Thursday, March 14, 2013

Zooming in on USCT Soldiers at Rest

At first glace the photograph above looks like so many others of Civil War soldiers lounging about. But, a closer, zoomed-in look shows details otherwise unobserved. This rare image actually shows a group of about 40 United States Colored Troops soldiers at Aiken's Landing on the James River in Virginia.

This soldier sits on the bank with his haversack and tin cup on his lap. He sports an unusual knit cap and may be wearing gloves.

Another soldier lounges with a full knapsack and blanket roll wrapped in a rubber ground cover. It also appears that he is wearing mittens.

This soldier is wearing an army greatcoat and either a vest or shell jacket under it. Like a number of the other soldiers, he is wearing a slouch hat rather than a regulation forage cap.

An interesting thing about this particular photograph is that only a small number of the men have their weapons near. The others must have stacked their rifles somewhere outside of the image's scope. The forward soldier has his rifle by his right side and appears to be wearing a sky blue greatcoat cape with a navy frock coat. His haversack, canteen, and tin cup rest on his left side. The soldier resting behind seems to be supported by his knapsack and has his arms folded across a full haversack on his stomach. He has his slouch hat pulled down to shade his eyes from the sun.

A group of five soldiers appear on the right side of the photograph. Three wear forage caps and two wear slouch hats. They all seem to be well equipped like their comrades.  A white fence runs behind them and a barrel rests near.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. The TIFF file can be downloaded here.

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