John Beauchamp Jones–Senior Clerk in the Confederate War Office

Faces Out of Time #20

I am on my third time blogging my way through the American civil war, “stepping through the war with news, diary and journal entries, and more.” Each post, with very few exceptions, includes an image. For news articles, the image may be a thumbnail of the newspaper’s front page. Diary and journal entry posts are usually accompanied by an image of the author, or, in a few instances, some image relevant to the author.

An image of John Beauchamp Jones – the most prolific Confederate diarist – eluded me. While he is included in two antebellum1 political cartoons,2 there seemed to be no other image available.  Finding nothing, I created a generic image from a photo of a 19th century unidentified man to used with Jones’s posts to use for posting during the sesquicentennial years of the civil war.

For this third time blogging through the war, I tried, once more, to find an image of Jones. The search turned into a minor online research project with 65 end notes, published at American Civil War Chronicles (my site) as John Beauchamp Jones.  During the research, I found three image of Jones, one in a group painting and two photographs.

John Beauchamp Jones in George Caleb Bingham’s “Canvassing for a Vote”3

Canvasing for a Vote: George Caleb Bingham was active in Missouri politics for most of his adult life. Canvassing for a Vote reflects his full faith in the democratic system, even as he recognized its shortcomings.

Canvasing for a Vote4

John Beauchamp Jones (mid 1840s)5

John Beauchamp Jones - Photograph taken only days before his death in February, 1866, from tuberculosis.

Photograph taken only days before his death in February, 1866, from tuberculosis.6


  1. Antebellum – occurring or existing before the American civil war. It is derived from Status quo ante bellum, a Latin phrase meaning “the status before the war.”
  2. Library of Congress Prints and Photograph catalog: Treeing coons and The patriots getting their beans
  3. From Edgar Allan Poe, John Beauchamp Jones, and George Caleb Bingham: Southern Patronage and the Road Not Taken by Robin Grey:
    “Bingham, in fact, is featured as an artist and political stump speaker in Jones’s novel The Life and Adventures of a Country Merchant (1854). Reciprocally, Bingham painted scenes from their lives in Missouri in his famous studies called the Election Series; Stump Speaking (1850 – 51); Canvassing for a Vote (1851 – 52), in which Jones is depicted (the seated figure on the left in the painting accompanying this essay…”
    “This is my own attribution based on photographs of J. B. Jones from various archives. Although other figures in the painting have been identified, this figure has not. It is noted, moreover, in Paul C. Nagel’s George Caleb Bingham that Jones’s autobiographical character Nap Wax (in Life and Adventures of a Country Merchant) was told that ever y citizen in the town was likely to be in the picture or in the Election Series: ‘Me, too, with my pot-belly. I’ve seen the first sketch of it, and it ’ll be a famous picture . . . better than an advertisement.'”
    Read more at Edgar Allan Poe, John Beauchamp Jones, and George Caleb Bingham: Southern Patronage and the Road Not Taken by Robin Grey.
  4. Canvasing for a Vote – George Caleb Bingham, 1852, oil on canvas (Google Arts and Culture)
  5. Clark Brockman, “John Beauchamp Jones” (master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1937) A likeness of Jones when he was editor  and majority owner of the Daily Madisonian during President John Tyler’s administration.  Late in September, 1841, Tyler told a friend, “The Madisonian is the official organ and is now enjoying the Executive patronage.”
  6. Clark Brockman, “John Beauchamp Jones” (master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1937)
american history, civil war, faces out of time, history, vintage images

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hilary Nov 5, 2016

    Hi Mike – amazing what we can find if we take the trouble … sad photo the last one … those last days aren’t always good … but he is remembered. Thanks for sharing with us – Hilary

    • Mike Nov 7, 2016

      Hi Hilary — it certainly is. This one, I was particularly pleased with the amount of information I was able to find.

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