American: 1860s. Very Good. Item #List108
A Pair of Tintypes of Civil War Soldiers in Federal Uniforms, Possibly Women
American, c. 1860s. Quarter plate tintypes, first measuring 2 ½ x 3 inches, second 2 ¼ by 3 ⅜ inches, both cased.
Though it is known that many women - perhaps as many as 750 - served as soldiers in the Civil War, evidence of their service is quite ephemeral. These two images of soldiers in Federal uniforms are ambiguous, though the forms of the bodies and expressions do suggest that both show women soldiers. Loose fitting wool clothing and the formal nature of bathing and hygiene made discovery quite difficult. Women who enlisted would assume a fake name, and of the few documented cases, some were able to serve their posts without discovery. The confirmed images of women soldiers are practically non-existent. One exception is a photograph of the Massachusetts woman Frances Clayton, who fought under the name Jack Williams. Other photos of women in uniform, like that of the spy Pauline Cushman, were obviously posed. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Matilda Gave cited women’s service in the Civil War as an argument for gender equality in the History of Woman Suffrage (1881).
These two images are intriguing, particularly the duo in the cavalry uniforms. The figure on the right looks more likely to be a woman, though the intimacy is a bit of a conundrum, as generally there are more examples of intra-sex intimacy than inter-sex intimacy in photographs of this period. There is at least one known example - Frances Clayton and her husband - of a husband and wife fighting together.
An intriguing pair of images. The image of the single figure with some scratches to the image and a fully split case, good overall, the image of the pair in excellent condition.