17
   

Unknown Civil War Officer?????

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 09:27 am
@Ionus,
Ionus wrote:

Thats some nice research there Joe.
I dont think it is a Bersagliere soldier as moustaches or not were uniform and the lack of pockets suggests it isnt their tunic. But the hat is a dead ringer for theirs, so maybe he is from an Italian Volunteer Civil War unit ???

The lack of pockets is the only thing that makes me question my conclusion that this is a member of the Bersaglieri. As others have pointed out, however, there may have been some retouching of the photo. The tunic could also be part of an undress uniform, although I haven't found any information that might confirm this.

The mustache, on the other hand, I consider to be distinctly Italianate.

As far as I know, there were no Italian volunteer units in the American Civil War. The major wave of Italian immigration didn't take place until two or three decades after the end of the war, so there weren't the concentrations of Italians necessary to field all-ethnic units, unlike the Germans and Irish. The 39th New York Regiment styled itself as the "Garibaldi Guard," but it contained more Germans and Hungarians than Italians. This unit may have worn something similar to the bersaglieri hat with rooster feathers, but it appears to have been a slouch hat rather than a round hat with a flat brim.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 10:38 am
In fact, Joe's point about the Italians is very well taken. Napoleon III invaded Italy in 1859 to fight the Austrians (Magenta and Solferino were the bloodiest battles in Europe between 1815 and 1914), and then withdrew because it was not his intent to provide Cavour an opportunity to set up a pan-Italian republic. (A minor matter of interest, Irwin McDowell was the American observer with the French army in this campaign, and some historians claim that this is why he was given command of what was then known as the Army of Northern Virginia--ironically, Pierre Gustave Toutant [a.k.a. Beauregard] called his army the Army of the Potomac.)

Of course, Mazzinni and Cavour had ceded Nice to the French because they wanted his army to defeat the Austrians, leaving the Piedmontese monarchy (The Kingdom of Sardinia) in a position to accomplish the conquest of the entire Italian peninsula. Appalled by the casualties at Solferino, and sour at the realization that Nice had only been ceded so that he would break the back of Austrian military power in Italy, Napoleon III withdrew. By then, though, the genie was out of the bottle. In 1860, Garlibaldi, angry at but cooperating with Mazzini and Cavour, first landed in Sicily (against the express wishes of the Piedmontese), defeated the Neapolitans, took Palermo, and then crossed to the mainland and took Naples (he was significantly supported by the Royal Navy in these ventures). He was unable to defeat the Neapolitan Army with his volunteers, but by this time, Cavour had taken note that Fortune is bald behind and arrived with a Piedmontese army (many of them and nearly all the officers veterans of the Crimean War) and the Neapolitans capitulated. The Piedmontese has conquered most of the papal territories in their march south, but had pointedly avoided attacking Rome, which was defended by the French. Garibaldi wanted to march on Rome, but the Piedmontese would not cooperate, and he gave up the idea, met with Victor Emmanuel and then retired from public life.

These were heady times for Italians--not only were there many good reasons (at their estimation at least) to remain in Italy, there was little reason to emigrate to the United States, especially as, by mid-1861, new immigrants frequently found themselves in a blue suit on a train headed for Virginia within days of landing. The economic malaise of Italy, exacerbated by the "Great Depression" in Europe which began in 1875 landed large numbers of Italians on our shores--as Joe has pointed out, a generation after our civil war.
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 11:48 am
@boomerang,
You're a professional photographer, right? Do you think you could do an advanced image search on Google Images >
http://images.google.com/advanced_image_search?hl=en
> see if you get a match - I just don't know the specs to be entered for photographs, like "aspect ratio", whatever that is.
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  0  
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 06:02 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
The tunic could also be part of an undress uniform
I suspect he dressed up for the occasion and would have worn full dress.

Quote:
The lack of pockets is the only thing that makes me question my conclusion that this is a member of the Bersaglieri.
I have been thinking about that, and there is nothing to stop it from being an officer's jacket if the rank was touched over. Pockets for enlisted men was the vogue well after the civil war, so the civil war era might still be correct.

Quote:
The mustache, on the other hand, I consider to be distinctly Italianate.
Yes, photos of the civil war certainly show a bushy moustache was the fashion but it is possible he was of foriegn birth.

Quote:
The 39th New York Regiment styled itself as the "Garibaldi Guard," but it contained more Germans and Hungarians than Italians.
This was the unit I was thinking of...you dont have to be italian to be in an italian named unit. There were no north africans in zoauve units.

Quote:
but it appears to have been a slouch hat rather than a round hat with a flat brim.
The hat style with that amount of feathers screams bersaglieri...if it had a broader brim it would be closer to pre-civil war volunteer cavalry.

That hat badge is the answer, but I havent been able to find anything like it as it is rather distinctive.
danon5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 08:35 am
@Setanta,

Setanta and Joe and all the rest - as far as I can tell after researching all my books, the man in the photo is one of a couple of possibilities: First, he may be an instructor at a pre-war school for students of an undetermined age and location. Or, second, he may be in a local voluntary unit of militia. There were many many many units of local militia in those days. They all had their own dress codes to include just plain clothing that everyone wore. And hats!!! My God, you can't count them. The only official uniform version of a hat that looked like the one in the photo was the Alabama Light Infantry. Other units had similar hats but with only a single feather. There are many photos taken during the Civil War showing men and officers in uniform with obvious civilian hats. Many of the officers had their own uniforms tailor made to their own imaginative design. Oh, well.

I'm sticking with the military school solution - he doesn't have the look of a person who has personally been in the midst of combat. He has the "teacher of cannon fodder" look.

Ahhh, I seriously doubt we will ever know. Unless!!!!!!

We need a clear shot of the emblem on the hat in the photo. I've several of the old oval photos from a bit later but close enough in time that I know the detail of the photos is really sharp in real life. We need a detail of the emblem. As for the jacket -------- well, it's quite obvious to me that the photographer painted it on the man's body - the whole thing. The person with the photo should be able to see that for sure. Setanta came up with a close likeness of the collar design - but, look at the star --- it's right side up on one side and upside down on the other. However, if the painter had a single example of the design to go by - given to him of course by the man in the photo - he, the photographer who painted it would flip the pattern over and make the photo as we see it today.

That's what I think. Many guys did this in those days in order to flatter themselves.

danon5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 08:55 am
@danon5,
Oh, a final detail. The lack of buttons, etc on the uniform jacket could easily be explained by the fact that the photographer would have charged additional money for each additional item in the photo. Those buttons could have cost a pretty penny.

Good luck guys. I'll keep looking.

ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 09:15 am
@danon5,
I know nothing useful about uniforms or Civil War stuff, but I dig the whole facial decor thing ...

http://mustachesofthenineteenthcentury.blogspot.com/
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 10:04 am
@Ionus,
Ionus wrote:

Quote:
The tunic could also be part of an undress uniform
I suspect he dressed up for the occasion and would have worn full dress.

I considered that as well, but it's clear that, whatever uniform he's wearing, it lacks the kind of distinctions that we would normally associate with full dress uniforms. That either means that there was some serious re-touching of the photo, or else the subject was wearing an undress uniform. In any event, there are plenty of photos of soldiers in the equivalent of "fatigues" during the nineteenth century.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 07:27 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
I considered that as well, but it's clear that, whatever uniform he's wearing, it lacks the kind of distinctions that we would normally associate with full dress uniforms. That either means that there was some serious re-touching of the photo, or else the subject was wearing an undress uniform. In any event, there are plenty of photos of soldiers in the equivalent of "fatigues" during the nineteenth century.
All that is true, so of course I agree !! Very Happy But the collar looks formal, and civil war photos tend to show an abscence of a collar or collar distinctions. The collar seems to disappear on the jacket and the shirt collar protrudes in a lot of photos of soldiers in the field. This can not distract from this guy is trying to create a good impression and probably doesnt have anyone shooting at him. The star has also been painted over, it was bigger in the photo but shrunk during the painting. It also is not a flat badge, but has been stamped with raise portions. This makes it seem like a rank badge like setanta suggested. The trim line around the centre of the collar and the patches at the front would suggest rank. However, I cant shake the opinion that it is a Texas star not a rank badge. I base this on the broadest impressions of the photo/painting as a whole.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 11:56 pm
@Ionus,
Ionus wrote:
. . . and civil war photos tend to show an abscence of a collar or collar distinctions.


This is patently untrue. In dress uniforms, there is a "stand-up" collar, and that collar will be colored, as are all the facings of a dress uniform, with the color appropriate to the branch of service. Field uniforms had lapel-type collars. Whether or not there were insignia depended upon the army in which the soldier served. In the Army of the Potomac, from the time of Joe Hooker's command of that army, each corps was distinguished by a badge, with first division of that corps displaying the badge in red, second division in white, and third division (if there were one) in blue. One corps (VI Corps?) had four divisions, and the badge of the fourth division was in green. In dress uniform the corps badge would be on the shoulder. In field uniform, it would be on the collar lapel. Many regiments, of course, joined without the badges, but these were generally sewn on after joining. The badge would not be apparent in studio photographs taken before the soldier's regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac.

In Confederate States service, fewer than 50% of soldiers were uniformed, and those that were usually had received their uniforms from their home states. As Joe has pointed out, officers looked to their tailors to provide their uniforms.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:03 am
@Ionus,
Ionus wrote:
However, I cant shake the opinion that it is a Texas star not a rank badge.


This is also not likely to be true. The Texas brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia wore no badges, and the troops from Texas which operated in New Mexico were almost none of them uniformed. The Texas Rangers who served in Missouri and Arkansas, until the death of Ben McCulloch at Pea Ridge, were not uniformed--just as they had not been uniformed while in the service of the Republic of Texas. McCulloch himself did not like uniforms, and when he was shot dead out of his saddle on March 7, 1862, he was wearing a black velvet frock coat, high collar, cravat and Wellington boots.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:06 am
Samuel Reid of Louisiana thus described Ben McCulloch and his Texas Rangers: " . . . men in groups with long beards and mustaches, dressed in every variety of garment, with one exception, the slouched hat, the unmistakable uniform of a Texas ranger."
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:36 am
@Setanta,
I will explain more fully as you seem to only read what you want..photos of the civil WAR...as opposed to photos of individuals at home or in a studio...TEND to show an abscence of a collar or collar distinctions. Your style of writing has all the necessary components of a show off who thinks he is clever...I think the average Civil War fan is aware of everything you wrote as being rather basic information. Back to google with you and see what else you can come up with...
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:40 am
@Setanta,
Everything you wrote is irrelevant. We are discussing a volunteer unit or a school, and you say it is definitely not of a rebel of the Army of Northern Virginia or New Mexico or a Texas Ranger...whilst I understand the need to eliminate I thought we had moved on to more serious possibilities. Back to google for you....
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 12:48 am
@danon5,
Quote:
it's right side up on one side and upside down on the other
I dont know if it is just the reproduction, but there is a ghost of the image that suggests the badge is original to the photo, and is upside down on his left in the original. Wish I knew more about glass photos....
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 01:00 am
@Ionus,
Ionus wrote:
]All that is true, so of course I agree !! Very Happy But the collar looks formal, and civil war photos tend to show an abscence of a collar or collar distinctions.

That's assuming that this is a photo from the Civil War. The Bersaglieri, however, had a star distinction on their collars, as Setanta pointed out. Take a look at this:

http://www.ww2incolor.com/d/255037-2/bersaglieri
Note the collar distinctions and the single breasted tunic with the hidden buttons and no pockets. This is a photo of a Bersagliere from World War I. I think the tunic looks very much like the one in the mystery photo.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 04:27 am
@joefromchicago,
Now thats a very interesting photo....Does he have a stripe on his left arm ? The tunic is not that unusual though...it can still be before the civil war up to WWI. Should be easy..... Very Happy
Quote:
The Bersaglieri, however, had a star distinction on their collars, as Setanta pointed out.
Agreed. But as Setanta also pointed out, so too does the rank of major. As I pointed out, so too did Texas volunteer units, at least before the war if not during.

For enlisted men, epauletes are in the same boat as jacket pockets, they put the date later than the Civil War. But an officer wouldnt have epaulettes or pockets so it still could be Bersaglieri based on the lack of a plastron or double breasted jacket.

If the photo is of an immigrant, or a relative of an immigrant family and they bought the photo with them because he was a decorated warrior after the photo, or any one of a million reasons why people hang on to things despite the cost, then the gulf between us and correctly identifying the uniform just got very large.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 04:49 am
Your writing, Ionus, has all the markings of someone who makes **** up as he goes along. I know of no Army of New Mexico. The Texans of western Texas who followed Sibley into New Mexico were not a part of any formal, organized and named army. Snotty remarks about Google ignore, for example, that if one doesn't know who McCulloch or Sibley are, you can't very well look them up. Your silly comments about "volunteer cavalry," for example, are a classic example of someone making **** up as he goes along.

You really are far, far out of any field in which you have a plausible basis for claiming expert knowledge, so why don't you keep the cheap shots to yourself, and concentrate on the things for which you can provide reliable evidence? I don't consider myself expert, but am very well and widely read in these matters. When i began reading history as a boy in the 1950s, the nation was the gearing up for the Civil War centenary, and from that time to this, there have been literally thousands of books available on the subject here, which i doubt was the case in Australia.

I know of no instance when Texans so commonly wore a star on the collar that it could be said to be an ordinary distinguishing mark. The Texas Rangers were organized to deal with the Comanches and the nearly annual raids by Mexicans into territory claimed by the Republic of Texas, including two major expeditions against San Antonio de Bejar. McCulloch participated in the successful defense of the city against the first attempt, and in the operations to dislodge the Mexicans when they took the town on their second attempt. He also participated in the campaigns against the Comanches. As noted already, the Texas Rangers wore no uniforms. The habit of "peace officers" in the American west wearing a star as a badge of office came from the practice the Rangers had of hanging a Mexican five peso piece from the pocket of their coat--and the five peso piece had a rayed, five-pointed star on it. That's about as close as you're going to come to the nonsense you're trying to peddle here. What military school do you allege was to be found in Texas in 1861? What volunteer cavalry do you refer to?

I consider that Joe's identification of this man as probably having been a member of the Bersaglieri is the most plausible identification to date. Even the similarity of the hats worn by the "Garibaldi Guard" is not compelling evidence for this being a photo of an American Civil War era soldier, as they would have been wearing a dark blue uniform blouse--which clearly this man is not wearing.
danon5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 09:28 am
@Setanta,
I'm in perfect agreement with Setanta ---

And, Joe - you have a winner in my books.

0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 09:51 am
@VReaction,
You're certainly aware that in 1918 an Bersaglieri regiment was in the USA? (Together with 'Alpinis' and 'Royal Grenadiers'.)

NYT: Italy's Fighters Pack Loan Meeting

Getty image:
http://i41.tinypic.com/9h1lc9.jpg

I mean, who's sure that the photo is from the Civil period?

VReaction only wrote:

We purchased an old farm house built in 1805. An oval portrait has graced the wall of our home since we moved in 15 years ago.


I'm quite sure that photo pictures someone from a(n Alpine) "Jäger" (= light infantry) unit. 'Alpinis' would be a second possibility (partly because non of the Austrian and German Jäger hats seem to fit.)
 

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