Sam A. Cooley; U.S. Photographer; Department of the South - 03517
Throughout the Civil War there was at least one photographer taking pictures in the South - Samuel Abbot Cooley. As luck would have it, Cooley was living in Beaufort, South Carolina when it was captured by the Union during the Battle of Port Royal in November of 1861.
Cooley came to Beaufort before the war as a photographer. Born in Hartford Connecticut, he was the son of Dr. Abial Abbot Cooley. During the war, next door to the Arsenal, Cooley had a store with his photography studio on the floor above.
In May of 1864 he sold his photography business with the intention of returning to the North. However, in 1865 he was the "Photographer Dept. of the South" and selling his wartime photographs.
As the photographer on the spot, he recorded wartime in Beaufort with his camera. Cooley was taking pictures as the 70th OH Infantry and 55th IL Infantry removed Fort McAllister's cannons, artillery and ammunition in December of 1864. He accompanied Federal troops to Hilton Head Island. Cooley took photographs in St. Augustine, Jackson, Charleston and Savannah.
Instead of returning North after the War, an article in the June 4, 1866, edition of the Hartford Daily Courant noted that Cooley had been elected sheriff of Beaufort. He was also an auctioneer and businessman in Beaufort. Cooley sold bread and foodstuffs to various businesses as well as to the General Hospital and the Small Pox Hospital.
By 1869 he was back in Hartford, as the Courant had an article in the September 3, 1869 edition detailing how Cooley had saved an old woman from being run over by a wagon.
In the February 1, 1871 edition of the Courant, there is an advertisement noting that "Sam A. Cooley will give an exhibition of beautiful Stereopticon Views." The notice related that "Many of the views were taken by the proprietor while photographer for the United States in the Department of the South, during the late war."
Sam Cooley died on May 14, 1900. He is buried in the Old North Cemetery in Hartford.