Military History/Civil War uniform


John M. Gould wrote at 2010-09-03 01:40:10
While Patrick is correct in observing that the young man is a son of a Union veteran he did not observe the hat insignia closely enough.  The hat insignia is an "SV" which stands for "Sons of Veterans" (now known as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War or SUVCW).  

The SV was founded in 1881 as an organization of sons of Union Army and Navy veterans. In addition to its patriotic and fraternal ideals it also functioned as a paramilitary reserve in that many camps (as local chapters are called) conducted military training.

As to the date of the photo the best clue is the medal the young man is wearing.  It is the membership medal (offically called a "badge") for the Sons of Veterans on a three striped ribbon (red, white and blue) which was the insignia of a regular member of the SV who did not hold an office.  (Officers in the SV had the ribbon which today is used for all members of the SUVCW.)  That particular ribbon was in use from the time the SV badge was patented in 1888 to the early 1900s when all members were to wear the ribbon which was fomerly for officers only.  

Also keep in mind that it was in the 1890s that the SUVCW had it largest memberbership.

Based on all that evidence I would estimate the date of the photograph to be 1895 - give or take 5 years.

Good Luck!  

John M. Gould wrote at 2010-09-12 06:00:06
If you look closely at the hat insignia you will notice that it has the letters "SV" with the number 4 above the letters.  The "SV" stands for Sons of Veterans which was the original name of an organization today called the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The medal is the membership badge of the Sons of Veterans.  The badge was patented in 1888.  Futhermore you will notice the ribbon has three stripes - red, white and blue - which was used by non-office holding members of the SV.  The three stripe ribbon was no longer used after about 1905 so I would say the photo dates from the 1890s or early 1900's.

He is not a Civil War veteran because, if he was, he would have been in the GAR an not the SV.

John Thielmann wrote at 2016-09-13 16:10:49
The number "4" would have referred to the "Camp" (local organization) of the Sons of Veterans to which he belonged.

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C. P. Schulze


As a student of the American Civil War since childhood, I am well versed in most aspects of the war and have two novels published on the subject. My background and research affords me extensive knowledge in tactics, battles, weaponry, women's issues, slavery as well as any number of other topics. I will be glad to offer any insights or information I have.


I am the author of two published novels dealing with the American Civil War. For too many years to admit, I have spoken at local organizations about the Civil War. I also often act as a nonprofessional guide on Eastern Theatre battlefields. Further, I am occasionally asked to teach Virginia’s SOL Standards as they relate to the Civil War at local middle and high schools. I have been reading, researching and collecting C.W. paraphernalia since I was a young man. My web site may be found at

B. A. - Political Science, Old Dominion University - Norfolk, VA

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