The man in this carte-de-visite portrait isn’t identified. Why does he have a blanket wrapped around him? He seems to be pointing at it:
The photographer, Thomas T. Sweeny (1831-1891), worked in Cleveland, Ohio, throughout his life. Although he was active for about three decades, information about him is scarce online. Census records indicate that he was born in New Jersey to parents who had immigrated from Ireland. When he was about twenty-one, he married an Irish immigrant named Mary Wilson, who was about eighteen at the time. They would go on to have ten children (inferred from Census records).
One website mentions that Thomas T. Sweeny opened a studio in 1859 at 249 Superior Street, Cleveland, in partnership with a photographer named Edgar Decker (1833-1905). I assume it was Sweeny’s first studio, but I don’t know for sure. He was about 28 years old.
In 1861 Sweeny served a four-month tour as a 1st Lieutenant in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I.). The Civil War began on April 12, 1861. Sweeny’s tour began on April 22 and ended August 22. He later registered for the draft in June 1863, but probably wasn’t called up, since he had already served. The page with his name on it in the draft registration book is interesting. Of the twenty men listed on the page, only three were born in the United States, including Sweeny. Another of the three, Allen Scott, was Colored (African American). He was born in Michigan and his occupation was Sailor, suggesting he was a mariner on the Great Lakes. Of the other seventeen men on the page, ten were born in Germany, three in Ireland, one in Canada, one in England, one in Prussia and one in Holland. It would be interesting to know how many of these men were called up to bear arms for their adopted country.
(See the full-size scan of the page in a separate tab here.)
The portrait of the man with the blanket could have been made during the war, as late as July 1864. The back of the carte-de-visite is blank. If it had been made between August 1, 1864, and August 1, 1866, it would have had a tax stamp on the back, so we can be certain it wasn’t made during that period. It could have been made after August 1866, but probably not long after. I’m sure it was made in the 1860s. So, what did this man want to convey about himself when he stood in Thomas Sweeny’s studio?