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Civil War Sketches
collection presents 111 images of drawings and text, depicting both important
events and everyday scenes from the Civil War.
A few sketches show in great detail the uniforms of different regiments and ranks of soldiers; others show troop movements by specific regiments. Small towns are shown with Union troops passing through them, and other southern landscapes including plantations are depicted. Many scenes were drawn very quickly and roughly, in order to capture newsworthy events. Others are carefully crafted satires, like "24 Weeks on the Potomac" which shows McClellan and Beauregard contemplating one another across the Potomac River during a stalemate early in the war. On the back (verso) of some of these sketches the artist described the scene and general battle atmosphere in great detail.
The pencil, pen-and-ink,
crayon and wash drawings range in size from 5 x 5 inches to 19 x 12 inches. They
were made by "special artists" employed by Frank Leslie's Illustrated
Newspaper, and used as a basis for the wood engravings that illustrated it. Many
of the artists were professionals such as John Francis Edward Hillen and E.B.
Bensell. Others were soldiers and others in the field who submitted their drawings
The sketches were made from the earliest days of the war, in April 1861, when troops were being moved to defend Washington, to February 1865, when the U.S. flag was raised over Fort Sumter after being recaptured by Union troops. Some date from April and May 1865, when Lincoln's body was lying in state after his assassination. The sketches were able to capture action that photographs were not able to convey at the time, and provide immediacy lacking in the other medium.
The collection has 85 sheets, some of which have drawings on both sides of the paper. Others have descriptions or letters to Frank Leslie or descriptions on the verso. In these cases, the backs of the drawings were also imaged and described; the records for front and back are linked as related items.
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