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Realizing historical context about a photograph

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  • Realizing historical context about a photograph

    While looking at photographs of the Civil War, I encountered an unpublished autographed photo of James Longstreet on an auction website. The photo had already been sold back in 2004 for more than $7,000, to whom I don't know.

    http://www.cowanauctions.com/auction...x?ItemId=18107



    However, what intrigued me, was that Longstreet autographed the back.



    "For Mrs S.D. Lee"

    Stephen Dill Lee married his wife Regina on February 9th, 1865 in Columbus, Mississippi while convalescing from a wound he suffered at the Battle of Nashville. At the time, Longstreet was in command of Confederate forces north of the James River during the siege of Petersburg and thus would not have been able to attend.

    Another thing struck me. The photography studio that took the photograph is based in New Orleans, where Longstreet immediately moved after the war.

    Thus I realized that this photograph is significant for two reasons.

    A. That this is more than likely a post-war photograph. Longstreet is being photographed wearing his uniform after the war.

    B. The uniform shown in this photo is more than likely the one that Longstreet lost in the fire at his Gainesville home. This photograph would then depict that uniform and give us an idea what it looked like.

    Now I could be wrong. But even if this isn't a post war photo, it is still very late in the war (note the white hair in Longstreet's beard, and the rough signature which was an effect of his Wilderness wound). I could also not be the first person to realize this. However, given the lack of detail I found about the photograph and its' unpublished status, I cannot be for sure.

    I thought I would post my thoughts on this to see what people here think.
    Last edited by semperpietas; 04 Dec 12, 18:42.
    "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

    Pyrrhus Travels West:
    Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

  • #2
    Which arm was injured? Looks like the right arm is covered up in the photo. Perhaps this is more evidence of the post war date...?

    Excellent detective work, Semper!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by TJN006 View Post
      Which arm was injured? Looks like the right arm is covered up in the photo. Perhaps this is more evidence of the post war date...?

      Excellent detective work, Semper!
      His right arm was indeed paralyzed by the wound he suffered at the Wilderness.
      "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

      Pyrrhus Travels West:
      Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

      Comment


      • #4
        Good eye Good reasoning. Excellent work on your part.
        "Ask not what your country can do for you"

        Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

        you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

        Comment


        • #5
          Here is another photograph of Longstreet which I think under close scrutiny would suggest that it was taken post war.



          1. The beard. The beard is trimmed, rounded, and short. Unlike his wartime long and sqaure beard that he was typically photographed with. Also note the abundance of white hairs, particularly in the sideburns region.

          2. It would appear in this photograph that Longstreet has put on a little weight. Something not evident in wartime photographs or descriptions, but something that is evident in post war photographs.

          For a comparison:

          Longstreet during 1862:



          Longstreet as a post war New Orleans businessman:



          Which one of the two does the above photograph resemble more?

          Unlike the photo in the OP, there wasn't a lot of detail about this photograph, so it does leave me without dates to verify. However, photographically, I think this also a post war photograph of Longstreet wearing his uniform.
          Last edited by semperpietas; 14 Dec 12, 10:56.
          "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

          Pyrrhus Travels West:
          Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

          Comment

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