Alexander Gardner (American, 1821–1882)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
2 7/16 x 3 7/8 in. (6.1 x 9.9 cm)
Purchase, Florance Waterbury Bequest, 1970 (1970.537.4)
The Battle of Antietam (named after a creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland) occurred on September 17, 1862, and was known as the "bloodiest single day of the war." More than 26,000 soldiers on both sides were wounded or killed, including this Confederate soldier, who, according to the caption added by the Mathew Brady studio, "after being wounded, had dragged himself to a little ravine on the hillside, where he died." It is generally agreed that Brady and his photographers, who at this time still included Alexander Gardner, repositioned some of the recently dead at Gettysburg, and one may question the ultimate, artful arrangement of this Confederate soldier as well. With or without the physical intervention of Gardner, the photograph remains a heartbreaking testament to the victims of war. The image was published by Brady as a carte-de-visitea small, inexpensive, and extremely popular format for portrait photographs during the 1860s and 1870s.