Ok, I think I may have come up with a theory as per the start of this thread and the photo of Sgt. White from the 60th Tenn.
We agree that most if not all of these period images are reversed because of the photographic equipment of the time right. Its evident that Sgt. White's photo is reversed too given that the lockplate on his 1822 is facing inward. But notice how his cartridge box is on his right and his canteen and bayonet are on his left. They would not have been in the original photo right if the image is a reversal...right?
I'll bet that some of these soldiers were savvy that the images were reversed and/or the photographers made certain suggestions. Could it be that they switched the gear normally worn on the right for left side, etc. so that things would look right in the final image? In this case does White hold his musket in his left hand at port to look like right hand to port in the final image, thus the lock place to his chest? Did they also think this looked better than holding their gun "lefty" with the lockplate out? Were they really thinking that much?
I guess I'm just expanding on what George and Curt were getting at.
Last edited by guad42; 05-16-2012 at 06:24 PM. Reason: Information
Samuel K. Dolan
1st Texas Infantry
Sam and All:
I believe the above analysis to be quite right-on. I began collecting ACW "hard" images (ambros and tins) at age 15, in 1962, continued to do so through the early '80s, and have paid close attention to images ever since. IMO, both the studio and field photographers making portraits of the common soldiers and their soldier-customers were acutely aware of the lateral reversal of the process and generally adopted tactics to cope with the effect and simulate a "correction." Although the reversal of seam buttoning will always remain a key indicator - unless the image is a copy image made at the time or thereafter, which thereby re-reversed the effect - I believe at least some extent of side-to-side switching of accouterments, as well as possibly inverting the waist belt and plate (to at least get the "U" and "S" in the visually correct order, albeit upside-down) was the more-often "rule" rather than the exception. This thread has been very worthwhile in demonstrating, I believe, the extent of thought and effort to which the photo artist and subject would go in planning a portrait. In order to simulate the "proper" appearance of the port arms position, these specifically planned posing reversals both 1) sacrificed the more martial appearance of the musket's lock being displayed, and 2) required the soldier to grip the wrist of the musket's stock, and thereby balance the gun's predominant weight, with his left hand, which for the large majority of men would certainly feel a bit unnatural and likely a bit more difficult. In short, these portrait images were important to the men and, in most cases, were accorded thought and effort.
To complement the numeric majority of examples thus far posted being Federal troops, I thought I'd add a few more Confederates. (This being my first-ever attempt at adding images on AC, please understand should this yield a total bust.) Note that the final imge posted below has been laterally corrected; it's just too great to omit.
!B,uVtD!BGk~$(KGrHgoOKkMEjlLmV,uSBKsu0MHQ)w~~_3.jpg19674_228907973793_%26.jpg5610863382_b06da87423_o.jpgCowan's Nov. 11.jpgenfield.jpg5554175256_eaea10fcfa_b.jpg
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