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THE ILLUSTRATING TRAVELER

George Catlin painting a Chief

Valor and Endurance
Part III of III


Nep J. Roesler. The Civil War in Western Virginia, as Sketched by J. Nep Roesler, Corp. of Color Guard Company G 47th Reg. OV-USA. Cincinnati, 1862.

Skirmishing, New River

"Skirmishing, New River." (Lithograph)

The rich published imagery of the Civil War tends to be in individual prints, photographs, or artist's re-creations. There are few coherent series of views which form narratives. The series of 20 plates from which these two are drawn is an exception. Roesler, with the Ohio Volunteers, served in the Federal invasion of western Virginia in late 1861, and recorded the events of the campaign in a series of sketches. It seems likely that Roesler was part of Cincinnati's booming lithographic trade, since he also drew the views on stone; his series is in effect a personal visual narrative of his experiences. Many Civil War veterans put such recollections into words, but few expressed them in pictures.


George N. Barnard. Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign, Embracing Scenes of the Occupation of Nashville, the Great Battles around Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, the Campaign of Atlanta, March to the Sea, and the Great Raid through the Carolinas. New York, 1866.

The Hell Hole

"The `Hell Hole' New Hope Church, Ga." (Albumen photograph)

Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia

"The Front of Kenesaw Mountain, GA." (Albumen photograph)

During the American Civil War the impact of photography upon journalism became apparent as Washington photographer Matthew Brady organized a troop of photographers to cover various fronts. In addition to these private efforts, the Union Army employed photographers not only to provide visual information about the terrain but also to document its campaigns. As Official Photographer of the Military Division of the Mississippi, George Barnard participated in Sherman's breathtaking dash through the South. Ironically, Barnard observed that "The rapid movement of Sherman's army ... rendered it impossible to obtain at the time a complete series of photographs which should illustrate the principal events and most interesting localities." Barnard returned to the South after the war ended, and his scenes of lasting destruction bring with them a heightened awareness of the war's cost. The present copy of the album was once owned by Charles Dickens.


Theodore Roosevelt. Hunting Trips of a Ranchman; Sketches of Sport on the Northern Cattle Plains. New York & London, 1885.

Shooting a grizzly

A.B. Frost, "Close Quarters with Old Ephraim." (Photogravure)

With the end of Indian conflicts and the closing of the frontier, those searching for excitement in their travel often turned to hunting. The best known of these was Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote several books about his Western shooting experiences and published them in lavishly illustrated formats. The "Medora Edition" of this work combined etchings by R. Swain Gifford, with the work of numerous artists reproduced by photomechanical means.


Andrew Williamson. Sport and Photography in the Rocky Mountains. Edinburgh, 1880.

A trophy elk

"A Rest After a Long Chase." (Photogravure)

Williamson was one of the first sportsmen to manage bulky photographic equipment to record his travels and hunting experiences. The pictures in this book are based on his 1878 trip to Colorado. In this instance more time was taken getting the photograph of the author with his elk trophy than it took to get the elk. Efforts like this remained rare until Kodak revolutionized camera portability a decade later.


An Analytic Eye
The Sublime and the Picturesque
The Spirit of Place
Encountering Native Americans
Customs of the Country

Return to Valor and Endurance, Part I

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Send comments to George Miles, William Roberston Coe Curator of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University


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