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Antebellum Warriors

Quarter-plate ruby ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Thomas Harris Collection.
Quarter-plate ruby ambrotype by an anonymous photographer. Thomas Harris Collection.

A second lieutenant poses with his sword and plumed dress cap adorned with the letters KMMS—the King’s Mountain Military School. Established at Yorkville, S.C., in 1855, the institution was designed as a preparatory school for the Citadel. It was named in honor of the Oct. 7, 1780, Battle of King’s Mountain, a turning point for patriots fighting the American Revolution. KMMS was created by future Confederate Gen. Micah Jenkins, but it was short-lived. By August 1861, the 100-cadet school was closed down, and all its instructors and many of the cadets joined the military. The school re-opened for a short time after the war.

The officer is attired in a frock coat with a distinctive collar adorned with a crescent framed by a palmetto and laurel wreath. The crescent appeared on the first flag flown by the Revolutionary War patriots over Fort Moultrie in 1776, and was featured again on the banner of the Republic of South Carolina in January 1860. His epaulettes are attached with plain straps that indicate his rank as second lieutenant.

His identity is likely linked to one of the five officers who were professors at KMMS: Jenkins, Asbury Coward, Cato A. Seabrook, Evander McIver Law or R.K. Thomas.

Based on an informal comparison to known portraits of Jenkins, Coward and Law, the officer pictured here most resembles Law. Born in Darlington, S.C., Law (1836-1920) taught history from 1858-1860. He moved to Alabama before the war, and eventually rose to the rank of a Confederate brigadier general and brigade commander.

—Ron Field

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