U.S. History/Military uniform ID
QUESTION: Hello -- I am a genealogist and I'm trying to date certain photos (which will help me identify people). I have a pic of a soldier in uniform that I assumed was Eugene Bingle circa WWI. Now I'm not so sure. I have a pic of Eugene (or someone else) wearing the hat (and sitting on a porch with his parents) from the photo I thought was WWI. The problem: this must not be a WWI photo; the people sitting on the porch at the far right are Angeline and William Bingle. Angeline passed away in April 1915. Wikipedia gives the dates for WWI as 28 July 1914 to 11 Nov 1918. Therefore that window for Eugene to serve and be discharged (so he could sit on his parents' porch in the hat) to be very small. The short question: can you please date the soldier photo? Thank you for your help! Carol
ANSWER: Hi Carol,
The uniform definitely looks WWI era. The gun in the picture is the 1909 Springfield, so it could not have been taken before 1909.
Also, keep in mind that WWI began in Europe in 1914, but the US did not enter the war until 1917, so if that picture was taken in 1915 or earlier, there would be no way they were sitting with a WWI veteran. It is possible that the soldier served during peacetime in the early 20th Century before the war began.
But the uniform of that style was worn for at least 10 year prior to WWI. So, although it could be a WWI picture, it could just as easily have been taken in the years before the war.
I hope this helps!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hi Mike -- a follow-up question: What branch of the service is this military uniform? I assume Army, but could it be Marines or Navy? The garments on his legs are very similar to the sailor's leg garments (which makes me think he's a sailor?).
Also, can you determine any rank for this individual? Just so I am clear on the gun; 1909 is the earliest year this gun was made?
Any and all details would be a help. You have already been a tremendous help!
Sorry, I misspoke when I said 1909 for the rifle. It is the 1903 Springfield, which is the same year it started being used by the US military (army and marines). It was the standard issue until 1937 when the M1 came into use. But even during WWII the 1903 Springfield was standard issue for many soldiers since there were not enough M1 rifles for everyone. The Springfield actually continued to be used as a sniper rifle through the Korean war, and even saw some use in Vietnam. But it was not around before 1903, so the picture could not be from the Civil War or Spanish-American War.
The leg garments are called "gators." They were commonly used by Army, Marine, and Sailors of that era. I am pretty confided this is a US Army uniform. The hat is a pretty good indication of that, although sometimes different units in different branches wore varied hats. Also, the marine fatigues are usually a lighter color than appears here. Unfortunately, I cannot read the insignia on the had and don't see any on the collar or arms which might provide confirmation of unit, or rank. Typically, the lack of insignia indicate a private, and these appear to be an enlisted man's fatigues. Officers of the era usually wore ties, even in battle fatigues.