Battlelines: Gettysburg displays never-before-published work of Civil War sketch artists

August 10, 2015 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: Battlelines, books, Civil War, history, journalism.

Battlelines: Gettysburg: Civil War Sketch Artists and the First Draft of War , a book of many never-before-published drawings by Civil War combat artists, has just been released by First Inning Press.

The book is the first in a series that will publish the original drawings of the sketch artists that covered the armies and battles of the Civil War for publications such as Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

Front cover of Battlelines: Gettysburg
Front cover of Battlelines: Gettysburg

The book is currently available at CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing outlet, and the Amazon bookstore. The retail price for the print edition is $39.99.

This first volume features the drawings of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the two artists present at the battle of Gettysburg. Waud worked for Harper’s Weekly, and Forbes drew for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. The book contains more than 70 drawings, many of which were executed on the spot as the battle was in progress or in the evenings during the lulls in the fighting.

Many of the drawings have never been published before.

The book’s author is Jim Stovall, a journalism professor at the University of Tennessee.

“These drawings are rarely viewed, except when a few are used as illustrations for magazine articles of books,” Stovall said.

“That is an oversight among those interested in the Civil War that I hope we can correct with the series Battlelines.”

Stovall said these drawings constitute an extraordinary form of journalism for the time and a one-of-a-kind record to some of the most important events in American history. During the Civil War, the public craved news of the fighting, but oddly — because of a lack of space and march of events — few of these drawings were converted for publication.

“As the events of the war moved on — and then as the war ended — these drawings were largely forgotten,” Stovall said. “Many of these were unfortunately discarded. We are very lucky that a few people recognized their value and made efforts to preserve them.”

About 3,000 of these drawings have been collected in the Library of Congress. A few more are scattered in library collections around the United States.

During the war, the publications referred to their artists as Special Artists, and they became known as the Specials.

This first volumes covers the drawings made during the Gettysburg campaign, beginning with Robert E. Lee’s move northward in the summer of 1863 and ending with his retreat back across the Potomac River in mid July. The focus of the book, however, is on the three days of the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863,

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