Thoughts on Private Booth

“When we attempt to understand history, we often find that empirical truths unfold alongside significant symbolic moments,” writes historian J. Matthew Gallman in this reflection on a portrait of Pvt. Booth of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry. Gallman adds, “And, to make things even more complicated, it is not at all unusual that our collective memory of events (both real and symbolic) differs from how participants understood what they were living through.” The image of this black trooper speaks to emerging themes of democracy, equality and the individualism of the American soldier.

Gallman’s thoughts appear in the Winter 2016 issue of Military Images magazine.

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