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Antebellum Warriors

Quarter-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Binder Collection.

Quarter-plate ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Dan Binder Collection.

The rolled paper on the tabletop and sword pictured here are at the heart of a theory about the sitter in this ambrotype. The robust pommel of his sword indicates this militiaman served as a staff officer, and the paper may be his new commission. The feathered hat parked next to the document features an elaborate device with a prominent letter C. Though impressive on a drill field or in a hometown parade, the hat was likely impractical in combat. Take a close look at the hat brass and note the two exposed holes at the top and bottom of the circle flanked by flags. Those holes should be covered by an emblem that has either been removed or yet to be attached. Also note the tight sleeves on his uniform, a feature characteristic of the period from the Mexican War through the early 1850s.

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