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About the Photos

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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1st Mass. Cavalry: 1864

1st Mass. Cavalry: 1864

August 1864. Petersburg, Virginia. "Commissioned and non-commissioned officers of Cos. C and D, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry." Happy Veterans Day from Shorpy. Wet plate glass negative; photographs from the main Eastern theater of the war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. View full size.

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Their Civil War log

Here's where the First Mass Cav served. Note photo of its monument at Gettysburg (the unit had no casualties there).

Thank you, Munchdog

It's too late to thank these gentlemen, but I can publicly thank Munchdog for serving and helping to make sure that I was able to vote and had an election to judge 6 days ago.

Low Smileage

I can't imagine the hardships and horrible (not horrific, I hate that word) sights these poor men had to endure by the time this was taken. The soldier with his hands folded in front of him seems to be attempting a smile, but he just can't bring it off. They look spent and exhausted.
Bless all of our warriors through all the wars.

Possible ID of the "Diamond Guy"

Possibly First Sergeant William Nickerson Davis, but he sure looks like Commissary Sergeant Ethan E. Cobb.

Mysteries, mysteries.

1st Mass Cav additional idents

Dapper gent to [yes, Capt. Chas. F. Adams, elbow on knee, center] the left of him is Lt. Geo. H Teague; no-nonsense looking gent to his right is Capt. Edward A Flint.
Source: Civil War photographs, 1861-1865, compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, 1961, item number 0385. For those who do not know, Milhollen was a Specialist in Photography at LoC in the 1950s; the catalog referenced is almost the "bible" when it comes to identifying 1,047 images. It was first printed in 1961; yes, there are likely some errors, but one must start somewhere.

Just great

It's photo day and I can't find my stinkin' hat!

Charles Francis Adams, Jr.

I believe the bald officer in the center is Charles Francis Adams, Jr., grandson of John Quincy Adams and son of the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain at the time.


Those men look so tired and hungry! Long, long war slowly coming to an end!

Target rich environment

Most officers learned early not to display their rank conspicuously, so as not to become a target for snipers. These fellows seem to feel secure enough to ignore that bit of field safety. If you got these guys to shave, they could pass for any photo taken with my buds in the Nam. Just as brave, dedicated and faithful, no matter what the folks back home thought, they were doing their best to protect the way of life they had sworn to preserve with their lives. And they did. Thank you, my brothers, It won't be long now, I'll be shaking your hands again, Bobbie, Howie, Rob and Kier.

Diamond Insignia

First non-commissioned on the left standing has a diamond only on his sleeve. A First Sergeant would have sergeant's chevrons plus the diamond. Could this be a field make do for someone lacking sergeant's chevrons? I assume the diamond would have been interpreted as First Sergeants rank.

Can they time travel?

One thing I like to do is peruse the faces in these old pictures and see if any of them either look "familiar" and/or have a look I can imagine seeing at my local coffee shop. This group for the most part seems very much a part of their time/place (strange how faces can do that) BUT...the handsome, clean-shaven fella sitting on the left (second over)looks like boys I've seen at my daughter's school. THAT one can come visit my town anytime...what's 148 years after all?

Insignia of rank on his collar

I see the captain in the center of the photo has his insignia on his collar as do present day officers. I don't believe I've ever seen a photo of a Union Civil War officer wearing his rank in this manner. Most have their rank displayed on their shoulders.

SHORPY OLD 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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