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The Cocktail Hour: 1864

The Cocktail Hour: 1864

October 1864. "Petersburg, Virginia. Hospital stewards of 2d Division, 9th Corps, in front of tents." Wet plate glass negative by Timothy O'Sullivan. View full size.


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And Mr. Meseroll poured.

The young man who is second from the right was James C. Meseroll (1843-1921?). He was from Jackson, Michigan, and he enlisted in the Seventeenth Michigan Infantry as a Hospital Steward on 24 October 1862. Two years later he, as we see here, was in the Union lines at Petersburg, Virginia. At this time his regiment was drastically reduced in numbers and they were serving as pioneers (ditch diggers) in the siege lines. At the end of the war he and his fellow soldiers who had not finished their terms of service were transferred to the Second Michigan infantry for a month. His social skills honed in camp may have helped him become a successful traveling salesman later in life.

The Seventeenth Michigan (or "Stonewall" Regiment) participated in many of the eastern and western battles of the war. I have researched and written much about the regiment.

A toast to freedom?

That's definitely either a Burgundy (red or white) or Champagne bottle. Very likely it was liberated during the siege, perhaps along with the chair.


How, and more importantly, WHY did they use a stuffed 'furniture' chair? How did they transport it; wouldn't it take up valuable wagon space?

[By this time the Siege of Petersburg was in its fifth month. - tterrace.]

Seat of Power

I don't know his rank, but he has the best chair and more importantly he has control of the booze bottle.

Fellow medics

The ancestors of my own Army career as a medic. Today their insignia of the caduceus would be against a maroon background but in those days it would have been against a green background:
Green was prescribed as the first Medical Department color in 1847 when the sash for Medical Officers was described. The green was established in the insignia of the Hospital Stewards uniform on 31 October 1851 and in 1857 the green was piped with yellow and the pompon was topped with medium or emerald green. Later the pompon was green piped with white until 1902 when the maroon color was adopted.


I totally agree with you, tterrace! The quality and clarity of this photo is amazing!!!

Taken to Drink...

Cocktail hour indeed. I'm inclined to think that there were few teetotalers after one had served in a Civil War hospital.


Wow, one of the best-preserved Civil War-era photos I've seen. Talk about your you-are-there quality.

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