Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bully Photograph - Signal Corps

It has been a while since I shared a "Bully Photograph," but this one caught my attention recently, so I thought I'd post it.

It comes courtesy of the Library of Congress and shows a group of men from the U.S. Signal Corps, apparently on Elk Ridge, near the Antietam battlefield. Sitting among the group are three African American young men.

The young man on the left side of the photograph rests against a small tree as he intently stares at the camera. His slouch hat sits next to the left knee. It is difficult to tell if his clothing is civilian or military, or a mix, however, his coat appears to have lapels. He wears boots rather than shoes. I wonder how he came to be with the army? Was he formerly free or enslaved? Did he come from Washington D.C., Frederick, Maryland, or was he from the country? Did he serve in a United States Colored Troop regiment later in the war?

The boy in the center of the photograph appears to be the youngest of the three. It looks like he has a military forage cap on the right knee. He wears a vertically stripped shirt under an open checked jacket. Either he is too bashful to look into the camera or the shot was taken while his head was slighted bowed. He seems to hold onto the pant leg of the solider sitting to his right. This youngster cannot be more than eight or nine years old, probably even younger. Did he see the terrible sights from the Battle of Antietam? Where were his parents? Did he know the other two black young men in the photograph? What did such a little fellow do for the army?

The third young man, who sits on the far right side of the photograph has his legs crossed and is barefooted. He, like the first, stares at the camera. He wears what looks to be military jacket with epaulets, perhaps a shell jacket, with the too long sleeves rolled up to fit better. What did he do after the war? Who are his descendants? 

We'll likely never know the answers to these questions, but thanks to photography we have this amazing image to record this particular point in time.

No comments:

Post a Comment