Harper's Weekly 10/18/1862


We reproduce on pages 664 and 665 a number
of photographs of the Battle of Antietam, taken by
the well-known and enterprising photographer, Mr.
M. B. Brady, of this city. The following descrip-
tion of these wonderfully lifelike pictures is from
one who knew the ground:

The first of these pictures—the large view of Antietam
creek and bridge, the crossing of which General Burnside
effected at such a fearful sacrifice of life—exhibits little or
no traces of the conflict. The spot is just as lovely and
tranquil as when last we visited it. Artistically speaking,
the picture is one of the most beautiful and perfect photo-
graph landscapes that we have seen. The tone is clear
and firm, but soft, and every object is brought out with
remarkable distinctness. Next to it is a smaller photo-
graph, some seven inches square, which tells a tale of des-
perate contention. Traversing it is seen a high rail fence,
in the fore-ground of which are a number of dead bodies
grouped in every imaginal position, the stiffened limbs
preserving the same attitude as that maintained by the
sufferers in their last agonies. Minute as are the features
of the dead, and unrecognizable by the naked eye, you
can, by bringing a magnifying glass to bear on them,
identify not merely their general outline, but actual ex-
pression. This, in many instances, is perfectly horrible,
and shows through what tortures the poor victims must
have passed before they were relived from their sufferings.

Another photograph exhibits a deep trench or gully, one
side of which had been protected by a strong fence, the
rails of which are seen scattered about. Lying transverse-
ly in its depths, where they have evidently fallen in at-
tempting to cross, are piles of rebel dead, many of them
shoeless and in rags. On the left bank are a number of
persons examining the spot with curious interest, visitors
probably from some of the Northern cities.

A poetic and melancholy interest attaches to the next
scene that we come to. There is such a dash of sentiment
in it that it looks more like an artistic composition than the
reproduction of an actuality. A new-made grave occupies
the centre of the picture, a small head and foot board, the
former with lettering, defining its limits. Doubled up
near it, with the features almost distinguishable, is the
body of a little drummer-boy who was probably shot down
on the spot. How it happens that it should have been
left uninterred, while the last honors were paid to one of his
comrades, we are unable to explain. Gazing on the body,
with a pitying interest, stands in civilian's attire one of
those seedy, shiftless-looking beings, the first glance at
whom detects an ill-spent career and hopeless future. It
is some time, perhaps, since that blunted nature has been
moved by such deep emotion as it betrays at this mourn-
ful sight.

We now pass on to a scene of suffering of another char-
acter, where, under tents, improvised by blankets stretched
on fence-rails, we see the wounded receiving the atten-
tions of the medical staff. Next to it is a bleak landscape,
on which the shadows of evening are rapidly falling, re-
vealing, in its dim light, a singular spectacle. It is that
of a row of dead bodies, stretching into the distance, in the
form of an obtuse angle, and so mathematically regular
that it looks as if a whole regiment were swept down in
the act of performing some military evolution. Here and
there are beautiful stretches of pastoral scenery, disfigured
by the evidences of strife, either in the form of broken
caissons, dead horses, or piles of human corpses. In one
place a farm-house offers visible marks of the hot fire of
which it was the centre, the walls being battered in and
the lintels of the windows and doors broken.

The Stone Bridge.
SCENES ON THE BATTLE-FIELD OF ANTIETAMFrom Photographs by Mr. M. B. Brady.—[See Page 663.]

Website design © 2000-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com