These portraits are now known to be Major Thomas Martin of the 13th North Carolina, Co. E. (the the one on the left has been colorized) and are found in the Liljenquist Family Collection at the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs divisions has announced that their two ambrotypes of Wilson County native, Civil War soldier and namesake of a local SCV chapter, Captain Jesse Sharpe Barnes, was mislabeled and the portraits are actually of his cousin (or maybe his wife’s cousin), Major Thomas Alston Martin.
This was all made possible by the tireless work of Katharina Schlichtherle, historian, teacher and friend of the Wilson County Local History and Genealogy Library. Katharina is a resident of Germany but last summer she visited Wilson County for her ongoing investigation of the local Barnes family in the 19th century and performed some research at our library.
During her research online, she came upon an image in the book, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina, in the Great War 1861-’65 (digitized and online at the Internet Archive) that was labeled Jesse S. Barnes, Capt., Co F. This portrait was not the same person labeled as JS Barnes in the LOC collection. This image was in the LOC Collection but it was labeled only as “South Carolina Militiaman” because of his SC uniform. It turned out that Jesse had joined up in South Carolina before North Carolina had seceded as many North Carolinians did at the time (North Carolina was the last state to secede).
As to how they figured out that the other portraits was of Major Thomas A. Martin, Katharina told me that during a curator’s examination of the portraits, a piece of paper serendipitously fell out of one of them that read “Friend Tom Martin”.
I stay in touch with Katharina and try to help keep her Wilson County and Civil War obsession fed. And it has worked! She is coming back next summer.
The news about the name correction was in an article that Katharina sent me in this month’s Military Images Magazine.
The actual Captain Jesse Sharpe Barnes of the 4th North Carolina Infantry in his South Carolina Militia uniform also of the Liljenquist Family Collection at the LOC. His career was cut short, dying at the battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862.