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Thread: Uniform question

  1. #1

    Uniform question

    I'm sure you guys have probably seen this photo before. But I wonder how many of you know there's a second photo of these same soldiers from another angle?

    I was wondering what people could tell me about the uniforms these soldiers are wearing? I am not great with that sort of stuff and you all seem to know a lot more. I've been working on a video project for a while about these photos. The location of the photo is a hot debate among Civil War history nerds and I have it pegged and have been researching and nearly completed with my project after about ~4 years of it being somewhat of an obsession. I'm pretty certain their unit based on their location. But i'm just curious what sticks out among their attire.

    First photo
    lowres1.jpg

    Second photo
    lowres2.jpg


    You can download the photos in high resolution from the library of congress for free here. Where it says download click the dropbox and select the highest resolution.

    First Photo
    https://www.loc.gov/item/2006685384/

    Second Photo
    https://www.loc.gov/item/2012647835/

    Thanks
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  2. #2

    USA General of the Army

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    If I recall from my reading they were identified as members of the Iron Brigade.

  3. #3
    Community Manager, WoR-Dev Hinkel's Avatar
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    Indeed, the shots were made at the first days action near Lees headquarter at Seminary Ridge.
    The pictures were made 4 days after, so the confederates looted the hats, shoes and equipment.

    But the theory says, these are soldiers of the Iron Brigade.

  4. #4
    Most people adamantly disagree about it being the first day's field at Gettysburg, despite the official captions saying that (not saying they're right) or that it could it be the iron brigade. That's the thing about the photos Alexander Gardner took here, they're frequently mislabeled.

    You'll find a couple kepis in the photo though none so conveniently placed to allow their Corps symbol to be seen. Obviously the iron brigade is not known for wearing kepis. One of them most definitely seems to be placed so it was formerly worn on one's head.
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  5. #5
    Community Manager, WoR-Dev Hinkel's Avatar
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    Here is a very good overview of the civil war trust, trying to explain the picture:
    https://www.gettysburgdaily.com/harv...-death-part-1/

    This is also great:
    http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/2...-location.html

    Because there might be a kepi somewhere does not mean, it belongs to the soldiers
    Possible soldiers of the 24th Michigan.

    The 24th Michigan wore frock coats and Hardy hats. Only one forage cap could be found among the dead. The Hardy hat could easily be converted into a slouch hat, a favorite among southern troops.
    Looking at the piping of the coat and the buttons, they definatly have frock coats:

    Last edited by Hinkel; 06-17-2019 at 10:09 AM.

  6. #6
    Right, I've seen both those articles and others. The Civil War Trust doesn't agree with it being Iron Brigade troops. That's a whole series of articles on Gettysburg Daily with the sole purpose of trying to refute the claims that were made prior about it being on the First Day's battlefield near Seminary Ridge

    The location I've got may make sense for the Iron Brigade... mostly the 2nd Wisconsin. There was more than just the Iron Brigade fighting in the locality. It may be a mixture. The bodies are a little too thick to be stray casualties. I don't know enough about the uniforms to know the practical application of their use though I know the general idea of the Iron Brigade's attire. There do seem to be buttons on the sleeves and up to 8 buttons on some of the coats which are visible. The blue stripe on the arms from the artist colorization doesn't appear to me in the photo - though they may be there. They were supposed to have leggings as well, would the johnnies have stolen those too? Would any other units have worn Frock Coats or were the Iron Brigade totally unique in that regard in the Army of the Potomac?

    One of the kepis definitely looks to have fallen off one of their heads.

    kepi.jpg
    Last edited by Poorlaggedman; 06-18-2019 at 02:08 AM.
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  7. #7

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    I could be wrong, but weren't the Iron Brigade also known for wearing gaiters? Nary a gaiter on these lads.
    Descendant of David Jewell - 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, Philo Johnson - 11th Vermont/1st VTHA

  8. #8

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    You'll also notice none are wearing shoes.

    Since gaiters go overs shoes, it's likely they've been removed by the looting.

  9. #9
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    I feel like the colorization is very wrong. On the plaque accompanying the photo is this writing: "The rebels represented in the photograph are without shoes. These were always removed from the feet of the dead on account of the pressing need of the survivors. The pockets turned inside out also show that appropriation did not cease with the coverings of the feet." http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/7milVol/plate36g.html

    In addition, the second link that Hinkel posted was close to the actual location. The author made more revisions later that year: http://spotsylvaniacw.blogspot.com/2...onclusion.html. So the front soldiers are of the I Corps and the more distant ones are Rebs.
    Last edited by Rbater; 06-18-2019 at 10:21 PM.

  10. #10
    Well that's the thing, the photos are captioned every other way under the sun. The guy who took them in 1863 captioned them as rebel dead (with that caption you just used) and then used the other angle and called them Union dead. He's the same guy who moved a body to make the famous "dead rebel sharpshooter" photo at Devil's Den. He took many photos of the same groups of dead from different angles.

    Trust me there are tons of people who do not believe that is the location which the Spottsylvania blogger says in your link and are still searching. People get very angry over this and if you want to get into a fight with some Gettysburg nerds it's one good way to do it. The entire series of articles on Gettysburg Daily by the Battlefield Trust is to disprove that very theory based on the terrain. Either way I'm not too interested in that since that's another matter, which is the entire point of the video I'm making, I'm more interested about the uniforms as a supplement what I've already got.

    I'm just wandering how common the frock coats were then among other units and if that's what they really are. This photo has already been heavily, heavily, heavily vetted for this very reason by a lot of historians. If it was obviously Iron brigade attire it would be solved by now. Anybody can look at it and see for themselves that they have 8 buttons and buttons on the sleeves and might well be frock coats yet that's not a point you'll see made in too many arguments about them, I wonder why.

    With the location I've got, they could be Iron Brigade or they could be another unit. I did not think they were Iron Brigade troops though I'm now confused as to whether they might be. The only Iron Brigade units that took significant casualties nearby was the 2nd Wisconsin going after Archers brigade they took a heavy volley and they didn't stop. That's a wild number of fatalities from a single volley - though it could be a mixture of other units.

    If you want an intro into this then here's a good link to start:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLCcbPveH7Y

    It's got at least three parts and they can be hard to find on youtube. It's originally from VHS and, like a lot of copyrighted crap, has never been reproduced by the holders to better formats.
    Last edited by Poorlaggedman; 06-18-2019 at 10:32 PM.
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