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Will These Gentlemen Remain Unknown Soldiers?
This damaged albumen print, ca. 1890, shows five men in uniform, one with the chevrons of a non-commissioned officer on his sleeves (far left). The enlisted men carry flat canteens on a diagonal strap. On their belts are wicked-looking bush or "bolo" knives appropriate to the apparent subtropical or tropical background.
Albumen print, ca. 1890
The knives must be quite heavy by the way they tilt all of the belts to the side (except the dapper-looking sergeant's; perhaps that is why he is in charge). Each soldier has a Maltese cross or some similar insignia on his cap - in the sergeant's case with a wreath around it. The enlisted men also have what appears to be a carrying strap of some kind, and one has decided that formation for a photograph is not a good enough reason to tuck his pipe out of sight (far right).
Private Eugene Schell, 1898
Interestingly, a uniform jacket identical to those in the group picture is worn in a photo at left taken in March, 1898, in Charleston of Private Eugene Schell (Battery 'G,' 1st Artillery). Schell might even be the second man from the right in the group photo.
Are these Spanish-American War era soldiers members of a specialized state volunteer unit or of a regular unit of an army (American or otherwise)? What is the significance of the Maltese Cross here?
Any information regarding the identity of the military unit will be rewarded with special mention in Caroliniana Columns. Please contact Joe Long at 803-777-0580 or longwj@ gwm.sc.edu with any ideas.
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