About George Riggs Gaither
George Riggs Gaither (1831-1899), whose ancestors founded Gaithersburg, Maryland, is the subject of this ambrotype by Richmond-based Charles R. Rees, one of the best Civil War era photographers in the South. As captain of a local militia unit, the Howard County Dragoons, Gaither led a group of landowners, many of whom owned slaves, and assisted with peacekeeping in Baltimore during riots in 1861. When pressed to swear allegiance to the United States, most refused, gathered their weapons, rode to Leesburg, Virginia, and joined the Confederate Army. Gaither was captured at Manassas Junction on August 27, 1862, later exchanged, and sent to Europe the next year on a mission for the Confederate government. Following the war, he became a cotton trader.