The Last Muster - Images of the Revolutionary War Generation is a collection of pictures and stories of the last survivors of the American Revolutionary War and some of their family members.
Pictures of Revolutionary War veterans? But photography didn't exist back then!
The first permanent photograph was produced in 1826 by French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. However, it was only a scientific curiosity until others worked to improve the technology. The first daguerreotype arrived from France in 1839. Photography then became popular in the United States in the 1840s, sixty to seventy years after the Revolutionary War. While perhaps 300,000 men participated in the American Revolution in one capacity or another, most had died before photography became available. The few remaining veterans often became celebrities of sorts in their home towns as the country honored these brave men.
In this case, the book contains pictures of the veterans and their families who lived past the invention of photography and had their pictures taken, and those pictures still survive and have been found.
When photographers first appeared in many of these towns in the 1840s, the local "celebrities" often were amongst the first to be photographed. Most were in their eighties, some in their nineties, and a very few remaining veterans were more than 100 years old by the time their pictures were taken in the 1840s and 1850s. Some of the photographs have been preserved and are now in public or private collections. We can only assume that many others were lost over the years.
"The records are sparse, many survivors could not write, and all parties were very old," notes author Joan Severa in the foreword. "Even a 10-year-old fifer, depending upon when he served, could have been up to 85 years old by 1850."
Maureen Taylor, aided by several friends, set out to find as many of these photographs of Revolutionary War veterans as possible. She also collected photographs of their wives, widows, and occasionally of their children. The seventy images include veterans, loyalists, Native Americans, African Americans, children who witnessed battles and aided soldiers, and women who nursed the wounded and even took up arms themselves. Several photographs show Quakers who remained true to their religious beliefs and refused to participate in the war. They suffered as a result since they were persecuted by both sides. The Last Muster is a collection of rare nineteenth-century photographic images, primarily daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and cartes de visite (paper photographs) of the Revolutionary War generation.
I am not sure which was more interesting: the stories about their wartime adventures or the haunting eyes of these people staring from the printed pages. In many cases, these same eyes once saw George Washington or Benedict Arnold or the Marquis de Lafayette. The eyes seem to say, "I was there and I saw it happen."
Maureen Taylor is well known in genealogy circles and has the credentials to compile this book. She is an internationally known expert on photo identification. She travels extensively to give presentations on photo identification, photo preservation, and family history. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s The View, and NPR. She has also been mentioned many times in this newsletter. You can read more about her many activities if you start at http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=%22Maureen+Taylor%22&domains=eogn.com&sitesearch=eogn.com&btnG=+Google+Search+
Maureen quickly acknowledges that she had a lot of help in researching this book and even gives front-page credit to David Allen Lambert. Anyone who knows David will not be surprised. He is the Online Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, as well as an historian, an expert on military history, and an expert in Native Americans in the northeastern U.S. I can think of no better assistant and contributor.
Maureen also thanks several others for their help, including well-known genealogist and military history expert Craig Scott and intern Erin Mulhern.
Quoting Maureen's words in the Introduction:
“I wondered if it was possible to use photographic and documentary evidence to re-create the first generation of Americans—those men, women, and children bound together by having lived during the Revolutionary War. . . .While there were many images in public collections or owned by collectors, I knew through my work as a curator and as a collector that there were likely even more in private family collections.”Before opening the book, I assumed that anything written by Maureen Taylor would be top-notch. I was correct, but I found this to be even more than what I had expected. The Last Muster - Images of the Revolutionary War Generation will fascinate many genealogists, historians, and especially those who are interested in the American Revolution. These are actual photographs of some of the people who participated. Most of the photographs include accompanying stories about their deeds and their lives after the war ended. In most cases, the photographs are the only visual record we have of these veterans and their families.
The Last Muster - Images of the Revolutionary War Generation is a 177-page picture book with a lot of accompanying documentation and stories of the lives of the people shown. Maureen Taylor spent six years finding photographs, researching the people, and writing this book.
The Last Muster - Images of the Revolutionary War Generation was published by Kent State University Press and has a retail price of $45. It is available from most all of the discount online bookstores for about $30. Amazon sells it for $29.70. Any bookstore should also be able to order the book for you if you specify ISBN 978-1-60635-055-3.
What's next? Maureen Taylor recently wrote on her blog:
Photographs of other members of the Revolutionary War generation exist in public, private and family collections. While I've collected seventy images of men, women and significant children who lived during the war, I know that additional images are still undiscovered. I'm hoping that by studying your family photograph collections that you'll find images that meet the following criteria.Note: The photograph shown above is a carte de visite of Daniel Frederick Bakeman that commemorates his being named the last living Revolutionary War soldier in 1868. He died the following year. This image was widely available in the nineteenth century, and Bakeman was generally accepted as the last living Revolutionary War soldier. There is one problem; other, lesser-known men outlived him and were photographed. One such man was John Kitts of Baltimore, who died in September 1870.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you've located a picture of a Revolutionary War ancestor.
- Men who lived during the war and who were alive after 1839 when photography was introduced in the United States would be at least 80 years of age. These individuals could be patriots, soldiers, loyalists or non-participants in the war.
- Women may be wives or widows. Locating pictures of these women means looking at pictures taken anywhere from the advent of photography to the early 1900s. The last living Revolutionary War widow died in 1906.