In the Facial Hair Friday spotlight today is a man with a truly impressive set of whiskers. Norton P. Chipman also has a fascinating story to go behind that beard. Chipman was born in 1834 in Ohio, later lived in Iowa, and joined the Union Army after finishing law school. He didn’t spend the entire war behind a desk, however. He was severely wounded during the Battle of Fort Donelson in Tennessee in 1862. After the war, he settled in Washington, DC, and was appointed secretary of the district in 1871 and then served in the House of Representatives as a Delegate from the District of Columbia from 1871 to 1875.
Chipman’s most conspicuous role in history came just after the Confederate surrender. In May 1865, Federal forces arrested Capt. Henry Wirz, the commander of the infamous Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, GA. Judge Advocate Chipman was the Army prosecutor during the trial. Wirz was convicted and hanged. In 1911, Chipman wrote his own account of the trial, The Tragedy of Andersonville.
In 1970, Chipman came to the small screen when The Andersonville Trial aired on television. Chipman was portrayed by none other than William Shatner. While Shatner got generally favorable reviews for this role, the makeup artist missed an opportunity to go wild with whiskers. While the former Captain Kirk does sport some impressive sideburns, his facial hair doesn’t have a patch on the real Norton Chipman.