In the 1850's in Paris France, Louis Daguerre was experimenting with silver screen images and mercury vapors, the result became known as the Daguerreotype. By modulating the temperature and other variables he was able to capture clear images of his subjects. He became known as the father of modern photography. Many Daguerreotypes have an other earthly quality and distinctive clarity to them because the mercury vapors can be very random to work with.
Notice here the daguerreotype of General Bee.
General Barnard Elliott Bee Jr. served on the american frontier and in the Civil War. He loved the military life. He distinguished himself with gallantry on the battlefield many times but very noticeably in the battle of Las Cruces, in New Mexico. Imagine when this daguerreotype was made, perhaps his mother or wife held this very object in her hands.