Monday, July 22, 2013

We Were All Young Together Then

To what year of the U.S. Civil War do you think that this image of a Captain of the Signal Corps belongs? 1862, 1864?  Later? Well, the answer is…later. Based on the discernible age of the man portrayed here, I would say that this ferrotype was made in the twentieth century. But how do I know this? Well, I know this because I knew this man! He is Tom Foster. Along with my friend Phil Cavanaugh, Harry Seyler, Michael Vickery, and Gary Wiese we all served together at the U.S. Army’s 8th Infantry Division’s headquarters—first in Colorado Springs, then in Goeppingen, then in Bad Kreuznach, the last two in Germany. We were all young together once.

Dr. Foster ended his career as Deputy Superintendent of Baltimore Schools and later taught, with his wife Jean, Civil War dance at several community colleges. To see a picture of Tom in a much later modern setting, follow this link.

I have the current image from Cavanaugh. (The habits of army life still dominate: I still think of Phil by his last name.) Tom Foster, in his later life, also became a Civil War reenactor in Maryland, and in that role organized both Union and Confederate signal corps of reenactors. Hence his appearance here, using the ancient art of ferrotyping (began 1853, a relative of dageuerreotyping dated to 1838) which some people still know how to practice in this day and age of the instant iPhone photo equally instantly broadcast to the entire globe—if you know where to look. Clicking on the image will enlarge it.

What a pleasure to see Tom again—and in such a novel image. My thanks, once more, to Phil for passing this along.

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