A Civil War Sailor
holding a double case with portraits of Confederate soldiers]
Ambrotype, circa 1865
Prints & Photographs Division Purchase, 1995 (42B.2)
[ Digital ID# cph 3c32206 ]
In need of experienced sailors during the Civil War, the United
States Navy recruited free blacks and contraband into its ranks.
It is estimated that 18,000 African-American sailors served in
the Navy during the Civil War. Blacks worked on most of the naval
vessels alongside their white counterparts and received equal pay,
living accommodations, medical care, and pensions.
This is an
example of an ambrotype, a photographic process used for a brief
of time in the mid-1800s that placed a glass plate negative against
a dark background to create a positive image.