Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings from the Battlefront
"In an era before photography could capture the excitement and drama of battle, illustrators known as "Special Artists"--among them such celebrated draftsmen as Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast--created some of the most important, influential and enduring images of the Civil War. Reporting to newspapers like Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, the Specials were prototypes for contemporary combat photographers. They brought a visceral immediacy to the clash, creating rich and nuanced images of soldiers in camp, slaves at work and troops on the move. Often overlooked by historians and scholars, the illustrations span the war and its many theaters, including rarely seen views of Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg, and the famous stampede of Union soldiers fleeing the rebels at Bull Run. Many of the images have never been researched or published before; the stunning sketches from the Joseph Becker Collection, for example, have only recently been recovered. Marking the 150th anniversary of the fighting, this book gives readers the sense that they are touching history, for the Specials were at the scene. Their illustrations (some stained with blood) represent priceless artifacts from our nation's greatest conflict."--Book jacket.
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Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings from the BattlefrontUser Review - Book Verdict
April 12, 2011, marked the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter that started the Civil War. Here Katz (former head curator, prints & photographs, Lib. of Congress; Baseball Americana) and Virga (Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations) look at the illustrators—including Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast—who covered the war for popular newspapers of the time (Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, among others) by traveling with the troops and sketching among the dead and wounded as well as bullets, fire, and the general chaos of the battlefield. While most of the drawings included here were published at that time, others are rough, unpublished sketches newly uncovered by Katz and Virga. The book's text, which follows the chronology of the war, includes selections from the artists' letters, logbooks, diaries, and other firsthand accounts. VERDICT These accounts, along with the sketches themselves and the narrative framework the authors provide, give this handsome volume—also a landmark in the study of pictorial journalism—a special immediacy that will appeal to Civil War buffs and many others. Most highly recommended. (Look for excerpts in an upcoming issue of National Geographic.)—Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll. Lib., Hanover, NH
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