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Stragglers

Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Rick Brown Collection.
Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Rick Brown Collection.

Decked out in English-made accouterments, including a snake buckle and a cap pouch on a cartridge box sling, this soldier grasps an Austrian Lorenz rifle with its rear sight missing. His wrinkled brow, and age lines around his eyes and on his hands, indicate that he was considerably older than the average enlistee.

Ninth-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Rick Brown Collection.
Ninth-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Rick Brown Collection.

This Mississippian posed for is portrait early in the war, as evidenced by the state buttons that fasten his non-regulation coat with the prominent shoulder insignia that resembles an oversize federal shoulder strap. The cap is regulation.

Quarter-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Rex Knight Collection.
Quarter-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Rex Knight Collection.

In the border state of Kentucky, the war divided families and local populations, as young men chose to enlist in the Union and Confederate armies. This clean-shaven soldier, understood to be from Whitley County in the southeastern part of the state, cast his lot with the Confederacy.

Sixth-plate tintype by Adams Gallery of Memphis, Tenn. John M. Hunt Collection.
Sixth-plate tintype by Adams Gallery of Memphis, Tenn. John M. Hunt Collection.

A long-bearded soldier with coarse coat sat for his portrait in the Adams Gallery of Memphis prior to its occupation by Union troops in June 1862. The photographer is likely Dan Adams, who worked in the city through 1861. A note tucked into the case included the surname Leeper. He may be John H. Leeper, a private who served in the 11th Tennessee Infantry, though this regiment was not near Memphis during the war.

Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Bryan Watson Collection.
Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Bryan Watson Collection.

The common uniform worn by this soldier is difficult to trace to a specific Southern state. But the numbers and letters affixed to the top of his cap indicate he served in Company F of the 11th Virginia Infantry. The regiment had a distinguished career with the Army of Northern Virginia, including the Battle of Gettysburg, where it suffered 40 percent casualties during Pickett’s Charge. Whether this man participated in and survived the fighting at Gettysburg is a mystery.

Quarter-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Richard J. Ferry Collection.

Quarter-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Richard J. Ferry Collection.

This soldier, opposite, presses the blade of his knife against his chest, which may have been done to keep the weapon still while the camera exposure was made. It leaves a lasting impression that he is ready to kill or be killed for his homeland.  

Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. John Robella collection.

Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. John Robella collection.

A note attached to this portrait speaks to Southern origins: “May the 10th 1861—to my darling Fepot. May the Lord of heaven and earth protect—there is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads to fortune. Shall I ever see my darling anymore.” The center gun tucked into his belt is a Smith and Wesson Model 1 rim fire revolver, and the other two appear Colts. The edged weapon in his hand could be a sword missing its handle or a plug bayonet that dates from the 18th century.

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