Saturday, January 12, 2013

Antietam: Gardner image of Burnside Bridge

Burnside Bridge in 1862. (Photo: Connecticut State Library)
I found this image of Burnside Bridge, taken in September 1862 by Alexander Gardner after the Battle of Antietam, in a massive book of several thousand images from the Matthew Brady Collection in the Connecticut State Library. I'm not an expert on Gardner images, but I don't believe this one has been widely published. There are seven individuals on the bridge, probably all soldiers. The book was donated to the Connecticut State Library in the 1940s.

According to a old donation slip, the original plates for these images are housed elsewhere, perhaps in Springfield, Mass., or Washington today. The Antietam images in the book, most of which are familiar to students of the Civil War, are nonetheless fascinating because of their clarity. The paper at right, found inside the album and dated March 16, 1944, details how the Connecticut State Library acquired the images. Click on that image to enlarge it.


  1. Very interesting find John. I have gone through the NARA Signal Corps holdings (online) and this does not show up. The transmission letter suggests a second collection other than the old War Department holding. I sent a note to Steve to see if he has any insights on this. Maybe a Gardner expert might read this and give us some more information on this image (and the larger collection). Always interesting!

  2. Anonymous4:36 PM

    The 5,000 or so CW photographs at the CT State Library, in the Archives, are called the "Brady Collection." They are prints in two sizes; say, 3" by 3" (mounted a dozen or so to a page in bound volumes) and (about)7" by 9", unmounted. They were printed from original glass plate negatives around 1900 as a reference set for the creation of "Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War" and were assigned sequential serial numbers, sort of grouped topically. They had previously been indexed and "titled" as well and one could order print(s) from those negatives commercially in the 1890s-1910. To cut to the chase, all the negatives were conveyed to the Library of Congress in the 1950s. The State Library's holdings include a few images whose negatives subsequently deteriorated or were destroyed or perhaps the LOC opted not to print them after LOC got them. Wm. Frasinito featured a unique view of Confederates in a grave, not yet filled in, on the cover of his Gettysburg book in the 1990s. He had known of the image from the commercial catalog, but had never encountered a print. The State Library had one, exhibiting emulsion loss ca. 1900, and presumably the negative finally bit the dust. Anyway, it is a treat to view those century+ old prints directly off the original negatives.

    Not knowing how post this properly; I am Dean Nelson, Administrator, Museum of Connecticut History and complete CW Freak...