This ambrotype portrays a Union soldier armed with a musket and pistol. Black soldiers were able to enter the Federal army starting in 1863. Research into this image, comparing the studio setting to other known photographs, has shown that this is probably a soldier who enlisted in the 54th or 55th Massachusetts Infantry and posed for his portrait at Camp Meigs, the training base for these regiments in Readville, Massachusetts. The 54th became famous as the first Black regiment organized in the North, and it proved that soldiers of African descent could fight courageously when it made a valiant assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863. This led the way to nearly 200,000 Black soldiers being able to join the Union army.