Civil War Soldiers Dyed Their Hair



One of the most important invocations to come during the American Civil War was photography, the equipment could be hauled in a wagon and many photographers traveled from military camp to towns across America during 1861-1865. That is great because more than likely you might have a photo of an ancestor who served during the Civil War. Not only photos of individuals but also camp life, troops, and scenes of life during the war.

Many a Union and Confederate soldier did want their photo taken in their uniform for their family in case they did not return home. Some even had a second photo taken after they did return to camp and were not in a hospital or killed. The photo was proof to the family they had survived.

An interesting item found in many of these military camps was small bottles of hair dye – a dark shade. This dye was made from ink or a pigment that could be applied to grey hairs in a beard, mustache or on their head. One company was called ‘Buckingham’s Dye’ allowing a person to have black or brown shade to their hair and it would not wash out. It became popular with soldiers because if they had red or blonde hair the black-white photos their hair appeared to be white or grey. By dyeing the hair it did look not natural. The soldiers wanted a good photo of themselves.

So examine any photos you might have of an ancestor who served in the military or any photos taken in that time frame of the early 1860s. See if maybe your ancestor does show to have darker hair.

Photos: Hair dye advertisements and a Delaware union soldier portrait.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Blue and Grey Ancestors

Civil War Letters

Wounds during the Civil War

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