Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Presenting Private Pollard, 7th Confederate Cavalry

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 22, 2012


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.

10 Responses

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  1. Bryan Cheeseboro said, on August 22, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I remember that photograph! InKen Burns’ “The Civil War,” it was used in the story about a Confederate soldier who saw CS Prez Davis on the street, asked him if he was in fact Jeff Davis and upon Davis’ confirming response, the soldier told him he looked just like his picture on a postage stamp.

    Great to have another CW photo identified. How likely is it that the many unidentified photos, like those in the Liljenquist collection, will ever be identified?

    • Andy Hall said, on August 22, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I have no doubt that story about the soldier and Jefferson Davis actually happened.

      The unusual thing (to me) about Pollard is that he was apparently enlisted in an actual, Confederate-government unit, as opposed to the much more common state regiments. At first I thought “7th Confederate Cavalry” might be an error, but that’s how it’s listed in the Compiled Service Records at NARA.

  2. Billy Bearden said, on August 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

    There is no “Fayette” in Carroll County, and there is no “Temple” in Haralson County….
    Pollard rests in Liberty Christian Church cemetery north of Temple by about 5 miles, the same cemetery
    my GGGF Thomas Drew of the 41st Ga Inf. and assorted kin rest also

    Portrait Of Civil War Vet From Carroll County Identified

    Villa Rica, GA — A Villa Rica woman has helped give a name to a civil war soldier, previously catalogued in the Library of Congress as “unidentified soldier in confederate uniform.” Patricia Mullinax says the man in the portrait is her great-great grandfather, Stephen Pollard.
    Mullinax says a couple weeks back she met a man who operates a website dedicated to naming unidentified civil war soldiers; and the same man who previously donated the at-the-time-undocumented photo to the Library of Congress.
    Mullinax, a Civil War enthusiast, visited the man’s website. “And I saw Stephen’s picture there. I recognized him because I have a book by David Wiggins from Carrollton called “Remembering Georgia’s Confederates,” she says. “The book shows a picture of him, the unit he was in, where he was from and some of the places he fought. He was in the 7th Cavalry. He survived the war and is buried in the Liberty Church Cemeteryabove Temple.”
    Mullinax says the website’s creator was quite shocked when the identification was made.
    “He has over 1,000 pictures on his website… and I told him I can identify one of your images for you—he is my great-great grandfather,” she says. “Well, he nearly dropped the phone. He said, that photograph has been in the public eye for nearly 30 to 40 years and it was also used in Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary.”
    The photo shows a thin-mustached confederate soldier looking very serious while holding an 1855 muzzle-loading pistol and stock.
    “Pollard’s picture is such a unique picture and he had such a colorful time in the Civil war. He enlisted when he was 33 years old, in Richmond, Virginia,” Mullinax continued. “He was similar to a scout, and he had a gray mare and would sleep at night with the reigns wrapped around his arm. If the horse detected Union army getting close-by, he would wake Stephen up and Stephen would wake up his commanding officer and they would move or get ready to fight.” She says that is one of many stories about Pollard passed down through generations in family.
    The official identification of the portfolio happened this week and Pollard’s name will be added to the catalog record.
    Pollard survived the war, fathered 11 children; and passed away in October of 1899.

  3. Jeff Bell said, on August 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    “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” Andy, do you believe this comprised the uniform of a scout, who being frequently detached from his unit wore clothing that was less conspicuous than the standard uniform? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have worn a tie on patrol though – he reminds me of the citizen soldiers along the Kansas/Missouri border who used common clothing regularly while navigating this dangerous area.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 25, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      I would guess that this photo was likely taken at the time of enlistment, which was so often the case. Frequently you’ll see them in homemade finery that would be very impractical in the field, that was someone’s idea of what a soldier “should” look like. I wouldn’t necessarily think that was his usual dress in service.

      You gotta know that this guy got beat up and his lunch money stolen every damn day:

      • Woodrowfan said, on August 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm

        “What idiot dressed you in that outfit?”
        “You did.”

    • Will Hickox said, on August 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      I think he has the look and outfit of a newly-enlisted recruit.

  4. Will Hickox said, on August 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    But you might be surprised as to what was worn under working conditions. Paintings and drawings of farmers and laborers in the 19th century often show them wearing ties.

  5. dhpatrick said, on August 27, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Your blog inspired me to create one for Union and Confederate Soldiers alike. It is good to see blogs that help us to remember the Civil War Veterans. I’m concerned their stories will be forgotten. Thank you.

  6. Amy L'Abbe said, on June 21, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Looks like the Actor Martin Sheen…don’t know what his genealogy tree looks like if he has any ancestors connecting to this picture

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