Much Ado About a Do

22 12 2006

The Jim Lane hat-hair posts have spawned at least three offspring in the blogosphere.

Dmitri Rotov has some thoughts.

So does Joshua Blair.

A most provocative post comes from the writer of Cromwell’s Warts.   “Fortyrounder” gives some insight into why bad or careless hair styling is so prevalent in photographs of the era:

“…here is a passage from The Habits of Good Society, 1859:

It was at one time the fashion to affect a certain negligence, which was called poetic, and supposed to be the result of genius.  An ill-tied, if not positively untied cravat was a sure sign of an unbridled imagination; and a waistcoat was held together by one button only, as if the swelling soul in the wearer’s bosom had burst all the rest.  If in addition to this the hair was unbrushed and curly, you were certain of passing for a ‘man of soul’.  I should not recommend any young gentleman to adopt this style, unless he can mouth a great deal, and has a good stock of quotations of the poets.  It is of no use to show me the clouds, unless I can see you in them, and no amount of negligence in your dress and person will convince me you are a genius, unless you can produce an octavo of poems published by yourself.”

Food for thought.


And now that I DO think of it…


What’s the verdict?  Carelessly unkempt, or masterfully manipulative?



3 responses

22 12 2006
Joshua Blair


Sorry, I could not help myself. When I saw Lane’s hair I almost fell out of my seat. He must have been really, really poetic.




25 06 2007
Bull Runnings

[…] In 1861, Sherman’s Battery was the most famous company of artillery in the nation.  It had won its fame in the War with Mexico at the Battle of Buena Vista, where along with the batteries Braxton Bragg (of whom Zachary Taylor requested “a little more grape”, see engraving at left) it played a key role in the repulse of  an enemy counter attack.  It would appear that editor Pierro is not the first to erroneously associate William T. Sherman with the battery of the same name, as this site claims that Bragg fought alongside “Cump” at Buena Vista (W. T. was in California during the war).  No, the battery otherwise known as Company E, 3rd U. S. Artillery was commanded at Buena Vista by Thomas W. “Old Tim” Sherman, and even after he moved on to other commands, the battery remained known as Sherman’s Battery.  That’s his photo below on the left, coutesy of the LOC.  Nice hairdo – I guess he wanted to be taken seriously (see this post). […]


12 07 2007

Harry –

Reading back over this particular post about hair got me to thinking about something related to it (but not quite):
weight gain, specifically Burnside’s (it’s sort of tied-in to hair, inasmuch as Burnside’s muttonchop whiskers are near legendary).

Burn’s semi-rotundity (though not necessarily obesity) is pretty clear from most of his photos. Yet it was a surprise to see the photo of him as a Rhode Island colonel—displayed in the photo section of Detzer’s “Donnybrook”—with a fairly trim frame. Presumably this taken was sometime between April and July of 1861. In later photos, it’s quite obvious that he has let himself go.

So I’m just curious: do any of Burn’s contemporaries who knew him from that earlier “thin” period have anything to say about his increasing girth? Or was that the sort of thing that folks just didn’t comment about in those days? (McDowell’s girth was mentioned occasionally in letters, but his was already present at the time he came to prominence)

Anyway, it’s food for thought…


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