British photographic history

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Research: Curious Crimean War? Soldiers

Hello,I am looking for information on this albumen photo. I assume it is British, and also assume that these are 1850-1860 era uniforms.

A most curious photo: The gentleman seated on the cobblestones is wearing a fur hat, a paisley robe, and holding a dog! This group looks like it is about to hatch a crime spree. There is also the number 5 in the window???

Was wondering if anyone here could identify the uniforms, or any other thoughts about the image. (please let your imagination go wild)

Sorry, but I can not make out the names until I receive the item.

Many thanks in advance!


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Comment by David McGreevy on February 11, 2016 at 21:29

Thanks again, Robert,

I have seen Fenton photos of soldiers at the Crimean battlefront with dogs, but they seem more like large woking dogs, this one looks like a small lap dog. I also think that the cobblestones and the two chaps with civilian coats suggests the British home front.

Comment by Robert Pols on February 11, 2016 at 17:25

Sorry David - no idea at all.

The only thing that occurs to me is to wonder whether the dog would have been taken on active service. Does its presence, as well as the fully civilian attire of some of the party, suggest they are at home rather than serving overseas?

I hope somebody else can come up with something more convincing.


Comment by David McGreevy on February 11, 2016 at 11:59

Thanks Robert,

Would you have any idea where this may have been taken?

Thanks, David

Comment by Robert Pols on February 10, 2016 at 23:40

Some thoughts to get things started.

The second half of the 1850s seems likely. The tufts of hair at the temples, the square-toed shoes/boots and the coat secured by just the top button are all consistent with the 1850s, and by the middle of the century the peaked forage cap (originally worn by cavalry) was in common use throughout the army. But the sash of the seated soldier pushes the date into the later part of the decade. Until 1855 infantry officers wore the sash around the middle; thereafter it was worn over the left shoulder and across the chest. (Right shoulder for sergeants.)

So we're looking at the latter part of the Crimean War (1854-6) or a few years after. Using the sash as identification of an officer is supported by what can be made out of the names (one lieutenant, three captains and one so far indecipherable). The first name appears to be 'Lt. Glen, Royals'. Royal Scots Regiment perhaps?

Some very hybrid uniforms/costumes were worn in the Crimea, with regulation uniform, civilian garments, makeshift body warmers and locally-acquired items all mixed together. But the hybrid clothing in this picture seems to suggest mild and self-conscious raffishness rather than a response to the Crimean winter.

The lack of badges and rank insignia is disappointing. The seated officer may have a badge on his chest, but it lacks any kind of definition. The pipe-smoker's leg-wear may indicate that he's in the cavalry (for the men need not necessarily all belong to the same regiment), but it was not only the cavalry who rode horses. With any luck, someone with surer military knowledge will be able to comment on this.

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