Americans waited nearly two years before the news media printed a combat photograph that showed a dead U.S. serviceman. The reasons for that wait were that such producing such photos are too shocking for the friends and families of the deceased and that the public’s morale and support for the war might be diminished.
The story of the Life magazine photo is an interesting one and demonstrates the controversy surrounding photographing the deceased, particularly those who have died in combat.
Below is a set of photographs of soldiers killed in battle during the Civil War.
One of the most dramatic stories of a correspondent covering a battle in the Civil War is that of George Smalley of the New York Tribune and his adventure in getting his description of the battle of Antietam back to New York. Smalley’s first accounts of the 1862 battle were read by President Abraham Lincoln before they got to New York — simply because they were sent by the telegraph operator to the wrong place. But that mistake was small potatoes to what Smalley had to endure during the next few days.
Rable notes how difficult it was to cover such an encounter between armies and how hard it was to get information from the field to the publication for which the reporter worked. One other difficulty that reporters had: figuring out who won. It was not always apparent.
In the video below, George Rable, University of Alabama history professor, discusses the sources of information that newspaper editors during the Civil War used for their reports about battles and the war in general. One important source was letters from soldiers — a form of what we could call today crowdsourcing. This means using the • Read More »
Doris Kerns Goodwin, in her book Team of Rivals, tells an interesting story about the writing of the first inaugural address by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s second inaugural gets a great deal of attention from historians, but the circumstances of his 1861 speech made it one of the most important addresses ever given to that point • Read More »
The Union Army, under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman, decamped from a devastated and burning Atlanta on November 16, 1864 and marched across the expanse of Georgia until it reached Savannah. The purpose, according to its commander, was to bring the horrors of war into the farms, fields, parlors and living rooms of the • Read More »
For nearly a century and a half, America has been vexed with the question of Nathan Bedford Forrest: Was he a saint or a sinner? Forrest was a general in the Confederate Army, a leader in a band of rangers that harassed and often defeated the Union Army in western Tennessee, northern Alabama and southern • Read More »
What we think about John Singleton Mosby is a mixture of what he did on the battlefields of the Civil War and the myth-making that occurred during and after the war. In this post, author Ed Caudill talks about his book on this expert image-maker. What is real, and what just exists in our mind’s • Read More »