In a precursor to the selfie craze, thousands of Civil War soldiers rushed into photo booths to document their dashing military outfits and put on their best game faces for the conflict ahead. It was one of the first instances of photography as a mass medium, and it left us with a cornucopia of images that help bring the 160-year-old conflict to vivid life. Civilians got in on the action too, whether it be adorable kids dressed in tiny "zouave" outfits, or young women photo-bombing their friends' (or brothers'?) portrait sessions.
Battlefield photos are powerful, but as these Civil War portraits from the Library of Congress's Liljenquist Family Collection attest, there's nothing quite like the human face to make the past feel like the present - particularly if you can project yourself, or a loved one, into the picture.
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Sgt. Johnny Clem In 1863 At About Age 12
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Sergeant William T. Biedler, 16 Years Old, Of Company C, Mosby's Virginia Cavalry Regiment
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Unidentified African American Soldier In Union Uniform With Rifle And Revolver
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Unidentified Young Soldier In Union Shell Jacket And Forage Cap