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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Scouts and Guides: 1864

Scouts and Guides: 1864

March 1864. "Brandy Station, Virginia. Scouts and guides of the Army of the Potomac." From photographs of the main Eastern theater of the war, winter quarters at Brandy Station. Standing, left to right: James Doughty, James Cammack (?), unknown, Henry W. Dodd, unknown, unknown. Seated: John Irving, Lt. Robert Klein of the 3d Indiana Cavalry, Dan Cole. On ground: Dan Plue, Lt. Klein's son, W.J. Lee, unknown, Mr. Wood, Sanford Magee, John W. Langdon. Wet-plate glass negative, photographer unknown. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Henry Wood Dodd

He is my relative, born in Fairfield, NJ. Moved to Ohio. His brother Theodore Hale Dodd was a colonel in the Colorado Army; high ranking fellow in the area. Too much to say. Sadly, Henry ate some beef at a Union camp; most got sick. Henry had the sickness the rest of his life. Had to go to the bathroom a lot, if you understand. Hard to stay in the saddle but he did. He was one of the first fellows picked by Pinkerton for the first Secret Service agent's class. Around 1886 or so, Henry was at an old soldiers' home (Kansas ??) but his Iowa sister (teacher) came for him when he was very sick. She was his only family member alive. He died 1888 in Algona, Iowa, aged 49. In 1865, Henry Dodd and another man captured Dick Turner, former Confederate head of Libby Prison. Glen

Scouts and Spies

This picture is on the cover of "Scouts and Spies of the Civil War," by William Gilmore Beymer. These are men who signed up for what was called "extra dangerous duty," behind enemy lines and so forth. Worth a read if you're interested in that sort of thing.


The gent on the far left appears to be missing a few fingers.


I wonder if some of these fellows are of melungeon heritage. Melungeons are rather dark-skinned people found in the Eastern Appalachians who are generally thought to be of European, Sub-Saharan African and Native American heritage. Some people believe that they were descendants of the Lost Colony, but no one really knows where they came from. "Dodd" and "Cole" are listed as Melungeon surnames, of course those are rather common names, but Mr. Cole is one of the darkest complexioned men in this photo. There's a good article in Wikipedia and loads of other stuff on the Internet on this subject.

That's one tough dude there!

The man sitting with the black and hat the beard is one of the toughest looking fellows I've ever seen. I can see death when I look into his eyes. He is someone I would want on my side!

Most dangerous job

Give these guys a break. An infantry or cavalry scout faces apprehension and summary execution every time he leaves camp. It was a particularly nerve-wracking job in the Civil War, where lines were often fluid, enemy could turn up anywhere, and you might have to bluff your way out of any encounter.


Maybe it is the steely eyed look that made it difficult for that guy in the back row to get his waistcoat buttoned up level. Fancy that -- one mistake with the first button and he goes down for internet eternity as a sloppy dresser.

Loud clothes

It's hard to imagine someone discreetly scouting in those outrageous check patterns!

A poet among them?

They are a rough looking bunch, except for the man to the left of center in the grass. He has a "poet" look about him. The others are quite steely-eyed, as has been noted.

These boots were made for either foot

According to some research I did for a sculptor that was working on an Abe Lincoln statue, not long before this picture was taken, footwear was not made with any preference for left and right. These boots are either still in the old style, or fashion hadn't moved them very far away.

I'm guessing....

that the "steely-eyed" look comes from staring into space while trying to hold absolutely still for the long exposures. And, it appears that some were more successful than others at doing this.


Square toed men's dress shoes are still a very popular style in Europe and Asia, but you do not see them so much here in the United States.

Although motley, all of these gentlemen look extremely rugged and competent, which is what you would expect from a guide who could make his way through rugged terrain in all sorts of weather.

The second man from the left in the back is posing writing in his notebook, demonstrating perhaps that he was both professional and literate which would be important marketing points in his favor.

I Just Noticed

Look at the square toes on the boots and shoes. Is that an illusion or am I seeing it right? They've been too long in those clothes, and I'm sure they could all use a bath. But they all also have a steely look in their eyes that you don't see much of any more.

Pinkie rings

I didn't realize that pinkie rings were fashionable (or practical) in those times. I count at least three on left hands and one on right. Does anyone know whether there is any significance to these?


I wonder how much time this motley crew spent on the right side of the law and how much time they spent elsewhere.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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