Three Photographers and the Military, 1861


Sixth-plate hand-colored ambrotype by an unidentified photographer; Lt. Thomas S. McLane of Co. A, 41st Georgia Infantry Regiment, in uniform with sword, ca. 1862-64; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-38670

On April 29, 1861 three Macon photographers all ran advertisements on the third page of the Macon Daily TelegraphEach of these photographers – Wood, Pugh, and Nordwald – mentioned local citizens enlisting for service.

R. L. [Richard Lay] Wood (ca. 1819 – 1892) was an itinerant in Macon, Georgia as well as in Columbia South Carolina as of 1848, and even visited Cuba about 1850, but he established himself permanently in Macon in 1851. In his April 29, 1861 advertisement (page 3, column 7; in since April 6) he was selling the “fine likeness of Governor Brown,” which he had very recently taken, but he added:

To all of our Military friends who may wish to leave with their relatives or friends a fine Likeness, put up in the best style at a reasonable price, we say be sure to call at

Wood’s Gallery,

Nearly Opposite the Lanier House

Wood left Macon by June 1862, and went north. Before doing so he had taken photographs of many Confederate soldiers and companies leaving for war (Ron Field, Silent Witness the Civil War Through Photography and Its Photographers [Osprey Publishing, 2017], p. 84-87).  By 1870, he returned south, not to Macon but to Jacksonville Florida. By 1880, Wood was in New York, where he remained.

Photographer J. A. [James Adolphus “Dolph”] Pugh (1833-1887), was in Macon by 1854, and he trained there under photographer R. L. Wood. He purchased what was Wood’s first gallery about 1860, and moved into it. For short times Pugh left Macon to take photographs in other Georgia cities, but he maintained a very successful business in Macon until his death.

In late 1857 and early 1858 and from October 1860 into June 1861, he officially partnered with a brother, David P. [David “Dave” Perry] Pugh (ca. 1840-1898), as A. J. Pugh & Bro. They still worked together after 1861, and to about 1872, but always under J. A. Pugh’s name.

Their advertisement that day (in since April 23) appeared just above R. L. Wood’s. In addition to advertising their services, they offered:

Our Prices now for all styles of Pictures, will be to suit the Times. Persons enlisting to Fight the Battles of our Country, will be accommodated with FINE Likenesses to leave with their friends at


for any style of picture they may want. Be sure to call at Triangular Block.


Unlike R. L. Wood, who was born in Connecticut, the Pugh brothers were from Randolph County, North Carolina. Both men served the Confederacy – Dolph (James) in the State Guards, and Dave (David) in the Macon Light Artillery, a unit serving at Fredericksburg, Petersburg, and Appomattox.

Before J. A. Pugh joined the State Guards, “one of the firm” (either Dolph or Dave or an associate) set up their photographic equipment at Camp Oglethorpe, promising to make their uniforms “true to nature” with “fine pictures on the spot.” (Ron Field, Silent Witness, p. 88).

Pugh & Bro. worked in the city of Americus, Georgia, from December 1857 into January 1858, and eventually D. P. Pugh moved to that city, where he had a photograph business from 1873 until his death.  A third brother, Archimedes “Arch” Pugh, worked with them in Macon as a photographer, briefly, in at least 1870, but went on to other occupations.

A. [Abraham] Nordwald, born in Prussia (Germany) in about 1836, immigrated to America in late 1859. By July 1860 he had purchased the S.J. Goodman gallery and retitled it Nordwald’s Gallery. His advertisement appeared that day (in since April 24), along with Pugh’s and Wood’s, and had a slightly different message:

To Military Men!

A. Nordwald,

Daguerrean Artist!

Wishing to close out his business in order to prepare for Military duty, in the defense of the Confederate States, would announce to the Members of the MILITARY Companies wishing to leave their Pictures with their families and friends, that he will take

Ambrotypes, Melainotypes and Daguerreotypes

In every style of cases, for less than any other establishment in this city, Be sure to call before leaving, at


Damour’s Block, two doors from Mechanics’ Bank.

If Nordwald was serious about serving and defending the South, where he had been living for such a short time, thus far I find no record of his service. His name, of course, could easily be misspelled and I may still find a military connection. But whether he did or did not serve, he appears to have disappeared. Others with the Nordwald surname are found, but so far I can make no connection with those others.

If you have information on Mr. Nordwald, or any other comments or corrections, let me hear from you via this blog or via email.

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




    1. Yes, never forget.

  1. Frances Osborn Robb · · Reply

    What a terrific post, and how timely. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was briefly immersed in that dreadful time. Many many thanks

    1. Thank you, Frances, for continuing to read and keep me on my toes!

  2. Hello. I am trying to date an ambrotype I have. Could you tell me the source that gives Wood’s departure from Macon by June 1862? Thanks.

    1. Hi, thanks for reading the posts.
      He was “permanently” in Macon as of Feb. 11, 1851. The last advertisement of his that I have found, ran until June 23 in the Macon Daily Telegraph. I did find a letter published in the Macon Weekly Telegraph in 1916, in which a woman said she was at Wesleyan Female Institute in 1863 and that she and another girl were taken to Wood’s for a Daguerreotype. I have my doubts as to the accuracy as he likely made an ambrotype. I think he left Macon as war approached, but he returned south, to Florida, where he was by 1870 working as a photographer. By 1880 he was in NYC and still working as a photographer. He died there in 1982 (b. about 1819 in CT.).

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