Civil War Research Report

1131 words - 5 pages

The Civil War is one of the first wars to document every aspect of warfare: the soldiers, both dead and alive, generals and colonels of the Union and the Confederate armies, battlefields, artillery, and destruction. The photos of soldiers with hard, forsaken faces truly show the stress of the war put on them. Thanks to the courageous photographers who risked their lives, we can truly witness the historic event and experience times long ago.
Mathew Brady is one of the most famous photographers of the Civil War. In order to see how he organized an extensive effort to provide photographic coverage of the war, we must examine his background in photography.
Mathew Brady was born May 18, 1822 in ...view middle of the document...

He originally thought that the Union would no doubt win, but Brady was mistaken. This was Brady’s first experience with war and death.
In order to document a war that stretched across a country, Mathew Brady had to hire a team of people, including Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Thomas C. Roche, and seventeen other men. They were each given a darkroom that could travel, and were told to photograph the Civil War. Brady rarely visited any battle sites, and instead organized his assistants from Washington DC.
During the war, he spent over $100,000, which is equal to 2.7 million dollars in today's money, to make over 10,000 plates. After the war, Brady expected the US government to buy the still shots from him, but instead they refused. Brady sold his business and went into bankruptcy. In 1875, Congress gave him $25,000, but Brady was still in debt. Mathew Brady died alone and with no money; a horrible punishment for a great man who showcased the Civil War in pictures.
The main process Mathew Brady and his team used was the wet plate collodion process. This was a manner of taking photographs by using panes of glass with a chemical solution, called a negative. It was invented by Frederick Scott Archer, in 1851. Because of the complicated nature of the process, each photographer was required to take a wagon full of equipment. There were little or no "action shots" taken because each subject would have to hold still for the amount of time for the exposure. Even with an assistant helping the photographer, it would still take ten minutes of preparation and developing to take a photograph.
The photos that Mathew Brady and his team took during the war varied. There were very few images of actual warfare, because as previously described; the cameras of the time needed the scene to be still. Mathew Brady captured images of important generals and officers, Union and Confederate. These people including: Ulysses S. Grant, George Custard, Winfield Hancock, Stonewell Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and James Longstreet.
He also photographed soldiers, in different poses, ranging from easygoing to the toughest of times. Abraham Lincoln was photographed on many occasions; the photographs were used on the $5 bill and the penny. Brady and his employees took pictures of camp life and...

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