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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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Civil Union: 1860s

Civil Union: 1860s

"Two Civil War soldiers in Union uniforms in front of painted backdrop showing military camp scene." Quarter-plate tintype, hand colored. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress. View full size.

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Hawkeye Pierce's Great Grandfather

Man on the right has corporal stripes so I would say both were enlisted unless Hawkeye Pierce's great grandfather was around and inventing ranks in the Civil War.

Comrades in arms

Looking proudly if somewhat suspiciously directly toward the camera. One wonders if they survived the conflict intact. One wonders also why the hand tinters always seemed to apply such unnatural looking rosy cheeks.

Behind the backdrop

Thanks for this - the original resource is fascinating. Just wanted to speculate that since these boys are not dressed for a studio, perhaps the photo was taken by a wagon-based field photographer - this would be the boy's rare chance to send something back home. Which begs the question, did either return from the war?


The standard material for Union uniform trousers was a wool kersey. As used in Federal uniforms, it was a somewhat lighter blue than that shown in in this hand tinted picture. The sack coats the soldiers are wearing were a dark blue wool which was usually a coarser weave.

Early 'Blue Jeans'?

In 1853 Levi Strauss set out for the California Gold Rush. A prospector asked what he was selling. Strauss told him he had rough canvas for tents and wagon covers. The Prospector said, "You should have brought pants!" saying he couldn't find pants strong enough to last. Strauss had the canvas made into 'waist overalls' -- and the rest is "Blue Jean" history!

150 years ago??

But the boy on the right looks just like someone who graduated high school with my daughter; unny how some faces from the past are so unfamiliar somehow and others are just like people we see around us on a daily basis.

Jine the Cavalry!

These two cavalrymen appear to be wearing M1851 Officer's sword belt plates rather than enlisted men's. The officer's plate had a belt loop on both ends like these and the enlisted was only on one side. Of course at some point it may not have mattered. The photo has been reversed as well. The ribbon over the eagle (the little wavy line) should show up with the highest part to the left as we look at the picture.

[As explained in postings of other tintypes, the images are always reversed unless the camera had been fitted with a prism or mirror. -tterrace]

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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