(1840 - 1928)
Home State: Texas
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 1st Texas Infantry
At age 21, a photographer in Houston since 1858, he enlisted as Private and mustered in to Confederate service on 1 August 1861 in Galveston. He and his Company, designated "L", joined the First Texas Infantry in Richmond, VA soon after. He saw action at Eltham's Landing and Gaines' Mill around Richmond in the Summer of 1862, then at 2nd Manassas in August.
On the Campaign
He left his unit when they arrived near his birthplace in Maryland on about 5 September 1862 and visited his family in Brownsville, but rejoined his Company near Middletown about 10 or 11 September. He was wounded in action at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862:
I was in the charge in the cornfield and was near our regimental flag when I saw the bearer fall. My first impulse was to pick it up, but then thought I could do more good shooting. This flag was made from the wedding dresses of Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Louis T. Wigfall, and presented to the regiment at Camp Wigfall. Very shortly I fell, shot through the leg and a buckshot in the hand which I carry yet. I managed to hobble back to the woods and was carried back to the field hospital. When Lee crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown he was unable to carry all his wounded and I was among those left ...
The rest of the War
He was captured on 19 September.
We were paroled only six miles from mother's home [in Brownsville, MD]. My sister and her husband, Mr. A. C. Castle, came for me and as I had been paroled was allowed to be taken home, where I remained till the next June, when I went to Baltimore and gave myself up and was sent to Fort McHenry, shortly after was sent to James River and exchanged.He was injured in a wagon accident on the way to rejoin his Company at Gordonsville, VA and missed the Gettysburg Campaign. Still partly disabled by the wound to his hand, he was detailed to the Confederate States Quartermaster's Department in Richmond. He rejoined his Company at Chickamauga, GA on 22 September 1863, two days after the battle there. He returned to Virginia with his unit in the Spring of 1864, but "fell behind to do some visiting" and didn't rejoin the regiment until after their charge at the Wilderness, VA on 6 May. He was injured by bayonet and nearly captured there.
After the War
He visited with family then returned to his photographic business in Houston in November 1865. He moved his studio and related businesses to Dallas in about 1886. He continued as a photographer to at least 1897 and in the photo supply business to at least 1912 [promotional calendar] in Fort Worth.
References & notes
More on the Web
He appears to have had a camera and photographic equipment with him in the Army, at least during Winter camp 1861-62 at Dumfries, VA, where he took pictures of his fellow soldiers, including one of 4 members of Company L. See more in a feature by Susannah J. Ural and Rick Eiserman in the August 2011 issue of Civil War Times [text online] and a related blog post by Andy Hall. That photo and many others of Tom Blessing's are in an online collection from Amy Frazier and Nancy Snyder Lewis, owner of the original prints.
His brothers Samuel Tobias Blessing and John Philip Blessing were also photographers. A number of photographs from various Blessing studios are online in the Lawrence T. Jones III Collection at Southern Methodist University.
02/27/1840; Jefferson, Frederick County, MD
03/09/1928 Dallas, TX; burial in Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum, Fort Worth, TX