Lieutenant Ambrose B. Hart, 128th New York

Four views of the same canteen spout from different angles.

An intriguing artifact - an inscribed canteen spout - was recovered during an archeological survey of the Best Farm. The spout is made from a white metal, most likely pewter, and measures one inch in length and one inch in diameter. It probably belonged to a Model 1858 Federal smoothside or concentric ring canteen of the type issued to Union soldiers throughout the Civil War. Inscribed "LT. HART. 128.," the canteen spout (pictured above) was found in proximity to other military items including a New York State militia button. Subsequent research has revealed much about the soldier to whom the canteen probably belonged.

The 128th New York Infantry was sent to the Department of the Gulf in December, 1862 where they remained until July, 1864. They were then sent back to Maryland, and sometime between August 5th and 7th, the 128th New York camped at Monocacy Junction.

Middle-aged man in Union Army uniform holding a sword.
The above CDV, identified as Agt. Hart, may be Lt. Ambrose B. Hart of the 128th New York Infantry, who lost his canteen spout while camping at Monocacy Junction.

Courtesy of Dean Thomas, NY

Lt. Ambrose B. Hart of the 128th New York Infantry first enlisted as a corporal in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1862 at the age of eighteen. His occupation was listed as a merchant and clerk in a grocery store. Approximately 6 ft. tall, he had blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion. After training in New York, he was sent with his regiment to the Department of the Gulf and was promoted to sergeant shortly after arriving in Louisiana. He was later promoted to Lieutenant of his company in July 1863. During the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Hart was wounded in action at the Battle of Third Winchester (19 September 1864). He returned to his regiment in December and was promoted to Adjutant in May 1865. After the war, Hart moved to Florida where he remained until his death in 1909.

While researchers can never been entirely certain that the "Agt. [Adjutant] Hart" shown in the Carte de Visite (CDV) at left is Lieutenant Ambrose Hart of the 128th New York, it is fascinating that a single artifact can provide a glimpse into the life of an individual soldier who passed through Monocacy in 1864, hardly a month after the battle.

Last updated: June 12, 2020

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