Civil War Ambrotype

The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum of Mississippi History collections related to year 1861 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince for writing this series.

Ambrotype. Accession Number: 1969.29 (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)
Ambrotype. Accession Number: 1969.29 (Museum of Mississippi History Collection)

This ambrotype, complete with a lock of hair, depicts Harris Hale Patton who served in the 15th Mississippi Infantry, Company F, Adams Brigade.  The 15th was organized in May, 1861, and was comprised of soldiers from Holmes, Choctaw, Quitman, Montgomery, Yalobusha, and Grenada counties.  Originally written inside the case, though it has faded now, was “Presented to Mother on the 24 day of May 1861 Harry Patton.”  This ambrotype was perhaps a parting gift from Patton to his mother when he left to go to war.

Great strides were made in photography in the 1850s.  The ambrotype, which is a positive image on a sheet of glass, became widely available in the late 1850s because of a cheaper collodion development process and replaced the daguerreotype in popularity.  Due to the fragility of the images, both ambrotypes and daguerreotypes were kept in cases.

Artifacts in the collection of the Museum of Mississippi History are available for viewing by appointment only. Please contact Cindy Gardner, Director of Collections or Nan Prince, Asst. Director of Collections by email to schedule an appointment.