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Part II of the interview continues with some background on Civil War Photography.  This tells some of the story of the equipment that they used as well as some of my favorite Civil War Photographers.  If you think that Mathew Brady took all of the Civil War images, think again!!!

Part I along with additional images and links are here

1st NY Light Artillery
Grant’s Council of War
George and Libbie Custer
Photographers of the Civil War
Nashville in the rain
Fortified Bridge

This first image was taken by George Barnard, as you can see there is extensive damage on the plate that made looking at the image a problem.  To fix broken glass I first isolated each piece on a different layer and then moved it into its proper position.  After I had it where I wanted it then I merged the layers and removed any of the remaining lines from the breakage. 

Image Comments:

Constructed as one of the defensive forts around Washington, Fort Richardson was named for General Israel Richardson, who was killed at Antietam in 1862.  Most of these earthwork forts were similar in nature to Fort Richardson.  The typical fort was made of packed earth that was 7-9 feet high with an exterior slope of 45 degrees.  Both features helped to deflect incoming artillery as well as attacking infantry.  The top of the slope was a minimum of one foot thick and extended to eighteen feet at the bottom. 

Outside of the parapet was a ditch dug six feet deep around the exterior.  The slope was allowed to grow grass to help prevent erosion.  The interior of the forts had vertical posts 4-6 inches thick and about 5 feet long that allowed the occupants to take a defensive position right next to the parapet of earth and still return fire.  In some cases, this caused problems.  Specifically, injury from the top of the relatively thin walls being struck by artillery and wood timbers becoming flying shrapnel.  To prevent this mishap, some of the forts replaced the posts with an interior sod wall that provided similar protection without the danger of shrapnel. 

To protect the gunpowder and other ammunition stored in the fort from incoming artillery, a “Bomb-proof” was constructed in the center of the fort.  This was a heavy earth structure using much thicker timbers.  While the outside walls of the fort were supported with timber 4-6 inches thick, the “Bomb-proofs” had timbers no less than twelve inches thick.  The interior was generally  twelve feet wide with a roof of seven feet.  This allowed powder to be stacked three rows wide for the entire length of the magazine.  While the exterior of the fort wall could be as thin as one foot at the top, the “Bomb-proofs” had a minimum thickness of ten feet on all sides.  These walls were made up of layers of clay two feet thick and tightly packed vs. the fort exterior walls made of common soil. 

In all, as many as 53 forts at any one time surrounded Washington.  A total of 22 batteries with 643 guns and 75 mortars defended the area.  This area was assigned 25,000 infantry, allowing two men for every yard of perimeter with an additional support man behind those two.  To man the artillery, an additional 9,000 troops were stationed; allowing three sets of relief crews for each gun.  Finally as support, were about 3,000 cavalry, to help quickly move troops as needed during an attack.  Following the war, these forts were quickly abandoned and the property sold to investors.  Most of the structures (including Fort Richardson) have completely disappeared.  Today, only a small marker designates what was once an important part of the defense of Washington.

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Timothy O’Sullivan took this image as part of a set of three images taken at massaponax Church, VA on May 21, 1864.  All three of which have been restored and are shown on the site under “The Commanders”.  You will notice that the image is cropped to show just the area around Grant.  During the Civil War it was not possible to “zoom in” like this and the card would have had the entire image.  Since much of the background is blurred, due to a wagon train moving, it has been removed from the final image, but remains in the uncut versions.

Image Comments:

Timothy O’Sullivan began his photography career as an assistant to Mathew Brady while he was still a teenager.  When the Civil War started, he was twenty one and received a commission as a First Lieutenant in the Army.  After serving a year, he was honorably discharged and back to working for Brady.  The following year, 1863, he joined Alexander Gardner who had left Brady, to form his own studio.  This gave O’Sullivan an opportunity to participate in some of the most famous photographs taken of the war at Gettysburg, Petersburg and Appomattox. 

On May 21st, he caught up with Grant and Meade and climbed the stairs of the church to setup his camera.  The soldiers had brought out the church pews due to the heat of the day.  O’Sullivan managed to take three views of this scene.  Each is similar, but has distinct differences, principally with location and activities of Grant.  In one, Grant is leaning over Meade’s shoulder, in another, smoking a cigar and in this one writing in a notebook.  This image has been cropped to allow a better view of Meade and Grant.  In the un-cropped image, wagon trains can be seen moving along the road behind them. 

Following the war, O’Sullivan became the official photographer for the U.S. Geological society and the Treasury department.  He took the official photographs of what is now, Colorado and Nevada, to encourage settlement of the west.  At the age of 42, he contracted Tuberculosis and died in his home state of New York.

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This next image was taken in a studio by a multi lens camera.  While most of the field cameras had 1 or 2 lenses, the studio cameras may have as many as nine.  This would allow more reprints to be made from the same negative in a day when this required a new negative for each image.  Since these images could also be used as stereo images they were often cut and sold both as Carte de Viste (sort of an early trading card) and stereo cards.  It is also a good example of the extensive damage that exists on some of these images.  The final stereo pair was made from the two images in the upper right.

Image Comments:

George Custer first saw his future wife, Libbie, when he was ten years old and she was only seven.  He was not introduced to her socially until 1862 when he was 22 while home on leave.  At first it was not a good match.  Neither she, nor her father (Judge Daniel Bacon) were impressed.  After winning Libbie over, the judge  disapproved of the match because Custer's father was a blacksmith.  Even after promotion to Brigadier General, the judge continued to oppose the relationship.  It was not until Custer gained fame for personal bravery that the judge finally relented.  On February 9, 1864 Custer and Elizabeth Clift Bacon finally married.  After his death in 1876, she survived another 57 years and passed away in 1933.

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This is an excellent example of what field work was like for Civil War Photographers.  It was clearly not a one man operation, but consisted of several people to move the heavy equipment and place it on site.  The wagon in the back also doubled as a portable dark room helping to process the images when they have been completed.

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I have not restored this image, but Jon asked me to provide him with some examples from my favorite Civil War Photographer, George Barnard.  In this first image you see the type of artist that Barnard was.  Clouds are seldom seen in the Civil War images due to limitations of the equipment, but here Barnard not only manages to get them to display brilliantly but also he shows the rain that is left to reflect on the top of the roof.  This image was taken in Nashville in 1864 and while it says little of what the Civil War was like it shows a tremendous amount of the skills of the photogrpher.

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This is another image by Barnard, also in Nashville.  I love this image because of the great 3D depth that it provides.  You can see forever into this image and it really helps to draw you in.  It is images like this that put Barnard at the top of my list.

Image Comments:

In September 1864, General Hood stood in defense of Atlanta.  He knew that his 30,000 Confederates would not be able to repel the 80,000 soldiers that Sherman commanded.  He decided on a bold move, he would go to Tennessee and defeat General George Thomas, whose army was divided geographically.  This would allow Hood both the element of surprise and size.  Leaving Atlanta undefended he burned strategic supplies that might fall into Union hands and left the citizens to fend for themselves.  Initially Sherman pursued Hood, but quickly realized that the bigger prize was Atlanta and ultimately his march to the sea.

With Hood’s army free to march into Tennessee, General Thomas was in grave danger.  His first attempt was to attack General Schofield at Spring Hill.  Due to a series of Confederate communication blunders, Schofield slipped away with little impact.  Enraged by his failure, Hood sent 20,000 men to attack Schofield at Franklin. Suffering casualties for of his men, including a number of key generals, Hood was again dealt a heavy blow.  By the time Hood reached Nashville, Schofield had managed to rejoin General Thomas and now with a combined force of 55,000 Hood now had lost both surprise and size. 

Being at a numerical disadvantage, Hood setup a defensive position and waited for Thomas to attack.  With the Union army unable to break Hood’s he would then be able to counter attack and take Nashville.  To add further pressure on the Union forces, he sent General Nathan Bedford Forrest on a cavalry raid with 25% of his army.  This greatly weakened Hood and left him without his fastest and best troops.  Thomas was able to capitalize on Hoods mistake and on December 15th put pressure on the Confederate flank.  By the next day it was clear that Hood had to either evacuate or he would lose his entire army.  With that the battle of Nashville came to an end and one of the largest Union numerical victories during the Civil War was mostly forgotten because of Sherman’s news a few days later on having reached Savannah.

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