Saturday, March 22, 2014

Antietam Up Close: President Lincoln visits George McClellan

 Acclaimed Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner took this famous image of 
President Lincoln's meeting with General  George McClellan after Antietam on  Oct. 4, 1862.
 (Library of Congress collection)
The detail is remarkable in this Alexander Gardner glass-plate image of Abraham Lincoln and General George McClellan taken during the president's visit near the Antietam battlefield on Oct. 4, 1862. McClellan's tent was pitched on a hillside overlooking what today is Mill Road, about two miles from Burnside Bridge. (The site was first identified by Antietam expert and historian Dennis Frye.)  The present-day site is occupied by a small home. (Click on all images to enlarge, and click here for the Antietam Up Close series on my blog.)

In this enlargement of Gardner's photograph, even the wick of a candle can be seen next to the top hat of the president, who nearly 18 months into the Civil War looks weary of it all ....

... perhaps the early fall day was chilly for the president, who wore gloves ...

...meanwhile, on a desk next to the general, a hilt of a sword and a butt of a pistol are visible and on McClellan's uniform, stars are clearly seen on his shoulder board. (And so are two cracks in the glass-plate image.) ...

... and on the ground next to Lincoln lies a trophy of war, one of 39 Rebel flags captured at the  Battle of Antietam.


  1. Anonymous7:15 PM

    Hello John. I believe you have met my husband, Civil War historian and Antietam specialist Dennis Frye. Dennis was the first to discover the location of this photograph, based on research he conducted in the National Archives. There he discovered McClellan's post-battle HQ, located on the David Showman farm south of Burnside Bridge. From that, Dennis located an existing spring house that appears in the background of the famous Lincoln/McClellan tent meeting (exterior view). Please give Dennis credit for determining the site of this famous photo on Mills Road. We live in and restored Burnside's HQ on the Raleigh Showman farm, located just 3/4 mile south of McClellan's HQ. I enjoy your blog very much; I have learned so much about our area. Thank you for all of your hard work and research! Sylvia Frye

  2. Hi, Sylvia....Sorry for the late reply. Thanks for hte kind words. I met Dennis a couple years back. Please give him my best. Will add a line regarding his contribution.