One of my favorite series of photographs from the Civil War era were the ones taken of the Western Armies by Mathew Brady at the Grand Review of the Armies on May 24, 1865 in Washington, DC. Marching down Pennsylvania Avenue with the U.S. Capitol dome and over 200,000 visitors watching over, these men marched proudly with their worn uniforms after campaigning for over a year with minimal rest – Atlanta to Savannah and through the Carolinas.
The day before the Western Armies marched through Washington, the 90,000 men of the Army of the Potomac took their turn to display their prowess, discipline, and uniformity. They represented the pristine look of a martial victor that just defeated Lee’s Army that previous month. For the roughly 65,000 Westerners, looks were secondary. Sherman even said to Meade: “I’m afraid my poor tatterdemalion corps will make a poor appearance tomorrow, when contrasted with yours.” Armed with slouch hats, worn shoes (some even barefoot), animals, slaves, and unpolished brass, the men of Sherman’s army were dirty, but proud.
Within the ranks of Sherman’s veterans, were twenty-two Missouri regiments, primarily in Maj. Gen. John Logan’s XV Army Corps, who saw action at some of the bloodiest and desperate engagements for the Army of the Tennessee. In the XV Corps, Missouri units included: 27th Missouri Infantry, 31st/32nd Missouri Consolidated, 6th Missouri Infantry, 10th/26th Missouri Consolidated, and the 29th Missouri Mounted Infantry. Like the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Tennessee were photographed during the review – even the XV Corps, seen below.
Following the XV Corps was Maj. Gen. Francis P. Blair Jr.’s XVII Corps, which had not only St. Louis’ Union zealot and Missouri Senator as its commander, but had the 18th Missouri Infantry attached to its First Division.