Pay attention to the details such as these in a uniform, to help identify when it was worn.
- During the Civil War, belt buckles often bore state abbreviations or CSA for the Confederate States of America.
- Hats are key. The shape and design of the hat can specify a time frame while insignia can help you identify the unit in which the soldier served.
- Cloth chevrons on the sleeves and shoulders of a uniform and insignia on the collar or headgear signified rank.
- Not all uniforms are military in origin. Fraternal groups costumes and occupational attire is often confused with military uniforms.
Unfortunately, there’s no single source that shows all the uniforms worn by soldiers or sailors. In the 19th century, there was quite a diversity of uniforms, with each unit having its own. Colorful attire such as the Turkish pants worn by the Zouaves were just one recognizable variation.
If you don’t know who’s depicted in photograph of a soldier or a sailor, try finding evidence of military service in documents—pension records, enlistment papers and other genealogical materials.
Keep in mind that not all the military photos in your photo collection depict relatives—they could be friends of the family. One of the emails I received was from Connie L. Huntling. Her grandmother worked at a Veterans Administration hospital in Plattsburg, NY, during World War I. In her papers were many photographs of men who were patients at the hospital. Connie sent me the two in this post two with the hope that someone will recognize these men.
Please take a look at and click Comment below to tell me if you have any ideas about who the men might be. I’m going to ask Huntling to post the pictures to the photo-reunion site DeadFred as well.