Photo Essays

Stories of the Civil War as told through series of captivating images

Published 7/3/2017

Gettysburg in Art

By: The Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

Americans have long been fascinated by the Battle of Gettysburg, the epic struggle fought between the forces of generals Robert E. Lee and George G. Meade over three days in July 1863. Hardly had the fighting—in which the opposing sides suffered a total of between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties—ended before many of the country's prominent artists began producing renditions of the battle. Some...

Published 3/7/2017

Battle of the Ironclads

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

"For hours the conflict lasted. Sometimes so near were the vessels they appeared in contact, and again three miles apart; but all the while vomiting forth seeming destruction with frightful rapidity, looking, as a gentleman near me observed, like very ‘hell cats.’" So noted Roland Greene Mitchell, one of the spectators crowding the beach outside Fortress Monroe, Virginia, on March 9, 1862, to...

Published 9/15/2016

The Water War

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

Vastly smaller than the forces that fought the Civil War on land, the Union and Confederate navies have long been overlooked by history, their members’ actions, sacrifices, and the significance of their service generally underappreciated in the years since the guns fell silent. During the war, however, the clashes of the navies captivated the country in much the same way as did the epic battles...

Published 6/10/2016

Sketches of War

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

“One of the first things that strikes you about his sketches is their wonderful clearness of idea. You feel that they are drawn by a ready and skillful hand; one who thoroughly understands himself and his art…. His conception is clear, sharp, and distinct in his mind before he puts pencil to paper. He knows the grouping of every figure, the expression of every face. If he wants a tree in a...

Published 9/15/2015

The Dead of Antietam

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

"Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it." So wrote a correspondent for The New York Times after visiting Mathew Brady's Manhattan gallery in October 1862 to view the famed photographer's latest exhibit, "The Dead of Antietam....

Published 6/17/2015

Civil War Quarters

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

While army regulations set strict guidelines for the layout of army camps—prescribing, for instance, that tents be arranged in neat rows by company—in many cases “there was much of the go-as-you-please order of procedure,” as one veteran noted, when it came to setting up camp. The structures the men put up also varied widely, according to the weather or an army’s needs. Here are...

Published 10/9/2013

Wounded Warriors: Civil War Amputation

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

In the heat of battle, Civil War doctors often had to make quick diagnoses of soldiers’ injuries. According to The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65, 70% of all wounds were to the extremities—35.6% to the upper extremities and 35.2% to the lower extremities. These statistics help explain why surgeons performed so many battlefield amputations; if they couldn’t...

Published 6/30/2013

Gettysburg in Color

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

Edwin Forbes is best known today for his work during the Civil War as a special correspondent for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, to which he supplied a multitude of illustrations based upon his first-hand observances while embedded with the Union army. Between 1862 and 1864, Forbes' skilled hand captured some of the war's major battles, including Second Manassas, Antietam, Chancellorsville...

Published 5/28/2013

The Struggle for Vicksburg

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

Vicksburg, Mississippi, strategically sits along the Mississippi River between Memphis and New Orleans. Incorporated in 1825, she became a vibrant river town, pivotal railroad center, and thriving commercial port. Given her prime location, both the Union and the Confederacy considered Vicksburg “key” to their war effort and essential to controlling “the father of waters.” The Rebels rushed...

Published 3/12/2013

Civil War Envelopes

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

For many Civil War soldiers, mail call was the highlight of the day. Handwritten letters from home served as a valuable lifeline to loved ones, maintaining morale and alleviating boredom. While the movements of the armies often disrupted delivery times, the U.S. postal service remained relatively effective—often allowing troops to send letters marked "Soldier's Letter" for free (postage was...

Published 4/5/2012

"Life Studies of the Great Army"

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

At the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibit of 1876, Edwin Forbes, renowned for his work during the Civil War as a "special artist" for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, displayed a collection of copper etchings based on his wartime illustrations of the Army of the Potomac. Forbes had spent the immediate postwar years completing the drawings and transferring them to copper plates. The resulting...

Published 8/3/2011

The War Begins

By: Civil War Monitor Category: Photo Essays

In a nineteenth-century world free from blogs, social networking sites, television, and cell phones, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper thrived. Part picture, part story, Leslie's publications combined visually stimulating engravings with journalistic articles to create one of the most popular illustrated newspapers of the 1860s. Leslie's Illustrated invited its audience not just to read,...