1862 : Photograph Of Michigan Soldier’s Grave at Antietam

September 19, 2018 all-day

An unburied Rebel soldier lies next to the grave of Lt. John Clark of the 7th Michigan on the Antietam battlefield. Alexander Gardner’s The Contrast image was taken on September 19, 1862. Three weeks later, it was displayed for the first time at Mathew Brady’s New York gallery. The Antietam photos created a sensation. Wrote the New York Times on October 20, 1862: “If Brady has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it.” These two views show the different perspectives gained by cropping the original prints in a different manner. The original negative was 4×10 inches, which means an inch of the width of each image had to be eliminated to reduce them to 3×6 inches to fit on a stereo card. The top view shows more of the right side of the image, including a civilian observer. The bottom view, which a caption label pasted on front, shows more of the left side of the original negative.

Alexander Gardner’s “A Contrast” image appeared in Harper’s Weekly newspaper on October 18, 1862, about a month after the battle of Antietam. Newspapers during the Civil War could not reproduce photographs. The halftone process that allowed photo reproduction in newspapers was not invented until the 1880s. But publications such as Harper’s Weekly often had artists make drawing of photographs, particularly portraits. The drawings were then made into woodcut engravings, which could be reproduced. “A Contrast” was one of eight Gardner Antietam photographs reproduced on the newspaper’s two-page centerspread of October 18.

Source : The Center for Civil War Photography

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