The Metzner Collection

By Michael A. Peake
During three years of service with the First German, Thirty-second Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry campaigning in the Western Theater, Captain Adolph G. Metzner collected seventy-nine carte-de-visite photographs that included fifty-three identified and twenty-six unidentified images of officers and men mostly associated with the 2nd Division, Army of the Cumberland. Among the known photographs are noted Civil War personalities such as Major General George H. Thomas and Generals Alexander McDowell McCook, Richard W. Johnson, Lovell H. Rousseau, and Jefferson C. Davis. Several others include men who served alongside Metzner on the staff of Brigadier General Richard W. Johnson, commanding the 2nd Division, 20th Army Corps. Twenty-four of the images are identified members of the 32nd Indiana, and the remaining twenty-six unidentified are believed to be men of the regiment. As a wounded veteran, Metzner returned to Indianapolis where the collection of mementos went into storage with the remainder of his war gear, but at some point, it was assembled into a photographic album along with an incomplete portrait index. Eventually, the photographic album was left in the care of Metzner’s unmarried daughter, Ms. Helen Metzner, born in December 1885. Helen cherished her father’s war memories, until June 20, 1957, when she donated the album to the Library of Congress. Helen Metzner’s gift, catalogued as the Adolph Metzner Collection, Lot #8751, became one of thousands of Civil War photograph collections preserved by the Library of Congress.
The Metzner Collection
Blood Shed In This War
32nd Indiana
The Metzner Collection
Blood Shed in this War

Introduction to the Metzner collection continued...

In April 1999, while conducting ongoing research on 32nd Indiana soldiers for a genealogical database as part of the regiment history, I became aware of the Adolph Metzner Collection. Contacting the Library of Congress about the collection, I communicated with Ms. Carol Johnson, Assistant Curator For Photography, only to learn the album was undergoing conservation. I was referred to Mary M. Ison, manager of the Reference Section, and not only did she provide me a means to acquire reproductions of individual portraits, she sent forward a Xerox scan of the entire album, including the Metzner family inventory. Comparing handwriting samples from Adolph Metzner and his daughter Helen convinced me that a different hand had created the inventory list. Over the next few months I corrected inventory errors, provided complete names and developed detailed biographical notes on all of the identified portraits. The genealogical information was limited on some men, but for many the notes provided could create a complete narrative on the individual. I donated this thorough documentation to the Library of Congress through Carol Johnson of the Prints & Photographs Division, and this product is a result of that research.

During the course of this research, special attention was given to the unidentified of this collection, and with the help of fellow researchers, I was able to provide Library of Congress with the names and biographical notes on seven of the twenty-six unidentified images. This work is the first edition of The Photographic Album of Captain Adolph G. Metzner, 32nd Indiana Volunteers, and contains extended biographical narratives on many of the identified images. As I continue to strive for identification of the unknown images in the Metzner Collection, I will add additional genealogical information for individuals, but of this publication, nineteen photographs remain unidentified.

I want to thank Mark Jaeger, of Lafayette, Indiana, Joe Reinhart of Louisville, Kentucky and Dr. Wolfgang Hochbruck, Universität Freiburg, Germany, for their contributions in identifying some of the unknown in this collection.