CIVIL WAR PERIOD OUTDOOR ALBUMEN PHOTO OF A MILITARY PARADE ON THE BOSTON COMMON

$1,250.00

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Item Code: 480-165

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This large format outdoor albumen photograph has great clarity and tones, and lots of detail to draw one in. We have firmly identified the spot as the Boston Common: the same buildings in the background of the photo stand today. Drawn up in the middle ground is company of infantry, militia or national guard, with their colorbearer at center and two platoons drawn up in line at parade rest. The three company officers and the first sergeant have stepped to the front. Officers and men wear white gloves, with the exception of the officer at center front, likely the commander, who wears gauntlets. All four seem to carry 1850 foot officers’ swords. The colorbearer, carrying a United States flag, is positioned at center in the front rank with a corporal on either side of him, probably making up the colorguard. Corporals on the flanks of the front rank and to the left of the colorguard delineate two platoons. Sergeants are likely behind the rear rank as file closers. Also to the viewer’s left stand two drummers. To the sides and rear stand civilian onlookers, mostly men and boys, though three women are prominent in the center rear behind a railing and a couple of others can be picked out in the crowd.

Officers and men alike wear shakos of medium height with white plumes and front plates that seem to bear a large wreath with a numeral in the center. They all wear single breasted dark frock coats with nine buttons and shoulder knots. Coats and trousers are cut full. The trousers are somewhat lighter than the coats, most likely light blue. The skirts of the coast extend to the knees. The men are armed with rifle muskets and wear infantry waistbelts with oval US plates, cap boxes and bayonets in scabbards at their left sides. They may carry belt-mounted on cartridge boxe at the rear waist. Given the tailoring of the uniforms, the arms, and the garb of the civilians, the photograph is wartime or very close to it.

We count roughly 27 men in the front rank, giving the company a strength of 60 or so. No occasion is indicated, but the commanding officer holds what looks like a bouquet and the colorbearer has something similar on his flag harness, suggesting a ceremony of some sort in their honor, or a prize awarded. It has been suggested these may be members of the 71st NY, two of whose companies are known to have visited Boston in August 1865 at the invitation of the Independent Boston Fusiliers. According to their regimental history and newspaper accounts, their scheduled activities included a parade on Boston Common. Other units and dates, however, are possible and the image may yet be identifiable through newspaper woodcuts, sheet music or the like. It has great presence regardless, and encourages the viewer to investigate with magnifying glass the details of the soldiers and the bystanders in the crowd. The condition of the image and mount is excellent. It is framed in a gilt lined wood frame and is ready to hang.  [sr]

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