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Military Images

A Lost Story

Though the particulars of the story behind this photograph are currently lost to history, the soldier surrounded by his comrades was undoubtedly the central figure. Resting his hands on the barrel of a Model 1855 musket, he sports a small pistol tucked into his belt. It appears to be a Colt Model 1849, which is more commonly seen it early war images. He also carries a knapsack that could have state issue or private purchase, such as a Short’s patent, as indicated by the buckle on the cross strap. The soldiers around him wear standard four-button sack coats, fatigue blouses, sky blue trousers and caps common to infantrymen. Two men don private purchase caps, and three wear leggings.

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Women on the Home Front: Their Essential Roles During the Civil War

Author Juanita Leisch Jensen states, “We have grown accustomed to seeing photographs of soldiers in military publications. Therefore, the presence of females may seem incongruous. It is not.” She adds, “The war presented women with opportunities to support the soldiers and military organizations. Just as the presence of females in these photographs is obvious to us today, their wartime efforts were obvious to soldiers fighting in the Civil War.”

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The American Zouave: Mania and Mystique

“During the Civil War, Union and Confederate troops both adopted exotic dress in the transgressive guise of the Zouave uniform,” observes historian Timothy Marr. He goes on to explore the cultural phenomenon that excited and energized Americans before and during the war.

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Gettysburg’s Honored Dead, Haunted Survivors

They fell in the thousands during three brutal days of carnage in a crossroads community in southeast Pennsylvania. The ground hallowed by their blood—Little Round Top and Culp’s Hill and The Wheatfield—are forever part of our American memory. A small yet significant group of the men who were killed, wounded or captured are remembered here in portraits and personal stories. Introduced by Harold Holzer.

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Previously Unknown Image of Jefferson Davis Comes to Light

Rare tintypes of the Confederate president and commander-in-chief and his first lady hidden away since the end of the Civil War come to light in the Spring 2016 issue of Military Images magazine.

Believed to have been taken during the months leading up to the war, the unique images were acquired in 1980 by John O’Brien. He has kept the images private since acquiring them 36 years ago. In an exclusive article for Military Images, he tells the story of the Davis tintypes.

Essays by William C. Davis, professor of history at Virginia Tech and Director of Programs at the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, and Joan E. Cashin, a professor of history at Ohio State University and the author of “First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War,” reflect on the power and importance of the Davis tintypes.

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Assassination in Jackson County

By 1865, the bullets had stopped flying and many of the soldiers in blue and gray marched home. But the residual effects of the war would continue for many years. Although Union veteran John Quincy Dickinson had escaped death on the battlefield, he faced new threats in his assignment to the Freedman’s Bureau in Jackson County, Fla., where he found himself in the crosshairs of the politically charged violence of the reconstruction effort.

The full story appears in the Winter 2016 issue of Military Images magazine.

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Riding the Rail, Revisited

25 years after a unique photo of a soldier holding an impossible large wood sword and seated astride an oversize “horse” made of timber made the rounds in books and film, Robert L. Kotchian discovered its origins and connections to Old World punishments.

The full story appears in the Winter 2016 issue of Military Images magazine.

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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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Mistaken Identity?

Two court-martial cases that arose at the end of the Civil War—one in Albany, N.Y., and the other in Springfield, Ill.—reveal how some litigants relied on more than the spoken word to determine identity. The cases of Simon Burke and William Gemmill, both tried in September 1865, used photographs as a key method to identify suspected deserters.

To learn more, access “Mistaken Identity? Early Use of Photographic Evidence in Two Court-Martial Case for Desertion” by Elena Colón-Marrero in the Autumn 2015 issue of Military Images magazine.

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Stories Yet to Be Told

Dan Schwab appreciates the connection that old photos make to long lost volunteers in blue and gray. “When I hold an image in my hand, I know that the soldier in the image unquestionably at one time held that very piece of tin or glass in his hand as well. He most likely took great care of it so that it could be sent home to his parents, siblings, wife or a sweetheart.”

Representative examples of his collection are featured in the Summer 2015 issue of Military Images.

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