Ice and snow covers the driveway. Hunting season is basically done except for possibly one more Resident Canada Goose hunt or two. Today is Sunday and we can’t hunt anyhow. Really not wanting to spend another long winter day inside the house, I searched the internet for something to do. Living close to Gettysburg and surrounding battlefields never fails to provide.
Alexander Gardner took the first photographs of an American battlefield before the dead had been buried. He was successful in taking photographs of the Antietam battlefield starting just two days after the battle. Gardner, 41 years old at the time of the battle, was employed by Mathew Brady who owned a photography gallery in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War.
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick Maryland currently houses a display of Garner’s photographs and we had to go and check out his photographs.
Gardner moved across the battlefield taking advantage of a new photographic technique of the 1860’s that greatly increased the impact of his war images – stereograph. Two lenses capture two simultaneous photographs, and when seen through a viewer creating a three-dimensional image. Of the approximately ninety images Gardner took at Antietam, about seventy were in stereo. For most Americans of that time it was the first time being exposed to the horrific view of war.
Using his portable darkroom, a mule pulled covered wagon, beginning on September 19, 1862, , Gardner took 48 photographs in three days. In total following his second visit to photograph Lincoln’s visit to Antietam, he took 120 photographs.
In retrospect, it is hard to imagine how hard this early photographer worked for his images. During a Christmas card photo section last December, I took over 350 photos in less than an hour. Then was able to download to my computer, post process, and up load the photos in less time than it would have taken Gardner to set up his twin lenses and take one photograph.
Seeing the images Gardner produced, the whole country was now able to see the real faces of war for the first time. His work is considered by many as the first photojournalism and was the beginning of a whole new world of reporting and preserving historic events. To view the photographs click here.
It may be cold outside and the desire to hang in the house can be strong, but no matter where you live, I would bet there are a few cool indoor happening to visit.