Saturday, April 05, 2014

Antietam: Sketch artists of the battle

With a major battle looming, citizens of Sharpsburg leave town in this sketch by Alfred Waud.
(All sketches from Library of Congress collection)
On Sept. 15, 1862, two days before the Battle of Antietam, 23-year-old sketch artist Alfred Waud made the drawing above entitled "Sharpsburg citizens leaving for fear of the Rebels." The tall structure in the middle background is probably the spire of  St. Paul's Methodist Church, which was mainly used as a field hospital for Rebel soldiers after the battle. Unlike Waud's more famous Antietam sketches below, this drawing is seldom published in books and magazines. Because of the limits of technology of the time, photographs did not appear in newspapers during the Civil War, so the works of sketch artists such as Waud were very popular. Waud, who worked mainly for Harper's Weekly during the war, sketched every major battle the Army of the Potomac fought in between 1861 and 1865.

In a prelude to the Battle of Antietam, the Rebel army crosses the Potomac River as 
Yankee scouts watch from the bank. This Alfred Waud sketch has been reproduced
 frequently in books and magazines. 
In this Waud sketch, Rebels watch the property of Samuel Mumma burn after they torched his farm.
Citizen volunteers assist the wounded at Antietam in this Waud sketch.
Of course, Waud wasn't the only sketch artist at Antietam. Edwin Forbes, also 23, covered the Army of the Potomac for Frank Leslie's Illustrated, one of the more popular newspapers of the era.  I'm especially intrigued by an illustration below of a Rebel hospital that Forbes drew on the morning or afternoon of Sept. 18, 1862.  Lee's battered army retreated across the Potomac and back into Virginia that evening. Confederate wounded and dead lay on the ground outside the farmhouse, undoubtedly the home of  Stephen Grove on Shepherdstown Pike. (Forbes did not identify the owner of the property in a notation on the sketch.) In early October 1862,  President Lincoln met with General George McClellan at the farm, where the two icons of their day were captured in a famous photograph by Alexander Gardner. That image, as well as the Antietam sketches of Waud and Forbes, is available on the excellent Library of Congress web site. And here are more in-depth posts on Waud and Forbes over at the Emerging Civil War blog.
In this sketch by Edwin Forbes, Rebel wounded and dead lay near a farmhouse while signalmen
are perched atop the roof. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)

In this Forbes sketch, the Union IX Corps pushes across Antietam Creek at Burnside Bridge
 at 1 p.m. on Sept. 17, 1862.  (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)

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