When originally purchased this 1/6th plate tintype was thought possibly to represent a rare representation of an African American member of the
24th or 25th U.S. Infantry - the Buffalo Soldiers famous for their service on America’s western frontier in late 1800's.

Under close examination it turned out to be an ever rarer image - an African American private of "L" Company, 6th Massachusetts Volunteer
Infantry c 1898.

The 6th Massachusetts was a singular regiment within either the Volunteers or the Regular Army in as much as it was a partially racially
integrated regiment - the only one in U.S. service at the time. The 6th was an all-white regiment with the exception on the single "L" company
which manned and officered by African Americans. Prior to this all army units were segregated on the regimental level. Times were changing –
slowly indeed but changing none the less.

The 6th was raised for service in the Spanish American War and took part in the occupation of Puerto Rico. "L" Company was the only black unit
to take part in the occupation of Puerto Rico and the only black volunteer unit to come under fire - at the Battle of Yauco - in Puerto Rico during
the Spanish American War.

This unnamed soldier wears a Pattern 1895 Forage Cap and a Pattern 1892 Sack Coat. Around his waist in a blue canvas web Pattern 1892 Mills
Cartridge Belt.

1/6th plate Tintype (Ferrotype)
3 1/2 inches by 2 3/8 inches
9 cm x 6 cm
Unknown Photographer
Unknown Location
c. 1898
Right & Left: Detail scans showing the
regimental and company number o
n his
Pattern
1895 forage cap on the left and
on the right the clearly belt plate on the
dark blue Mills web ammunition belt.