These words from President John F. Kennedy,”Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind,” stands completely true for the American Civil War which took place between 1861-1865, across more than twenty states. The war broke out twenty years after photography was introduced, so the concept of using photos to document events didn’t yet exist. The images you are going to see are believed to be the first attempt at photojournalism. These images are fully capable of narrating the condition and the state of the people or the building in it. You will be left amazed to see the complete transformation that some of the most famous places in the United States have gone through till now since the period of the war in the images present at the bottom half of the article. We have managed to compile a list of images comparing the state of some of the famous places from now to that at the time of war that you will surely regret missing. So, don’t wait, stay strong and go ahead!!
Lincoln Visiting Antietam
President Abraham Lincoln is one among the greatest souls to glorify the United States and the world with his presence. Though he was an extremely popular figure in his time, his photographs are very rare to witness. This photo that you are seeing is among the few ones sighting him. The place is a battlefield at Antietam, Maryland that Lincoln visited. The battle of Antietam is of historical significance when talking about the Civil War. The reason is that the battle was responsible for barring the Northern Virginia Confederate Army into the North. Thus, it led to their very first invasion ending in vain. Lincoln wrote the primary version of the Emancipation Proclamation after this battle.
The American Civil War forced more than 200,000 people living in the South to run for shelter after abandoning their homes. Among the numerous groups that had to face this difficult situation, the largest one was that of the people coming from Virginia. The image in front of you is of one such family who is trying to escape by loading themselves onto a cart after leaving their house. Some of the Southerners fled with the motive of fighting with the Northners for which they had to cross over to Union territory. The rest were those who didn’t participate in the war, but, were against the Union and were called Confederates. It was a test of their will to live at that time.
A Dead Soldier
If you have even the slightest idea of the devastation and huge loss of human life that the Civil War caused then you will surely not be shocked after witnessing the above picture. The battle resulted in innumerable casualties from both the Union and the Confederate. This image is of a deceased soldier which was shot on May 3, 1863. The place is Fredericksburg, Virginia where the soldier is lying on the roadside. One of the major demerits of the American Civil War is evident from this picture, which is that it led to the nation losing many strong and brave soldiers like the one in this picture. In the end, it was the United States that had to bear the brunt of everything that happened.
Dead Confederate Sharpshooter
Though the Civil War made the world witnessed some of the terrifying weapons, it is an obvious fact that they were not that technologically advanced and accurate as they are today. With the advent of repeating rifles and the first telescopic sights, the importance of sharpshooters heightened during the Civil War. Every troop wanted a good sharpshooter to be among their ranks. The sharpshooters could effectively shoot officers and NCO’s in order to weaken the enemy force. In this image, you can see a sharpshooter who died in the war fighting for the Confederate.
This image was clicked in the year 1862. It displays an incident which took place at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md. Precisely, the photo was clicked at dawn of September 17, 1862, in the Antietam Creek. It was here that cannon volleys initiated the Civil War battle which ended in 23,000 casualties. It went down in the history of the United States as one of the terrifying bloodbaths. The image itself is quite eerie!
Ruins of Haxall’s Mills
This photo is sure to give goosebumps to anyone watching it closely. One can just get an idea of the large-scale destruction of property that was done during the war. This one displays the remains of Richmond, Virginia which was devastated by the Confederate Army who set it on fire completely. Before the war, these buildings used to be one among the largest flour mills in the world and were called Haxall’s Mills. The building got its name from Mr. Bolling W. Haxall who was the owner of the mill and one of the richest businessman in all of Richmond. Sadly, these things remained true till the war started. As the aftermath of it is in front of your eyes in the form of this eerie image.
26th U.S. Colored Infantry
The camp you see in the image is of high significance being one among the 8 camps allocated in the North for the purpose of training black troops. This image was taken in the year 1865 and one can see the 26th U.S. Colored Volunteer Infantry, parading through Camp William Penn in Pennsylvania. It was Abraham Lincoln’s secretary, Edwin M. Stanton after whom the camp was to be named originally, but, couldn’t. The other seven camps trained both white and black soldiers apart from this one which only housed black soldiers. Camp William Penn had opened in the year 1963 and trained around 11,000 troops. All the soldiers training there were volunteers.
Entrenched Union Soldiers
The Civil War saw a steep increase in the development of the quality of weapons made. But, there was one major issue that caused a lot of problems to both the sides which were of transportation. This led to the role of trenches being of utmost importance in the multiple battles fought during the war. The trenches provided safety to the soldiers even more than bullets and artillery. The battles of Fredericksburg and Petersburg were examples of battles where the trenches played a pivotal role in helping the army.
Dead Gathered For Burial
One of the most disturbing and sinister photos from the Civil War which can give you an idea of how terrible it was for the nation. This photo was taken after the historical Battle of Antietam and truly justifies the fact of the battle is one of the most deadly and brutal during the whole war. One can see the bodies of the soldiers who lost their lives being arranged in a single line on an open field. This photo is incapable of unraveling the complete truth of the deaths that took place during the battle. These bodies which were lined up for their burials look similar to a sack of potatoes.
Mary Todd Lincoln
The woman you see in the image is none other than Mary Todd Lincoln who was the wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Astonishingly, Mary Todd was in a romantic relationship with Stephen A. Douglas before marrying Abraham Lincoln. Stephen A. Douglas was the political opponent of Abraham Lincoln. Mary Todd lived a life full of hardships. She was with Abraham on the night he was assassinated. She had four sons and outlived three of them. It was because of all these factors that she was admitted to a hospital due to psychiatric issues a decade after the death of her husband President Abraham Lincoln.
The Civil War led to the world witnessing some of the deadliest weapons being brought to use. The picture you see is of one such terrifying weapon which is a 13-inch mortar know as “Dictator.” The photo was clicked in the year 1864 and the place in Petersburg, Virginia. The Dictator had a staggering weight of 17,120 pounds and had to be mounted on a flatcar in order to move it along the Petersburg Railroad. The historical reports state that the 218-pound mortar shell could be launched over a distance of 2.5 miles. After reading these facts you would have surely got an idea of the destruction this would have caused during the war.
Prisoner of War
Apart from the numerous soldiers that lost their lives in the war, there were many who saw themselves as prisoners of war. Some of the unlucky ones passed away in the prison camps whereas the remaining like the one you see in the picture had to face some extremely harsh conditions. This image is of a Union soldier that was allowed to go free from the Belle Isle prison camp in Virginia. The physical condition of the soldier is enough to give an idea of the pathetic and torturous living condition in the prison camps. It would not be wrong to say that for a soldier like him life after being set free was not much different from experiencing death.
Dead At Chancellorsville
It is a well-known fact that the Battle of Chancellorsville is also called “Lee’s Perfect Battle”. One of the primary reason for the battle being named so is that it saw the Confederates winning over the Union forces despite being outnumbered by the latter. Well, this picture is evidence of the fact that the Confederates had to go through a lot to achieve the famous victory. The soldiers you see belonged to the Confederates who passed away while fighting against the Union Army. Not many are aware of the fact that General Stonewall Jackson was also wounded at the start of the campaign in a friendly fire.
Amputation at Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg is the most expensive battle in US history and led to 50,000 casualties from both sides. The well being of soldiers who managed to survive their injuries became a matter of huge concern. Though they had managed to survive through their injuries, the doctors were worried about the fact of them falling ill or getting infected because of their scars. Indeed, it was a tough time for the soldiers as well as the doctors taking care of them.
The image you see in front of you is of The Rodman Gun. These were developed by Thomas Jackson Rodman who was a Union artilleryman. The Rodman Gun had a variety of sizes and were specifically used along coastal fortifications. Well, the gun in this picture had a 15″ bore and was close to 16 feet in length. One can get an idea of its sheer size from the fact that it needed 12 men to operate effectively. These guns played a crucial part in the war and were capable of turning the tide in favor of the party who brought it to good use. Till now, you would have got a hold of the variety of deadly weapons that the war had to offer.
Field Band, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry
The image you see in front of you is of the Field Band of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. The picture shows the role of music in both the sides fighting the war. Soldiers were kept motivated to give their all on the battlefield with the use of drums and fifes. Interestingly, the bands belonging to the Union and the Confederate would play against each other a night before the battle.
Norfolk Navy Yard
This image is of the famous Norfolk Navy Yard located in Virginia. It was under the control of the Confederates until May 1862. As, after that, they were forced to leave the city by the Union soldiers. The Norfolk Navy Yard was of strategic importance to the Union army as a result of which the Confederate made it sure to destroy as much as they could before leaving the area. The photo you see was clicked two years after the Confederate Troops had left the yard. So, it will be a little difficult for you to get an idea of the devastation they had caused before leaving it and the amount of work the Union had done in order to rebuild it.
Ulysses S. Grant
The man you see in the picture is none other than Ulysses S. Grant, one of the highly popular personalities from the Civil War. The photo was taken on June 1864 and one can see Ulysses standing in front of a tent in Cold Harbor, Virginia. Not many people are aware of the fact that his original name was Hiram Ulysses Grant and it was because of a clerical error that he became known as Ulysses S. Grant. This happened after he got nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he saw himself being listed as Ulysses S. Grant. But, he didn’t pay much heed to it and decided to carry on with this new name of his.
Location Of Lee’s Surrender
The Confederate was facing a dark time by the end of the Civil War. The Union army at Appomattox Courthouse had managed to cut off Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. This eventually led to Lee surrendering in front of them as he realized that their chance of winning was none. The image you see is of Wilmer McLean’s house where the document was signed instantly. After Lee, most of the Southerners also surrendered following Lee’s white flag in the following days. These events make this image and the house in it one of the most significant spots while talking about the Civil War.
The end of the Civil War saw around 400,000 soldiers being taken as prisoners. It was just for the brief period at the starting of the war that some of these soldiers were paroled. As, after the exponential rise in the conflict between the parties involved in the war, the system completely collapsed and led to a large number of these soldiers being taken to the prison camps. Roughly around 12% of the soldiers lost their lives in the Union prisons. Whereas, more than 15% of the soldiers kept in the Confederate prisons passed away. So, in the end, both the parties had to suffer the loss and ultimately the Nation was left wounded.
This photo shows a group of soldiers from the north having a great time relaxing in front of a log hut. This image was clicked in the year 1864. The primary use of this hut was that as a kitchen. The bearded man you can see in the middle of the picture was the company’s cook. These little huts and cabins served the purpose of a temporary community for troops who were awaiting orders from higher authorities. Amidst the terrifying period of war, these huts provided these soldiers some time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. As nobody knew who was to make it to the list of dead soldiers in the future.
U.S.S. Kearsarge Officers
This photo displays Captain John A. Winslow and his fellow officers aboard the famous U.S.S. Kearsarge. It was clicked in the year 1864. Interestingly, this photo was taken by the Union officers after they had achieved a huge success in the Battle of Cherbourg. Actually, they had managed to sink the opposing C.S.S. Alabama which was of vital importance to the enemy forces. U.S.S. Kearsarge was named after Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire and had come more than handy for the Union soldiers during the war. It is an extremely significant warship in the history of the United States.
Council of War
This photo is from Ringgold, Georgia. The group of people you see in the image is a council of war. It was headed by General George Thomas. These councils were of utmost importance as it was held in the middle of battles for coming up with the best plan to be followed in future. The final decision was made by the commanding officers. It was the vote by the subordinates present in the council that would aid the commander to take the final decision. Though it would seem that the main war took place on the battlefield, it was councils such as this one which decided the course of the war.
This is a very strange image of a group of diplomats standing by the side of a waterfall in New York State. It was clicked in the year 1863. All of the people in the image have not been identified as they are diplomats belonging to different countries. The most notable personalities among them are U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and foreign ministers from countries like Sweden, Italy, Nicaragua, France, Great Britain, and Russia. One can just guess about the talks that these diplomats might be having with each other while on their trip to this waterfall.
The Black Knights
The men you see in the image were members of the ‘Black Knights’. The distinguishing feature of this regiment was that it followed Carlisle Barracks and consisted of soldiers and officials from the South that joined the Confederacy. Each and every regiment was given the name of ‘cavalry’ in the summer of 1861. It was because of its senior status that this particular regiment was named as the 5th United States Cavalry.
Mortar Battery No. 4
Though the above photo might seem a pretty simple one, it is of huge significance. The image is of the Mortar battery No. 4, near Yorktown, Virginia. It took place in the month of May in 1862 amidst the American Civil War. This particular image was a part of the ‘Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War’ by Alexander Gardner, Volume 1, Plate 14.
Crew On USS ‘Saugus’
It is a known fact that pictures from Civil War are very hard to find. The picture in front of you is of a group of men who are completely ready to make their way through the waves of the mighty sea on their ship. Actually, the picture is a portrait of a crew on monitor USS ‘Saugus,’ James River, Virginia, 1863. The firm belief on the faces of the soldier is evident in this photo.
David Levene, a photographer by profession who worked for “The Guardian” is responsible for the image you are seeing right now. He did this with the sole motive of comparing the place which is Sudley Springs Ford located in Virginia during the time of the Civil War and presently. One can see that he came up with something terrific.
Antietam Dunker Church
It was at the Dunker Church near Sharpsburg, Maryland that the fierce Battle of Antietam was fought. The Battle was one of the most deadly ones during the Civil War and took place inside a Union territory. The church you see in the second image was remade in the year 1962 after the original one was left completely devastated.
Below is a picture of Fort Sumter in the modern day, which is now open to the public as a National Monument: It was the attack on the place you are seeing in the image that led to the initiation of the Civil War. Well, the place is Fort Sumpter located in South Carolina. It was attacked by the Confederate army. Eventually, the Confederates managed to capture the Fort after the US General and around 80 soldiers surrendered.
Alexandria Slave Auction House
At the time of the Civil War, New Orleans was the largest slave center in the United States but Alexandria, Virginia was a close second. The auction house shown below was located on Duke Street in Alexandria. The building is now used for the Freedom House Museum, which you can see in the second picture.
In the first picture, the plantation you see used to be a place which acted as a treatment center for soldiers who got injured during the war. It was after the battle of Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, that this center was established. Presently, one can see numerous buildings standing tall in the area all of which are of historical significance. Some of them still have the bullet holes that were formed at the time of the battle.
In the first image, you can see the bodies of soldiers who lost their lives in the war lying on what is called as the Devil’s Den. It was after the Battle of Gettysburg fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania that the image was clicked. Presently, the area has become a tourist place where people love to hike. Honestly, the place has undergone complete change over the years.
One can see in the photo below depicting present day that the arched building has been extremely well preserved and an extended building was added.The picture you see is of The Evergreen Cemetery. One can see this cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The cemetery was built before the devastating Civil War took place. Precisely, less than ten years before it. The place has also become popular after featuring in the images of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Below you can see a recent picture in which a group of students is trying to recreating the scene. One of the most prominent personalities of the Civil War, Robert E Lee, the Confederate General used to live in The Arlington House before the Civil War took place. Currently, the place has been dedicated to the general and has been converted into a memorial. In the first image, you can see military officers and some civilians present on the steps of the house.
United States Capitol
The US Capitol is famous for its distinctive shape which attracts tourists from all over the world. Credit for this goes to the builders who built the unique iron dome at the time of the Civil War. In the first image, you can see Henry Wirz being executed. He was the captain of the Confederate Army. The second image shows a group of kids visiting the historical place.
You will surely be surprised after taking a close look at both the images that a particular feature of Ford’s theater hasn’t changed since the time of the war. Yes, I am talking about the president’s box. It was exactly here that Abraham Lincoln got assassinated. After the tragic event, the theater remained closed for almost 100 years reopening in the 1960s.
The above photo shows an encampment in Cumberland Landing, Virginia. The Union moved one of its largest armies to this area in order to launch an offensive attack on the Confederate capital located in Richmond. Many acres of land were used in order to temporarily house thousands of soldiers in tents.
Now, here is an image showing Cumberland Landing in the present day. It is now a stunningly beautiful park.
The Prince Of A Fictional Country
Gregor MacGregor, who was a con artist of Scottish descent fooled the people by making them believe that he was the prince of a fictional country. By doing this he managed to make huge amounts of money in the early 1820s. He named his fictional country Poyais, a Central American nation.