Plate 55. Headquarters Guard of the Army of the Potomac

Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
Soon after the breaking out of the war, a company of Zouaves, formed upon the French model, was organized in Philadelphia, with Capt. Collis as commander. They became body guard to General Banks, and did good service. Subsequently, Capt. Collis obtained authority to increase his small command to a Regiment, altering the costume from the old red Zouave bags–not at all suited for service in the woods of Virginia–to trousers of the same color. The affection of the soldiers for color is extraordinary; no statistics, showing the large increase of casualties to showy uniforms, could induce the Zouzous to part with theirs, and in this dress the 114th--attached to the Third Corps–participated in some of the bloodiest battles. At Gettysburg, their gallant Lieutenant Colonel (Cavada) was taken prisoner; with a number of the Regiment, fighting bravely against odds.
When the army lay in winter quarters around Culpepper [sic], they relieved the 93d New York, in the duties of "Headquarters Guard" to General Meade, near Brandy Station. The photograph represents morning guard mount in front of the picturesque camp, a good specimen of the soldiers' architecture; the huts, with the barrel chimneys on the slope of the hill, are the quarters of the men; the larger ones on the ridge belong to the officers, while on the extreme right the tent in which the Sutler keeps store, is pitched. The entire space was a portion of a dense wood, almost impassable when first chosen for headquarters, and filled with rabbits, quail, hawks, owls, and other game. Soon all was cut down save the little grove on the top of the hill, reserved by Capt. Sleeper, of the 10th Massachusetts Battery, who had pitched his tents there, on what was once the rebel General Stuart's headquarters.
The duties of the guard of headquarters, which also formed part of the provost brigade under Gen. Patrick, included, besides furnishing the regular camp guards for the protection of the officers' quarters, the care of the valuable wagon train of army headquarters, both in park and on the march, and the custody of rebel prisoners and deserters, detained for a time at the Provost Marshal's. In summer time, when the tents were shaded and embowered in branches of the green pine, a highly dramatic picture would be presented by the Regiment, marching out from the trees to evening dress parade, their muskets glittering brightly in the setting sun, white turbans and blue and scarlet uniforms contrasting strongly against the dusky background, while the officers of camp grouped around, smoking their pipes in the pleasant coolness of the evening air, listened to the "Faust March," by the Zouave band.
Currently not on view
Object Name
albumen photograph
Gardner, Alexander
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 9 1/16 in; 17.78 cm x 23.07158 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Gardner's Sketchbook
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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