Harvard Memorial Biographies

The following was originally published in Harvard Memorial Biographies, and later reproduced in the book Mudge Memorials, by Alfred MudgeAlfred Mudge, Boston 1868, pp. 370-382. I have included it here in its entirety, preserving the original spellings.



CRM, photo [CDV or carte de visite] taken by John Adams Whipple (Boston, MA).




Charles Redington Mudge

First Lieutenant 2d Mass. Vols. [Infantry], May 25, 1861; Captain, July 8, 1861; Major, November 9, 1862; Lieutenant-Colonel, June 6, 1863; killed at Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863.

Charles Redington Mudge was the son of Enoch Redington and Caroline A. (Patten) Mudge. He was born in New York City, on the 22d day of October, 1839. He studied for several years at the private school of Mr. Thomas G. Bradford, at that time a favorite teacher in Boston; and went thence to Harvard College in the summer of 1856, joining the Class of 1860. The most salient point in his college career was, beyond question, his exceeding popularity,—a popularity of an unusual and very flattering nature, which made him an especial favorite in his own chosen circle, and also left him perhaps nearly the only man in the Class who could be sure of a kind word and friendly deed from every member. In his case, this popularity was founded upon a remarkable unwavering kindliness of nature. An instinct assured each classmate that there could be no chance of a word of harshness or of sarcasm from him. It was his nature to appreciate the good traits of every one. Each comrade felt that Mudge saw the bright side of his character, and recognized all his best qualities. He had many accomplishments, too, of a nature highly esteemed by young and old. He had a good voice and ear, and sung with spirit from an inexhaustible repertory. He was lithe, muscular, and athletic in build, and very. fond of manly sports and exercises. He was a good oarsman, an excellent boxer, and distinguished in the Gymnasium. During nearly the whole of his college course he belonged to a club‑table, very many of the members of which have since won for themselves honorable names in the war, of whom Colonels Rob’t G. Shaw, Caspar Crowninshield and Henry S. Russell may be mentioned as perhaps the most conspicuous. He was an active and prominent member of the Glee Club, and a leading “brother” of the Hasty Pudding Club. Of the last he was also, during one term, Vice‑President.

After graduating he made preparations for entering the manufacturing business, in which his father’s prominent position gave him promise of an excellent opening. But the breaking out of the war at once changed his occupation, his objects, and his destiny. Every dweller in Boston and vicinity must have a fresh personal recollection of the prompt emulation with which young men from Boston and its neighborhood hastened to solicit commissions in the Second Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers; and among these Mudge was enrolled from the outset, his commission as First Lieutenant bearing date May 26,1861. He wrote, Nov. 16,1862, looking back to these opening scenes:—

If you will just look back to that Sunday morning when you and I jumped out of our beds at the news of the capture of Fort Sumter,—I fully made up my mind to fight; and when I say fight, I mean win or die. I do not wish to stop the thing half‑way. I wish to establish the government upon a foundation of rock.

The results of this earnest trust and stern intent were marked and admirable in him, as in so many others. Boyish things were put off, and their place was filled by a thoughtfulness, a depth of moral conviction, and a steadiness of moral purpose, not often to be found in a young man scarce twenty‑two years of age.

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