Sunday, January 8, 2012

Civil War Sunday-The Photo in the Flooded Museum

Today is the 4 month anniversary of the flooding (due to Tropical Storm Lee) of Owego, NY.  In Owego is the Tioga County Historical Museum.  Within that museum is a treasure - an original Mathew Brady photograph of Abraham Lincoln.

When we took a photo of this on December 17, this photo was hanging in the basement, again open after flood renovation.  It was there with some office equipment - no exhibits.  My spouse spotted it and we stared at it in amazement - as you can see from our reflections in the bottom of the photo.

You will see color in this:  this was colorized in some manner - in my eagerness to view the holiday exhibits in the museum, I never read the explanation! (Shame, shame, shame on me.)

I missed a 2010 exhibits at this museum which included a number of Brady photographs.  But this particular one was in permanent exhibit in the lower level, which flooded.  The museum lost a lot of their exhibits, as they had to triage the exhibits for restoration.  I hope this will be exhibited in an area of the building less prone to flooding,when the museum is fully restored.

But getting back to this picture.

This is called a "Zouave Lincoln" portrait.  So, who or what are the Zouaves?

They were originally North African (Algerian, to be exact)  troops that served in the French army in the 1830's-noted for their colorful uniforms.  The "craze", if you could call it that, spread to the United States. There were Zouarve units in the Civil War,(although I think that mainly was in the 1861 period), consisting of various volunteer regiments.  There was at least one new York Zouave regiment.

Lincoln is not wearing the Zouave. So I am curious as to why this is called a "Zouave Lincoln". There was a little plaque below the photo but I must admit I did not read it.

If anyone knows the story of this photo, I would love hearing about it.


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