July 5th, 2012: Alfred N. Duffie

Posted on: 07/07/2012

150 years ago today the Army of the Potomac was settling in into was would become several weeks of relative idleness at Harrison’s Landing on the James River.  It was a time of replenishment and rest, and gave many soldiers the opportunity to be photographed while not on the move.  One officer who had his image taken in July of 1862 was Alfred N. Duffie, a French born officer with an interesting history.

Duffie was born in Paris in 1833.  In the 1850’s he served in the Crimean War, and received a commission as an officer in the French cavalry.  For unknown reasons he deserted the French army and came to America in 1859.  When the Civil War broke out Duffie joined the 2nd New York Cavalry and started a steady rise through the ranks.  By July of 1862, he was a colonel in command of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry and had gained a small reputation as a disciplined and aggressive commander.  Duffie apparently liked to be photograph, as there are many of him available, and the one shown above was made about 150 years ago today.

Shortly after the above photo was taken Duffie led his men in the Northern Virginia Campaign at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.  In the spring of 1863 Duffie was promoted to division command and would lead a large force of cavalry during the Gettysburg Campaign.  He would be beaten, however, at the Battle of Middleburg in June of 1863 by J.E.B. Stuart, losing most of his command and ultimately losing his rank.  Despite this, Duffie still was promoted to brigadier general that same month, and naturally had his photo taken.

In the fall of 1863 Duffie would lead troops in West Virginia, and in 1864 campaigned against John Mosby.  His efforts against Mosby did not work out, as he was captured by the Confederate partisan in October of 1864 and would remain in Confederate custody until February of 1865.

After the war Duffie was appointed as a diplomat to Spain where he spent the rest of his life.  Duffie died in Cadiz, Spain in November 1880.

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