A Gallery of Civil War Photos

 
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    April 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm


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    Today is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War (the bloodiest war in American history), and this gallery of civil war photos really puts the devastation into perspective. The Civil War was also the first war to be documented with photographs, and judging by these pictures, the Civil War soldiers on both sides had to endure a lot of sitting around, and then a lot of being dead. Sounds pretty miserable. Hooray for freedom and non-slavery!

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    10 Comments
    1. NameConfused says:

      The pic of the three soldiers shooting over the bodies of the two horses – are you sure that’s a Civil War photo? The rifles they’re using are bolt action! I know that bolt action rifles saw *very limited* use during the CW, but the most common one – the Palmer Carbine – had an exposed side-mounted hammer, which the rifles in the picture lack. I hesitate to try and identify these rifles, but if I had to guess, I’d say the one in front looks like a Swedish M1896 Mauser (or a US Springfield M1903??), and the two in the back look like carbines – perhaps Swedish M1894’s? Are the uniforms even USA or CSA issue?

    2. D Mcook says:

      “lol”

      the 17th picture down is of two reenactors that are very much alive and well today…

      know em both

    3. Name says:

      They all sure do know how to pose!

    4. Photog nerd says:

      The reason why you don’t see any action photographs is because of the technology at the time. Depending on the lighting conditions, the people in the photographs had to remain perfectly still anywhere from half a minute to several minutes, or else the movement would cause them to blur. Due to this, it was literally impossible to take an action shot and still be able to tell what the photograph was. Even if a photographer wanted to take a picture of the action, doing so would require the photographer to remain exposed to fire for a number of minutes as they set-up the camera and took the photograph. The end result is that due to the technology limitations, the only photographs that could be taken during the Civil War were of things that didn’t move, dead bodies and landscapes, or posed living humans. The long exposure time is also why you don’t see anyone smile in the photographs. It is difficult to keep a smile in place for the time needed to create the photograph, so in most cases the photographer would inform the people in the photographs to not smile.

      You can see the result of the long exposure in the blurred tail of the horse in #12 and the “ghost” in the background of #14 on the left side. The horse did remain perfectly still for the exposure, but most likely there was some wind that caused movement to the end of the tail, while the ghost was caused by someone either leaving the field of view once the exposure was started, or entering before it was completed.

    5. Dustin says:

      What’s with all of the Yankee pictures?

    6. TheReviewer says:

      True, everyone was miserable in the war. I think, though, the trend is less than 100 years. I have seen photos from the 1940’s where no one is smiling. I have no idea why.

    7. history nerd says:

      Great collection of photos. Only one problem. Pic # 7 wasn’t from the Civil War. The people in the photo have bolt action rifles, and a German helmet. Oopsy Daisy.

     
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