Carte de Visite
J. V. Cobb - Photographer & Chemist
Hythe and Sandgate, England
c. 1865

This interesting carte de visite reproduces an 1860s vintage pen and watercolour sketch of the first day of practice of a rather
motley group of volunteer soldiers. My assumption that this rather hopeless looking group were volunteers is based solely on
another assumption that had these men would have been more uniformly uniformed by the their first day of arms handling
hand they been regulars.

Each man was depicted in such a unique manner that it is possible that they represent actual members of the group as
opposed to simply being the figments of someone's imagination. The man at the far right looks to be the uniform of an naval
officer of perhaps that of an officer of the merchant fleet. The man third from left is entirely outfitted in civilian garb. Three of
the men look to be wearing uniforms similar to the gray ones issued to members of the volunteer rifle associations at the time.
The man at the far right who I have nick-named "Gomer Pyle" is shown dropping his rifle. In the end he probably turned out
to be the best soldier in the group.

The army established a school of musketry at Hythe in 1853 and these men may well have been taking part in their first
practice there when this drawing was inspired. Unfortunately the artist's name is lost to history.

The image's caption reads:
"First Practice - The practice is to accustom the soldier to handle his rifle."