Original U.S. Civil War Zouave 76th Ohio Infantry Mourning Death Locket

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a piece of hair jewelry which would have been worn by a female member of the fallen soldier's family. This particular example has a lock of hair under glass on one side and a tin type of a Zouave from either the 53rd or 76th Ohio Infantry on the other. It measures 1.25 in diameter and opens and closes perfectly with a locking mechanism. The locket is offered in excellent condition.

During the Civil War, death was omnipresent. Nineteenth-century Americans, who cherished the ideal of a “good death”—a deathbed scene complete with an adoring family, wise counsel, fond farewells, and assurances of eternal salvation—struggled to grapple with death on an unprecedented scale during the war years.

The number of soldiers who died during the Civil War was equal to—perhaps even greater than—the total U.S. deaths in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined. In addition to approximately 600,000 soldiers’ deaths—both on the battlefield and in the hospital—an estimated 50,000 civilians lost their lives in the conflict.

Both dismemberment during battle and decay on the battlefield during the often-lengthy interval between death and recovery challenged Civil War-era Americans’ ideas about the “good death.” Bodies were often buried where they fell, often in mass or unmarked graves, although at least in some instances—usually involving officers—some attempt was made at a funeral service.

For many Americans who lost a loved one to the war, securing the return of the body—or, failing that, a detailed account of the departed’s final words and state of mind—was essential to come to terms with the death and begin the mourning process. Indeed, it was in the Civil War era that some enterprising businessmen developed the techniques of embalming that allowed them to preserve bodies and ship remains back home—for a price.

Many Americans traveled great distances to find the graves of their loved ones and recover their remains. The goal was to re-bury the deceased in the family cemetery and to honor the dead with a proper funeral service, as all families wished to do for their fallen loved ones.

While wartime conditions might prevent them from practicing their ideal of the “good death,” most Americans in the Civil War era struggled to maintain familiar mourning rituals in death’s aftermath. Women bore most of the burden of mourning the dead. Customarily, widows mourned husbands for more than two years, mothers mourned children for one year, and sisters mourned brothers for six months. In the Civil War South, where nearly one out of five white men of military age lost their lives, mourning could be an almost constant state of being. Progressing from the all-black head-to-toe ensembles of “heavy mourning” through the black gowns and white gloves and collars of “full mourning” and finally to the greys and purples of “half mourning,” white southern women announced their grief through their clothing. Wartime shortages prompted some women, unable to purchase the preferred black baize, bombazine, crepe, silk, and grenadine fabrics, to dye their wardrobes black in order to respect the traditions of mourning. (By contrast, men’s outward expressions of grief were limited to black hatbands or armbands.)

Even accessories announced mourning; while in heavy mourning, women frequently appeared draped in heavy veils; in subsequent stages of mourning, they wore special mourning jewelry fashioned of jet or other black, matte-surfaced materials. The principal exception to jet jewelry was hair jewelry. Elaborately fashioned from locks of the deceased person’s hair, hair brooches, pendants, bracelets, lockets and rings allowed the survivor to keep a portion of their departed beloved one close.

Zouaves of the American Civil War:

Numerous Zouave regiments were organized from soldiers of the United States of America who adopted the name and the North African–inspired uniforms during the American Civil War. The Union army had more than seventy volunteer Zouave regiments throughout the conflict, while the Confederates fielded about twenty-five Zouave companies.

In the United States, zouaves were brought to public attention by Elmer E. Ellsworth. Inspired by his French friend Charles De Villers, who had been a surgeon in the North African zouaves, he obtained a zouave drill manual. In 1859, Ellsworth took over a drill company and renamed them the "Zouave Cadets". The drill company toured nationally, performing the light infantry drill of the north African zouaves with many theatrical additions. "Zouave" units were then raised on both sides of the American Civil War of 1861-5, including a regiment under Ellsworth's command, the New York "Fire Zouaves".

A feature of some American zouave units, at least in the opening stages of the American Civil War, was the light infantry tactics and drill they employed. Zouaves: "...utilised light infantry tactics that emphasised open-order formations, with several feet between soldiers, rather than the customary close order, with its characteristic 'touch of elbows'. They moved at double-time, rather than marching to a stately cadence, and they lay on their backs to load their rifles rather than standing to do so. To fire, they rolled prone and sometimes rose on one knee."

Arguably the most famous Union Zouave regiments were from New York and Pennsylvania: the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, "Duryee's Zouaves" (after its first colonel, Abram Duryee), the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry; "Collis's Zouaves" (after their colonel, Charles H. T. Collis); and the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry, the "Fire Zouaves". The 11th New York was initially led by Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, until his death in 1861. The 11th New York was badly mauled during the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 as it acted as the rear guard for the retreating Army of the Potomac. The 14th Brooklyn received its nickname, the "Red Legged Devils," during the First Battle of Bull Run. Referring to the regiment's colorful red trousers as the regiment repeatedly charged up Henry House Hill, Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson yelled to his men, "Hold On Boys! Here come those red-legged devils again!" The 5th New York was considered one of the elite units of the Army of the Potomac; it was one of only two volunteer regiments serving with the regular division commanded by George Sykes. At the Second Battle of Bull Run, the 5th New York, along with another Zouave regiment, the 10th New York "National Zouaves," held off the flanking attack of James Longstreet's Corps for ten crucial minutes before it was overrun. The 5th New York thus suffered the highest percentage of casualties in the shortest amount of time of any unit in the Civil War (of 525 men, approximately 120 were killed and 330 were wounded in less than 10 minutes).

In 1863 and 1864, three Union regiments (146th New York, 140th New York, and 155th Pennsylvania) were issued with Zouave uniforms to reward their proficiency in drill and battlefield performance. Difficulties in supply and replacement meant that Zouave and other exotic militia uniforms tended to be replaced by standard issue uniforms throughout the conflict. However, the tradition remained strong, and the last Union casualty of the fighting in Virginia was reported to be a Zouave of the 155th Pennsylvania, killed at Farmville, Virginia, on the morning of April 9, 1865.

A number of Confederate Zouave units were also raised. In contrast to the many Federal units, most Confederate Zouaves were not full "regiments;" many were companies within larger units. The cognomen "Louisiana Tiger" dates from the Mexican–American War; it refers to any Louisiana state trooper (and more recently, to the state's athletic teams[citation needed]). But none of the Mexican War Louisiana "Tigers" were Zouaves. The earliest, and most famous, Louisiana Zouave unit was White's Company B (the "Tiger Rifles") of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat's 1st Special Battalion, Louisiana Volunteers, a.k.a. "Louisiana Tigers."[citation needed] Another notable Zouave unit on the Confederate side was the "1st (Coppens') Louisiana Zouave Battalion," which was raised by Georges Augustus Gaston De Coppens in 1861. They saw action from the Peninsula Campaign to the Siege of Petersburg, all the while being short of supplies. They were disbanded in 1865.

Winters also notes that a group of itinerant actors, who claimed to have served in European wars, stimulated the Zouave craze. The actors attracted large crowds and inspired the formation of military companies. They visited several New Orleans companies and instructed the men in a new manual of arms. They toured the river towns and played to an overflow audience in Plaquemine, Louisiana. In Alexandria, in central Louisiana, the actors performed "a bloody drama of the Crimean War."

Among the Louisiana Zouaves were the "Louisiana Tigers" or "Coppen's Zouaves." These names have been conflated as "Louisiana Tigers at Gettysburg." Coppen's Zouaves were at Gettysburg, but they were not then known as "Louisiana Tigers." Captain White's Company B, "Louisiana Tigers," of Major Wheat's 1st Special Battalion, were not at Gettysburg; they were disbanded after Wheat's death at Gaines Mill in 1862.

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