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Unidentified photographer 
Military Portrait of a Pioneer Guard 
1850
  
Salt print, hand-painted 
6-1/2 x 5 ins (16.5 x 12.7 cm) 
  
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works 
 
LL/76146 
  
(Alex Novak): This is a fine picture of a soldier serving in the "Pioneers", the special corps of soldier-tradesmen attached to every regiment so that it could "chop its way through any surroundings". These men helped clear the path for any army and usually worked as the advanced party of army engineers. Most infantry regiments of ancient pedigree still maintain their pioneer corps. Today, these are the only men in the army permitted to wear beards and they do with great pride. Their aprons, axes, swords that feature saws on the back of the blade, and bilhooks are all proudly worn, as they too distinguish these troops as special. This proud soldier wears the uniform of a household guards regiment, (one can tell by his enormous, beautifully trimmed bearskin headress and large apron. Guards Units were formed to protect the sovereign and, therefore, are the most distinguished of all troops. The most famous examples are scarlet-coated soldiers of the Brigade of Guards, a household infantry that protects the British Sovereign, and includes in order of seniority, the Grenadier Guards, the Coldsteam Guards, the Scots Guards, the Welsh Guards, and the Irish Guards, denoted by their headress plumes (called hackles) and the grouping of the buttons on the tunics in ones, pairs, trios, fours, and fives, each group of buttons separated by spacing. This fellow appears to be from a northern European army, possibly French, English or even Scandanavian. My thanks to Richard Moll for this information. 
 

 
  
 
  
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