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Bromantic photos of American Civil War soldiers

Stefan Andrews

When we think of war, we’re liable to brood on all the bad things that happened. In the case of the Civil War, we remember think how this was the conflict that caused the most significant loss of life in American history.

The number of war dead is estimated at 625,000 people. Some 210,000 of the total were soldiers who lost their lives on the battlefields.

One story of interest, which makes clear the family divisions created by the struggle, is that of the Crittenden brothers. They were both generals, but one brother sided with the North, and the other served the South.

Forgotten memorabilia, such as this collection of photographs, remind us of the amazing affection that soldiers expressed for each other at that time, through all the horror of war.

Army men of the era were prone to share their affection and empathy for one another.

Private Charles Chapman of Company A, 10th Virginia Cavalry Regiment, left, and unidentified soldier.

Private Charles Chapman of Company A, 10th Virginia Cavalry Regiment, left, and unidentified soldier.

 

Sgt. Robert Black and Pvt. Herman Beckman in Union uniforms.

Sgt. Robert Black and Pvt. Herman Beckman in Union uniforms.

 

Pvt. Reggie T. Wingfield and Pvt. Hamden T. Flay in Confederate uniforms.

Pvt. Reggie T. Wingfield and Pvt. Hamden T. Flay in Confederate uniforms.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Confederate battle shirts.

Unidentified soldiers in Confederate battle shirts.

 

Unidentified sergeant and corporal in Union uniforms in front of painted backdrop.

Unidentified sergeant and corporal in Union uniforms in front of painted backdrop.

 

Pvt. Hiram J. Gripman, with his brother Pvt. William H. Gripman.

Pvt. Hiram J. Gripman, with his brother Pvt. William H. Gripman.

 

Pvt. Henry Luther and his brother, 1st Sgt. Herbert E. Larrabee.

Pvt. Henry Luther and his brother, 1st Sgt. Herbert E. Larrabee.

Soldiers often chose to be photographed with a comrade they were close to. Note their stance and how many of them have their arms gently laid on one another.

Not all men have been identified.

Some men from the photographs are perhaps feeling proud that they wear the Union or the Confederate uniforms.

Others look like real gentlemen, especially when we can observe their complete outfit: the boots are on, dress gloves cover the palms of their hands, and perhaps the forage caps adorn their heads.

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms with cigars.

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms with cigars.

 

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms with cigars in mouths in front of American flag.

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms with cigars in mouths in front of American flag.

 

Unidentified Union soldiers.

Unidentified Union soldiers.

 

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms in front of painted backdrop showing trees.

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms in front of painted backdrop showing trees.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms, one in corporal’s uniform and dress gloves.

Unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms, one in corporal’s uniform and dress gloves.

 

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms and forage caps with saber and musket.

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms and forage caps with saber and musket.

 

Three unidentified Union soldiers in front of painted military camp scene backdrop.

Three unidentified Union soldiers in front of painted military camp scene backdrop.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms holding cigars in each others’ mouths.

Unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms holding cigars in each others’ mouths.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Union shell jackets, young soldier on the right with a cavalry saber.

Unidentified soldiers in Union shell jackets, young soldier on the right with a cavalry saber.

 

Three unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms and Company E, 8th Regiment forage caps.

Three unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms and Company E, 8th Regiment forage caps.

 

Sgt. Robert Black and Pvt. Herman Beckman of Company F.

Sgt. Robert Black and Pvt. Herman Beckman of Company F.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Union 1st Lieutenant, 1st Sergeant, and Master sergeant uniforms.

Unidentified soldiers in Union 1st Lieutenant, 1st Sergeant, and Master sergeant uniforms.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Trans-Mississippi Confederate battle shirts.

Unidentified soldiers in Trans-Mississippi Confederate battle shirts.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Mississippi battle shirts with double barrel shotguns.

Unidentified soldiers in Mississippi battle shirts with double barrel shotguns.

 

Unidentified soldiers in Confederate uniforms.

Unidentified soldiers in Confederate uniforms.

 

Pvt. William Savage Moore and his brother, Pvt. John C. Moore.

Pvt. William Savage Moore and his brother, Pvt. John C. Moore.

Along with them for photo day, some soldiers have their weapon ready: a barrel shotgun or a cavalry saber.

One of the most “bromantic” pairs of all is probably the one where the two men are holding their cigars in each other’s mouths.

On a few of the photos, you will notice the American flag too. Everything is frozen in that moment of compassion.

Read another story from us: The Horrors of Battlefield Surgery During the Civil War

So yes, apparently, beyond the horrors, the American Civil War was a time of personal loyalty as well. The friendship of the men can be seen so vividly in these images. It is also quite possible that some of them never saw each other again after taking the photograph.