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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Staff Meeting: 1865

Staff Meeting: 1865

July 1865. "Washington, District of Columbia. Brevetted Brigadier General Napoleon Bonaparte McLaughlen (seated, second from right) and staff." Wet collodion glass plate negative, photographer unknown. View full size.

 

Eyes Left Right

Don't know what interests me more, the fact that everyone has matching shoes (must be a military thing but you'd be hard pressed to find that synchronicity these days) and that almost every man is looking a different direction.

The Hook

The sword scabbard is suspended from the belt on two leather straps. When you're in the saddle, the scabbard dangles down on the straps. When you're on foot, you hook up the upper ring of the scabbard, in effect bypassing the straps, so the scabbard is at belt level rather than at knee level. It's so you don't get the scabbard tangled between your legs and trip over it, looking like a fool in front of your men and the enemy.

Generally speaking

McLaughlen was captured at Fort Stedman during one of the last Confederate counterattacks of the war. His brevet rank of brigadier general was only temporary. More than a few generals went back to the rank of captain in the Regular Army after the war was over. Most of these man were badly "used up" by the time the conflict ended.

Hooked

Quick now! What was the purpose of the little shiny hook that is right at the corner front edge of the table? I had a former US Cavalry officer tell me what it was used for, so I am in the know on that one if nothing else.

Dog Sitter

He looks so sad; I hope the balance of his life improved post Civil War, but I doubt it.

Out of Uniform

The fellow standing in the back is wearing fancily embroidered carpet slippers. He might have been called from his tent to come get into the shot, or he could have been nursing a bunion from too many months in his service boots. The General had only recently returned from a couple of months as a prisoner of war in Libby Prison, released by Lee's surrender, and the whole group evidences the kind of pensiveness that comes from knowing that they'll soon be going home.

Brevetted officers

Brevet officers are only given temporary rank to fulfil the duties of their job but none of the extra pay or benefits of the higher rank. It was considered a warrant granted by the commanding officers and not a true commission or promotion granted the government.

There is a reference to a Captain Napoleon Bonaparte McLaughlin leading a scouting party against the Comanche Indians in 1872, could this be the same guy?

With a name like that I would have expected the west to have been conquered a long time before that.

Boots

These are the shiniest boots I've seen in any of the Civil War era pictures. They evidently were keeping their flacks busy as the battles waned.

What'll we do now?

It's hot July, the war is over, the heavy coats are unbuttoned, and the regiment's supply of shampoo is exhausted. Darn.
Is the fellow standing in the center wearing fancy cowboy boots?

The unknown soldier

So, was that dog an officer or enlisted?

Short comment

What a sad picture this is to me.

And His Little Dog, Too!

Looks like a bull terrier pup. Brevet meant the rank was temporary and he probably went back to being a Colonel after the army was scaled back. However, these ranks were used as courtesy titles in civilian life and so he was probably called "General" as an honorific ever afterwords.

 
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