From Robert McNamara, your Guide to 19th Century History
Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. It changed the course of the Civil War. And it even changed how we think about photographs.
In the fall of 1862 the relatively young art of photography brought home the gruesome reality of war when an enterprising photographer spent a day taking photographs of Antietam just two days after the enormous battle. Alexander Gardner, who was employed by photography pioneer Mathew Brady, arrived on the battlefield in western Maryland with his photographic wagon and an assistant on September 19, 1862. Soldiers were working to bury bodies, but many dead Confederates still lay on the field where they had fallen. Gardner's photographs of dead soldiers were riveting. And they were also a milestone, as they marked the first time... Read more
The Battle of Antietam, fought 150 years ago today in western Maryland, holds a special place in America's memory. Two great armies, Union and Confederate, clashed in a scenic valley near the village of Sharpsburg, where the local farmers tended to be members of a German pacifist sect. The horrendous combat at Antietam shook the nation, as eyewitnesses described regiments being cut down in rows. A New York Tribune correspondent wrote "the dead are lying, literally in heaps." Points on the landscape such as... Read more
The Battle of Antietam, fought in western Maryland on September 17, 1862, was enormously important. The stunningly violent clash turned back a Confederate invasion of the North, and it gave President Lincoln enough of a victory to announce the Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam was also something of a media milestone. When Robert E. Lee led his army across the Potomac it was shocking news in the North, and newspaper correspondents traveled with the huge Union Army that set out to intercept the Confederates. The size and importance of the battle meant that Antietam was front-page news for weeks. And despite understandable confusion in some dispatches, the reporting from the fields of Antietam was often surprisingly... Read more
Abraham Lincoln was a very skillful politician, and he recognized the value of photography just as the medium was becoming a popular art form.
When he returned to politics in... Read more