The Civil War was, and remains, the bloodiest conflict U.S. soil has ever seen. Some 625,000 people died, and many more returned from the killing fields as amputees. Women began placing spring flowers on the graves—and in some cases, still-unburied bodies—of fallen soldiers the very year after the war, a springtime commemoration that sowed the seeds for what we know as Memorial Day.
In remembrance, a handful of moments and faces (some famous, some forgotten) from the first modern war. For more, see the Library of Congress’s trove of over 7,000 digitized images, or the Met’s current exhibition on on the subject.
Going to Battle
Officers, 71st Regiment, New York Infantry, 1861, Mathew B. Brady. Albumen silver print, 11 x 14 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.479.35
President Lincoln, Maj. Gen. McClernand, and E. J. Allen, Chief of S.S.U.S., Secret Service Department, at the Headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, near Antietam, October 4, 1862, Alexander Gardner. Albumen silver print, 8 5/8 x 7 3/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.482.1
Robert E. Lee, April 16, 1865, Matthew B. Brady. Albumen silver print, 8 3/16 x 6 1/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.479.12
The General’s Wife
General George Brinton McClellan and His Wife, 1862, Charles DeForest Fredricks. Albumen silver print, 3 9/16 x 2 1/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XD.1157.100
Portrait of Union Civil War General, about 1862, unknown photographer. Hand-colored salted paper print, 9 x 6 13/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004.113
Portrait of a Confederate Soldier, about 1862, unknown photographer. Hand-colored ambrotype, 2 9/16 x 2 1/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XT.818.16
Slaves of General Thomas F. Drayton, 1862, Henry P. Moore. Albumen silver print, 5 1/8 x 8 3/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.483.25
A Harvest of Death, July 4, 1863, Timothy H. O’Sullivan; print, 1866, by Alexander Gardner. Albumen silver print, 7 x 8 11/16 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XO.1232.1.36
Ruins in Charleston, South Carolina, negative about 1865; print 1866, George N. Barnard. Albumen silver print, 10 1/16 x 14 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XM.468.60
Getty Voices, normally found on The Iris each Monday, resumes Tuesday in observance of Memorial Day.
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