This half-plate Civil War outdoor tintype was taken at the 7th Regiment United States Colored Troops Training Camp. You can see two white Officers seated in front of their “tent” with two young, African American teenagers seated between and with a Black soldier behind the teenafers, presumably new recruits. A letter from Captain Joseph Prime (one of the officers in the photo) tells his wife that he has had this picture taken and is sending it to her. The tintype was taken February 28, 1864 at Camp Stanton in Benedict, Maryland. This was the Camp established for the training of newly recruited black soldiers and home to the 7th, 9th, and 19th U S Colored Infantries at the time.
This is a half-plate Civil War outdoor tintype. It was taken in the field and quite likely developed there also.This wonderful photograph measures approx. 4 1/8” x 5 1/4” and is framed in its original brass matt. At the time people were used to Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes which were mounted in cases with metal fames. Notice the inexpensive frame prepared for this tin-type.
The tintype was taken February 28, 1864 at Camp Stanton in Benedict, Maryland.
The tintype was taken at the 7th Regiment United States Colored Troops Training Camp. You can see two white Officers seated in front of their “tent” with two young, African American teenagers seated between and with a Black soldier behind the teenafers, presumably new recruits. This was the Camp established for the training of newly recruited black soldiers and home to the 7th, 9th, and 19th U S Colored Infantries at the time.
The officers here are 1st Lieut. Joseph Prime and 2nd Lieut. Joseph Ferguson of Company G, 7th USCT. The black units formed were assigned white officers. There were black non-commissioned officers, but the cmmissioned officers were white. Both of the officers sit in a relaxed posture with right leg crossed over their left - Lieut. Ferguson holds his sword (in scabbard) across his lap and Lieut. Prime holds the hilt of this sword in his right hand with the point of the scabbard touching the ground. Both officers wear slouch hats and Lieut. Prime (on the right) has a rather strange insignia on the front of his hat.
A letter from Captain Joseph Prime (one of the officers in the tintype) tells his wife that he has had this picture taken and is sending it to her. Captain Joseph Prime who served as a Corporal in the 13th Regiment New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry and was later commissioned as an officer in the 7th Regiment United States Colored Troops.
The two officers are seated in chairs flanking the door to their quarters. These quarters consist of a primitive wood cabin with a tent canvas roof. The canvas tent that forms the roof of the cabin is marked “Co. G 7...”.
Between the two Lieutenants are two teenage or preteen civilian African American Boys. The boys are seated on the threshold of the entrance to the Officer’s Quarters. Both boys are smiling. Seated between and behind the 2 boys, in the dark shadow just inside the Officer’s cabin is a Black Soldier - his massive hands and his uniform pants are visible as is his white shirt color and the brass buttons of this uniform jacket. It is difficult to see his face but there is no question of his presence in the photo. Behind Lieut. Prime is the open cabin door and to the right of the door in the background another figure can be seen -- likely another member of the 7th Reg. USCT. It is not entirely clear what the blacks are doing in the officers' quarters are who they are. The teenagers may be new recruits, I'm not sure. Perhaps they were too young to join and were employed by the offiers to keep the quaters clean and run errands.
Also in the background another Officer’s Cabin with tent roof can be seen.
Lieutenant Prime then folded the photograph and sent it through the mail to his young wife. The Letter that accompanies this tintype provides much of the information in the above description. It is dated February 27, 1863 and written by 1st Lieutenant Joseph Prime to his wife from Camp Stanton, Benedict, Maryland. The first 1/2 of the letter was written on the 27th of February and in it Prime talks to his wife about friends and family who have issues with the “negroes” and about his own responses to what he feels are unjust prejudices. He also talks of preparations by the 9th and 7th USCT for leaving Camp Stanton on transports in the next few days (going to Hilton Head). The second half of the letter was written 2 days later (March 1st, 1864) and reads in part “Yesterday we were mustered for pay and after being mustered I had my picture taken with my second Lieut., darkies and all and I send it to you with this.
A reader writes, "I am researching for Charles County Government the history of Benedict, Maryland. Here was located Camp Stanton where African-Americans were trained during the American Civil War. Your web page on The American Civil War: Black Recruit Tintype, suggests the image might be Camp Stanton but does not specifically say so. If it is Camp Stanton it is the only known image. It is probably City Point, VA which is often confused with Camp Stanton. I have attached that image. Would you be so kind to check and see if your image is indeed this one that is attached or could it actually be Camp Stanton. If the later this would be a terrific discovery." While Cpt. Prime's letter is basically illegable (figure 2), it clearly says Camp Stanton at the top.
Eshelman, Ralph. E-mail message, July 8, 2009.
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