* Civil War -- the boys' war unidentified images

American Civil War/The Boys' War: Unidentified Images

Figure 1.-- Unfortunarely all we know for sure about this Daguerreotype is that it came from a family living in South Berwick, Maine. We have no idea who the boy seen here (FIGURE 1)was. It is clearly a Civil War-era portrait, but we do not know if the portrait was definitely taken during the War or if the boy was in the Federal Army.

We have found a range of Civil War-era photographs of boys. They are, however, unidentified images without any provinance. We are thus unsure just how to assess them, either the date or just who is represented in the photographs. Hopefully HBC readers may have some insights to offer here.

Unidentified Maine Daguerreotype

We can see a young boy with a long gun, perhaps a musket, almost as tall as he is. We would guess that the portrait was taken in the very early 1860s. We say that because the portrait is a Faguerreotype or perhaps an ambrotype. These were formsts common in the 1850s, but rapidly replace bgiining in 1862 when CDVs appeared. The case mount wih flags ad cannon certainly suggests the Civil War. This is why we think it was taken in the early 60s rasther than the 1850s. We have no idea who the boy was, other than hr was from Maine and about 12 years old. Nor are we sure thst he has enlisted. He would not have been accepted as a infantryman, but it is possible that he could have been excepted as a musician. If he was, having his portrait taken with a gin was a bt of boyish bravado. He wears a plausible military uiform. Berwick had an academy founded in 1791, the oldest educational institution in the state. It was not a military academy as far as I can mzkeout, but the boy may have well be a student at the school. Note the decoration on his jacket. We have no idea what that was for. (Could it be a graduation ribbon. We seen graduation ribbons being worn, for example, at an Indianapolis School.) There were 192 men from South Berwick who enlisted (1861).

Unidentified Confederate Boy

Here we have another unidentified boy. There is no information available other than the tintype portrait. It was done about the size of a CDV, 3.5" X 2.5". We believe it ws taken early in the Civil War, probably 1861 or 62. Notice the pose, like a standard Dag or Ambro portarit, with the small table draped with fabric that had a bold pattern. The boy looks to be a yuunger teenager, probably 13 or 14 years old. He wears a rather formal uniform with a long jacket or blouse. This was a an officer's uniform, not one of a young boy who has just enlisted or about to enlist. Many Confederate soldiers served without unifornms issed by the Government in their own clothes. This boy's family clearly had an impressive inifirm done for him before sending him off to battle. We suspect he came from a well-to-do family, pethaps part of the Confedsracy's plantation aristocracy. We believe that the well-to-do in the south were more willing to send their boys to war than in the North. There were of course many boys in the Federal Army, but they tended to come from more working-class backgrounds. Also notice the Bowie knife, probably meaning the boy did not own a pistol.


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Created: April 20, 1998
Last updated: 9:25 PM 11/15/2020