Sep 28 at 12:00 PM - Sale 2646 -

Sale 2646 - Lot 102

Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
(CIVIL WAR--MARYLAND.) Contemporary photograph of Luther Ladd, the first Union soldier killed in action. Ninth-plate ambrotype photograph, 2 1/2 x 2 inches, with a touch of hand-coloring, in period case; light wear to image. No place, [April 1861]

Additional Details

Luther Crawford Ladd (1843-1861) born and raised in New Hampshire, and moved to industrial Lowell, MA as a young man in 1860. He was one of the original "Minute Men of 1861 " who enlisted with the 6th Massachusetts Volunteers in April 1861 and was immediately sent to defend Washington from attack. En route, the regiment was attacked by a secessionist mob in the Baltimore Riot of 19 April. Private Ladd was the first fatality in this riot--and thus the first soldier killed in action in the Civil War.

Offered here is the only known ambrotype portrait of Ladd, taken shortly after his April 1861 enlistment. The 1862 pamphlet "Life of Luther C. Ladd Who Fell in Baltimore" features an engraved frontispiece based on this portrait, and describes it on page 18: "The likeness on the frontispiece was copied from an ambrotype taken on the morning of the day he took his departure for Washington, and left with his sister in Lowell. His uniform was then on, and the firm decision of his mind can be seen in his countenance."

We have traced only one other surviving contemporary photograph of Ladd, an albumen print of this same pose held by the National Park Service. It is unclear which portrait is the original, but there can be no doubt this is a contemporary ambrotype produced in 1861 or shortly afterward. This pose is the basis of all other known images of Ladd.

With--a collection of related ephemera featuring Ladd's image: two different patriotic covers; a printer's proof sheet of the same engraving; contemporary newspaper clippings with engraved portraits of Ladd and his comrade Addison Whitney; a later illustration titled "Attack on the Union Troops in Baltimore" clipped from an unknown book ; and the pamphlet "Life of Luther C. Ladd Who Fell in Baltimore," with portrait frontispiece, published in Concord, NH, 1862.

Provenance note: Luther Ladd was the ninth of ten children born in his family, but the other three boys died in infancy--he was the only son to approach adulthood. He had four living sisters at the time of his death. We know the original portrait was left with one of his sisters. This photograph was found with a fragment of an early 20th-century note bearing the name "Mrs. Ed Judk[ins], Franklin, [NH]." This was Mary Augusta Ladd Judkins (1842-1923), the 8th child in their large family, closest in age to Luther Ladd.

This portrait was illustrated in Ross Kelbaugh, "Maryland's Civil War Photographs" (Maryland Historical Society, 2012), page 40, from the collection of Arthur G. "Gil" Barrett.