The McClain Brothers

of Company D

 

Private Peter McClain and Private Elias McClain

 

This photograph was provided by Mike Hahn and was published in the Maryland Cracker Barrel in March of 1989. According to the magazine article, the original photo belonged to Miss Jeanette McClain and her sister Anna Louise McClain Price, granddaughters of Elias McClain.

It may seem confusing that a photograph of two soldiers of the 6th Maryland Infantry Regiment would show them holding what appear to be cavalry weapons, but the swords and pistols are merely studio props as soldiers visiting a photgraphy studio often were not carrying their rifled muskets.

An expert with the National Park Service has identified the uniforms as standard infantry frock coats and forage caps, although the boots are probably civilian as are the pocket revolvers. Peter is holding a field officers sword, so it is fairly certain that these items were not issued to these soldiers by their regiment.

Company D of the 6th Maryland Infantry gallantly defended the star fort during the Battle of Winchester on June 14th and 15th, 1863. At the conclusion of the fighting, Elias McClain was missing in action as he had been captured and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond. As this was still early in the war, Elias was released in a prisoner exchange and returned to his regiment on October 5, 1863.

Several months later, Elias McClain suffered from swollen varicose veins in both legs and an aggravated heart condition due to living under harsh conditions in the Fall and Winter months. After a hospital rest, he was honorably discharged. Elias joined Company H of the 24th Veteran Reserve Corps and served in a non-combat capacity until mustered out at the end of the war.

Peter was wounded by a minnie ball piercing his left thigh on June 4, 1864 at the Battle of Cold Harbor. He was released from David's Island Hospital in New York on May 17, 1865.

Thus ended the patriotic military service of the McClain brothers. The picture above was probably taken in the first few months of their enlistment in the 6th Maryland Infantry as they "went off to war."

 

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