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Normally I would count the stars to date this photo, but they may be using an old one to create the proper environment for the boys...if you can call "playing war" proper in any context. A wonderful photograph, 1890 maybe? The Youngest recruits for the Spanish - American War? The Earliest Civil War Reenactors?
You can ponder the details. My only observations? There was not yet a national obsession with soda, so every boy is lean and fit. This photo today would require the photographer to stand way back to fit everyone in. The other? Leave it to the adults to ham it up. Every boy is doing his best to show the proper respect, but the hormone enraged goobers "running the show" are doping it up in back.
Anonymous Photograph, circa 1890? "Boys Camp" 5" x 8" (Mount 8" x 10") Collection Jim Linderman
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