Sgt. George F. Masson, 5th Virginia Cavalry, Quarter Plate Ambrotype with Daguerreotype of Masson as a Boy

An outstanding clear plate ambrotype of a casually posed wartime cavalryman sporting an imported Continental saber and belted Colt Navy revolver. He wears a grey six button shell jacket edged with tape trim having corporal’s chevrons and cloth epaulettes. Inside the case penciled on a loose piece of paper is a comprehensive salutation and patriotic verse that reads: Ambrotype of George / F. Masson Son of Wm / Masson Presented to his / Mother March 12, 1863. He is one of Virginia’s noblest / defenders long may he live / to enjoy the Liberty for which / he is now fighting and for/which so many of her / bravest sons have/been made to bite the dust, crushed by / an insolent foe. The other side of the paper continues with the start of a history: He enlisted in the CSA / May 7th 1861 remained at / Gloucester Point until May 4 1862. Still more writing is found inside the case itself, Presented to my Mother / by her son George, followed by George F. Masson / Culpeper CH / March 12, 1863 and the cost of $10.00 in Culpeper CH.

The earlier sixth plate daguerreotype bears a later unknown third party inscription that reads, George F. Masson/ambrotype (sic) taken when he was 10/years old February / 1, 1853 in first month when/at school. Which of the two boys is George Masson is not stated, but he is more than likely the older boy in the view. 

George F. Masson (1841-1916) is shown to have enlisted in June 1861 probably as a private in the 5th Virginia Cavalry, Provisional Army. Masson re-enlisted in March 1862 joining the Gloucester Light Dragoons that became Company A., 5th Virginia Cavalry upon its organization in June 1862. Masson served for the duration as corporal and sergeant in the regiment and was wounded at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia on March 17, 1863, five days after this ambrotype was taken. He is still listed as absent, sick in November 1863, but had returned to the company rolls by January 1864. A clothing allotment is noted for July 1864; afterwards nothing more is known of Sergeant Masson as we are not in possession of his National Archive Records.

George F. Masson was active in the later 19th century veteran’s movement being a member of the UCV, the Army and Navy Society, and the Maryland Line well into the 1890s. He had resided in Baltimore and in 1894 is recorded as living in the Old Soldier’s Home in Pikeville, Maryland. Masson died on August 28, 1916 and was buried in Mathews County, Virginia.

The 5th Virginia Cavalry was an illustrious regiment that served with the Army of northern Virginia until the very end. The regiment participated in every major action from Second Manassas through the Valley Campaign when it was consolidated with the 15th Virginia Cavalry in November 1864. The regiment did not surrender at Appomattox but simply melted away and disbanded. Tom Rosser was among the 5th Virginia Cavalry’s notable commanders.

Condition:Clear plate near EXC. with minor mat abrasions and average clarity. Daguerreotype with tarnish ring; resealed with new tape. Both images housed in original composition cases.

Estimate: $5,000 - $7,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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