Monday, February 18, 2013

Military Monday: Union vs. Confederate

This photograph is labeled D-3 from my photograph collection. The complete case measures approximately 1 ½ x 1 ½ inches in size. The hook that keeps the case closed is missing. The left side of the case is lined with red velvet. The right side houses a small tintype. The inside mat has flowers with six long petals in each corner and the same vine all around. The outer mat has oval cameo shapes in each corner. The subject is a young man in Union military dress wearing a cap and a jacket. The Union uniform is different from the Confederate uniform shown here at this blog post. There are five or six large buttons down the front of the jacket and possible markings on the shoulder although it is hard to distinguish. There may also be a belt buckle showing just under the last button. His hands are not visible. There is a thumbprint on the left-hand side of the photograph. I assume it is from the photographer when it was developed. The subject is young and looks clean-shaven unless the high furry collar is actually a beard. He has a more square-shaped face with dark eyes and full lips. His nose is thin and widens just at the end. His hair is midway past his ears.

This next photograph is labeled B-17 from my collection and serves as an introduction to Album B from my photograph inventory (see here). It was also given to me by Norman Vaughan from his mother Ruby Hardy Vaughan’s collection.

The photographs from this album are mostly cartes de visites (CDVs) and CDV tintypes (refer to the photo identification post here). The subject is also in military uniform and probably a Union officer.

Information on dating CDVs from Darrah’s book (p. 194) provides two clues to help date this photograph:

.016 thickness, white with a border of two gilt lines dates it to 1861-1869
Seated figure ¾ to full length with plain background dates it 1860-1868, rarely later.

This date further solidifies the notion that the subject wears a Civil War uniform. One person commented that he may have lost a leg. I think his leg is just crossed over the other one. He wears a longer jacket of darker material than his pants. There are at least eight large buttons down the front. The second through fifth button is unbuttoned and he has his hand inserted into his jacket (Napoleonic pose). The jacket also has at least three buttons on the cuffs. There is also some type of epaulets at the shoulders. A white shirt is peeking out at the neck. This is an older gentleman with lines on his face, a wide nose, thin lips and dark eyes. Very squared jaw. His hair is dark, parted and smoothed over to one side, not very long. He sits sideways in a chair with one arm propped on the top of the ladder back. 

Darrah, William C. Cartes de Visites in Nineteenth Century Photography. Gettysburg, PA: privately published, 1981.

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