Monday, August 22, 2011

Mystery Soldier (Mystery Monday, Military Monday)

It has been said that many Civil War soldiers had their pictures taken in uniform.  There are several Confederate Soldiers in my family tree, only one photograph of a young man in a Confederate uniform.

What we know:
  • Male-04-BackThe photo was taken in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at Magee Photographic Art Studio.
  • The original is a Cabinet Card (4 1/4” x 6 1/2”).
  • The photograph should have been taken between 1862 and 1864 based on the subject matter.  However, Cabinet Cards weren’t introduced until 1866 in America.
  • The photo was part of the collection of Amanda H Davis Edmonds.  Amanda Davis was born in 1861, so the photograph must have come to her indirectly.  Amanda grew up in Fayette County, Alabama, and moved to Hill County, Texas, when she married Augustus Newell Edmonds.  They had friends and family in both states.
  • Likely candidates are family or friends of the Davis, Edmonds, or Olive families.  (Amanda’s mother married an Olive after the death of Amanda’s father.)

The leading candidates:Edmonds-Augustus-Newell-From-Flickr
  • Augustus Newell Edmonds (1846-1920).  Husband of Amanda H Davis.  Company K, 8th Alabama Cavalry.  Unlikely due to lack of physical resemblance, but the photo could be of a brother or cousin. 
  • William T Olive (born 1838, died after 1910).  Stepfather of Amanda H Davis.  Company H, 41st Alabama Infantry.
  • Meedy White Melton (born 1832, died about 1876). Uncle of Amanda H Davis (brother of her mother).  Company H, 41st Alabama Infantry.
  • John A Edmonds (born 1842).  Brother of Augustus Newell Edmonds.  Company A, 26th Alabama Infantry.
  • Wiley Dyer Bagwell (1842-1923).  Husband of Elizabeth Menervy Edmonds who was a sister of Augustus Newell Edmonds.  Company G, 1st Alabama Partisan Rangers.
  • Reubin Davis (1840-1922).  Distant relative.  Company I, 26th Alabama Infantry.
  • Eli Montgomery Davis (1837-1908).  Distant relative.  Company F, 41st Alabama Regiment.

The obvious mystery here is “Who is in the photograph?”  There’s a secondary mystery as well:  “Why is a man posing in a Confederate uniform after 1866?”  Is it possible that it’s not actually a Confederate uniform?  If not, maybe identifying the uniform can help with identifying the soldier.

Comments welcome!


  1. It's possible that he attended a military academy and this is his school uniform. Maybe you should check to see if there were any military schools in the area.

  2. There are a number of great books on the subject to help us identify uniforms and insignias. I found one at our local library called "Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photograph" by Maureen Taylor that might help you out. Maybe you could see if your local library or bookstore has a copy you could reference. Good luck!