Cabinet card studio portrait of an unidentifed Buffalo Soldier sergeant of Company B, 24th Infantry. C.S. Fly: Tombstone, Arizona Territory, n.d., circa 1882. “Fly’s Gallery” imprint on recto. Verso inscribed: “Mrs. Lottie Nenanet?” A half-length portrait of the soldier with his sergeant’s chevrons visible on his sleeve and his regiment and company pin visible on his hat. Perhaps taken when the 24th was stationed at nearby Camp/Fort Huachuca.
Camilius S. Fly (1849-1901) was the principal photographer of Tombstone, Arizona, moving there in 1879 with his wife Mary and promptly setting up a tent studio. Fly’s Gallery was open by 1880 and he photographed the town and vicinity. He is best remembered for his series of photographs documenting Geronimo, Apache warriors, General Crook, as well as the gunfighters and lawmen that put Tombstone on the map. Though he was prolific, no other known images of Buffalo Soldiers or African Americans taken by Fly are known. This image, almost certainly unique, was undoubtedly made for the sitter. Fly’s negatives were destroyed in a studio fire in 1912 and another warehouse fire in 1915.