Over the years, men have used facial hair (or lack thereof) as a means of self-expression and to craft a distinct masculine appearance. From Ambrose Burnside’s famous sideburns to Wyatt Earp’s handlebar moustache, the styles of facial hair have varied greatly throughout the decades, and were as complex and changing as any fashion trend in history.
This carte-de-visite features Zina B. Chatfield, an officer in Co. A 4th Minn. Infantry Regiment. Chatfield was born December 3, 1828, and died in August, 1923. This carte-de-visite, taken in 1861 by photographer N.H. Black, shows Chatfield’s pointed mustache and beard. Facial hair became fashionable during the Civil War, and soldiers often imitated their commanding officers by growing facial hair in similar ways. This trend was not exclusive to the soldiers, however. Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War during most of the American Civil War sported a long thick beard with no mustache. Many people may believe that soldiers grew beards out of lack of resources or time, while in fact many of the facial hair designs required meticulous grooming and upkeep.
Henry Connor McLaughlin was a Major in the Confederate States Army. Here he is dressed in Confederate uniform, with a frown-like mustache with soul patch combination. He has one hand tucked into the front of his coat, referred to as the “hand-in waistcoat” gesture, commonly found in men’s portraiture’s during the Civil War, gaining popularity with Napoleon I of France, though the pose possibly originated in ancient Greece.
On our Facebook page, TSLA is highlighting facial hair of note during the month of November every Monday for "Movember Mondays" where you can find particularly impressive mustaches and beards. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to visit our Facebook page each Monday for a new Movember update.
Are you growing your facial hair this month? Get some inspiration for your own facial hair from TSLA’s Digital Collections!
The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.