One of Hartford’s Heroes

Apr 26, 2013

When he perished while fighting a fire on May 24th, 1878, Hartford photographer Daniel S. Camp died as he had lived: in harm’s way and in the line of duty. Besides being a respected photographer, Camp was a volunteer firefighter, Second Lieutenant in the City Guard, and a veteran of the Civil War, having seen service in Connecticut’s Sixteenth Volunteer Infantry.  In his short 34 years he left behind a legacy of public service as well as some truly remarkable photographs.

Camp was born in Hartford in 1844. In 1862 he joined Company F of Connecticut’s Sixteenth Volunteer Infantry. He saw action in several major battles of the Civil War, including Antietam (where the infantry was ambushed in a cornfield and lost a quarter of its men) and Fredericksburg.  On April 17, 1864 while garrisoned in Plymouth, North Carolina, Camp’s entire regiment was taken prisoner by the Confederates. Camp spent months in the notorious Andersonville Prison before being released. He mustered out on June 24, 1865.

After leaving the army, Camp started working as a photographer in Vernon, Connecticut.  In 1868 he would move his business to Asylum Street in Hartford, where he would spend the rest of his career.  He never lost his taste for public service and became a volunteer firefighter.  Camp’s photographs include a view of the intersection of Asylum and Trumbull Streets, which may have been taken from the window of his studio, a view of a break in a dam at the West Hartford reservoir that occurred in the fall of 1867, and a military encampment, as well as the more typical portraits and landscape views that formed the stock in trade of nineteenth century photographers.

On the night of May 24th 1878, a fire broke out on Market Street, Hartford.  While fighting the blaze, Camp and two other firefighters were crushed by falling walls. The article reporting the fire described Camp as “the well-known photographer, and a universally popular man.”  The Firemen’s Benevolent Society published a resolution recognizing “his noble and upright character, his undaunted courage, [and] his kindliness of heart.” Thousands of people packed the streets for Camp’s funeral on May 26th.  He was laid to rest in Zion Hill Cemetery in Hartford, where his worn and weathered gravestone can still be seen today.