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Stragglers

Sixth-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Matthew L. Oswalt M.D. Collection.

Sixth-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Matthew L. Oswalt M.D. Collection.

The belt and cap box worn by this unnamed volunteer tell a soldier’s story. His Southern-made leather belt with a two-piece Confederate buckle is flanked by two buttons that appear to be federal. A breastplate with the Ohio state seal is affixed to the cap box. Tucked into the belt is a Manhattan Firearms revolver. Completing the portrait is his uniform of blue-tinted trousers and a dark shirt with triangular patches of material at the base of the collar. The image is enclosed in a Union patriotic mat original to the photograph, judging from the emulsion flaking and oxidation.

Detail (flipped to compensate for reversal effect.)

Detail (flipped to compensate for reversal effect.)

An open question is in which army did he serve? Some suggest that the CS buckle and shirt indicate Confederate loyalty, and the Ohio plate a trophy of war. Others believe he may be a Union soldier from Ohio, citing the mat, breastplate, pants and buttons. The placement of the buttons on either side of the buckle could suggest the Confederacy has been surrounded and neutralized by Union forces.

No matter which army this soldier served, it can be fairly stated that he wants us to see the belt. Moreover, the circumstances about how he came into its possession were important enough to him to sit for a portrait.

Carte de visite by S. Moses & Son of New Orleans, La. David W. Vaughan Collection.
Carte de visite by S. Moses & Son of New Orleans, La. David W. Vaughan Collection.

A sergeant stands for his portrait in New Orleans. The back of the mount is inscribed with the surname Staats and a revenue stamp dated May 25, 1865.

Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Schwab Collection.

Sixth-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Schwab Collection.

A chaplain sits with a Hardee hat in hand. The presence of shoulder straps suggests he posed for this portrait prior to December 1861, at which time U.S. Army regulations simplified the chaplain’s uniform to a simple nine-button frock coat.

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