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Rufus Returns: 1865

Rufus Returns: 1865

May 1865. "City Point, Virginia. Gen. Rufus Ingalls and group." The group is back, slightly rearranged and expanded. Wet-plate glass negative. View full size.

 

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Mmm ... not so much

Rather than "blowing a theory out of the water," I'd say the portly gentleman is more like the exception that proves the rule. (P.S. I'm a reenactor of 30+ years - CW, Rev War, 1812, voyageurs - so I know of what you speak!)

Fat, Then and Now

As a Civil War reenactor, I'm constantly hearing "people were so much smaller back in those days". Well, the guy with the grey suit and the big hat certainly blows that theory out of the water... but then again, he is a civilian and not a soldier. Still, he obviously never missed any meals. No bacon and hardtack for this guy.

Wooooof

The dog isn't bored, he's supremely contented. Centered in the familiar smells of the pack, all present and accounted for ... leaning on the feet of his Master, head in the soft lap of the nursemaid ... it doesn't get any better.

"Nursemaid"?

Is that the euphemism they used to use in Virginia for the illegitimate daughters of Army Generals or their fathers? I've been thinking about this for awhile, now; the girl was 'mixed-blood', but whose blood? She looks -- and is dressed -- for all intents and purposes - like the rest of the family. The only obvious difference between her and them is her slightly darker complexion. She might very well be the General's or the Big Daddy/Burl Ives/"Rev." Ric Warren-guy's daughter - and I'll bet that I'm not merely blowing smoke rings.

[This is the family of a Union Army general from New England. Nursemaids and laundresses were nothing unusual for Northern white families in the Civil War era. - Dave]

HMS Quartermaster

And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!
His sisters and his cousins,
Whom he reckons up by dozens,
And his aunts!

Ennui? Or Style of the Time

I wonder that it's not ennui, but the fashion of the time to stare off into the distance when having your picture taken? I also wonder if in over a hundred years time, current photos will be viewed with "Were cameras always mounted on a pole or the ceiling?" because of the trend to take photos of yourself by holding the camera up above your head (for that flattering angle).

I Can't Tell You Why

This is the least attractive group of people I've seen in a Shorpy photograph.

The girl

The girl in the middle must be the "mulatto nursemaid" mentioned in a biography of Ingalls that I read years ago. I can't recall if it mentioned her name.

A flower in her hair

Can it be? Billie Holiday's grandma!

The Human Version

This shot is alive; the other one, not so much. Good picture/bad picture, I'd give just about anything to have photos like these of my 1865 families.

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