Digital Repository

President Lincoln on Battle-field of Antietam, 1862

Making photographs at the time of the Civil War was so slow and cumbersome that depiction of battlefield action was impossible. Therefore, much of the imagery shows significant buildings and landscapes where battles occurred. Interspersed are occasional camp scenes, like this one of President Abraham Lincoln meeting with General George McClellan at Antietam just two weeks after the battle there. It is one of one hundred included in Alexander Gardner’s album, which he published in 1866, hoping to take financial advantage of public preoccupation with the war. The set did not sell well because Americans wanted to get beyond the war rather than reminisce about it.

President Lincoln on Battle-field of Antietam, 1862. Albumen silver print by Alexander Gardner. From Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War. P1984.30.23, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.