Charles Laty

First Lieutenant and Adjutant
Field & Staff, 52nd New York

Charles Marthe Alexandre Laty was born January 25, 1824 in Paris, France.  At 27, he married Anais Josephine Felicie de l’Eglise while living in Montmarte, Paris, France.  They had two daughters, Camille and Sophia.  At some point, they came to the US.  According to Emil Frank, Laty had previously served as an officer in the French Foreign Legion in Algiers. 

            He enlisted on November 1, 1861 in New York City and was mustered in as the Adjutant of the 52nd NY.  He was discharged on December 4, 1861, but rejoined the regiment on February 27, 1862 at Camp California, Va.  He was reappointed First Lieutenant and Adjutant on March 21, 1862, to date from December 5, 1861.  He was killed at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. 

            Josiah Faville, the Adjutant of the 57th NY, said they were climbing a fence together when a shell hit it, shattering it to pieces.  He stated Laty fell over without a word.  Second Lieutenant Emil Frank of the 52nd gave a more dramatic account, writing that Laty was struck by a shell while encouraging the men on, yelling “Forward boys, it is only fun.”  Frank then wrote that afterwards, Laty was found and buried near the Rhappahanock River. 

            His widow filed for and received a pension until her remarriage in 1865, with their children receiving a pension until 1873, when Sophia turned 16.

This photo was taken by J. Brill of 204 Chatham Square in New York City.  Laty is wearing the insignia of a First Lieutenant.  He is also wearing an embroidered belt and baldric with a lion head attached to a shield with an eagle by three chains on the chest.  The baldric was a dress item sometimes worn by officers in militia or volunteer units.  The eagle belt plate he is wearing is not a US Army item, but one very similar to those worn by soldiers of the Second French Empire, which existed from 1852 to 1870.  Many militia and volunteer units raised in 1861 wore uniforms and uniform items that differed from the loose French influence of the regulation US Army uniform.  The baldric and belt is the same as that worn by Colonel Paul Frank, who was probably an associate or friend of his.

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