Faces of the Civil War: Remarkable Portrait Photos From the American Civil War

In the midst of the American Civil War, a tumultuous period that left an indelible mark on the nation, the practice of photographing soldiers and fighters in the studio emerged as a poignant intersection of history and art.

These studio portraits, taken during the pioneering era of photography, serve as lasting evidence of the lives, experiences, and roles of the people who participated in this historic conflict.

The mid-19th century marked a significant moment in the development of photography.

The daguerreotype, introduced in 1839, was the earliest photographic process, but it required subjects to sit still for several minutes, resulting in a single, unique image on a polished metal plate.

As photographic techniques advanced, the ambrotype and tintype processes allowed faster and more economical portraiture.

Soldiers cherished these pictures as symbols of affection for their families and loved ones. Encased in ornate holders, these images provided comfort and connection to their homes during the hardships of war.

In many instances, they decorated themselves with items representative of their trade, held weapons, or displayed cherished souvenirs, revealing unique aspects of their experiences and background.

Preserved in archives, museums, and private collections, these images connect us to the faces and stories of those who lived through one of the most transformative periods in American history.

The war resulted in at least 1,030,000 casualties (3 percent of the population), including approximately 620,000 soldiers who died – two-thirds from disease – and 50,000 civilians.

Binghamton University historian J. David Hacker believes that the number of soldier deaths was around 750,000, 20 percent higher than the traditional estimate, and possibly as high as 850,000.

A new way of calculating casualties by looking at deviations from the standard mortality rate of men of fighting age through analysis of census data found that a minimum of 627,000 and a maximum of 888,000, but possibly as many as 761,000, died in the war. .

As historian McPherson puts it, the war's "cost of American lives was far greater than all of the country's other wars through Vietnam combined."

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