The first complete narrative history of Civil War photography, this work brings together the remarkable experiences of M.B. Brady, Alexander Gardner, George S. Cook, and other photographers, many of whom had careers stretching back more than two decades to the dawn of American photography in 1839. Step by step throughout the war, American photographers, North and South, advanced their craft to new heights, acting independently, but seemingly as if part of one great team, moved to act by a spirit in their feet. With their wet plate cameras, they produced many firsts, including the first combat action photographs, the first photo essays of news events as they happened, and the first photos deemed so controversial that they were censored by the federal government. Zeller also examines the impact of photography on average Americans.
The American Civil War was extensively photographed, not only to preserve history, but because the leading American photographers realized that they could make a profit by mass marketing the images. Complete with more than 150 illustrations, including previously unpublished Civil War images, as well as all known Civil War battle action photos, this work fills a huge gap in the history of America’s greatest conflict. It tells the stories of the men who created the images that students of history know so well, men whose personal legacies became confused by myths and misinformation, were shrouded in obscurity, or have simply not been documented—until now.