Presenting Private Pollard, 7th Confederate Cavalry
You’ve likely seen his image before, labeled as “unidentified Confederate soldier.” But via user Glorybound at Civil War Talk, he’s unidentified no more:
Last month, through a chance meeting at a Civil War memorabilia show, the old photograph was identified as that of Confederate soldier Stephen Pollard of Carroll County, Ga., who fought in and survived the war. And it turned out that the identity had been known in Georgia but apparently not far beyond. The photograph depicts a man clean-shaven except for a slight moustache. He is wearing a striking, light-colored outer shirt with dark trim on the cuffs and collar, a light inner shirt and a tie. He has on an unusual belt with twin buckles and two fat revolvers wedged in the waistband. He is holding a long-barrel, muzzle-loading 1855 pistol with a musketlike stock. His image is a Civil War classic and is well known among collectors and historians. “He was even in Episode One of Ken Burns’s series on the Civil War,” said Tom Liljenquist, the McLean collector who bought the photograph about two years ago and donated it, along with hundreds of others, to the Library of Congress in 2010. “They actually used him for about 10 seconds on-air.” “He’s been around a long time, probably published four or five times,” he said. “Very famous photograph. . . . A lot of people kind of liked his look. He’s just an interesting looking character.” But “no identity was ever associated with him — none,” he said. At least in the broader historical community. “When I bought it, it was unidentified.”
Over at Civil War Talk, user Republican Blues, a friend of one of Pollard’s direct descendants, fills in the rest of the story:
Stephen was born in Fayette, Carroll County, GA on August 19, 1829 and married Mary A. Vines on July 27, 1850. He enlisted in June 1862 in Carroll County with the 7th Confederate Cavalry, Company B, also known as “Claiborne’s Regimental Partisan Rangers/7th Regimental Confederate Partisan Rangers). In March 1863, he transfered to Company L. Sometime between September and October of 1863, he was promoted to corporal. He was a member of this cavalry unit until April 29, 1864 when he was given leave to go home for another horse after losing his the day before. In July, he also received a letter from his wife stating their house had burned down. On bounty rolls from April to October of 1864, he is marked as “not entitled to bounty” due to his absence. This may be in part due to him not being able to rejoin his regiment which was disbanded in July with remnants being integrated into the 10th Confederate Cavalry. Family legend states he was not able to rejoin his cavalry command and therefore enlisted in Company G, 40th Georgia Infantry and that he served with this unit until surrendering in April 1865 at Raleigh-Durham, NC. However, though no record has been found of this enlistment, he was with a unit somewhere because he was issued clothing in the 3rd quarter of 1864 by the Confederate army. He died at the age of 70 in Temple, Haralson County, GA on October 24, 1899. His widow lived until 1904.
Makes you wonder how many “unidentified” portraits were have are actually of known people — but known to just a few.