MATTHEW BRADY CDV OF CUSTER AS MAJOR GENERAL JANUARY 1865

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This is Katz #50 in his catalog study, “Custer in Photographs.” This was taken at the Brady studios on January 3, 1865, after the conclusion of the victorious 1864 Shenandoah Campaign and not long before the final fighting around Petersburg and Richmond, and the pursuit to Appomattox in which Union cavalry played a key role and Custer did his best to claim the limelight. The image is a vignette bust shot and in excellent condition, with good clarity and good corners and edges to the card, no bends or creases, with a little, minor soiling, but no foxing to the image. Custer wears a regulation Major General’s frock coat, appropriate for his command of the 3rd Division of the cavalry corps under Sheridan and has let his trademark locks grow out again. The backmark is, “Brady & Co.’s / National / Photographic Portrait Galleries / No. 352 Pennsylvania Avenue, / Washington, D.C. / and Broadway & Tenth St., N.Y.” We do not see signs of the Aug. 1864 to Aug. 1866 tax stamp. This is one of a group of photos taken at the studio on January 3, 1865, according to Katz, the same occasion when he was photographed along with fellow generals Sheridan, Forsyth, Merrit, and Devin, which Katz has numbered #50 to #56V, and where he returned the next day for #K-57 to K-62, trying out his broad-brimmed slouch hat for a number of dynamic poses. His session with his fellow generals may have involved some competition for the lens. In one pose (#K-54) Sheridan is the only one looking straight at the camera, with his subordinates posed looking down at map laid out on the table before them, apparently figuring out how to carry out their commander’s strategic plans. Only Custer does not oblige, leaning slightly forward, but instead looking across the table directly at Sheridan.   [sr] [PH:L]

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