Military Images

Research Rabbit Hole: The Backwards Image Problem

A new episode of Research Rabbit Hole, our Facebook Live show, premiered Monday evening, February 22, at 9 p.m. ET.

Season 1, Episode 4, explores the issue of viewing early photographs—daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes—in reverse. Photographers, inventors and other technologists of the mid-19th century were adaptable and most likely could have fixed it, but they did not. Why? Because lateral reversal is a 21st century problem!

The full season is available on YouTube.

New episodes of Research Rabbit Hole will be released every two weeks on our Facebook page. The host, Ronald S. Coddington, is Editor and Publisher of Military Images.

Research Rabbit Hole: This Uniform Tells a Story

A new episode of Research Rabbit Hole, our Facebook Live show, premiered Monday evening, February 8, at 9 p.m. ET.

Season 1, Episode 3, examines a carte de visite of an unidentified Union soldiers wearing a uniform that offers several clues as to the state from which he served, his pre-war military service, and the photography gallery in which he posed (hint: the Civil War’s most celebrated photographer).

The full season is available on YouTube.

New episodes of Research Rabbit Hole will be released every two weeks on our Facebook page. The host, Ronald S. Coddington, is Editor and Publisher of Military Images.

Research Rabbit Hole: Anti-Confederate Art

A new episode of Research Rabbit Hole, our Facebook Live show, premiered Monday evening, January 25, at 9 p.m. ET.

Season 1, Episode 2, examined a carte de visite titled “The Neglected Picture,” a painting by Port Jefferson, N.Y., artist William Moore Davis.

The full season is available on YouTube.

New episodes of Research Rabbit Hole will be released every two weeks on our Facebook page. The host, Ronald S. Coddington, is Editor and Publisher of Military Images.

New Show: Research Rabbit Hole

Research Rabbit Hole, a new Facebook Live show, premiered Monday evening, January 11, at 9 p.m. ET.

Season 1, Episode 1, looked at the origin of the expression “Not on your tintype” and its relationship to the Civil War period.

The goal of Research Rabbit Hole is to connect Civil War images across time and generations of American and world history. The idea for the show grew out of a segment by the same name on Military Images Live, which aired for three seasons (2018-2020) on Facebook and is archived on YouTube.

New episodes of Research Rabbit Hole will be released every two weeks on our Facebook page. The host, Ronald S. Coddington, is Editor and Publisher of Military Images.

Editors Picks: The 10 most intriguing photographs in Military Images magazine for 2020

Looking back through the four issues published in 2020, I am struck by the variety and quality of the images. They reflect the enthusiasm and energy of you, the collecting community and caretakers of these artifacts. Each one is noteworthy for its content, the identity of the subject, or the story behind it. I find it an impossible task to select a single image as the best we published. There are, however, some that I find especially compelling for one reason or another. Here they are, my top 10 picks of the images I found to be most intriguing, and why. The images are ordered by issue date.

Brothers at Arms
Gary Waddey Collection
Winter 2020

Summary: Tennessee’s Edward and Gabriel Fowlkes grew up together in Hickman County. Then the war came, and they went separate ways—one into the Union army and the other into the Confederate army. Their story is representative of how the war tore families apart. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: An image of two brothers, North and South, pictured together in the uniforms of their respective armies is among the rarest subjects of Civil War portrait photography.

Ock Tyner Leaves His Mark
Paul Russinoff Collection
Winter 2020

Summary: Oscar Newton Tyner, known as “Ock” to his pals, worked as a photographer’s assistant in the gallery of Barr & Young of Vicksburg. One of the images Tyner printed and signed was Jesse Root Grant, father of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Turns out the photo was taken at a low point during the general’s military career. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: The photographers and assistants who labored behind the camera to create the images we hold dear are all too often relegated to the shadows. Here, we are able to glimpse one of them with his soldier brother.

A Daguerreian Pioneer at the Rendezvous of Distribution
Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection
Spring 2020

Summary: In his inaugural column, Adam Ochs Fleischer examines the distinctive painted canvas depicting a scene that includes Sibley tents and a palm tree. His investigations highlight the man behind the backdrop, John Jones, and the gallery he operated. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: My soft spot for seeing portraits of photographers and my fascination with cartes de visite are all wrapped up in this pair of images of Baltimore’s John Jones and his assistant, Henry H. Clark. The poses are wonderful: Jones causally sits on a chair and Clark holds a borrowed sword and rides a toy horse in front of a camp scene.

William Houston House, 16th Battalion, Georgia Partisan Rangers
David W. Vaughan Collection
Spring 2020

Summary: In early 1862, William Houston House, a 23-year-old native of Statham, a community outside Athens, Ga., enrolled in the local Jackson County Cavalry. Together with his older brother, James Lawrence House, he and the rest of the company mustered into Confederate service as Company E of the 16th Battalion, Georgia Partisan Rangers. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: From the first moment I glimpsed this portrait in person at David’s home, I knew it would be on the cover of our spring issue. The photographer captured House, posed with weapons of war and a unique cap, at the outset of a conflict that cost dearly in blood and treasure—far beyond the comprehension of anyone. And, here, House sits, not knowing of the privations he and his family would face. It is an iconic Confederate soldier image.

Sherman at 200
Jerry Everts Collection
Spring 2020

Summary: William Tecumseh Sherman is front and center in 25 portraits that document his rise from major general in 1863 to General of the Army to his retirement. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: Jerry and I had been scanning his collection of images in small batches at various Civil War shows. Choosing the final group from the dozens in Jerry’s collection was a challenge—but this image of Uncle Billy in his golden years really resonated with me. Though in the winter of life, his piercing, commanding gaze is as powerful—perhaps even more so—than the Sherman who marched through Georgia and into the Carolinas.

Vinnie Ream’s Commission of a Lifetime
Mahlon Nichols Collection
Summer 2020

Summary: A tintype, believed to be previously unpublished, features Lavinia Ellen “Vinnie” Ream, the sculptor who rose in prominence during the Civil War. Her best known works are of President Abraham Lincoln—an 1864 bust for which he sat, and an 1871 statue that stands in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: This brooding portrait of the artist in costume, cross and sandals suggests to me that Ream has immersed herself in antiquity inspired by her sojourn to Italy, where it is believed she posed for this portrait. The tinting to the photograph adds to the mystique of the young woman who sculpted the most celebrated busts of Lincoln from life.

Captured During Barksdale’s Charge
Dan Schwab Collection
Summer 2020

Summary: Newton J. Ragon, a private in the 13th Mississippi Infantry. Fell into enemy hands during the charge at Gettysburg considered by some historians to be the high water of Confederate arms. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: Another candidate for iconic Southern soldier portrait. His military weapons, unmilitary clothing and fanciful cap personifies the citizen soldier who served the Confederacy.

A Freedman’s Story
Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection
Autumn 2020

Summary: On June 18, 1864, Union Capt. Horace James inscribed the back of a carte de visite of William Headley, who he encountered dressed in tattered clothing. The captain’s words tell the tale of a slave’s escape to freedom. Headley’s fate is not known. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: The patchwork nature of his clothes is a testament to his condition as an enslaved person, and his upturned face suggests he was a man of grit determined to break the metaphoric and perhaps physical chains that bound him and his family. This is a portrait of struggle in a race war that we continue to fight today.

The “Chaplain of Hood’s Texas Brigade”
Dan Schwab Collection
Autumn 2020

Summary: Chaplain Nicholas A. Davis was an Alabama-born slaveholder who settled in the Lone Star State prior to the war and joined Confederate service as chaplain of the 4th Texas Infantry. His 1863 book, Campaign from Texas to Maryland, with the Battle of Fredericksburg, reveals his allegiance to the South and hatred of Yankees. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: The content of this portrait, showing Davis in his custom-designed uniform with the Bible and candles, is exceptionally rare. Moreover, this photo, one of three he commissioned, is documented in his book.

New York Continentals
Dan Binder Collection
Autumn 2020

Summary: In “Uniforms Inspired by the “Old Seventy-Sixers,” Senior Editor Ron Field examines the distinctive militia uniforms inspired by Gen. George Washington’s Continentals. See the full story.

Why I selected this photo: When Ron Field suggested documenting the Continental influence in Civil War images I jumped at the opportunity. I’m enamored of the idea of men of 1861 being inspired by Washington’s Army—and this image captures the essence of America’s connection to our first President and Commander-In-Chief.

Hidden Beauty of an Ambrotype

Using a scanner equipped with a film negative feature, Adam Ochs Fleischer used this setting to scan an ambrotype of a sailor. The result was a scan that revealed stunning details not visible in the original image. Learn more.

“Palms of Victory”

Mary Dines escaped slavery in Maryland and fled to Washington, D.C., where she spent time at a Freedman’s camp and had the opportunity to sing for President Abraham Lincoln. Her story was told in the 1942 book They Knew Lincoln by John E. Washington. Learn more.

10th New York Cavalry

Three surviving carte de visite albums filled with images of identified troopers of the 10th New York Cavalry are at the heart of this investigation. The author’s research reveals where and when they were taken, why these specific individuals were photographed, and the probable identity of the photographer. Learn more.

Fifers

A gallery of images collected in collaboration with Editor Dale Nielsen of the Facebook group “The Image Collector” and contributions by collectors, reviewed by Contributing Editor Chris Nelson, is focused on soldiers pictured with their fifes. The majority of images are individual Union portraits. One Confederate image features a fifer posed with his instrument and a Bowie knife. Learn more.

Finding Aid: Winter 2021

Vol. XXXIX, No. 1
(80 pages)

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Inside

Cover image
A quarter-plate tintype from the Rick Brown Collection of American Photography pictures an infantry fifer standing with his fife.

Table of Contents (p. 1)

Editor’s Desk (p. 2)
In “Musings on Interpretation,” the editor discusses the word in the middle of the publication’s motto: Showcase. Interpret. Preserve.

Mail Call (pp. 3-4)
Feedback includes praise for Ron Maness’s story about James Taylor Ames, “Agent of the Cotton War,” the identification of a soldier pictured in a post-mortem portrait, and an opinion on modern colorization of antique photographs.

Military Anthropologist (p. 4)
A tree map diagram displays the number of casualties in the major battles of 1861. The numbers were originally reported in Lt. Col. William F. Fox’s Regimental Losses in the American Civil War.

Passing in Review (p. 6)
The trio of books reviewed include the latest volume of Colonels in Blue (McFarland & Company, Inc.) by Roger D. Hunt, American Citizen (Sunbury Press, Inc.) by Benjamin E. Myers, and Civil War Hard Images, Volume 2—Union (SoldierCollectibles.com) by Ben L. Pauley and Chris Anderson.

Photo Sleuth by Kurt Luther (pp. 8-9)
In “Identifying an Officer Pictured in a Library of Congress Negative,” Luther recounts a journey of discovery that included stops along the way at the Medford Historical Society and Museum in Massachusetts and the MOLLUS-Mass Civil War Collection at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

Antebellum Warriors (p. 10)
A sixth-plate daguerreotype from the Paul Reeder Collection features a mounted trooper dressed in a uniform with a decidedly Hussar influence.

The Honored Few (p. 12)
Sergeant Henry F.W. Little of the 7th New Hampshire Infantry received the Medal of Honor for gallantry on the front lines during an attack by Confederates north of the James River in Virginia on Oct. 7, 1864. This is his story.

Most Hallowed Ground (p. 14)
During a brief period in late 1864, a father and son served as officers aboard the side-wheel steamer Quaker City. James Madison Frailey, a career navy man, commanded the vessel. His son, Acting Asst. Paymaster Leonard August Frailey, was at the very beginning of a 41-year stint in the Navy. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Citizenry (p. 16)
In “Palms of Victory,” we meet Mary Dines, who escaped slavery in Maryland and fled to Washington, D.C., where she spent time at a Freedman’s camp and had the opportunity to sing for President Abraham Lincoln. Her story was told in the 1942 book They Knew Lincoln by John E. Washington.

Fakes, Forgeries and Frauds by Perry M. Frohne (pp. 18-20)
In “Little-Known Fraud: The Remounted Albumen,” Frohne shares tips to spot cartes de visite prints that have been carefully removed from mounts and replaced on new mounts to make them more saleable.

NHV: New Hampshire volunteers during the Civil War (pp. 23-35)
Representative images and stories of 25 Granite State soldiers capture the spirit, sacrifice and contribution of New Hampshire to the Union armies in the eastern and western theaters. Among the stories included is 1st Lt. Alfred B. Seavey of the 15th New Hampshire Infantry, who picked off a Confederate at Port Hudson, La., Pvt. Mark H. Winkley, who spent most of his enlistment on detached duty as a nurse, and 2nd Lt. Charles A. Hale of the 5th New Hampshire Infantry, who fought at Gettysburg and later returned as a pioneer battlefield guide.

New Hampshire’s Distinctive Caps by C. Paul Loane (p. 36)
The Granite State provided its volunteer regiments with caps marked with the letters NHV. The author offers an overview of the distinctive cap, illustrated with a pristine example from his collection, which belonged to a member of the 15th New Hampshire Infantry.

Material Culture by Ron Field (pp. 37-42)
In “Uniforms of the Granite State,” Field examines the varied uniforms supplied to New Hampshire troops.

Fifers (pp. 43-51)
A gallery of images collected in collaboration with Editor Dale Nielsen of the Facebook group “The Image Collector” and contributions by collectors, reviewed by Contributing Editor Chris Nelson, is focused on soldiers pictured with their fifes. The majority of images are individual Union portraits. One Confederate image features a fifer posed with his instrument and a Bowie knife.

Morgan’s Lightning Strikes by Dave Batalo and Ben Greenbaum (pp. 52-56)
An unpublished likeness of George A. Ellsworth, John Hunt Morgan’s master of telegraphic communications, is featured here along with a narrative of his career as a telegrapher. Ellsworth, a Canadian national, was Morgan’s secret weapon in raids against Union outposts in Kentucky and Tennessee. Ellsworth’s gained his reputation for hacking into federal telegraph wires.

When Yellow Is Black and Blue Is White: Understanding color within the confines of the wet plate process by Elizabeth A. Topping (pp. 57-60)
Wet plate photography was sensitive only to blue light, which created significant challenges for photographers seeking to satisfy demanding consumers. To compensate for the limitations of the process, photographers needed to understand how to work within nature’s laws to create a realistic portrait, and to coach clients on what to wear and how to dress. The latter instructions proved helpful to civilians who had freedom to dress for the camera, but not as useful to military men constrained by uniforms that conformed to regulations.

Restrained vs. Martial: Masculine ideals in Civil War photographs by Austin Sundstrom (pp. 62-64)
Categorizing Civil War portraits by the way soldiers conveyed their masculinity is, according to the author, a less-traveled path in classifying such images. Here. The concepts of restrained and martial are defined, with examples of each from The Liljenquist Family Collection at the Library of Congress.

Stragglers: Distinctive Images from MI contributors (p. 65)
Included are portraits of a group of soldiers in a camp band, a hospital steward from the 9th New York Infantry (Hawkins’ Zouaves), a young clarinetist, and a view of Lawrence, Kan., two years after the devastating Quantrill’s Raid.

The Montage by Tom Glass (pp. 66-69)
Overlooked and undervalued by today’s collectors, montages of military officers and political figures of the Union and Confederacy were highly collectible during the Civil War. The author documents a dozen images of this genre.

Revealing the Hidden Beauty of an Ambrotype by Adam Ochs Fleischer (pp. 70-72)
Using a scanner equipped with a film negative feature, the author used this setting to scan an ambrotype of a sailor. The result was a scan that revealed stunning details not visible in the original image.

The 10th New York Cavalry at Gettysburg: Investigating the origins of three similar albums by Kyle M. Stetz (pp. 73-77)
Three surviving carte de visite albums filled with images of identified troopers of the 10th New York Cavalry are at the heart of this investigation. The author’s research reveals where and when they were taken, why these specific individuals were photographed, and the probable identity of the photographer.

Behind the Backdrop: Origins, artistry and photographers by Adam Ochs Fleischer (pp. 78-79)
In “The Augusta or Portland, Maine, Backdrops,” Fleischer examines the distinctive painted canvases connected to portraits of Maine soldiers.

The Last Shot by Mike Fitzpatrick (p. 80)
A ninth-plate tintype from the author’s collection pictures a young soldier with a greenback stuffed into his jacket.