Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Diamonds are a Trooper’s Best Friend

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 5, 2012

The historic photo blog Shorpy put up an image Sunday of Company C, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. The original image, on a broken glass plate negative, is from the Library of Congress. It’s identified as “Petersburg, Virginia. Company C, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry,” and is one of four images (others here, here and here) taken of this unit in August 1864. Shorpy has a lot of CW images on the site.

One of the neat things about Shorpy is that it offers images in high resolution, allowing users to pick out all sorts of detail. In this case, I noticed the man seated in the back row, next to the break in the plate. On the sleeve of his sack coat he wears a single diamond, properly termed a lozenge, where the chevrons would be — like that of a first sergeant, but without the stripes. I know that cavalry units had designations that infantry and artillery units didn’t — farriers, saddlers, etc. — but the chevrons I’ve seen with those ranks all carried stripes and (I think) weren’t introduced as having distinct insignia until sometime after the war.

Here is a closeup of the man in question, along with a another closeup of the same man from this image (standing, far left), labeled as “Petersburg, Va. Commissioned and noncommissioned officers of Cos. C and D, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry”:

So what’s a solitary diamond signify?