|North wall of Fort Sumpter [sic]
The collection of 732 Civil War stereographs covers the entire period of the
Civil War, from the first Battle of Bull Run through the surrender at Appomattox,
and the triumphal parade of Union forces in Washington D.C. Most of the images
were made in the eastern theatre of the war, with a majority of scenes from
Virginia. Views in northern states include naval shipyards in Massachusetts
and Philadelphia, and a rally and parades in New York City. Compelling images
of death on the battlefield and the destruction of cities, railroads and bridges
show the devastating effects of the war. Individual and group portraits of participants
are included, along with images of soldiers relaxing in camps, drilling in the
field, and preparing for attack in trenches and other fortifications. There
are images of African Americans fleeing slavery by crossing the Union lines,
as well as African Americans on southern plantations and serving in the Army
and the Navy. Damage sustained by the ironclad Monitor after her fight with
the Merrimac is depicted, along with other ships on the James River. Civilians
also appear in the photographs, including photographers, artists and journalists,
a thief known for looting possessions from the dead on battlefields, and members
of the United States Sanitary Commission.
|Bull Run Monuments
Because of their journalistic style, stereographs offer an immediate and graphic
look at the war. When seen with a stereograph viewer which creates a three-dimensional
effect, the small views (which range in size from 3 1/8 x 6 3/4 inches to 4
x 7 inches) become even more vivid and detailed. While photographers did not
usually depict actual battle scenes, they captured images of camp life before
battles and of battlefields afterward. Significant Civil War sites are documented,
including Fort Sumter and the house at Appomattox where Lee surrendered.
Important for their depiction of the events of the Civil War, these views are
also significant because of the photographers who made them. Mathew Brady is
represented in the collection, as well as his former employees Alexander Gardner,
James Gibson, and Timothy O'Sullivan. Other photographers represented include
George N. Barnard, who took photographs in Virginia and the Carolinas, Sam A.
Cooley, who was the "Official Photographer" for the 10th Army Corps, and local
photographers from Richmond, Gettysburg, and other locations.
Most of the views presented here were published during the war by the photographer
who made them, or by publishers such as E. & H.T. Anthony. Anthony's file
was later obtained by General Albert Ordway and published under successive imprints
by John C. Taylor, and Taylor & Huntington to coincide with the 25th anniversary
of the war and the reunions held at that time.