Cobalt glass creates a fittingly appropriate blue hue in this ambrotype of a Union officer. The background painting appears in other portraits credited to Stephen Evans of St. Louis. It is a variation on the well-known Benton Barracks backdrop used by photographer Enoch Long.
It’s a good bet that these pards posed for this portrait on a warm day, as evidenced by the lack of jackets and coats. The absence works to the viewer’s advantage, revealing details of vests and shirts less commonly seen in Civil War soldier photographs. The caps marked with the company letter “A” are a clue to their identities.
Conflicting clues make it difficult to know the loyalty of this soldier. His casual blouse with red-tinted trim suggests Southern origins, but the US belt plate points to the North. The banner behind him has broad stripes that resemble the Confederate First National flag, but the stars on the canton are too numerous.
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