Photographs can be powerful connections to the past. Soldiers, for example often had their portraits made before going off to war so that loved ones would have a rememberance of them in the event they did not return. This decorative mat is unusual and suggests the pride the owner may have felt about his status as a fighting soldier.
Ambrotypes were most popular in the mid-1850s, and, therefore, are less common than other formats for portraits of Civil War soldiers. Ambrotypes are cased collodian negatives backed by dark cloth, paper, or varnish. In this example, pink coloring has been applied to the subjects's cheeks to make the portrait feel more warm and human.