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Making America: A History of the United States, Brief Second Edition
Carol Berkin, Christopher L. Miller, Robert W. Cherny, James L. Gormly, W. Thomas Mainwaring
Primary Sources

Introduction | Questions to Consider | Source | Related Links

Confederate Dead at Gettysburg
Alexander Gardner et al.

The Civil War was the first conflict documented extensively by photographers, and the American people saw war in all its realism for the first time. Or did they?

Questions to Consider
  1. Examine each picture carefully and answer the following questions:
    1. What are the similarities between the two pictures?
    2. What are the differences between the two pictures?

  2. Which of the photographs is more realistic? Which is more romantic or sentimental?

  3. What kind of message about the nature of war does each photograph convey? What photographic details could you offer in support of your interpretation?

  4. Why do many Civil War battlefield photographs depict the aftermath of battle rather than the conflict itself?


gettysburg photo

Source: "The home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg" In Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War (Reprint; New York : Dover Publications, Inc. 1959), plate 41.


gettysburg photo

Source: Civil War photographs, 1861-1865 / compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1977. No. 0205


Related Links

  • Civil War Page
    Probably the most comprehensive gateway site on the Civil War.

  • H-CIVWAR Home Page
    A searchable site of the H-Net discussion list about the culture and history of the Civil War - includes syllabi and bibliographies.