My family has been involved in fighting wars here in America since the 1600s. Some information I can get from history books, some information I can get from The Library of Congress. But that is only information, military records, and such. And what I really want is to see these people. Luckily, during the civil war, photography became popular, and something that became common at that time was the taking of an enlistment photo.
When I was doing my research on my great-great grandfather, Thomas Burroughs Phillips, I knew nothing of all of this. I was just glad to find his records. When I had enough information on him, I ordered a photograph, which arrived in the mail as an 8 X 10 glossy. While I waited for the photo, I imagined how it would look and how I would frame it. I guess I must have been expecting someone who looked like John Wayne, or Errol Flynn, perhaps holding a sword, in a dashing uniform.
The enlistment photo, at left, surprised me. I thought, "this is a soldier?" No, this was just a farm boy, age 18, on a bad hair day. He was just a kid! And then I remembered that this is who we send to war. And this is the type of photo that would have been carried by a wife or sweetheart, and was all too often the last photo of this person. This is not a photo to be enlarged and put in an elaborate frame. So I went to an antique store and bought the correct type of frame. It is very small, and could fit in a pocket. They are readily available and are not expensive.
Now that I understand, it means so much more to me.