There is a power in historic photographs of Civil War soldiers. While artifacts of our nation’s most tumultuous moment, they provide a visual connection to soldiers who are otherwise merely names on regimental rosters or statistics on casualty reports. Among the items recently acquired by MCWI is a carte de visite (small photograph) of Sergeant Martin Luther Skillman, 123rd Ohio Infantry. The image was taken in the studio of B.H. Benham in Norwalk, Ohio. Benham worked as a photographer in Norwalk from 1853 until his death in 1866.
Skillman enlisted in the 123rd Ohio on Aug. 11, 1862, just 10 days shy of his 24th birthday. Skillman was captured on June 15, 1863, at the Second Battle of Winchester. He eventually returned to the regiment and participated in all of its battles in the Shenandoah Valley during the summer and autumn of 1864. He mustered out of the regiment on June 12, 1865. After the conflict he moved to Mount Clemens, Michigan, where he was a member of the General Henry D. Terry Grand Army of the Republic Post 216. Skillman died in 1927.