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Hints of Antebellum Militia and Regular Army

Sixth plate daguerreotype by an unidentified photographer. John O’Brien Collection.

The jacket worn by this clean-shaven soldier suggests a Mexican War era militiaman: high collar, tight-fitting sleeves and cuff trim. One would expect cloth epaulettes with short fringe for enlisted men during this timeframe—the longer fringe could date the portrait to the early 1850s. That is, unless the membership of the militia company, who were not beholden to regular army regulations, had expressed a preference for the long version. Note the sash wrapped around his waist, and a stickpin, perhaps fraternal, attached to his silk tie. The style of the mat and preserver support an early 1850s vintage. This portrait has an Empire State provenance, according to owner John O’Brien.

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