Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” (1990) Remastered for 2015 and Beyond

7 Sep

If you visit the PBS website at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/ you will find links to the viewing schedule for the remastered 25th anniversary HD version of Ken Burns’ The Civil War at your local PBS affiliate:

“Twenty-five years ago, a film about history made history … From Director Ken Burns, for the first time in high-definition,  “The Civil War,” starts Monday September 7, [2015] at 9:00 pm (8:00 Central) [and concludes on September 11]. Only on PBS.

No historical documentary has ever had the impact of THE CIVIL WAR when it was first broadcast by PBS a quarter of a century ago. More than 40 million people watched its first run. It won more than 40 major television and film awards. Millions more have seen it in classrooms or on videotape.

THE CIVIL WAR, the award-winning film produced and directed by Ken Burns, will be rebroadcast over five consecutive nights … The broadcast, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the series’ initial broadcast in September 1990, will present for the first time a newly restored, high-definition version. This is also the first time the film will be seen with the same fidelity and framing as the negative that Burns and his co-cinematographers … shot more than 25 years ago.”

The Civil War Defines Who We are Today

Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. And I believe that firmly. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars beginning with the First World War did what they did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became … good and bad things …  and it is very necessary if you are going to understand the American character in the [21st] century to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the cross-roads of our being … and it was a hell of a crossroads.”   — Shelby Foote, Historian, quoted in Episode 1 of The Civil War (pictured below, left, with Ken Burns, c. 1990, courtesy of Florentine Films)

ken burns shelby foote

Why Watch the Remastered Film “The Civil War?”

Today’s audiences expect sharper images and richer sound—so much sharper and richer that no one 25 years ago could have imagined the improvements we now take for granted. To reach a whole new audience with the story of America’s greatest crisis, and to offer those who have already seen the series a far more compelling experience, we decided to completely restore the series to ultra high definition4K resolution—to bring it up to the standards that current audiences demand

The 4K film scans capture every nuance of detail in the sharpest focus in the photographs, stock footage, interviews, and live material that are the basic building blocks of the series’ visuals

Visually, THE CIVIL WAR is now rock steady, sharper in focus, cleaner, and with a greatly enhanced visual beauty. The color is now as it was intended to be when the film was originally shot. The still photographs all have been assigned a variety of black-and-white or sepia tones that correspond to the intended emotional effect of the sequences. There is also 10 percent more image area than in the previous version, which was cropped out due to the 4:3 square broadcast.”   — Paul Barnes, Lead Editor of “The Civil War” [emphasis added]

The Starring Role of Civil War Photography in the Film

THE CIVIL WAR was five years in the making. The film vividly embraces the entire sweep of the war: the complex causes and lasting effects of America’s greatest and most moving calamity, the battles and the homefronts, the generals and the private soldiers, the anguish of death in battle and the grief of families at home. 

Archival images of 16,000 photographs, taken from a total of 1 million pictures of the Civil War, along with period paintings, lithographs, and headlines, were combined with moving newsreel footage of Civil War veterans, evocative live cinematography of the now quiet battle sites, interviews with distinguished historians, and the inclusion of first-person accounts.” http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/about/about-overview/

The Strengths of the Original Film

The Civil War documentary which first aired in 1990 represents the coming together of many great elements of documentary film-making.  For starters, it offers up a “national treasure trove” of narrators and voices such as: David McCullough (to whom I could listen all day long), Sam Waterston as Abraham Lincoln, Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass, Jason Robards as Ulysses S. Grant, Garrison Keillor as Walt Whitman, Arthur Miller as William Tecumseh Sherman, George Black as Robert E. Lee, Horton Foote as Jefferson Davis, Jody Powell as Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Julie Harris as Mary Chesnut, Paul Roebling as Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Christopher Murney as Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Charley McDowell as Sam Watkins, and Studs Terkel as Gen. Benjamin Butler.

They dramatically breathe life into the actual words penned or spoken by their real-life characters a century and a half ago.

The film’s telling of the story of the Civil War relies heavily on the words of many of the most famous (as well as some of the more obscure) figures involved in the conflict. But Burns also strategically interjects clips of distinguished historians ruminating about key personalities, battles, triumphs, tragedies, strategies, anecdotes, political machinations, higher purposes, and how the Civil War relates to and continues to impact modern times.  Those historians serve as the modern glue which holds the entirety of the work together.

Say what you will about the music. Some people love the song “Ashokan Farewell” which is played numerous times (25) during the series. Others hate it.  Many don’t realize it was composed in 1982. Even though it is the only modern music used in the series,  it is the tune most identified with Ken Burns’ masterpiece. But it isn’t the film’s only music by any stretch. “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Bonnie Blue Flag” are two other very catchy period songs which immediately come to mind. And don’t forget about the tremendous sound effects.

But what resonates the most within the film’s nine episodes is its sweeping visual impact thanks in large measure to Ken Burn’s heavy reliance upon images from surviving Civil War photographs and sketches. Although there is some incredibly stunning video — particularly clips from the Gettysburg veterans’ anniversary reunions in 1913 and 1938 as well as  beautiful modern color footage — Burns’ videographers relied almost exclusively upon 1860s photographs. Repeatedly, they zoom-in upon astonishing photographic details in magnificent data-laden wet-plate collodion slides and prints created by men associated with Mathew B. Brady, Alexander Gardner, Andrew J. Russell, George N. Barnard, the Anthonys, Sam A. Cooley, George S. Cook, and others. Unfortunately, 1990 technology made it difficult to quickly discern those details in the original release.

The film’s restorer, Daniel J. White, has promised that within the 2015 HD version “new details will become visible in the hundreds of black-and-white photos used in the film.” Let’s hope so! But also be aware that super hi-resolution scans of the vast majority of photographs used in The Civil War can be viewed online and downloaded sometimes in .tiff files up to 100 to 200 megs in size at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Portrait Gallery, and other institutions.

Because the vast majority of Civil War photographs were taken by photographers living in the “North,” those images offer the richest source of photographic history. Yet Burns’ team still made every effort to film many images taken by southern photographers too.

It should come as no surprise that the surviving photographs don’t always dovetail perfectly with the story-line for The Civil War, particularly relative to the underrepresented western theater of the war. Lacking “on the money” imagery to visually drive home a point, Burns understandably was compelled at times to rely upon photographs unequivalent to the time, place, and/or subject matter addressed by the film’s narrator. In fairness, in some instances no one knows for sure when or where or by whom specific photos were taken because the photographers usually left no records of such and historians haven’t yet solved those mysteries.

But had Civil War photographs played an even more central role in defining the story-line of the film, Ken Burns might have devoted a few minutes to explain the basics of outdoor Civil War photography —  including that nearly 3/4 of the photos were shot so that they can be viewed today in 3D. Despite the cumbersome tasks that befell outdoor photographers in the 1860s and the limitations of their slow exposure technology, the thousands of Civil War photographs they managed to take allow us, several generations later, to “see” and get a “visual feel” for the war which cost us more American lives than the sum total of all of the other conflicts in which Americans have been engaged both before and ever since.

What Is Supposed to Look Better in the Remastered Film

In a September 4, 2015 Washington Post blog article titled “25 years after ‘The Civil War,’ Ken Burns finally made his dream movie” by Alyssa Rosenberg,  there is an illustration of the quality improvement in the new version of “The Civil War.” Ken Burns and his restorer, Daniel J. White, have said that a “murkiness” in many images will be replaced by clearer, more realistic looking scenes. A frame from modern footage of the Burnside Bridge (originally called Rohrbach’s or Lower Bridge) at the Antietam National Battlefield was used to highlight the “before” and “after” differences (see below).

Before-after KB Burnside Bridge, Anitetam Battlefield NP

What I’m most looking forward to seeing is the improvement in the quality of the Civil War photographs used in the film.

In the The Washington Post article, Mr. Burns highlighted the impact of significantly improved photographic imagery by noting the film’s use of an image of Lincoln posing with General McClellan in a tent in early October 1862 near Sharpsburg, MD two weeks after the Battle of Antietam.  Photographer Alexander Gardner’s men took this and other images in that locale to chronicle Lincoln’s visit to the Commander of the Army of the Potomac, George B. McClellan. At the time of the visit, Lincoln was greatly disappointed by McClellan’s failure to pursue General Lee’s numerically inferior forces after repelling them at Antietam Creek on September 17. Lincoln wanted McClellan to destroy or capture the Army of Northern Virginia. McClellan, on the other hand, thought he should be congratulated for the Antietam “victory” and that Lincoln should defer to his military judgment not to pursue Lee in the aftermath of the single bloodiest day in American history.

Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that “it’s now possible to read President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. George McClellan’s facial expressions in a snapshot of the two men taken during the meeting at which Lincoln fired his top commander.” To be more precise, Ken Burns was quoted as saying:  

You can now see in the pictures of them in the tent the tension between them. Now, it may have been apparent in the previous images because of the quality of the writing, whatever the music and the sound effects were suggesting, but now you’ve taken away that veil and you’re permitted to see that interpersonal dynamic, and suddenly you can understand McClellan’s kind of combination of arrogant distance from Lincoln and Lincoln’s exasperation, and the fact that his sorry butt is going to be axed in a couple of moments is terrific.” (detail from two views at the Library of Congress, LC-B811- 602 and LC-B817- 7948, below)

LC-B811- 602 01131ax3  LC-B817- 7948 04351ax

My own take on the Lincoln-McClellan “tent” photographs is a bit less dramatic, especially in view of the vagaries of outdoor photography in 1862 as well as Lincoln’s record of posing before the camera. For starters, Lincoln did not relieve McClellan of his command of the Army of the Potomac until November 5, 1862, more than a month after these “tent” poses were taken. Although there surely was tension between Lincoln and McClellan throughout their relationship and Lincoln visited McClellan to try to cajole him into action, I think Mr. Burns reads too much into his interpretation of Lincoln’s face and body language by suggesting that there is palpable “exasperation” on Lincoln’s face.

Perhaps it can be said that McClellan’s face or attitude betrays some form of “arrogant distance,” but I think even that overplays the simple fact that McClellan’s paramount concern during the picture taking session was to look squarely at Lincoln with his “I am the commander” look and hold his pose for several seconds. For that matter, I have not seen any photographs of McClellan in uniform in which he didn’t try to look “dashing” or “authoritative;” he surely didn’t earn the moniker “Young Napoleon” for nothing (examples, below, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

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The Alexander Gardner photographic team prepared the glass plate for each of the Lincoln-McClellan photographs shortly before they were created. It would have taken them about 5 minutes of time to do so, followed by another 5 minutes to complete the development of each specific negative shortly thereafter [I believe the Gardner team simultaneously prepared the two negative plates used for the creation of these photos]. In other words, sitting for a photograph was a lengthy process by today’s standards, especially for an ultra-busy and fidgety President who was in the midst of prosecuting a war which hadn’t been going too well up to that point. The two images captured by the photographers were not candid snapshots. The technology which then existed required the men to be posed and to hold their poses.

In the first photograph of Lincoln seated in the tent with McClellan (above), Alexander Gardner situated the Commander-in-Chief slightly forward of McClellan and likely asked Lincoln not to gaze directly at McClellan. To make the scene as patriotic looking as possible, Lincoln was posed next to a table draped with the American flag upon which his stovepipe hat rested between two candlesticks. It needs to be understood that Lincoln never looked completely comfortable when he was photographed. As Ohio politician Donn Piatt recalled, Lincoln “had a face that defied artistic skill to soften or idealize.” Writes Harold Holzer, “photographs did little to disguise Lincoln’s sometimes vacant expression, his so-called photographer’s face.” Lloyd Ostendorf describes Lincoln’s “photographer’s face” in the following manner:

Whenever Lincoln posed, a dark melancholy settled over his features. He put on what Mrs. Lincoln called his ‘photographer’s face.’ There is no camera study which shows him laughing, for such an attitude, unfortunately, was impossible when long exposures were required. A man who knew Lincoln, Dr. James Miner, commented: ‘His large bony face when in repose was unspeakably sad and as unreadable as that of a sphinx, his eyes were as expressionless as those of a dead fish’” (emphasis added)

It is THAT “photographer’s face” which I see particularly in the first photograph — Lincoln with vacant and expressionless eyes gazing off into the distance. I detect no palpable tension in Lincoln’s face, although he surely felt some discomfort over posing rigidly during each of the several second exposures (perhaps for as long as 5 to 10 seconds as betrayed by the flag blurred by the movement of a breeze and the piece of paper blown up against the bottom of Lincoln’s chair in the second view).

Lincoln-McClellan-tent Antietam

McClellan’s gaze is locked onto Lincoln’s face in both views. In the first, the General sat with his left hand relaxed on his leg and a cigar perched in that hand. But in the second, when Lincoln presumably was directed by Alexander Gardner to look McClellan straight in the eye, McClellan sat up straighter in his chair and leaned slightly forward so his face wasn’t partially in the sunlight. You might conclude that his demeanor was a bit more attentive and even respectful (for example, his cigar can no longer be seen).

macLC-x

McClellan looks somewhat less comfortable in that second photo. But his slight discomfort probably had little to do with Lincoln’s gaze. Alex Gardner likely directed him to bring his face completely into the shadows — so that it wouldn’t be bisected half-in and half-out of the sunlight as occurred in the first view. Lincoln, on the other hand, did not do anything between the exposures other than execute a slight turn of his head in order to look directly at McClellan’s face. Yet, in profile he still affected his “photographer’s face;” kind of like a poker-face expression. If anything, Lincoln’s appearance and demeanor in the second view might be described as “cool as a cucumber.”LC-B817- 7948 04351az

Watch for the appearance of the second “tent” photograph in Episode 3, “Forever Free.” When you see it, realize that Ken Burns in 1990 did not have access to the ultra-high resolution digital scans I have used in this piece. The quality of the photographs which he then filmed with his 16mm camera just wasn’t anything like what can be seen today. His 2015 edition is the product of remastering that original 16mm film stock. It does not utilize today’s digital scans of what are presumed to be first or early generation glass plate negatives. Without criticizing or taking away anything from Ken Burn’s Civil War masterpiece, I think the best way to answer what the faces of men like Lincoln project or betray in 150+ year old photographs is to look at their modern day digital scans.

Craig Heberton, September 7, 2015

[Stay tuned for updates after episodes of the 2015 remastered The Civil War run over the course of the next several days]

If You Like the Improvement in Civil War Photo Quality, Check This Out …

If you are finding the Civil War photographs used in the 2015 remastered version of  “The Civil War” to be a significant step forward in improved quality, you might want to watch Burns’ short video “Restoring the Film” at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/ which explains the restoration process. Here is a capture of one of the examples used in that video. It is a “before-and-after” vidcap of detail within a photograph of “Fighting Joe” Hooker, a Union General who briefly commanded the Army of the Potomac. The “before” version is on the right side; the “after” on the left.

Ken Burns_Restoration examples in video-02

Ken Burns explains in the video that within the Civil War photographs, you now can see that “the whites are whiter and the blacks are deeper and richer.” His restorers also elaborate that this is so because the digital scanning process applied to the original film stock allowed them to manipulate the contrast in order to enhance details within the original photographs which were filmed by Burns and his team in 16mm.

But if you want to see the same image in even more amazing detail on your computer screen, go to the source which houses the original print image — the Library of Congress — and see and download (if you are inclined) at their website a 104.7 megabyte .tiff file of the print.  You can find it here. Now place detail of Hooker from that Library of Congress scan next to the restored Ken Burns image. After some of my own photo editing work, here is what they look like side-by-side. The details in Hooker’s face are substantially better revealed in the Library of Congress scan.

LC-B8184-10366compare2

However, the most impressive details to be seen within super hi-res scans at the Library of Congress collection are those made from the glass plate negatives in its collection or housed at the National Archives. The General Hooker example, above, is from a print so there are limitations in the amount of detail that even very high resolution scans can extract from such an old print.

Craig Heberton, September 9, 2015

Lincoln’s Arrival at the Dedication of the Soldiers’ Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863

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Three stereoscopic glass plate negatives taken at the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863  have been credited to Alexander Gardner’s photographic team. Positive images of the three negatives appear below, courtesy of the Library of Congress. It is believed that the order in which they were taken was first unraveled in 2012 by this author in his ebook Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photos (2012).All 3aThe Gardner photographers perched their dual lens camera atop some sort of a photographic platform which may have been nothing more sophisticated than a folding twelve foot ladder or two. Note the back of a partially bald head which appears in the lower portion of the immediate foreground in the first and last view above. It might be Alexander Gardner’s head captured as he faced out towards the historic scene while standing just below the camera on the front steps of a ladder. A later view of Gardner taken after the war near Manhattan, Kansas (according to R. Mark Katz) appears to reveal that he had that kind of male pattern balding.

As discovered by John J. Richter, photographic detail very likely reveals an Alexander Gardner photographer — visible under the red arrow below — standing atop the photographic platform. This view is attributed to photographer Peter S. Weaver and was taken from a 2nd story window in the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse on November 19, 1863 (courtesy, the Library of Congress). 32845umarkedZooming in reveals a darker object beneath the man and just above the heads of several men either on horseback or standing on the front steps of the ladder(s) — likely Gardner’s camera (below).  32845u-gardner2 That photographic platform was used in order to “see” over the large crowd and get a glimpse at portions of (and the area around) the speakers’ platform, as well as other key and unique features, such as a 100 foot tall flagpole erected for the occasion, the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse, some of East Cemetery Hill, and a large white tent constructed for the privacy of Edward Everett, the keynote speaker. The left side of the first glass plate negative — LC-B815-1160 — exposed within the sequence of three is shown below (courtesy of the Library of Congress). 00652a-left stereo-modified The speakers’ platform, which was described by one observer as only 3 feet above the ground, faced not towards the Gardner photographic position, but was oriented from its center towards the tall flagpole. As described in this author’s book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg (follow the link), the seating on the speaker’s rostrum was arranged in an orchestral fashion, with its several levels arcing around the center area of the first row where Lincoln sat. If you wonder why Gardner’s team set up their camera so far from the speakers’ platform, please read Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case,” for an analysis. That article, in conjunction with the book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, also explains why Gardner likely chose to set up his photographic platform at such a severe angle to the speakers’ platform rather than selecting a more “head-on” perspective centered to the middle of the rostrum.

A modern “now” photograph taken by the author on November 18, 2013 in the Gettysburg National Soldiers’ Cemetery from roughly the same location as Gardner’s views is compared with “then” photographic detail from the first exposed Gardner plate, below:Comparison of Gardner's view with modern view1 The Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse, clearly visible in the Gardner view, is almost completely obscured by trees in the modern view. Excluding an addition built after 1863, the gatehouse structure looks much today as it did then. The Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Monument currently stands where the tall flagpole (cropped at its top) is visible in the Gardner stereo view detail.

Working with a very high-res scan of those images provided to him by the Library of Congress, John J. Richter concluded that he had pinpointed Abraham Lincoln in two of the three photographs seated atop a horse obscured from the camera in the exact same location in both of those views. Mr. Richter’s discovery was widely hailed by the national press (follow the link). It was remarkable to realize that Lincoln had gone undetected in two stereo views taken at Gettysburg for all of those years until the announcement in November 2007. See detail, below, of Mr. Richter’s Lincoln candidate from both views. 00673a-left stereo-cropped-sharpened detail 2d staff-modIn early 2008, William A. Frassanito posted  an article at a friend’s blog (follow the link) which opined that the man Mr. Richter identified as Lincoln wasn’t Honest Abe and added several arguments why it was virtually impossible for Lincoln to have been visible when any of the stereo views were taken. Mr. Frassanito wrote that “it is well documented that Lincoln was accompanied and flanked by several mounted civilians, including the chief marshal and three members of Lincoln’s cabinet” and concluded that the three images reveal that all of Gardner’s views were taken only after Lincoln and the other dignitaries had been seated on the speakers’ platform.

In 2012, this author published Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg which sequenced the three stereo views, discussed the documentary and photographic evidence, and concluded that Lincoln could have been present and also visible in the images as he was arriving by horseback at the speakers’ platform. That book also evaluated John Richter’s candidate, finding that he could be Lincoln despite the absence of conclusive visual evidence. It was explained, however, that the author’s research did not uncover any contemporary accounts describing Lincoln riding alone in front of and just beyond the speakers’ platform, raising his left arm as if giving a salute, and remaining seated atop his horse unflinchingly for a minute or two or three. Several potential appearance issues involving Mr. Richter’s candidate also were evaluated relating to his hat, hairline, shirt collar, and beard.

However, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg also disclosed another Lincoln candidate whom this author feels is even more compelling than Mr. Richter’s because of a substantial amount of supporting contextual evidence: the location of that candidate, the visible crowd’s attention focused in his direction in both photos, the respectful hat-tipping reaction of some members of the crowd whose gazes were glued to him, his very close proximity to the man assigned by the Secretary of War to escort Lincoln (Provost Marshal General Fry), his tall silk hat adorned by a different-toned band matching accounts that Lincoln’s hat was wrapped with a mourning band, his large white-gloved right hand extended palm-up toward the camera in the first view, and what can be discerned of his facial appearance. The most striking of his facial features is his Lincoln-like jutting chin capped by a modest beard. See Heberton’s Lincoln candidate, below, from the first and second Gardner stereo views. Detail from one of Lincoln’s studio images taken by Alexander Gardner in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 1863 has been inserted next to the “ghost image” (caused by a hyper-fleeting pose) in the second photo to allow for a side-by-side comparison.  17807u-detail015 17806a-ghost-lincolnBecause this man’s face appears in dark shadows created by the brow of his hat in the first view and he likely moved during much of the lengthy exposure in the second view creating a “ghost image” in front of a “fixed” image of his tall silk hat, the case for this candidate as Lincoln is more heavily anchored to substantial contextual support. See detail, below, from the first-in-time Gardner stereo view revealing the relative positions of Mr. Richter’s candidate, this author’s candidate, and Mr. Oakley’s candidate (discussed below). 17807u_crop_boy3But there is a third candidate. The Smithsonian Magazine, in its October 2013 article “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?,” proclaimed that within one of the Alex Gardner stereo views, Christopher Oakley had made “what looks to be the most significant, if not the most provocative, Abraham Lincoln photo find of the last 60 years.” Mr. Oakley asserted that his candidate was “accidentally” captured by Gardner’s camera as he stood frozen throughout the entire passage of that plate’s lengthy exposure while stooped over, looking at the ground beneath him, and holding a rigid pose for several seconds despite surmounting unseen steps leading to the platform. The many reasons why Professor Oakley’s candidate cannot be Abraham Lincoln — ranging from his completely mismatched nose to the fact that he is seated (not standing) in two photos nowhere near the spot that Lincoln is documented to have been seated, “guarded” by two little boys, and ignored by all of the visible spectators on the speakers’ platform — are laid out in Heberton’s Lincoln: The Case,” Where is Lincoln?: Heberton Takes on the Flaws in Oakley’s Case,” the press release Should Oakley’s Lincoln Sit Down?,” and The Big Picture: Where Would Lincoln Be? Heberton Reveals His Findings.” Click on those links also for a fuller explanation of the case for this author’s Lincoln candidate. Here is Mr. Oakley’s “enhanced” representation of his hawk-nosed Lincoln candidate which he presented on the CBS Evening News broadcast on November 19, 2013 along with detail from Gardner’s second stereo view at the Library of Congress. 2013-011-19_CBS Evening New_002 04063u cxA visual review of the detail within the first and second Gardner view reveals that Mr. Oakley’s candidate was seated in the same spot in both views. That location is at the extreme far end of the platform and, as can been seen, is not in the first row of seats. Moreover, Mr. Oakley claims that the man seated to the right of his candidate for Lincoln is Secretary of State William H. Seward. Lincoln, in actuality, was seated in the center of the front row, with Seward to his left, nowhere near Mr. Oakley’s candidate pictured below:compare 07Below is a comparison between a different photograph (on the top) attributed to photographer David Bachrach showing exactly where Lincoln was seated with Seward to his left (rather than to his right) and the Gardner stereo (on the bottom). The Bachrach photo is marked to illustrate the area where Mr. Oakley’s candidate was seated had it been visible in that view. This gives one a perspective of how far removed Mr. Oakley’s candidate was situated from where President Lincoln sat.00cPresently, this author believes that Mr. Oakley’s candidate for Seward could be soft-chinned Simon Cameron, who earlier in 1863 had resigned his position as the U.S. minister to Russia and returned to his native Pennsylvania. Before his appointment as ambassador, Cameron had stepped down as Lincoln’s Secretary of War in January of 1862 because of “mismanagement, corruption and abuse of patronage.” This would explain why he was seated in an area relatively proximate to where a number of foreign diplomats were situated but well removed from Lincoln. See, below, a horizontally flipped studio image of Simon Cameron (courtesy, the Library of Congress) placed in the middle of cropped detail of the man whom Mr. Oakley has unequivocally identified as Seward.cf Oakley Seward to Simon Cameron flippedThe left side of the first exposed Gardner negative at Gettysburg  — LC-B815-1160 — is marked, below, to show the locations of the three Lincoln candidates.00652a-left-stereo-modified-midpoint-language62What is to be made of these 3 Lincoln candidates? Some people embrace one of them as Lincoln. Some just don’t know or are bewildered when they too quickly attempt to interpret the photographic evidence and ignore the contextual documentary evidence. Others adhere to the position that Gardner merely took three “establishing” or “generic crowd shots” (representing the sum total of his photographic work at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863), had zero interest in capturing a scene with Lincoln, and didn’t even accidentally capture Lincoln in any of the three stereo views. Nevertheless, an evaluation of whether Gardner intentionally placed his camera where he did in order to try to capture two relatively rapid-fire views of Lincoln arriving at the Cemetery upon his horse + one much later view of the famous keynote speaker, Edward Everett, arriving on the speaker’s platform is laid out in Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg and several of this author’s blog articles at abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com.

Below is a summary of the cases for each of the 3 Lincoln candidates. The contemporary accounts establish that Lincoln wore a mourning band on his tall silk hat, his hands were covered by white gloves, many of the men in the crowd on the speakers’ platform removed their hats in a show of respect when Lincoln arrived in the front of the platform, Lincoln was surrounded by dignitaries as he approached the platform and when he surmounted its steps, Lincoln “was the [most] observed of the observed” when he arrived, Lincoln was seated in the very center of the front row of chairs placed on the platform, Lincoln made a graceful bow to the crowd after his arrival, and Lincoln paid great attention to children in Gettysburg, including picking up and placing a child on his saddle briefly during his horseback ride in the procession to the Cemetery from the town. 3 Lincoln comparison 2015-11-16[2]

What do you, a member of the jury, think? Remember that the standard of evidence to be applied is merely a “preponderance of the evidence” and not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This isn’t a criminal trial. Can you reach a verdict or do you think we have a “hung jury?”

by Craig Heberton

November 18, 2015. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved by Craig Heberton.

Note: This author now believes that the man appearing seated to the left of Lincoln (Lincoln’s right) in the photo attributed to David Bachrach is not Ward H. Lamon, as marked on one of the images above, but Lincoln’s assistant John Nicolay. This is in harmony with Mr. Oakley’s identification of that man.

 

 

Teacher, Teach Thyself About Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”

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Imagine yourself as a young male schoolteacher in Pennsylvania about 150 years ago.

You have been invited to attend the Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association in Gettysburg from July 31st to August 2nd, 1866.[1] President Lincoln’s assassination and the end of four unfathomably bloody and numbing years of war are only a few months removed in time. You have returned home from two years of military service but minus some family members, soldier colleagues, and friends. Though the gruesome and glorious events of 1861-1865 are forever etched in your memory, your job now, as it was for several months before you enlisted, is to educate schoolchildren.[2]

The chance to see the famous Gettysburg battlefield  is irresistible. While the battle raged there, you served in the 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment under the cousin of Pennsylvania Governor Curtin at the assault on Vicksburg.[3] That Vicksburg and several other battles in which you participated never attained the fame of Gettysburg is still beyond your comprehension. For that reason, you want to see Gettysburg. Because the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association has arranged for free rail fare, you have no excuse not to go.

You arrive in Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 30, 1866 at the same rail station from which wounded soldiers were borne off to hospitals back east only three years ago; you also make a mental note that President Lincoln and other famous American and foreign dignitaries passed through the same station. At the Gettysburg Courthouse you register for the event by paying an annual fee of $1.00. There you encounter the President of the State Teachers’ Association, Dr. S.P. Bates, who asks you to act as a scrivener for the Session meetings and serve as the chronicler of arranged Gettysburg battlefield visits. He explains that if you agree, you will be asked to compose a written account for the September 1866 edition of the Pennsylvania School Journal. He knows of your stenography and writing skills and offers to pay you a nominal sum for your services. You are honored by the request and immediately consent.

The opening speaker at the Association’s morning session on July 31, 1866 is Dr. Bates. He explains how an unexpectedly large turnout forced the relocation of the session meetings from the Court House to St. James Lutheran Church on York St. You wonder to yourself how the Association was caught unawares by the large turnout — why didn’t they anticipate that so many teachers would want to see the Gettysburg battlefield? You are pleased to learn that “arrangements [will] be made for a visit to the battle-field by members present, with suitable guides [so as not to] interfere with the regular session …” Dr. Bates further expresses the hope that joining together on the “great and decisive battle-field” of Gettysburg where …

“many of the soldiers here were teachers … should incite us to still greater efforts. Our schools, academics and colleges were preserved by this victory; but we should not be satisfied with this result. The cause of Education, thus preserved, must also be made progressive or rather aggressive … The future condition of [especially the Southern States] will greatly depend upon the use now to be made, by the art of the teacher, of the advantages thus conquered for its children.”[4]

The County Superintendent of Schools for Adams County, Pa., Mr. Aaron Shelley, speaks next. He had been a teacher before his first election to the post of county superintendent in 1863[5]. After welcoming us to Gettysburg, he explains that …

“there are those present who participated in the sanguinary conflict here, and to them I must leave the task of describing more fully the scene and events which have made Gettysburg so celebrated …  You will not fail to visit the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and shed a tear over the graves of the gallant dead … It is the soldier’s duty to fight for principles, but it is the teacher’s duty to establish and maintain them … Yours is truly a mission of love and good will.”[6] [emphasis added]

Late in the afternoon, you join a group visiting Pennsylvania College at the invitation of its president, Dr. Henry L. Baugher, who receives you there. A Cincinnati journalist’s description of Dr. Baugher is apt:

“a semi bald head, a hooked Roman nose, clear blue eye, and a decidedly clerical face. He would pass anywhere for a theological professor, a man of firm will, but kindly.”[7]

You express your keen interest in seeing the battlefield on Cemetery Hill to Dr. Baugher. He, like Mr. Shelley, graciously explains that you should not fail to pay homage at the Soldiers’ Cemetery and there ponder President Lincoln’s consecration address. Dr. Baugher mentions, too, the role he played in those dedication ceremonies by giving a brief closing benediction after Lincoln’s remarks.[8] You tell him what an honor it must have been to speak the closing prayer at such an auspicious event on hallowed ground with President Lincoln seated just a few feet away. [Dr. Henry Baugher, below, from the Dickinson College Archives]:Henry L BaugherpicYou then join at least 200 other teachers under the carriage[9] escort of Colonel George Fisher McFarland[10], a teacher and former principal of McAlister Academy in Juniata County, Pa., who lost a leg during the battle’s first day at Gettysburg. It was there that he led the 151st Pennsylvania Regiment (aka the “Schoolteachers Regiment”) to reinforce the Iron Brigade around Herbst Woods. Near there the 151st took up defenses along Willoughby Run. When the entire First Corps fell back, he had his regiment rally at the Lutheran Theological Seminary where he was shot in both legs.[11] By fighting a delaying action, McFarland’s regiment suffered extraordinarily high casualties and losses (337 of 467 men, or about 72%). [Below, left, a pre-Gettysburg photograph of Geo. F. McFarland  and detail of his gravestone at Harrisburg Cemetery, both from findagrave.com]:

Col George F McFarland buried in HarrisburgCol George F McFarland -151st PA - Harrisburg Cem2

Wrote General Abner Doubleday:

“At Gettysburg [the 151st Pa Regiment] won, under the brave McFarland, an imperishable fame. They defended the left front of the First Corps against vastly superior numbers; covered its retreat … and enabled me, by their determined resistance, to withdraw the corps in comparative safety … I can never forget the services rendered me by this regiment, directed by the gallantry and genius of McFarland. I believe they saved the First Corps, and were among the chief instruments to save the Army of the Potomac and the country from unimaginable disaster.”[12]

You are honored that the “brave McFarland” proudly leads you and the others in your group to where he understands General Reynolds fell — “the officer whose ‘magnificent rashness’ perhaps assured to us the victory.” Pausing on that ground, he speaks of Reynolds in reverential, almost hushed tones. [John F. Reynolds, pictured below, courtesy of the Library of Congress]:

Gen John F Reynolds LOC

After narrating “many incidents of the fight” and the first day’s “positions held by the troops at different times in the day,” Col. McFarland escorts your rapt and attentive group to the Lutheran Theological Seminary, also located on the battlefield, and then directs you to enter the building where his leg was amputated at a temporary hospital before the Confederates overran the position and took him prisoner. You think you hear him musing about where his amputated leg might be buried before he speaks with the highest praise for the services rendered by the surgeons and their assistants in that makeshift hospital which at present again functions as a school for higher education.

Thanks to the Colonel, you are beginning to understand the significance of Gettysburg.

Later that evening, Col. McFarland delivered a presentation in which he declared:

“the real issues involved [in the late rebellion] were better understood by the soldiers of the Union army than by those of the Rebel army … whether from the nature of the issues involved, or from other causes, more reason and less passion were exhibited by the soldiers of the Union than the Rebel army … and important differences between [the two armies] were the result of the universal diffusion of knowledge among the masses in the North, and a total want of this diffusion of knowledge amongst the masses in the South … Whole regiments of teachers responded to the calls of President Lincoln for troops, and hundreds sealed their devotion … by shedding their blood in its defence … It was the fortune of the speaker to lead full sixty teachers into battle just west of the Seminary, in the first day’s fight, [many of whom were killed or wounded]. The victory at Gettysburg [,] the work of the teacher! … And may you who have assembled upon this sacred spot to re-burnish your arms for new battles with ignorance and passion, catch the spirit of your worthy co-laborers who met here three years ago …” [emphasis added] [13]

Arising in the darkness early the following day, you depart for a tour of the second and third days’ fighting shortly after 6 a.m. Your guides are Col. McFarland, “the venerable John Burns” (the only citizen of Gettysburg reputed to have taken up arms against the Rebels at Gettysburg), Major Henry Lee, and Captain Walter L. Owens (a music teacher).[14] [John Burns, pictured below, left, in mid-July 1863 in front of his Gettysburg home, posing with a musket, by Mathew Brady photographers, courtesy the Library of Congress; and Capt. Walter L. Owens of the 151st Pa. Regiment, below, right, courtesy of the Gettysburg National Military Park library]:

01658vx1Capt Walter L Owens 151st PA Gettysburg National Military Park library

You all proceed as a singular group to the Soldiers’ Cemetery. From there, you split up and your group follows McFarland, Lee, and Burns to the right for a tour of Culp’s Hill where you are regaled with stories of heroism and observe the projectile-riddled trees and the Union breastwork defenses thrown up at the barb of their fishhook lines. The other even larger group leaves Cemetery Hill and follows Capt. Walter L. Owens[15] to the left on a tour towards the “Round Top.” One of the teachers in the Owens group later relays to you some of what he observed, allowing you to report:

“The evidences of the conflict are still to be seen in many directions. At one place [on the route to the Round Top] we found a human skull …. the farmer informed us that he had turned it up with his plough [but not why it was fixed “upon the top of a paling”]. Most of the stone breastworks on [the left] side, and those of earth and logs on Culp’s Hill still remain as they were left at the close of the great battle, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association having preserved the ground intact as far as was possible.”

When the tour returns to town before 10 a.m., you thank each of your guides by shaking their hands. Only John Burns eludes your handshake. Your appreciation of the Battle of Gettysburg and some of the town’s unusual and colorful residents has grown even greater. When official Association business resumes, several teachers debate the merits and demerits of coed schooling followed by discourses on the subject of “grammar” during the afternoon session. Then it is time to again visit Cemetery Hill. You write:

The most interesting episode of the week was the visit to the NATIONAL CEMETERY, on Wednesday evening … after an early tea, the members [of the Association] and many citizens of Gettysburg, who had heard of the proposed visit, betook themselves to Cemetery Hill. About half past six o’clock the assemblage of several hundred was called to order by COL. MCFARLAND …” [emphasis added]

Once upon the grounds of the National Cemetery, you are struck by the beauty of the final resting place for many of the Union soldiers killed at Gettysburg. It is classically simple, elegant, and geometrically curved in design. A poignant resting place with a commanding view.

“After the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, by the Glee Club,” Professor Martin L. Stoever of Gettysburg’s Pennsylvania College ” (pictured below, c.1868, from the Gettysburg College Special Collections)

Stoever – Martin L. Stoever (ca. 1868) Gettysburg College Special Collections

announced the reading of PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S inimitable address, by MAJOR HARRY T. LEE, a member of the Association.” [Henry (aka Harry) T. Lee, below left, from Kirk, Hyland C., Heavy Guns and Light: A History of the 4th NY Heavy Artillery (1890); and in a much later photo when he was a lawyer in Los Angeles, appearing in History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California (1909):[16]

Henry T Lee-4th NY Artillery Heavy_p253  Henry Thomas Lee from History of the Bench and Bar of Southern California, 1909Major Henry Thomas Lee was then a Professor in the Pardee Scientific Course of Lafayette College. He had “participated in the three days’ battle, serving on the staff of GEN. DOUBLEDAY” as a member of the 4th New York Artillery. He knows what happened here during the battle.

Professor Stoever further explains that Major Lee “was also present at the consecration of the battle-ground, when the PRESIDENT’S speech was delivered”[17] at the time your 45th Pennsylvania was in the midst of its Knoxville campaign. You realize that the Major also knows what happened here at the cemetery dedication on November 19, 1863. On that topic, Major Lee made the following remarks:

“In the presence of these graves, within sight of Gettysburg, upon this doubly consecrated spot, it is fitting that no word should be uttered save that which comes from the heart; and its has been thought appropriate that in this solemn presence we should let our martyred PRESIDENT speak again as once before he spoke to an assembled multitude upon this crowded hillside, many of them the friends and relatives of those who sleep around us … [Major Lee then summarized the November 19, 1863 ceremonies:] REV. DR. STOCKTON opened the exercises with an impressive prayer which was followed by the Oration of HON. EDWARD EVERETT. The latter … although it was scholarly, masterly, exquisite; yet it failed to touch the heart. It was faultless as a Greek statue and — as cold. “

Maj. Lee paused for several seconds to let his last point sink in before proceeding:

“Then Lincoln arose, his face seamed and furrowed with marks of care, his eyes moist with tears, and in a voice tremulous with the deepest emotion, he pronounced in his simple and unaffected manner, The Speech of that memorable day. There was not a dry eye in the vast assemblage, and from the loud sobs that interrupted the PRESIDENT during some parts of his address, it was at times impossible to hear what he had to say.”

Contemporary accounts by several journalists reported how Lincoln let loose with several tears that day on the speakers’ platform during Rev. Stockton’s opening prayer. He moistened up yet again much later at a point of time in Edward Everett’s keynote oration when — “the sufferings of dying soldiers were recited [by Everett, and] scarcely a dry eye was visible, the President mingling his tears with those of the people.” Boston Journal, November 23, 1863. A similar account appeared in the Boston Advertiser, November 23, 1863.

You don’t fully understand the impact of Lincoln’s words described by the introductory remarks of Major Lee until the Major reads aloud Lincoln’s Dedicatory Address standing near where Lincoln had once stood on a platform. Lee orates it in a “clear and distinct voice … breaking the stillness of the solemn hour as though he stood alone upon the base of the [Soldiers’] monument.” What he recites aloud to you and your fellow teachers stirs your deepest emotions.

At the conclusion of the event, before returning to the Church in town, you reflect upon:

“the appropriate character of these exercises, the witching beauty of the twilight hour, the passing loveliness of the landscape …, tender thoughts of thirty-five hundred gallants sons of the Republic, martyrs of liberty, who sleep side by side in quiet graves; and the thousand thronging memories that came crowding upon the brain as [you] stood upon the great sacrificial Altar of Freedom.”

Moved, you find yourself asking rhetorically, “what member of the Association [here] present can ever forget this reading of the DEDICATORY ADDRESS on CEMETERY HILL?”

And later, back in your quarters, you record your closing thoughts on paper:

“Of the world’s great orators and authors not one in a hundred has really added anything permanent. But … in [his] address, LINCOLN has done for the American schoolboy what even WASHINGTON never did — has given him a “new speech” — which will do more through her growing youth to mould the patriotic sentiment of coming generations of American people, than is ever possible for even the grand Farewell Address of the “Father of our Country” to accomplish. Among all of the classic models which have become a power in moulding the sentiment of the civilized world, we know of nothing better or more appropriate for the purpose indicated then the brief address of ABRAHAM LINCOLN … It has already passed into our recently published school speakers and will be as familiar to the school-boy of the future, as Webster’s Repy to Hayne, or his famous speech on Bunker Hill. PRESIDENT LINCOLN was in error when he remarked so beautifully, ‘The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.’ His brief address will live as long as Cemetery Hill endures, as long as the world shall tell the deeds that have made Gettysburg immortal in story. To the teacher who may chance to read these paragraphs, we would say: Encourage your pupils to commit this ADDRESS to memory — never to be forgotten. Let the noble sentiment which it breathes become their life-long patriotic creed.” [emphasis added]

As you depart Gettysburg by train on August 2, 1866, headed for the depot in Hanover Junction, you reflect on the sights of and stories told on the Gettysburg battlefield and compare them in your mind to your own wartime experiences. You think of your dead friends and comrades left behind in makeshift graves in southern states who deserve a final resting place and honors of burial in a setting like the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery. But you also reflect upon the realization that some of what you have experienced in your three full days at Gettysburg faintly echoes elements of the Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication events. You understand your good fortune; this is as close as anyone could possibly have come to time traveling back to Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. From henceforth, you resolve that your curriculum for all students shall include the memorization and recitation of Lincoln’s Dedicatory Address at Gettysburg.

And it is your hope that enduring peace, prosperity, and a new birth of freedom shall be experienced by the next generation.

 

[Note: in reality, the Gettysburg Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association did not conclude until the evening of August 2, 1866. On that morning, David McConaughy, a local State Senator, was introduced to the State Teachers’ Association in order to discuss the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.  Explaining  that “the grandest monument of the battle is the field itself,” McConaughy stated that within 10 days after the battle’s end, Little Round Top (aka Granite Spur) was purchased so “that part of the field, in every respect possible, presents precisely the same appearance that it did at the close of battle.” He noted that other portions of the battlefield also had been bought by the Memorial Association and it was the group’s goal to buy all

“points of greatest interest ..;  open a broad avenue along the main lines of battle; to erect an observatory upon Round Top; and also to erect everywhere low monuments and enduring structures of granite … [with] inscriptions upon these stones [which] tell the visitor … what happened here or there … and thus the Field of Gettysburg may become the Mecca of the American patriot, the perpetual teacher of a nation of freemen.”

Space does not allow for a description of McConaughy’s involvement in the creation of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery, his rivalry with David Wills, his oversight of the Evergreen Cemetery, and his ten year leadership of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, etc.]

David McConaughy-65

One thing which really struck me when I first read the 1866 Pennsylvania School Journal article was its glowing praise of what we now call the “Gettysburg Address,” the statement that “it has already passed into our recently published school speakers,” and its earnest prodding that teachers should make their students memorize it. There are many historians who believe that the Gettysburg Address wasn’t widely embraced until much later when the cult of Lincoln had firmly taken root. This article suggests that many Pennsylvania teachers began emphasizing it in their classrooms relatively shortly after it was delivered — which might have occurred elsewhere too (e.g., this article was republished in the Oct. 1866 Rhode Island Schoolmaster journal). Having attended the moving 150th anniversary event at the Gettysburg National Cemetery in 2013, I have experienced the power of historical recreation. To have experienced Gettysburg in such a way in 1866 must have been quite an experience for anyone the least bit interested in American history. With all due respect to the undeniable talents of the recently deceased and beloved James A. Getty (may he rest in peace), the sincerity of Lincoln’s words narrated in the cemetery by a soldier/schoolteacher who had less than 3 years earlier witnessed Lincoln speak must have been even more powerfully conveyed and felt in 1866 than is possible today.

As for John Burns serving as one of the guides during the State Teachers’ Association visit, it wasn’t the only time he did such a thing. “Without realizing it, perhaps, the battle’s ‘civilian hero’ helped inaugurate a unique, distinctly individualistic, and somewhat lucrative occupation for some Gettysburg citizens” — serving as a battlefield guide. Bloom, Robert L., “‘We Never Expected a Battle’: The Civilians at Gettysburg, 1863,” Pennsylvania History, Vol. 55, No. 4 (October 1988) at p. 190.

Epilogue

Major Henry T. Lee’s 1866 description of Lincoln’s  consecration address compares favorably with an even more contemporary account by another educator. Isaac Jackson Allen, a Whig, was the former president of Farmer’s College near Cincinnati and superintendent of that city’s school system before the war began. [I.J. Allen pictured below in 1901, aged 87, from Shotwell, John B., A History of the Schools of Cincinnati (1902)]:

Isaac Jackson Allen p86 in 1901 age 87

For a portion of the war, Isaac Jackson Allen was the editor of the Daily Ohio State Journal of Columbus, OH. He was in Gettysburg as a journalist on November 19, 1863 because:

“Governor David Tod, of Ohio, invited me to join him as a member of his Staff, pro tempore; to this I assented, as that would give me the privilege of a seat on the platform at Gettysburgh.  When there, I was seated near Mr. Lincoln, with whom were seated members of his Cabinet.”[18]

Isaac Jackson Allen reported the following in the November 23, 1863 edition of the Daily Ohio State Journal [emphasis added]:

“President Lincoln rose to deliver the Dedicatory Address. Instantly every eye was fixed and every voice hushed in expectant and respectful attention … The President’s calm but earnest utterance of this brief and beautiful address stirred the deepest fountains of feeling and emotion in the hearts of the vast throng before him; and, when he had concluded, scarcely could an untearful eye be seen, while sobs of smothered emotion were heard on every hand. At our side stood a stout stalwart officer, bearing the insignia of a captain’s rank, the empty sleeve of his coat indicating that he had stood where death was revelling [sic], and as the President, speaking of our Gettysburg soldiers, uttered that beautifully touching sentence, so sublime and pregnant of meaning —

‘The world will little note, nor long remember what we here SAY, but it can never forget what they here DID:’ [sic] —

The gallant soldier’s feelings burst over all restraint; and burrying [sic] his face in his manly frame shook with no unmanly emotion. In a few moments, with a stern struggle to master his emotions, he lifted his still streaming eyes to heaven and in low and solemn tones exclaimed, “God Almighty bless Abraham Lincoln!” And to this spontaneous invocation a thousand hearts around him silently responded, Amen!

In 1904, Allen further elaborated upon Lincoln’s performance:

“Then President Lincoln rose to deliver the Address of Dedication; advanced to the reading desk, put on his steel-rimmed spectacles, took from his vest pocket a thin slip of paper, laid it before him, glanced at it a moment; then, as if not able to see its writing very well, he crumpled it in his hand, returned it to his vest pocket, removed his spectacles, and proceeded to deliver that ever-memorable Dedicatory Address that has become a classic in our American literature, and which of itself would render the name of Abraham Lincoln immortal! He spoke but seven minutes.  But, before he had spoken five minutes that whole assembled multitude were sobbing, and sympathetic tears were dimming all eyes.  Lincoln’s simple eloquence of heart in speaking of our heroic dead had touched the responsive cords [of] feeling, that Everett’s finished oratory had failed to reach.”[19]

 

By Craig Heberton, October 3, 2015

————————————————————————————————————

[1] This account is based upon and quotes from “Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association,” Pennsylvania School Journal, September 1866, vol.15, No. 3, pp. 58-60. It imagines that you are one of the attendees at the session meeting and you have written at least the quoted sections from the above-cited article. I have taken the liberty of describing you as a veteran of the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment who after the war has returned to your job somewhere in Pennsylvania as a schoolteacher. All of the quoted language in this article relating to the Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association held in Gettysburg on July 31 and August 2, 1866 is from the published piece in the Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol.15, No. 3 (September 1866) first noted below in footnote 6 unless otherwise indicated.

[2] “You” are a fictitious character throughout this piece whom I have created in the attempt to place the reader into the shoes of a schoolteacher attendee at the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association Session in Gettysburg on July 31 and August 1, 1866. You are there primarily to see the battlefield and understand all of the hoopla over its fame. While there, you meet and speak to Rev. Henry L. Baugher, President of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg who gave the closing benediction on the speakers’ stand seconds after Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address;” John L. Burns (the “Hero of Gettysburg”) who likewise was present at the dedication event and walked arm-in-arm with President Lincoln to Gettysburg’s Presbyterian Church after the dedication ceremonies and a public reception at David Wills’ home;  Colonel George Fisher McFarland, who was wounded at Gettysburg on July 1 while covering the First Corps’ retreat and had one of his legs amputated in the halls of the Lutheran Theological Seminary; and Major Henry T. Lee who both served at the Battle of Gettysburg under Doubleday and attended the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery Dedication event on November 19, 1863. Burns, McFarland, and Lee, among others, serve as your guides, taking you to some of the most dramatic portions of the battlefield and they describe to you what they saw and experienced. On Cemetery Hill, standing in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Maj. Lee paints a picture of Lincoln’s address and then reads it in the way he recalls that Lincoln did less than 3 years earlier. Some of what you experience faintly echoes elements of the Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication event. It is a close as you will ever come to having been in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.

[3] Perhaps there really was a member of the 45th Pennsylvania Regiment who survived the war, took a job as a teacher, and attended the Gettysburg Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association held on July 31 to August 1, 1866. However, I’m not aware of such a person. If you do know of someone, by all means, let me know!

[4] Burrows, Thomas H., ed., “Thirteenth Annual Session of the Pennsylvania State Teachers’ Association,” Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol.15, No. 3 (September 1866) at p. 51.

[5] History of Cumberland County and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania (Beers & Co., 1886) at p. 372.

[6] Pennsylvania School Journal, Vol.15, No. 3 (September 1866) at pp. 51-52; Shelley was an advocate of the use of paying teacher incentives to reward quality teaching. See Wickersham, J.P., A History of Education in Pennsylvania, Private and Public Schools (1868) at pp. 8-9.

[7]  Cincinnati Daily Commercial, November 24, 1863.

[8] Baugher’s benediction read: “O Thou King of kings and Lord of lords, God of the nations of the earth, who by Thy kind providence has permitted us to engage in these solemn services, grant us Thy blessing. Bless this consecrated ground, and these holy graves. Bless the President of these United States, and his Cabinet. Bless the Governors and the representatives of the States here assembled with all needed grace to conduct the affairs committed into their hands, to the glory of Thy name, and the greatest good of the people. May this great nation be delivered from treason and rebellion at home, and from the power of enemies abroad. And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Heavenly Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

[9] Not only had McFarland lost his leg, but his other wounded leg caused him great pain. It is presumed that he was transported about by horse-drawn carriage.

[10] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=15909351; http://berks.pa-roots.com/Biographies/GeorgeFMcFarland.html

[11] Eventually, the wound received in his unamputated leg caused an infection which killed him in 1891. For more on the 151st Pennsylvania, see http://www.civilwar.org/education/teachers/teachers-regiment/trading-rulers-for-rifles.html.

[12] “Colonel McFarland’s Diary Reveals War-School Career,” Gettysburg Times, June 27, 1941; Deese, Michael A., The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm at p. 6. For ideas related to teaching about McFarland, see http://www.gettysburglessons.com/blog/george-mcfarland-narrow-your-focus.

[13] McFarland, George F., “The Victory at Gettysburg, the Work of the Teacher,” The Pennsylvania School Journal (October 1866) at pp. 95-96.

[14] https://www.facebook.com/pages/151st-Pennsylvania-Volunteers-Company-D/138961739475266?sk=wall (July 23, 2014 entry on Capt. Owens).

[15] Captain Owens took command of the 151st Pennsylvania after Lt. Colonel McFarland was wounded and later captured. He maintained that command throughout the remaining days of the battle. “Colonel McFarland’s Diary Reveals War-School Career,” Gettysburg Times, June 27, 1941. The 151st was involved in repulsing “Pickett’s Charge” on the final day of battle and surely Captain Owen spoke about what he experienced near the Bloody Angle.

[16] http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=103257557

[17] Major Lee must have been present in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 in his capacity as an aide on the staff of the then wounded Gen. Abner Doubleday. Doubleday was one of several wounded generals at Gettysburg who attended the dedication event. Lee “was never wounded” during the war, “but at Sutherland’s Station he received seven bullet-holes through his clothing.”

[18] Allen, Isaac Jackson. Memoranda Genealogical and Biographical Of the Allen Family (1904) at p. 25.

[19] http://www.jacksonfamilygenealogy.com/pages/bioIsaacJacksonAllenmemorandum.htm

“The Civil War” by Ken Burns: A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM

11 Sep object07639uIDsx1

“The Civil War’s” Episode #5 — “The Universe of Battle – 1863” — is about 1.5 hours long. It begins with the image of a famous photograph by Mathew B. Brady and his team taken in Gettysburg about 10-14 days after the battle’s end.  While showing this picture of three captured (or deserter) Confederate soldiers posing for Brady as if they were paid professionals, Shelby Foote lyrically emotes: “there’s something about that picture that draws me strongly as an image of the war.” Mr. Foote reveals that his fondness comes from his interpretation of the body language of one of the soldiers as that of proud defiance.

01450a detail

Crammed into the final 6 minutes of the end of that episode is a segment Ken Burns titled “A New Birth of Freedom.”

Despite this segment’s short treatment of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, that particular title has evolved over time into one of the most important themes of the entire movie. Burns has repeated it over and over again in dozens upon dozens of interviews during the last 25 years in order to explain the modern relevancy of both “The Civil War” and the conflict itself.

The opening scene in “A New Birth of Freedom” is video footage of former Missouri Congressman James W. Symington eloquently reflecting that if he:

had a choice of all the moments he could be present at during [the] war period it would be at Gettysburg during Lincoln’s delivery of his speech. Maybe to have seen him craft those beautiful words, those marvelous healing words, and then deliver them. They were for everyone, for all time. They subsumed the entire war and all in it. It showed his compassion for everyone. His love for his people. That’s where I’d like to be.”

I remember watching this 25 years ago and saying out loud to no one in particular: “that, too, is where I would want to be.”

After Symington finishes, David McCullough narrates: “On November 19th, Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg to dedicate the new Union cemetery.”

Oops, a blooper! Lincoln actually traveled to Gettysburg on the 18th and we as a nation are very lucky he did.

Had Lincoln left Washington, D.C. on the morning of the 19th, as Secretary of War Stanton had planned, Lincoln never would have arrived at Gettysburg on time. Yet even if he had been delivered there by divine intervention, Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” would have been very different. Lincoln wouldn’t have rewritten a portion of his speech at David Wills’ home on the night of the 18th or visited a portion of the battlefield by carriage very early on the morning of the 19th, after which he possibly added the last several critical lines of his Address … including the words “a new birth of freedom.”

There also would have been no serenading of Lincoln by the crowds in Gettysburg on the night of the 18th, resulting in Lincoln’s “First” Gettysburg Address. In that very short public address, Lincoln stood by an open doorway and joked that he had no speech to give and therefore, based upon past experience, would not give any. It was this address which many Northern Democrat-owned and Southern newspapers alike reported as Lincoln’s ONE & ONLY Gettysburg Address — for which they mocked Lincoln derisively.

About a minute and half into “A New Birth of Freedom,” we come face-to-face with the print of a very famous photograph. Burns then focuses our attention exclusively on that photo over the next 66 seconds (a capture of the second shot of it from the remastered film in HD, below).

Bachrach-Burns-02

It is a photo which was taken at the sight of the dedication of Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ Cemetery. And it’s original negative, sadly, has been lost to history. Of greatest importance is that it is the only Gettysburg photograph which is universally agreed to show Lincoln [to read about another which may also show Lincoln, click this link]. Yet Lincoln’s appearance within it wasn’t announced until February 11, 1953 after Josephine Cobb of the National Archives tentatively identified Lincoln. A consensus was reached over time that it is him.

Ken Burns used this photograph in three separate and consecutive shots. In the first, he zoomed in on detail to the left, revealing some of the soldiers standing in a hollow square formation. They are turned to face towards the camera and strike a pose (the same detail from an image courtesy of the Library of Congress, at right).

Bachrach-Burns-01ycompareLC

The second frame shows the entire photograph, giving some sense of the scale of the event (but not its full scope) and the distance the photographers were set up from the speakers’ platform and the crowds jammed around Lincoln and others. In its third usage, Burns filmed a very tight shot of an area on the speaker’s platform and had his camera zoom in towards the face of Abraham Lincoln. Here is a capture of Burn’s tightest shot from the remastered film in HD available at www.pbs.org, placed side-by-side with detail from a Library of Congress scan (at right).

Bachrach-Burns-04aLCx

David McCullough narrates the following during the minute plus airing of this photo:

Then Lincoln rose. A local photographer took his time focusing. Presumably the President could be counted on to go for a while. But he spoke just 269 words … Lincoln was heading back to his seat before the photographer could open the shutter.

Just a small faux pas here because the camera those men used was not equipped with a shutter. Rather, an exposure was created simply by removing and replacing a cap over the lens. Crude home-made drop shutter lenses were then a great rarity.

The story Mr. McCullough described is a combination of two accounts published more than 30 years after the event. Those accounts spoke to the presence of a photographer right in front of the platform who failed to take a picture of Lincoln while he stood and spoke. To be clear, neither those accounts nor Mr. McCullough’s narration relate in any way to this photograph.

It was first deduced by William A. Frassanito, to my knowledge, that the photographers who took this image in which Lincoln is discernible were David Bachrach of Baltimore and an undentified cameraman from Harper’s Weekly. I firmly believe that those men might be seen together within detail from a different photograph taken on the grounds of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery on November 19, 1863 (see below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). One can be made out (through the limbs of a tree) seated atop a tall folding ladder. He is peering through his camera with his left arm extended while the other man stands near him with a portable darkroom on a tripod. If these men are not Bachrach and the Harper’s Weekly photographer, then they are likely David Woodbury and Anthony Berger (two Mathew Brady photographers). They were first pointed out and described in the book Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg” For more about them, click here for the article “Finding Photographers and Their Equipment in Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery Photos.”

32845u-auto adjusted5

Bachrach wrote in 1916 that “I took the portable dark-room and [went to Gettysburg], and did the technical work of photographing the crowd, not with the best result while Mr. Everett was speaking.” That is exactly what the photograph used by Ken Burns and showing Lincoln depicts: Edward Everett standing and speaking (see him in blurred detail, below at left).

07639u_BachrachMr. Bachrach made no mention of attempting to photograph Lincoln while he spoke or even after he returned to his seat. It is logical that he would have mentioned it had he done so.

If you wonder what Lincoln was doing the moment he was photographed, take a look at the following and click “Addressing What Lincoln is Doing While Seated on the Platform at Gettysburg.”

object07639uIDsx1

Fell free to share with me what you think.

There’s something about that picture that draws me strongly as an image of the Civil War!

Craig Heberton, September 10, 2015

It’s Lincoln or Bust!

5 Jul

Whenever I read of a newly discovered photograph of a famous historical figure or the image of a legendary name hidden in a well known old photograph, my attention is grabbed.  After which, my next usual impulse is to evaluate whether the discovery is for real.

For a few moments the other day, my attention was grabbed.

I happened to review a positive digital image of a photographic plate at the National Archives labeled 111-B-5152. You can see it here at: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/529258?q=111-B-5152. The photograph clearly was taken in the Washington, D.C. studio of Mathew B. Brady.

Landscape

At first blush, the image was of no special interest to me. It is titled “Gen. Francis Preston Blair, Jr. and staff of fifteen” by the National Archives. Although undated, the photo clearly was shot sometime after November 1862 when Blair was promoted to Major General. A second star insignia on Blair’s right shoulder strap is barely visible, denoting his rank.

The Blair House of Politics

A Princeton College graduate, Blair was born in Lexington, KY in 1821 and engaged in politics in Missouri after establishing his legal practice in St. Louis.  He became a dominant Republican in his home state and oversaw efforts to elect Lincoln in 1860 because, among other things, Blair was opposed to the further expansion of slavery.  He also served several terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before and during the Civil War. He is “credited with being the principal leader in saving Missouri for the Union in 1861.”[i] His father, Francis Preston Blair, Sr. was a mover-and-shaker in the creation of the Republican Party in 1854 (Hal Holbrook portrayed his father in Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln (2012)). His parents’ home in Washington, D.C. is still known as the Blair House and has served as the President’s Guest House since the U.S. government bought it during World War II. Francis P. Blair, Jr.’s brother Montgomery Blair, served as Postmaster-General in Lincoln’s cabinet for several years. Thus, at the time of the Civil War, the Blairs, perhaps, were as prominent and powerful of a political family as existed.

Francis Preston Blair, Jr.’s distinguished military service during the Civil War — including at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and under Gen. Sherman in the “March to the Sea” — only made him more popular before the war’s end. [ii] Ulysses S. Grant wrote this about Frank Blair in July 1861: “There was no man braver than he, nor was there any who obeyed all orders of his superior in rank with more unquestioning alacrity.”[iii]

Or I’ll Eat My …

Scanning the National Archive’s  image, something in the foreground along the left-hand margin caught my attention.  “Is there someone lurking in the shadows?,” I blurted out loud to no one in particular.  Zooming in, I saw the nearly all-white profile of a face and part of an upper torso. Its appearance led me to conclude that  it must be a sculpted bust resting on a pedestal … and that it looked like Abraham Lincoln (detail, below, of the apparent bust).

Landscape

Comparing Lincoln’s profile in a photo taken by Anthony Berger in Brady’s Washington studio on February 9, 1864 to the fuzzy & out-of-focus profile in 111-B-5152, revealed the following:

profile cf O-89 cf

So then I wondered, “is there any possibility that this might be Lincoln himself?” Lincoln visited Brady’s studio on several occasions during his presidency. Surely it was possible that Lincoln might have visited the studio on the same day that Brady’s studio manager, Anthony Berger, was creating photographs of the president’s political ally, Major General Frank P. Blair, Jr., of the powerful conservative faction of the Republican Party? Might Lincoln have arrived early, peeked in on Blair, placed his fidgety right arm and hand atop a pedestal, and accidentally photo-bombed the last seconds of a photo shoot? Reaching my own conclusions, I nevertheless decided to turn to several Civil War photo enthusiasts for their input.  In a cover message, I wrote:

“assuming its Lincoln’s profile, is it a bust or the real man? I’m not sure. But to me it looks possible that there is an arm with a fidgety hand perched on the pedestal.  Not quite sure what the white blob is. So I cannot say it is definitively a bust.”

The first gentleman to respond proclaimed — ” Well that’s damned interesting!  … I’m speechless (for now).” Three hours later he wrote:

Here’s what I see. Abraham Lincoln is standing behind an open door to Brady’s studio … He’s holding a book in his right hand. The binding is facing in our direction. The object overlaying the book is Lincoln’s right hand, which is moving in front of the door’s brass door knob. The President has just entered the room unannounced, as the exposure finished up … If this were a bust, we’d see the table on which it must sit. The bright object seen below the visible portion of Lincoln’s shirt may be his watch.”

But soon he messaged the group that he had found a variant view of General Blair posing at Brady’s studio with the same men within the Library of Congress’ collection, identified as  LC-BH831- 575 (see below), and added — ” if this is not Lincoln’s distinctive profile, I’ll eat my (fill in the blank).” Oh!,” I exclaimed, as I wondered out loud what object he would consume if we were to conclude it wasn’t Lincoln’s profile — perhaps a stove pipe hat?

LC-BH831- 575 03120a[0]

The variant view clearly shows Gen. Blair and his staff posing at Brady’s studio on the same day. In fact the camera position and the space framed is identical. But that view doesn’t seem to show the Lincoln-appearing white image in profile on the extreme left edge of the plate. This observation caused some more preliminary “thinking out loud” speculation in support of the supposition that President Lincoln may have photo-bombed 111-B-5152.

Yet the discovery of the variant LC-BH831- 575 view ultimately helped the group answer my initial question, but only after we navigated through several other prickly minefields.

For starters, another Civil War photography expert asked, “seriously if that is Lincoln [in the flesh] wouldn’t his beard be dark?” I wrote in reply that perhaps his face and dark hair and beard were all washed out because we were seeing a “ghost image” caused by movement during the course of a multi-second studio exposure, enhanced by the face being out of focus and in bright, direct sunlight from an unseen skylight above.  Maybe it was possible that Lincoln had moved partially into view only at the tail-end of the exposure. The more a person moved, the more their features could be distorted in a wet-plate collodion exposure. Also, the shorter the time period one appeared in an several second exposure (which may have reached something like ten seconds in Brady’s studio), the more washed out their image might appear (examples, below — “Ghost image” of a (twinned) boy in motion at Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ Cemetery, November 19, 1863, from LC-B815- 1159; a boy outside Castle Thunder, Richmond, Va., April 1865,  from LC-B811- 3362):

04063u_crop outside Castle Thunder, a tobacco warehouse converted into a prison. Richmond, VA, 1865

But the problem of interpreting much of what is seen on the extreme left side of the 111-B-5152 and explaining why it differed from the same area in LC-BH831- 575 remained unanswered. Moreover, a quick search didn’t yield the same Lincoln-like profile, let alone a bust of Lincoln, in any other Brady studio photos, again hinting that what appeared in the left-hand margin of 111-B-5152 might be someone’s fleeting appearance and not a bust perched in Brady’s studio. Ultimately, however, the ” I’ll eat my (fill in the blank)” researcher soon noted something which had also dawned upon me.

He realized that a piece of tape placed on the negative plate for LC-BH831- 575 had prevented us from recognizing that the extreme left of LC-BH831- 575 almost certainly was identical to the same area in 111-B-5152. What I initially thought was a highly illuminated area in LC-BH831- 575 had resulted from someone covering the plate with tape which made that area look white after the plate was scanned and the negative was turned into a positive image (see detail below, right). In fact, on our first pass we had failed to notice a much smaller piece of tape placed in the upper left-hand corner of  111-B-5152 which produced the same effect (see detail below, left). A side-by-side comparison of detail within 111-B-5152 and LC-BH831- 575 reveals that if we could remove the tape from LC-BH831- 575’s plate, what apparently is Lincoln’s bust would be visible in it too:

zprofile3

The apparent bust of Lincoln, moreover, probably was on a pedestal or table behind what was likely a screen and hadn’t moved at all between the shooting of the two photos (which could have been several minutes apart because of the long prep time needed to prepare a glass plate negative for use). Our intrepid “I’ll eat my …” researcher determined that the bust likely was a form of “Parian Ware,” a process, he explained, “of mass producing statuary, designed to imitate carved marble …  a fellow called Martin Milmore apparently was on the cutting edge of [producing this] around the time of our Gen. Blair group shot. It’s not unreasonable to think that Brady might have owned one of Milmore’s Lincoln busts, which he produced and signed. Christies sold one in 2009 for $4,750.” The same gentleman created the following marked interpretation of 111-B-5152:

LC-BH831- 575_stuff[1]

Other clues revealed a possible date for when the photographs were taken. They are:

  1. The officer in the top row, second from the left, apparently could no longer button his coat;
  2. The presumed officer in the top row, second from the right, was out of uniform; and
  3. A few of the officers are wearing a black or dark mourning ribbon or band tied on their left arms (marked, below).

LC-BH831- 575 03120asashdetail

These clues suggest that the Civil War was over (at least the Appomattox Courthouse surrender had occurred) and Lincoln had been assassinated. Many soldiers presumably wore black mourning bands or sashes to mark the murder of their President when Lincoln’s funeral procession passed through Washington, D.C. on April 19, 1865. The Daily National Republican of April 17, 1865 reported that Secretary Stanton had ordered the military to wear the badge of mourning on the left arm. The same symbol of mourning and remembrance was tied to soldiers’ arms in other cities to which Lincoln’s catafalque traveled, including New York City. See also, https://www.flickr.com/photos/110677094@N05/14977153225/. Some soldiers likely chose to wear those arm bands during the Grand Review of the Union Army which occurred in Washington, D.C. on May 23-24, 1865. Although there are reports in the historical record that the city of Washington no longer was in formal mourning for Lincoln as of the time of the Grand Review of the Union Army, some photos show flags at half mast and specific buildings decked out in black mourning crepe (e.g., LC-B8184-7748, below, captioned “Washington, D.C. Spectators at side of the Capitol, which is hung with crepe and has flag at half-mast during the ‘grand review’ of the Union Army”). In Proclamation No. 129, President Johnson declared May 25, 1865 to be “a day of humiliation and mourning” for Lincoln but later postponed that date until June 1st.LC-B8184-7748 23873ux

Gen. Blair and his officers, as members of Sherman’s Army, would have participated in the Grand Review on May 24. This may explain why they were all gathered together in the nation’s capitol, that some wore mourning bands during the photo session, and their boots were outfitted with spurs for riding possibly in the procession. See below, for example, LC-USZ62-1770, an 1865 copyrighted image of General Ulysses S. Grant posing for Frederick Gutekunst while wearing a mourning sash tied onto his left arm said to be in honor of President Lincoln (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

LC-USZ62-1770 by Gutekunst

Thus, the date of the photo session may have been on or about May 23, 24, or 25, 1865, near the time that Blair and his staff rode in the Grand Review and when the nation still collectively mourned for Abraham Lincoln.

We don’t know to whom the apparent bust of Lincoln belonged or why it was placed where it would appear in the outer fringes of the negative. Perhaps the bust wasn’t a fixture in the Brady studio and General Blair had recently purchased it. If so, I’d like to think that the General desired to take it back home with him to better remember his fallen commander-in-chief.

So in about 24 hours, our little group concluded that a bust of Lincoln probably had made two unexpected appearances in Brady studio photographs. Not quite on par with spotting a new photographic image of Abraham Lincoln in the flesh-and-blood, but a very cool “profile of Lincoln” discovery, nonetheless.

Unless someone else shows us to the contrary within the next 24 hours, no stove-pipe hats will be eaten.

by Craig Heberton IV, July 5, 2015

———————————————————————————————————-

[i] William E. Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative (1998) (dust cover)

[ii] http://www.civilwarmo.org/educators/resources/info-sheets/francis-preston-blair-jr; http://history.house.gov/People/Listing/B/BLAIR,-Francis-Preston,-Jr–(B000523)/ http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/inside.asp?ID=129&subjectID=2; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Preston_Blair,_Jr.

[iii] Parrish, Frank Blair: Lincoln’s Conservative (1998), at p. 174.

Among the Most Powerful and Moving Images of Character Ever Achieved by Portrait Photographers

20 Apr Lincoln in Alexander Gardner's Studio, November 8, 1863, only 11 days before the Gettysburg Address

Historian David Hackett Fischer is probably best known as the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Washington’s Crossing (2004) about George Washington’s leadership in 1776 leading up to the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, as well as Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (1989).

His most important work on how imagery has shaped the history of America is Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas (2005). Perhaps that book’s finest chapter is entitled “The Long ‘Shaddow’ of Abraham Lincoln; a Living Symbol of Liberty and Freedom in the Camera’s Eye.” In it, Fischer notes that “one of Lincoln’s political strengths was his skill in the manipulation of imagery, including his own image.” Lincoln immediately was put to the test following his presidential election as a dark-horse candidate by the challenge of overcoming the vicious invectives and unflattering cartoons and other imagery hurled at him by adversarial members of the national and international media.

For example, the British illustrated magazine Punch

“used caricatures of Lincoln’s features to attack him as an incompetent fool, a cowardly bully, a dishonest lawyer, a primitive clown, and a party hack. The assault continued to the hour of Union victory and the moment of Lincoln’s assassination. Then suddenly a chastened editor of Punch issued a public apology:

Yes, he had lived to shame me from my sneer,
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen —
To make me own this hind of princes peer.
This rail-splitter a true-born king of men.”

1862-10-18 Punch-ABE LINCOLN'S LAST CARD OR, ROUGE-ET-NOIR  1864-11-19 Punch blackdraftMED1

One key instrument which Lincoln applied to combat the attacks on his intellect, competence, judgment, integrity, and fortitude was “the camera’s eye, which he was among the first to use in a systematic way for political purposes.” Liberty and Freedom at p. 342. Lincoln evolved from referring to sitting for a portrait as having had his “shaddow” taken to quickly understanding the exploitative power of posing in the studio of an expert photographic artist in a way which constructed and projected his own image first as a man suited to the presidency and then as an executive capable of forcing the seceding states back into the Union.

“As the war went on, the president’s demeanor showed growing strength and steadiness. The line of his jaw suggested firmness of purpose, and the set of his eyes showed a clarity of vision in this extraordinary man. His appearance increasingly displayed qualities of character, integrity, and moral leadership that were the source of his greatness.” Ibid. at pp. 346-347.

The means by which this was accomplished primarily resulted from Lincoln’s visits to Alexander Gardner’s and Mathew B. Brady’s photographic studios in Washington, D.C. in 1863 and 1864. During those pilgrimages, Lincoln:

“had many portraits taken by Alexander Gardner and Anthony Berger, two very able portrait photographers. Both were attentive to the qualities of character that increasingly appeared in Lincoln’s face and used every trick of their art to make them more evident. In 1863 and 1864, Gardner and Berger made much use of tight close-ups. Gardner was known for his path-breaking work in the use of photo-enlargement. Berger was highly skilled in the manipulation of light. Both men used these techniques to emphasize the facial lines that Brady had removed by retouching in 1860. They also set the camera below the plane of Lincoln’s head to create a monumental feeling and reinforced the shadows above his eyes to add depth and texture to the face.

The results are among the most powerful and moving images of character that portrait photographers have ever achieved. One of them was a photograph of Lincoln by Alexander Gardner after the battle of Gettysburg, in the period when the president was writing his address. Lincoln appears full face. The camera is very close and slightly below the sitter’s head. The features are dark and worn. The face of Lincoln is an image of pain and worry and exhaustion. At the same time one is made to feel the presence of a strong resolve to see the struggle through to victory [below, courtesy of the Library of Congress].

LC 3a53289r

“[Prior to] the fall of 1864, with a critical election at hand, Anthony Berger created an image of Lincoln as a wise and experienced leader, with an aura of growing strength and confidence. But the deep lines and shadows are still there and are made more visible by the photographer’s technique” [emphasis added]. Ibid. at pp. 347-348.

O-92 LC-B8175- 3-X

Professor Fischer is one of the few historians to realize the artistic genius of Anthony Berger and to ascribe credit to both Berger and Gardner for fashioning visual images of Lincoln as a strong, but deeply sympathetic leader. This imagery helped win Lincoln the overwhelming faith, trust, and loyalty especially of the vast majority of Union soldiers in the field as well as their votes in numbers necessary for his re-election in 1864. The same imagery has gained in symbolic power and scope as the years have passed following Lincoln’s death.

“All of this appeared in the great photographs of Gardner, Berger, and Brady during the last year of the war. They carefully created the image of Lincoln that still lives in the hearts of the American people. The war-ravaged face of this man became the image of the nation’s greatest leader and the symbol of its largest cause. It was also a new vision of freedom, with a depth of sympathy for the suffering of others. Even today one can ‘scarcely look at it without crying.'”

Ibid., at p. 348.

Craig Heberton, April 20, 2015

Anthony Berger “Herolds” Forth a Lincoln Conspirator

14 Apr Walnutts-ebay-285 Fulton-02

Fifty-six year old President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by the misguided and murderous thespian, John Wilkes Booth, at Ford’s Theatre on the night of April 14, 1865. Lincoln died the next morning at 7:22 a.m. in the Peterson House across the street from the theatre. Charles Leale, a young army surgeon who attended to Lincoln at the theatre remained by Lincoln’s side to the bitter end and “held his hand firmly to let him know, in his blindness, that he had a friend.”

As soon as the Chief Magistrate was pronounced dead, Secretary of State Stanton said either “now he belongs to the ages” or “now he belongs to the angels.” The exact wording is not important because both versions are equally poignant. Edwin M. Stanton walked away from Lincoln’s deathbed to oversee a massive manhunt for Booth and his co-conspirators during which others suspected of aiding and abetting either the plot or Booth’s attempted getaway also were rounded up.

Because photoengraving technology did not then exist, sketch artists and woodcut engravers were utilized in order to recreate photographic images on the pages of newspapers and journals. Few American dailies made regular use of those artists in April of 1865 probably because of the crush of time and the expense of doing so. The Philadelphia Inquirer, however, managed to print a relatively crude woodcut image of Booth on the front page of its April 17th edition (below). That drawing appears to have been based upon a horizontally flipped version of a Booth photo represented in the Library of Congress collection (also below):

1865-04-17_Philadelphia Inquirer-01bb

13706r-flip & crop

On April 26, 1865, John Wilkes Booth — who also had masterminded Lewis Powell’s nearly fatal attack on Secretary of State Seward and George Atzerodt’s aborted scheme to murder Vice President Johnson — was hunted down and killed by Federal cavalrymen on Richard H. Garrett’s farm near Port Royal, VA. Before he was shot dead, Booth would have been displeased to learn that members of the 22nd U.S. Colored Regiment were part of his manhunt.

At that same time and place, Booth’s sole get-away compatriot, David E. Herold, surrendered to the Federal posse. While on the run after the assassination of Lincoln, Booth wrote a rambling entry in his small calendar day book under the date of April 21, apparently averring that the 22 year-old Herold was a pious “brave boy:”

after being hunted like a dog … [while] wet cold and starving … every man’s hand [was] against me [and] I am here in despair … A country that groaned beneath [Lincoln’s] tyranny and prayed for this end and yet now behold the cold hand they extend to me … And it is with [God] to damn or bless me [a]nd this brave boy with me who often prays (yes before and since) with a true and sincere heart ….

Some accounts suggest that by the time Herold surrendered to the military posse, Booth considered Herold a coward.

How Newsworthy Images Were Then Seen: The Illustrated Weekly Newspaper

The most widely circulated journal during the Civil War was Harper’s Weekly at 100,000 copies a week.  It was the primary medium by which many Americans viewed “images” of that war. In the words of J. Henry Harper, “what the dailies told Harper’s Weekly pictured.” Moreover, “after the Civil War began, its [conciliatory tone towards slavery] changed and Harper’s Weekly became wholeheartedly Northern and pro-Lincoln.” (Peter Hutchinson, “A Publishers History of American Magazines: Major Publishers Enter the Magazine Market” (2011), at pp. 1-2 ).

The magnificent illustrated art work which filled the pages of Harper’s Weekly, created by the likes of Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast, took time to create and get into print. Consequently,  neither Harper’s nor its main weekly competitor, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, was able to publish either stories about Lincoln’s assassination or relevant images when each went to press for its April 15 and April 22 publications.

Even with a team of engravers working on individual square sections of an illustration, it took Leslie’s and Harper’s two weeks to picture the news. Consequently, April 22, 1865 came too soon to permit coverage of the assassination, so the feature 2-page illustration which appeared in that edition of Harper’s was (by our standards) a very much dated rendition of Richmond falling to the Union army on April 3rd.

1865-04-22 Harper's Weekly 2 page

Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper finally printed images of Booth and stories of the assassination in their April 29 editions (Leslie’s, below left, & Harper’s illustration and opening text, below right):

1865-04-29_00

The Leslie’s engraving was based upon the photo below, left, and Harper’s probably utilized some variant of the photo below, right (both courtesy of the Library of Congress). The 26 year-old Booth had posed for many photographs during his lifetime in several different cities.

john_wilkes_booth 27147vflipped

The illustrations in Harper’s also included an artist’s rendering of Lincoln’s shooting and a two-page Thomas Nast sketch meant to symbolize the mourning of a grieving nation:

1865-04-29 Harper's Weekly p264-265a

Frank Leslie’s printed its own illustrations of the shooting as well as Lincoln’s death bed scene:

1865-04-29_Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper_071865-04-29_Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper_08

One of Anthony Berger’s Photographs of Lincoln is Immortalized

To honor and memorialize the loss of “Father Abraham,” the cover of Harper’s next edition on May 6, 1865 featured a large engraving of a bespectacled Lincoln seated in a chair with his youngest son, Tad, standing directly by his side.

1865-05-06

This paternalistic image was derived from a photograph taken by Anthony Berger on February 9, 1864 when Berger managed Mathew Brady’s Washington, D.C. gallery. An 1865 copyrighted version by Berger reveals that he supplied to Harper’s a retouched photo to make it appear (a) as if it had been taken at the White House rather than Brady’s studio and (b) that the President was reading Bible passages to his youngest son. The “book” perched on Lincoln’s crossed leg actually was a photograph album handed to Lincoln in the studio in order to grab Tad’s rapt attention. Even the chair was modified by the placement of fringe dangling from its arm and some sort of fabric draped on its slightly straightened back.

1865-05-06 Harper's Weekly 00b

Harper’s Weekly likely received a copy of Anthony Berger’s photograph of Lincoln within a few days after Lincoln’s death in order to have the necessary two week lead time required for an engraving of it to appear on its May 6th cover. But Harper’s erroneously credited “Brady” as the photographer in the caption beneath the image (see above). This misattribution was corrected by a short notice buried in the back pages of the May 13, 1865 issue which explained that the Harper’s portrait actually was “copied from the admirable photograph of Mr. A. Berger, 285 Fulton Street, Brooklyn.”

1865-05-13_Harper's Weekly_291_A. Berger's Photox

On May 9, 1865, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that “Mr. A. Berger will conduct” a photographic business at 285 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, NY:

1865-05-09 Brooklyn Eagle-Anthony Berger-Lincoln engraving

It is possible that prior sales of albumin prints of an unretouched version of the Lincoln photo with the “Brady & Co.” label created editorial confusion at Harper’s Weekly. But another possible explanation for Harper’s misattribution of Berger’s Lincoln and son portrait is that Anthony Berger might not have ceased working for Brady until sometime shortly before or immediately after Lincoln’s assassination so that at least one of Harper’s editors still assumed that any images purchased from Berger constituted transactions done on behalf of (and warranting credit to) Brady.

Berger must have cultivated a good working relationship with Harper’s staff over the course of his tenure managing Brady’s gallery in Washington, D.C., probably submitting a number of earlier “Brady” photos for use by Harper’s Weekly. After printing a “Brady” photograph of Secretary of the Interior Harlan (below) in its March 25, 1865 edition (possibly submitted by Berger), Harper’s didn’t publish any illustrations credited to Brady until the aforementioned erroneous attribution in its May 6th edition.

1865-03-25_Harpers_01

“I’ll Have another Berger, Please”

But Harper’s wasn’t quite finished yet in utilizing Anthony Berger’s photographs as a source for its illustrations in the wake of Lincoln’s assassination. The very first image of Booth’s get-away companion, David E. Herold, that was printed on the pages of Harper’s Weekly appeared in its June 10, 1865 edition as an engraving based upon a picture “Photographed by A. Berger, Brooklyn, N.Y.” (below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). That image accompanied Harper’s first feature story on Herold (erroneously identified as “David C. Harold”) which pointed out that Herold had confessed to playing a role in Booth’s escape when captured.

1865-06-10 harpersweeklyic

1865-06-10 harpersweeklyics

The Harper’s Weekly illustration of David E. Herold derived from Anthony Berger’s photograph raises a multitude of questions. When and where was Herold photographed by Berger? Was the picture taken before or after Herold’s capture? If after, how was Berger able to gain access to him? If before, was Berger still working for Brady or was he on his own? Where  was it taken? Why did Harper’s Weekly select Berger’s photo as its first published illustration of Booth’s youthful get away companion? Did Berger actually photograph David E. Herold or someone mistaken for him?

Did Berger Photograph Herold After Lincoln’s Murder?

There is no tangible proof to support that Anthony Berger somehow received permission to photograph Herold following his capture. Even the famous “Brady of Broadway” apparently lacked the pull to secure such a sitting as no M.B. Brady attributed photos of Booth’s imprisoned co-conspirators have ever come to light. It seems farfetched that Berger photographed Herold  (but none of the other conspirators) in captivity on behalf of Brady after Herold was captured on April 26, quit Brady shortly thereafter, moved to Brooklyn with the only negative plate of Herold in his possession, opened his own business prior to the 9th of May, and then sold the image to Harper’s.

Alexander Gardner, whom D. Mark Katz says then was still in the employ of the U.S. Secret Service, took  “mug” shots of David Herold and several other suspected Lincoln/Seward co-conspirators onboard the monitors Montauk and Saugus on the morning following Booth’s autopsy performed on the Montauk on April 26, 1865. The Washington Evening Star on April 28th reported on David Herold’s April 27 photographic session:

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The photo described in the Evening Star article probably refers to the following image of David Herold taken by Alexander Gardner on April 27 only several hours after Herold was captured (courtesy of the Library of Congress):

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For some reason, more than a month passed before engravings derived from the Alexander Gardner photographs — including Herold’s — were printed on the pages of the July 1, 1865 edition of Harper’s Weekly.  The  Gardner photo of Herold eventually selected for reproduction appears below, right (courtesy of the Library of Congress), next to the July 1, 1865 Harper’s engraving (below, left, courtesy of the University of Michigan Library):

mugshot-Gardner-Harpers July 1 1865

Why did it take so long to publish engravings of the Gardner photos? Why did the June 10, 1865 edition of Harper’s Weekly feature an image based upon Berger’s rather than Gardner’s photographs?

The best explanation seems to be that Secretary of War Stanton and bureaucratic red-tape probably held up the dissemination of select Gardner mug-shots, forcing Harper’s Weekly to look for other sources. Because Herold and the other accused conspirators were tried before a military tribunal in proceedings beginning on May 12, photographers were kept at a distance (although accounts indicate that at least one sketch artist for Harper’s Weekly was present in the courtroom during the tribunal proceedings).

In a later Harper’s publication on July 22, 1865, some of the execution photos of four of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, including Herold, were published as engravings. The only photographers authorized to attend and memorialize the executions conducted behind the high walls of the Washington Arsenal — in front of people who were given special passes by General Hancock — were Alexander Gardner and his assistant Timothy O’Sullivan. Detail from one of the Gardner/O’Sullivan photos, below, shows Herold only minutes before he was hung.

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All of this cumulatively points to the conclusion that it is unlikely that Berger sought, let alone received, photojournalistic access to the imprisoned David Herold before he was hung.

Did Berger Photograph Herold Before Lincoln’s Murder?

It certainly is possible that the photograph from which the David Herold engraving was based was shot when Berger managed Brady’s studio in Washington, D.C. simply because some of Berger’s time in Washington overlapped Herold’s residency there.

After attending pharmacy school at Georgetown, Herold is said to have been employed at Thompson’s Pharmacy in D.C. when he first met John Wilkes Booth in 1863 (it is even believed by some that Herold delivered a bottle of castor oil to the White House in 1863, possibly handing it directly to Abraham Lincoln; see, e.g., http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln28.html). William Thompson’s pharmacy was located at 15th Street on the west corner of New York Avenue, a short distance from the White House.

In a statement Herold gave to Special Judge Advocate John A. Bingham on April 27, 1865, he said that he lived and worked with the druggist F.S. Ward in Washington, D.C. for 11 months prior to the early fall of 1864. After that, he claimed to have tramped through Maryland shooting partridges and hunting for game over the course of two or three months before returning to his mother’s residence on Eighth Street between L & M Streets in Washington near the Navy Yard. Much testimony was submitted concerning his presence at his mother’s home in early and mid-February 1865. The press reported that by early 1865, Herold “had been cut out of employment for some time past.” The media reports also indicated that no one was entirely sure where Herold had been over much of the year and a half time period after his father died, speculating that he spent much of his time on the back roads of Maryland punctuated by short visits to his mother’s home in D.C.

We don’t know when Anthony Berger’s employment with Brady in Washington, D.C. ceased. It is reasonable to assume that it didn’t occur any earlier than September 7, 1864 when a presumably cash-strapped Mathew Brady sold a 50 percent stake in his Washington, D.C. gallery to James F. Gibson, quite likely leading to Berger’s eventual removal as that gallery’s manager. Assuming that Berger took Herold’s picture in Washington, D.C., it is fair to posit that he did so while working for Brady.

It has to be considered highly unlikely that Berger would have left Brady’s employ with a negative plate (or even a print) of someone mired in the lowest depths of obscurity and historical irrelevance. If Berger happened to photograph Herold at Brady’s in D.C. when Herold was publicly anonymous, then by the time Berger bid adieu to Brady, David Herold must have been notorious as there otherwise would have been no reason for Berger to depart with any photographic representation of Herold. This line of reasoning would place Berger’s departure from Brady somewhere in the time frame just after the news first broke that Herold was involved in Lincoln’s death.

The general public first came to learn of Mr. Herold when he was erroneously described as “David C. Harold” in a WANTED broadside poster released by Secretary of War Stanton on April 20, 1865 (see below, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

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In what is believed to be a first for WANTED posters, prints of available photographs of the fugitives were pasted onto some but not all of the posters. A carte de visite image of a youthful looking David Herold had been turned over by Herold’s mother to investigators on the evening of April 15. Mrs. Herold’s identification of her son in the photo was authenticated by a man named Louis J. Weichmann who knew Herold and the Surratts by sight. Alexander Gardner photographed the Herold portrait and created multiple prints of it for the posters (see detail from the broadside poster below (right) and the corresponding studio photo (left), courtesy of the Library of Congress).

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For some reason the $100,000 Reward! poster released on April 20th identified David E. Herold as “David C. Harold.” This occurred despite the fact that newspapers like The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.) correctly reported on April 20, 1865 that a “heavy reward” was offered by the War Department for the apprehension of Lincoln’s murder accomplices, including “David Herold” who “until recently was a clerk in a drug store in the Sixth Ward” and “known as a sympathizer with the South.” How the press got the spelling right and the War Department’s printer got it wrong is a bit of a mystery. A greater mystery is why, nearly two months later, the June 10, 1865 Harper’s Weekly editors elected to use the same erroneous spelling from the WANTED poster.

Presumably, the carte de visite procured by Officer McDevitt from Herold’s mother for use by the War Department in the WANTED posters never was made available to Harper’s even after David Herold was in custody. But the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 19, 1865 clearly “borrowed” this photo from a WANTED poster in creating the following:

herold-phila May 19, 1865

To read more about Philadelphia Inquirer illustrations involving the assassination, see http://boothiebarn.com/2013/07/. It should also be noted that a book published in 1865, Trial of the Assassins and Conspirators for the Murder of Abraham Lincoln, contains Philadelphia Inquirer stories about and illustrations relating to the trial of the accused conspirators and perpetrators. See https://archive.org/details/trialofassassin2693phil.

Did Herold Really Pose for Anthony Berger?

Whether the engraving of “David C. Harold” in the June 10, 1865 Harper’s Weekly Illustrated publication was based on a photograph of David E. Herold or some other man mistaken for him is not immediately clear after a visual comparison of the engraving with Herold’s known photographs (see, below left, the engraving of Berger’s photo laid next to several Library of Congress and National Archives photo images of David E. Herold).

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It can be said that a number of the facial features of the man portrayed in the sketch appear to be at least similar to the same in the photos: the nose, distinctive eyebrows, a relatively long face, and a soft chin.

However, the presence of a moustache, wispy facial hair, and the location of his hair part in the engraving stand out as differences, along with what looks to be a more elongated face. Whether these were embellishments added by the engraver to make Herold look older or visible features in the photograph is unknown. Efforts to locate the original photograph have gone unrewarded.

It is instructive to note that Herold’s appearance on the day his death warrant was read to him in court was described in a July 7, 1865 Brooklyn Daily Eagle story as follows:

 “He was a lad of nineteen [sic; actually 22]; draped in a faded blue suit, in height about five feet four inches, black hair, lively dark hazel eyes, slight tuft of beard along the chin and jaws and faintly surrounding the mouth; rather round face; full but not prominent nose; full lips; a foolish, weak, confiding countenance indicating but little intelligence and not the faintest trace of ferocity [bolding added].”

Previously, the June 12, 1865 Washington Evening Star reported that Herold’s “mustaches have been shaved off clean since Saturday [June 10].” The National Police Gazette issue of July 15, 1865 included a sketch of Herold sporting facial hair (below, left). The suit and bow tie worn by Herold in that image also bear a general resemblance to the outfit seen on Herold in the engraving derived from Anthony Berger’s photograph in Harper’s (below, right).

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General Lew Wallace, who was a member of the military commission which tried the Booth conspiracy defendants, also sketched an image of David E. Herold (below, right) sporting a light beard and moustache (from the collection of the Indiana Historical Society, via David Taylor’s July 4, 2014 article, “General Lew Wallace Study & Museum,” http://boothiebarn.com/2014/07/04/general-lew-wallace-study-museum/):

Sketch of David Herold drawn by military commission member lew Wallace-Indiana Historical Society

There are other instances of photographs of notorious people (rather than just engravings derived from photos) which have proven initially baffling even for the experts to conclusively identify. For example, a story by John Wilkes Booth photo collector Steven G. Miller in the Winter/Spring 2005 edition of the Lincoln Rail Splitter, details how a Booth photograph auctioned on eBay threw him and other Booth photo experts for a bit of a loop because “the man in [that] photo is unkempt … like someone who doesn’t care much about appearances,” whereas known photographs of Booth show him “dressed in the height of fashion … brushed, unwrinkled and very together looking … there is [always] something elegant looking about him.” The hair on the man in the auctioned photo also looked unlike Booth’s, as it was “piled up on his head” in an uncharacteristic manner. The Miller article, titled “Discovering an Unpublished, International Photograph of John Wilkes Booth,” also detailed that the photo had been taken by a photographer in London, Ontario, Canada named J.H. Griffiths, an award winning painter, probably on November 10, 1861. This story illustrates that identifying someone in a previously unpublished and unknown photo can be a challenging task; doing so based upon an engraving derived from an unknown photograph is even more daunting.

All of this conceivably revives the possibility that Anthony Berger somehow obtained access to the prisoner David Herold and photographed him at Washington’s Old Penitentiary at some point of time prior to June 10, 1865, however odd that possibility may seem. Otherwise, this cumulatively suggests that Herold may have sported  a “slight tuft of beard along the chin and jaws and faintly surrounding the mouth” from time-to-time in the months prior to his incarceration.

The Strange Case of the Indian Herb Doctor in Brooklyn

If Anthony Berger photographed someone he believed to be David E. Herold in a case of mistaken identity, there is a fascinating story to explain how THAT scenario could have happened.

As previously noted, Anthony Berger likely was relieved of his position as manager of his Washington, D.C. gallery sometime after September 7, 1864 when Mathew Brady sold a 50 percent stake in his Washington, D.C. gallery to James F. Gibson (according to Josephine Cobb).  After becoming an equal partner in the D.C. gallery, Gibson — a former Brady photographer who worked for Alexander Gardner after leaving Brady — surely took control over day-to-day operations, thereby displacing Berger as the gallery’s manager. According to Josephine Cobb, Brady had brought Berger in as the D.C. manager to oversee Gibson sometime in 1863. In September 1864, Gibson was given the opportunity to return the favor in a reversal of fortunes.

Was Berger then demoted to a position under Gibson in D.C., reassigned back to New York, fired, or simply packed his bags and quit? We just don’t know. Assuming that Anthony Berger left Brady as early as the fall of 1864, it sets up the possibility that David Herold was photographed by Berger in Brooklyn some time before Lincoln’s assassination.

To put this into its proper context, in the days immediately following Lincoln’s assassination, the press reported that several hundred people were rounded up and incarcerated for several days in Washington, D.C. as potential suspects in a conspiracy of a then unknown size and scale. Rumors abounded. Theories that the conspiracy was masterminded or aided and abetted by characters ranging from Jefferson Davis to shady Confederate spies residing in Canada were vetted (especially after the secret “Sanford Conover” testimony before the Commission — later shown to have been perjured — was leaked to the press).

After nearly 20 days had passed, the media reported that 17 suspects remained confined in isolation from one another in Washington, D.C.’s Old Penitentiary building adjoining the Arsenal. At the direction of Secretary of War Stanton, great pressure was exerted to swiftly investigate, apprehend, question, adjudicate, and then mete out punishment to everyone involved in the crime.

It is possible that Harper’s reached out to Anthony Berger or was contacted by him because of a story which first ran under the following headline in the May 4, 1865 Brooklyn Daily Eagle (later republished in part in the New York Evening Express on May 4 and Washington’s Daily National Republican on May 5):

THE ASSASSINATION. AN ACCOMPLICE ARRESTED IN THIS CITY. STRANGE AND STARTLING DEVELOPMENTS. HAROLD A RESIDENT OF BROOKLYN NEARLY A YEAR. He was Business Agent of the Indian Herb Doctor. STORY OF THEIR CONNECTION.”

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle story began by describing an unnamed boy (an approximately 15 year-old pick pocket, according to later reports) who “was in the habit of being a good deal of his time with Booth, being employed by him as a sort of errand boy, carrying letters. etc.” Think of him as sort of  an “Artful Dodger” character from Oliver Twist. The day after the assassination of Lincoln, that boy went missing. Investigators learned that “a boy answering in every particular, the description of the boy whom the police were in search had taken passage on a train from Washington to Baltimore.” The police followed his trail first to Baltimore and then to New York. The boy was “caught” by government officers on Court Street in Brooklyn and held at a local police precinct station. It was there he told one of the officers that “[David] Harold had lived in Brooklyn for several months prior to the formation of the plot to assassinate the President and the Cabinet, and was well known in this city.”

About a year or two earlier a man known as the “Indian Herb Doctor” arrived in Brooklyn and began hawking “astounding cures” along Brooklyn’s Fulton Street — a lengthy commercial thoroughfare on which Berger’s gallery came to be located at least by early May of 1865. Referring to himself at times as Dr. Blackburn, the “medicine man’s” real name was Dr. Francis Tumblety.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle also reported that Tumblety let three rooms on Fulton near Nassau Street. This placed him about 4-5 blocks from where Anthony Berger opened his Brooklyn gallery. There he was said to have lived with a man whom he treated “as a sort of confidential valet” and another who tended to their horses.” Dr. Tumblety alleged in 1866 that he had cured John Mott, 226 Fulton St. in Brooklyn, of  “affection of the lungs, dyspepsia, costiveness, etc.” Its possible he had a patient by that name because a tailor named “John Mott” was listed at 296 Fulton in the 1864 Brooklyn City Directory.

Everybody who has been in the habit of traveling in Fulton street during the past year, will have a distinct recollection of the doctor and his valet … [who] was none other than THE NOTORIOUS HAROLD … now awaiting the just punishment of his horrible crime.”  The author of this May 4th Brooklyn Eagle article theorized  that the sycophantic Herold “had attached himself to the Indian Herb Doctor in the same manner in which he subsequently attached himself to Booth in a womanish sort of admiration for his supposed cleverness.” Whatever that means.

Washington’s Daily National Republican reported on May 5, 1865 that “the citizens of Brooklyn will feel astonished when they learn that Harold, the companion of Booth’s flight, has resided [there] for nearly two years.”  That report claimed that it was in Washington, D.C. that David Herold — who “had some experience in the compounding of drugs” — met Dr. Tumblety and was employed as his assistant, removing with the doctor to Fulton St. in Brooklyn. Although the 15 year old boy who originally told this story did not know “for certain whether [Tumblety] was connected with Booth in the assassination plot,” he did assert that “Booth and this doctor were on very intimate terms.”

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle chronicled Tumblety’s presence in Brooklyn for just under a year prior to Lincoln’s assassination. Tumblety had appeared in a Brooklyn criminal court to answer to assault charges filed by an asthmatic patient whom the doctor allegedly kicked down a flight of stairs after the patient, Mr. Scully, demanded his money back. According to a story in the May 10, 1864 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tumblety was acquitted of the charges after producing “two witnesses, who magnanimously swore that the Doctor never touched Scully, that the latter was disorderly in his behavior, drove several patients out of the office, and that the Doctor, after politely requesting him to leave, took him by the arm and led him out.” Reporting on the Scully incident, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on May 6, 1864 described the flamboyant, circus-like appearing Tumblety as:

“an  unusually elongated young man, with a [large, handle-bar like] mustache that has excited the admiration of young ladies, the envy of young men, and the astonishment of everybody else. Whether this remarkable hirsute appendage is a product of “simple herbs,” or somebody’s onguent [sic], is a secret only known to the Indian Doctor himself. To add further to these characteristics which distinguish him from ordinary human beings the Doctor wears a butternut-colored suit, the unusual width of his pantaloons being counter balanced by the brevity of his coat tails. A pork-pie cap and a stout yellow cane complete the outfit of this singular personage. He is generally accompanied by a large [greyhound] …. The Doctor is a mystery; his presence being too awe inspiring to permit anybody to inquire into his history. He is supposed, however, to be as genuine an Indian as most of the Indians exhibited in this latitude. It is given out that he was a great medicine man of the Saltz-an-Sennah tribe, who, instead of placing himself in the Museum of the L. I. Historical Society, as a curiosity, concluded to make a living and bless his fellowmen by practising the healing art.”

Twenty-three years later, the December 15, 1888 edition of the Atchison Daily Globe expanded a bit upon this story (see http://www.casebook.org/forum/messages/4922/5793.html):

“[Tumblety’s] companion when in Brooklyn was young Herold, who was implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and who formed one of the quartet that subsequently swung from the gallows tree. Tumblety, at that time, had an office on Fulton Street, where he sold herbs for removing pimples from the face. Herold – who was a pale faced, large eyed, poetical looking boy – was with Tumblety constantly. He seemed a compromise between friend, companion and servant to the doctor. Tumblety had a large following in Brooklyn at this time, but played himself out after a time, and went across the river to New York.”

As a consequence of the boy’s tale told in a Brooklyn police station, Tumblety, who had mysteriously “gone missing” with the alleged Herold from Brooklyn about “six months” earlier, was arrested by orders of the War Department on May 6 in St. Louis and “charged with complicity with Harold in the assassination and conspiracy.” The Chicago Tribune on May 5, 1865 wrote that Tumblety “was at Mr. Lincoln’s funeral at Springfield [Illinois] yesterday, and today is in the Military Prison.”

Tumblety eventually was released from confinement. The Government never went on the record explaining why Tumblety was incarcerated, what charges against him had been considered, what if anything the Intelligence Service knew of him before his arrest, or why he was released from custody.  The New York Times on June 10, 1865 printed a triumphant letter to the editor penned by Tumblety, which stated in part:

“After three weeks’ imprisonment in the Old Capitol Prison in this city, I have been unconditionally and honorably released from confinement by direction of the Honorable Secretary of War, there being no evidence whatever to connect me with the yellow fever or assassination plot with which some of the Northern journals charged me of having some knowledge … While in imprisonment I noticed in some of the New-York and other Northern papers, a paragraph setting forth that the villain Herrold, who now stands charged with being one of the leading conspirators in the assassination plot, was at one time in my employ. This, too, is false in every particular, and I am at a loss to see how it originated, or to trace it to its origin. For the past five years I have had but one man in my employment, and he is yet with me, his character being beyond reproach. I never saw Herrold [sic], to my knowledge, and I have no desire to see him. Another paper has gone so far as to inform the public that I was an intimate acquaintance of Booth’s; but this, too, is news to me, as I never spoke to Booth in my life, or any of his family.”

Tumblety put his huge ego, chutzpah, southern sympathies, and financial resources on full display by writing and privately publishing in 1866 a short book titled A Few Passages in the Life of Dr. Francis Tumblety: The Indian Herb Doctor. An engraving from that book appears below.

Kidnaping of Dr Tumblety

In a rambling work covering 82 pages, he laid out tiny bits of his purported life’s story and reproduced letters of introduction, patient testimonials, and lists of people whom he had cured (of afflictions such as pimples, rheumatism, scurvy, consumption, tape worm, paralysis, blindness, typhus, heart palpitations, various tumors, and cancer).

Relative to his time spent in Washington, D.C. circa 1861 – 1862, Tumblety boasted that he had so inserted himself within the upper echelons of high society, “that no person was better personally known in and around Washington than myself … Nay, not only in Washington, but in every city throughout the United States, as well as the British Provinces, I am recognized …” Of all of his claims, this one may best represent his penchant for incredible puffery if not outright lying. In short, the book revealed just how highly Tumblety regarded himself and how much he despised Secretary of War Stanton and Col. Lafayette C. Baker, the head of the Intelligence Service who had been charged with rounding up Booth and the other Lincoln conspiracy suspects.

Commenting on his confinement by the Government first in St. Louis (for 2 days) and then in Washington (for 3 weeks), Dr. Tumblety claimed he never was interrogated — “no examination whatsoever having been made of the case.” How odd that no one ever took the time to ask him any questions! Nevertheless, Tumblety asserted that he had gotten his hands on several New York and other northern city newspaper articles during his solitary confinement which revealed “that beside being charged as … Dr. Blackburn, of yellow-fever-plot notoriety, I was also accused of complicity in the assassination of the President.”

The doctor’s defenses against selected accusations listed in several newspapers can be summarized as follows:

1.  His professional standing and personal reputation was so unassailable as to render those charges impossible;

2.  How could anyone who claimed to have inquired about volunteering to serve as a surgeon in the Army of the Potomac (until his health “declined”) and was willing to give up his lucrative private practice which netted $30,000 during his time in Washington, possibly be anything other than a loyal supporter of the Union cause?;

3.  How could anyone who was given a pass by General McClellan “to go and come where and when [he] pleased” to mix with the Union troops, be suspected of violating that trust?;

 4. How could anyone who admired and frequently hobnobbed with President Lincoln at the White House, “was a constant attendant at the President’s levees,”  received from Lincoln a letter of introduction to the American Minister at the Court of St. James, and attended Lincoln’s funeral service in Springfield, IL the day before his arrest, have plotted to kill him?;

5.  He neither was acquainted with nor ever saw “the fiend in human form named Dr. Blackburn” who was tied to a “hellish yellow-fever plot;”

6.  Even though he claimed to have never met Dr. Blackburn, he asserted that he looked nothing like “the notorious Dr. Blackburn;”

7.  To his knowledge he had never seen David Herold and over “the past five years … had but one man in my employment, and he is with me yet, his character being beyond reproach;” and

8.  He “never spoke to [Booth] in [his] life, or any of his family.”

Tumblety’s public defense of the accusations leveled against him in several newspapers focused most heavily upon the assertion that he went by the name “Dr. Blackburn” in Brooklyn. Tumblety never specifically denied ever passing himself off as a “Dr. Blackburn,” let alone being involved in a plot to infect blankets with yellow fever or cholera. In his letter to The New York Times editor, he merely asserted that he had been released from confinement because “there [existed] no evidence whatever to connect me with the yellow fever … plot.” Instead, he chose to specifically deny only being acquainted with or seeing “the fiend … Dr. Blackburn.” These words reveal that he understood or presumed that a Dr. Blackburn actually existed in Brooklyn.  Despite claiming never to have laid his eyes on Dr. Blackburn, Tumblety vehemently asserted that he looked nothing like Blackburn — a curious statement given that he cited no press accounts describing the real Dr. Blackburn’s appearance. Essentially his argument was “how could this Dr. Blackburn fellow be mistaken for remarkable looking me, or vice-versa?:”

“[Dr. Blackburn’s] person is the antipodes of [a] description of [me] embodied in a military pass I obtained during the memorable period of martial law, in 1865: Age, thirty-two; height, six feet; eyes, blue; complexion, fair; hair dark; occupation, physician. I will venture to assert that the only part of resemblance between myself and [Dr. Blackburn] is in the last item; otherwise, I am rejoiced to state , we have no nearer likeness than ‘I to Hercules.'”

Interestingly, the Brooklyn City Directory covering the period running from May 1, 1864 to May 1, 1865 lists a physician named M.A. Blackburn at 181 Fulton St., Brooklyn. That address was located at the corner of Fulton and Nassau Streets, exactly where the Brooklyn Daily Eagle claimed that Tumblety ran his place of business in the name of Blackburn. To have appeared in that publication, “M. A. Blackburn” must have provided his listing information sometime prior to May 1, 1864.

From the published list of Brooklyn patients he claimed to have cured, it can be inferred that Tumblety spent at least several months living in Brooklyn. The May 10, 1864 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article establishes that he had a physical office in a multi-level building somewhere in Brooklyn at that time. But of even greater interest is the fact that no listing for a physician named “Blackburn” appears in the Brooklyn City Directories for May 1862 to May 1863, May 1863 to May 1864, or May 1865 to May 1866. Thus, the only listing for a Dr. Blackburn in Brooklyn in the 1862-1866 time frame appears to coincide with the general time period that Tumblety apparently was in Brooklyn.  Moreover, there are no listings for a Francis Tumblety (or variations thereof) in that same period. Is this a mere coincidence or circumstantial evidence in support of the position that Tumblety did on occasion pose in Brooklyn not only as the Indian Herb Doctor, but as Dr. Blackburn, or that one of his two assistants really was named Blackburn?

Tumblety briefly addressed the claim that he employed David Herold in Brooklyn by asserting he could not recall ever seeing Herold and that he “had but one man in [his] employment” between 1861 to 1866 and that man was not Herold. This contradicts the 15 year old boy’s story that Tumblety had two men working for him in Brooklyn. Could it be that by the time he ended up in Cincinnati in 1866 where he published his book, Tumblety had “lost” one of his two men? Perhaps to the gallows? Tumblety’s denials of employing or associating with David Herold are not definitive proof that Herold never worked for him in Brooklyn.

Tumblety wrote two more books about himself, the first of which, published in 1872, was titled Narrative of Dr. Tumblety: How He was Kidnapped during the American War, His Incarceration and Discharge. A Veritable Reign of Terror… [etc.] That book restated nearly verbatim much of the text of his first publication. But it also included a section captioned “Supplementary to the Life of Francis Tumblety, M.D.,” in which he again hurled invectives at former Secretary of War William Stanton for incarcerating him in 1865 and claimed to have sent “pamphlets” about his false imprisonment to luminaries such as General William T. Sherman and Robert E. Lee. Tumblety closed his tirade by describing how he had lobbied a Commission established to settle claims by and among citizens of Great Britain and the United States against each other’s governments.

Having apparently been born in Ireland, rendering him a British citizen, Tumblety filed a claim of “illegal imprisonment” against the United States under an 1871 U.S. and Great Britain Treaty. He sought $100,000 for his imprisonment and confiscation of personal property. His claim, however, was disallowed on January 23, 1873 (see Stephen P. Ryder’s research on the Papers Relating to the Treaty of Washington. Volume VI.–Washington Arbitration and General Appendix. Containing the Report of Robert S. Hale, Agent and Counsel of the United States Before the Commission on Claims of Citizens of the United States Against Great Britain, and of Subjects of Her Britannic Majesty Against the United States, Under the Twelfth Article of the Treaty of May 8, 1871, Between the United States and Great Britain; And General Appendix to Papers Relating to the Treaty of Washington. Washington, D.C. (1874) at http://www.casebook.org/forum/messages/4922/5928.html.

Tumblety the Ripper?

Tumblety was no stranger to criminal courts during his lifetime, including an arrest in Boston for accidentally killing a patient. For the War Department to jump to the conclusion that the “good doctor” had something to do with the killing of Lincoln was made all too easy by Tumblety’s highly checkered past. Ironically, the same logic made Tumblety a potential suspect in the Jack the Ripper slayings in London in 1888, as reported in the New York World Herald.

“Another arrest was a man who gave the name of Dr Kumblety of New York. The police could not hold him on suspicion of the Whitechapel crimes, but he will be committed for trial at the Central Criminal Court under the special law passed soon after the Modern Babylon exposures. The police say this is the man’s right name, as proved by letters in his possession; that he is from New York, and that he has been in the habit of crossing the ocean twice a year for several years.”  *** “Dr Kumblety is well known in this city. His name however is Twomblety, not Kumblety. Twenty-four years ago he made his advent in this city and was since then known only as ‘Dr Twomblety’ a most eccentric character.”

After Tumblety was detained in London for questioning, he jumped bail and boarded a ship back to New York City on December 2, 1888. This inspired many new stories in the American press which played upon fears that the Ripper might be on the prowl in American cities. For example, the New York Times reported in a story on December 4, 1888 entitled “Watching Dr Tumblety” that:

 “Dr” Francis Tumblety, who left his bondsmen in London in the lurch, arrived by La Bretagne of the Transatlantic Line Sunday. Chief Inspector Byrnes had no charge whatever against him, but he had him followed so as to secure his temporary address, and will keep him in view as a matter of ordinary police precaution. Mr. Byrnes does not believe that he will have to interfere with Tumblety for anything he may have done in Europe, and laughs at the suggestion that he was the Whitechapel murderer or his abettor or accomplice. The man who is supposed to be Tumblety came over on the steamship as “Frank Townsend,” and kept in his stateroom, under the plea of sickness.

Tumblety yet again published defenses which didn’t address the charges laid at this feet, relying instead upon bombast. In an 1889 publication, he made a “grandiose and megalomaniacal comparison [between his own his arrest in London and] tawdry escape and the ordeals of the Irish Home Rule parliamentarian Charles Stewart Parnell.” See R.J. Palmer in http://www.casebook.org/dissertations/rip-tumblety-talks.html.

Comments made in 1903 by London’s former Chief Inspector John Littlechild, who had been Head of the Special Branch at the time of the Whitechapel murders, that the Tumblety ‘dossier’ was large and that Francis Tumblety was “a very likely suspect” have helped to keep the Tumblety mystery alive and kicking to this very day.

Did Berger Photograph Herold or one of Tumblety’s Accomplices?

The fantastic tale of the amazing and well-traveled Dr. Tumblety, including his time spent in Brooklyn, raises the possibility that one of his assistants wandered into Anthony Berger’s photographic studio on Fulton Street and posed for his picture before Berger’s camera.

If Tumblety’s presence on Brooklyn’s Fulton Street overlapped at all with Berger’s presence at that same place, surely Berger would have seen the Indian Herb Doctor decked out in one of in his resplendent costumes accompanied by his assistants and known who they were. The May 10, 1865 Brooklyn Eagle reported:

Often would [Tumblety] be seen down [Fulton Street], mounted upon a spotted circus horse, richly accoutred, and displaying fine horsemanship, or at other times would appear upon the promenade followed by a fine looking mulatto and a mouse-colored hound, which he still retain[s] … His eccentricities of dress and business ingenuity have been subjects of comment for some time. His offices have been crowded with applicants for medical relief, and the daily papers have been filled with notices of his “wonderful cures.” It is said that when he first opened his office on Olive street, he hired a newsboy to perambulate the streets, with his face painted red like an Indian boy, and his head adorned with long feathers. This boy would stand at the foot of the stairs, and deal out to passers programmes and “dodgers.” Most of our readers will doubtless remember the arrest of the doctor some time ago by the Provost Guard for appearing in the street in military clothing.

This is what Tumblety is supposed to have looked like:

Francis_Tumblety

francis tumblety-bigWhen Berger first read the May 4, 1865 Brooklyn Daily Eagle story that Herold WAS one of Tumblety’s assistants in Brooklyn, he might have concluded without the least bit of doubt that he had photographed none other than David Herold. On May 8, 1865, that Brooklyn paper printed the following account:

“On Thursday last, the EAGLE published from what it knew to be a reliable source, an account of the strange fact, that the notorious Harold, the accomplice of Booth in his infamous crimes, and his partner in his subsequent fatal flight, was a personage well known in this city from his connection with the “Indian Herb Doctor,” with whom he came here about a year ago, in the role of valet, and his appearance, as well as his master, created considerable remark among the denizens of Fulton street, particularly the tailors, milliners and dressmakers, by the boldness with which they defied public opinion in the original cut and color of the habiliments in which they arrayed themselves, and the regularity with which two or three times a day they promenaded Fulton street, in company with a huge greyhound … The following telegram confirms the truth of the intelligence which was published in the EAGLE four days in advance of all its co[n]temporaries:

St. Louis, Saturday, May 6.

J. H. Blackburn, alias Dr. Tumblety, charged with complicity with Harold in the assassination and conspiracy, was arrested here to-day in accordance with orders from the War Department.”

That Herold was ever in Brooklyn and had plied his pharmacological skills there as a chemist for the Indian Herb Doctor seems unlikely but cannot be definitively ruled out in light of the confusion over his whereabouts for long stretches of time between the fall of 1864 and his capture on April 26, 1865.

There are accounts that after Tumblety’s death on May 28, 1903, a Mark Blackburn received a bequest under Tumblety’s will. Perhaps he was “M.A. Blackburn,” the man who lived with and assisted Tumblety in Brooklyn and elsewhere, and is the same fellow whom Anthony Berger photographed.

After Tumblety was released from confinement in Washington, D.C., he wrote a letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Eagle which was published on June 19, 1865. At the end of that letter, an editor added the following:

“We give the above card from Mr. Tumblety that he may have the full benefit of his statements where this is known. When the Doctor was in Brooklyn the young man who was with him, and who was since identified with Harold, gave his name indifferently as Farrell and Blackburn, and the Doctor used the latter name at one time in his business. However, as the Doctor has been discharged it is fair to suppose that he is innocent of any offence against the government.”

But was he?

So for now, the mystery of whether Anthony Berger really did photograph David Herold and where he took that portrait cannot be unraveled with any certainty. Likewise, the questions of whether Tumblety actually was involved in a Confederate plot to distribute yellow fever or cholera infected blankets in New York City or Washington, D.C. under the pseudonym of Dr. Blackburn, let alone played any sort of role in the Jack the Ripper murders, are still being debated.

Some good mysteries simply go unsolved.

Craig Heberton, April 14 , 2015, on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination

 

April 20, 2015 supplement:

Listening to Harold Holzer speak to an audience at the National Archives recently, I was made aware of what Mr. Holzer described as a “turgid novel” of fact and fiction by newspaper reporter  George Alfred Townsend, published 30 years after the Booth assassination — Katy of Cacoctin or the Chain Breakers; a National Romance (1895) https://archive.org/details/katyofcatoct2072town. Townsend had served as a war correspondent for The New York Herald and The New York World during the Civil War and claimed to have had contact with Lincoln, Booth, and other key figures in the national tragedy. He wrote several news stories during the month following the assassination and compiled those stories into a book entitled The Life, Crime, and Capture of John Wilkes Booth (1865).

In 1886, Townsend described his novel Katy of Cacoctin as a tale of “a romance [based] upon the conspiracy of Booth” which had been planted in his mind “from the hour that the author had stood by the dead face of Abraham Lincoln in the Executive Mansion.” In a footnote on the bottom of page 490, Townsend wrote that he spoke with Charles Stone — whom David E. Herold chose as legal counsel for his trial — and Stone had revealed to Townsend exactly what J.W. Booth said to Herold when Booth resolved to kill Lincoln. Townsend also claimed that Herold’s career as a wage earner had been “as high as hospital assistant and as low as a monkey of a quack doctor who practiced upon the vices of the town.” Thus, a few decades removed from Lincoln’s murder,  George Alfred Townsend embraced the story that Herold had worked for the Indian Herb Doctor, Francis Tumbelty, even though his news letters from April to May 1865 republished in The Life, Crime, and Capture of John Wilkes Booth never made mention of the same.

— Craig Heberton

 

February 9, 1864: Lincoln’s Magical Photographic Session with Anthony Berger

10 Feb Walnutts-ebay-285 Fulton-02

CHEWING ON “A. BERGER” (Part IV)

The cover of Harvard Professor Doris Goodwin Kearns’ best-selling book A Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (2005) — on which Steven Spielberg based part of his  movie Lincoln (2012) — features an image from the painting The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet.  Although the book jacket for A Team of Rivals notes that Alexander Hays Ritchie engraved the image, it neither mentions who painted the scene nor explains that the painter made use of photographic studies by Anthony Berger of several of the depicted dignitaries, the most notable of whom is Abraham Lincoln (see below):

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Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet (Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

The somewhat forgotten American painter who created this work, Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900), is both the instigator and story-teller of how several of the most famous, well recognized, highly replicated, and widely revered photographs of Abraham Lincoln were created in February and April of 1864 over the course of three eventful sittings with the photographer Anthony Berger. But for Mr. Carpenter, Lincoln never would have sat for 13 extraordinary photographic views and the world would never know that Anthony Berger was the man who created these iconic studio images.

Francis Carpenter and Anthony Berger probably first crossed paths in the 1854 to 1855 time period. From 1853 to 1855, Carpenter maintained a “portrait painter” studio on the second floor of the same 359 Broadway, New York City building in which the famous Mathew Brady occupied the top three floors. It is conceivable that Carpenter supplemented his income as a portrait painter by providing occasional retouching services for Brady during his slower times, for in his later years F.B. Carpenter described M. B. Brady as “my friend Brady.” See, for example, the following advertisement appearing in the January 17, 1855 edition of The Crayon, Vol. I No. 3, below:

359 Broadway_1856 The Crayon p045clean

 The 1855-56 Trow’s Directory of New York City also places the artist Anthony (then known as Anton) Berger at the same address:

1856 Trow's New York City directory_071b

Carpenter appears to have overlapped Berger’s earliest tenure at 359 Broadway during the year 1855. That year also marks when Mathew Brady began advertising the use of a new revolutionary form of photography — the wet plate collodion process — which would soon overtake daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in popularity.

It is not clear whether Berger first leased space at 359 Broadway in order to operate as an independent painter, like Carpenter, or if he was employed there by Brady from day one. Because Berger listed himself in the 1854-1855 Wilson’s Business Directory as a “landscape painter” working out of his home at 251 Bowery, either scenario is possible. As explained in Footnote 4 in the article “Chewing on ‘A. Berger,'” many photographers and the retouchers whom they employed were artists with a background grounded in painting subject matter on canvas or other objects. Those who fit that description and wanted to make pictures had to learn the chemistry and techniques involved in preparing the sticky wet collodion film on glass plates, developing the exposed plates, and printing the negatives as positive images on albumin-treated paper.

But as of 1855, even the talented daguerreotypists and ambrotypists at famous New York City galleries, such as Mathew B. Brady’s establishment, were still learning how to master the chemistry and the new processes involved in making wet-plate collodion negatives. Although the wet-plate process first was described in writing by the Englishman Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, it took a few years for it to catch on in the United States. Anthony Berger’s first appearance at 359 Broadway was perfectly timed to coincide with the advent of American wet plate collodion photography.

Berger and Carpenter conceivably first crossed paths even earlier. Carpenter resided in Brooklyn in 1854 (and for many years thereafter).  A census schedule entry appears to show that Anthony Berger lived in Brooklyn for several months after arriving in New York City from England in February of 1854. Thus, Berger’s initial introduction to fellow painter F.B. Carpenter may have occurred in Brooklyn. In that case, it is likely that Carpenter secured for Berger an introduction to and possibly a job with the famous “Brady of Broadway.” By 1856, Brady’s need for skilled artisans on his staff grew after introducing to an eager audience his expensive “Brady Imperials” which were photographic images blown up by solar enlargers onto a large canvas and then heavily colored by oil painters — resulting in sort of a mix between a photo and a painting. It is speculated that Alexander Gardner, who joined Brady’s staff in 1856, introduced M.B. Brady to that lucrative innovation.

Francis B. Carpenter first gained substantial notoriety as a portrait painter in 1852 when he was commissioned to paint President Millard Fillmore, which led to a painting of Fillmore’s successor, President Franklin Pierce. By 1855, he was well-recognized as an accomplished portraitist. In that year he painted  Salmon Chase at the close of his term as United States Senator. Chase went on to become the Secretary of the Treasury and later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in Lincoln’s Administration. He also painted William H. Seward, who later served as Lincoln’s Secretary of State and most trusted adviser. Below, an engraving of Francis B. Carpenter from The Picture and the Men (1867):

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Now jump ahead nearly a decade.

Lincoln is President, a horribly bloody Civil War has been raging, and M.B. Brady owns two celebrated photographic galleries in NYC and Washington, D.C., the latter of which is managed and operated for Brady by Anthony Berger. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been formally signed and went into effect on January 1, 1863. It represented one of the most significant steps taken by the Administration to aid in prosecuting the War to a successful conclusion. Of greater importance, the Proclamation begat the eventual passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by the House of Representatives just over a year later, forever abolishing slavery.

On November 29, 1863, Francis Carpenter wrote in his diary that he had “conceived the idea of painting a picture commemorative of the First Reading in Cabinet council of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln.” It was to be a fitting tribute memorializing what he considered to be among the most monumental events in human history — the moment that President Lincoln first read his carefully crafted Proclamation aloud in a meeting with his Cabinet sometime in 1862. As good fortune had it, Carpenter quickly induced a wealthy friend to fund the project as well as U.S. Representative Schuyler Colfax of Indiana to approach Lincoln and secure the President’s assent. On December 25, 1864, Carpenter penned in his diary that Mary Todd Lincoln “informed [him] that President Lincoln would sit for my large picture of the ‘Reading of the Proclamation of Freedom to the Cabinet.” He dreamed that this particular work would become his defining masterpiece, placing him on the same pedestal as other great American painters of history such as John Trumbull, Gilbert Stuart, Charles Wilson Peale, and Benjamin West.

But Carpenter needed even more help. He wanted his studio to be located in the White House and desired sufficient entree to Lincoln and his Cabinet members in order to sketch them and learn how to precisely reconstruct the exact scene of that first reading while their memories were still fresh [Note: ironically, the individual subjects never agreed when Lincoln performed his first reading because no one had recorded that date; they also disagreed on where everyone had been positioned and several Cabinet members thought the first reading of the draft Proclamation was of little historical consequence in light of subsequent revisions to and readings of the Proclamation].

To achieve this goal, Francis Carpenter turned to Congressman Owen Lovejoy of Illinois, one of Lincoln’s dearest long-time friends in Washington. On February 4, 1864, Carpenter called on the seriously ill Lovejoy “who sat up in bed to write a note introducing [Carpenter] to the President.” Lovejoy was sold on the concept of trying to paint the historical event as it had really happened and while all of the key actors were still in office, rather than an overly romanticized and exaggerated work made years after-the-fact. Carpenter also promised that the painting would be exhibited across the country and made into engravings for distribution to an even wider audience. He was extremely fortunate to gain an audience with Lovejoy because Lincoln’s “bosom friend” died soon thereafter on March 25. Carpenter wrote that he “took [Lovejoy’s] note of introduction at once to the White House.”

There was no time to spare. From this point on, events moved quickly for Francis B. Carpenter.

Saturday, February 6, 1864:

Francis Carpenter arrived at the White House for an afternoon reception hosted by Lincoln. Upon his introduction to the President, Lincoln remarked, “Oh yes; I know; this is the painter.” Quipped Lincoln, “Do you think, Mr. C., that you can make a handsome picture of me?” After the reception ended, Carpenter met with Lincoln in the President’s study which also served as the Cabinet room (now known as the Lincoln Bedroom) where Lincoln reviewed Lovejoy’s note. Lincoln then said,  “well, Mr. C., we will turn you loose in here, and try to give you a good chance to work out your idea.” The President proceeded to give a detailed accounting of the history of the proclamation and showed Carpenter where each of his Cabinet members had been arranged around the table in his study/Cabinet room during the first reading:

As nearly as I remember,” said Lincoln, “I sat near the head of the table; the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War were here, at my right hand; the others were grouped at the left.”

Lincoln also assented to Carpenter’s guiding concept that the painting should form a part of the historical record. Carpenter wrote in 1866:

I had resolved to discard all … tricks of picture-making, and endeavor, as faithfully as possible, to represent the scene as it actually transpired; room, furniture, accessories, all were to be painted from the actualities. It was a scene second only in historical importance and interest to that of the Declaration of Independence; and I felt assured, that, if honestly and earnestly painted [I would represent the event as would the historian in making a written record].

But like any good artist, Carpenter confessed that “a curious mingling of fact and allegory” were taking place in his mind. By placing Lincoln at the head of the table, he would be situated between his radical and conservative members, serving as “the uniting point of both.”

Monday, February 8, 1864:

By this day, Carpenter completed on the “back of a visiting card” his first sketch which became the model for what he painted.

Tuesday, February 9, 1864:

From Carpenter’s recollections written in 1866 we learn that he spent the morning of February 9th with Judge Holt in a Cabinet meeting with Lincoln. There the President introduced him to his Cabinet members, saying, “He has an idea of painting a picture of us all together.” Carpenter noted that, “This, of course, started conversation on the topic of art,” encouraging Lincoln to tell a story about an artist (Thomas D. Jones) sculpting a bust of General Winfield Scott:

The General sat patiently; but when he came to see the result, his countenance indicated decided displeasure. ‘Why, [sir] what have you been doing?’ he asked. ‘Oh,’ rejoined the sculptor, ‘not much, I confess, General; I have been working out the details of the face a little more, this morning.’ ‘Details?’ exclaimed the General, warmly; ‘ the details! Why, my man, you are spoiling the bust!’ ”

The creation of some very spectacular art, however, was still yet to happen on February 9th.

Carpenter had made an appointment for Lincoln to engage in a sitting on that day with Anthony Berger at Brady’s Photographic Gallery located several blocks from the White House. Lincoln’s humorous tale about Scott’s experience probably foreshadowed his own misgivings about appearing before the lens of a camera. As Ohio politician Donn Piatt recalled, Lincoln “had a face that defied artistic skill to soften or idealize.” Carpenter, however, desired those portraits as studies of Lincoln to supplement the live sketches of Father Abraham he intended to create in the White House. Both were to serve him when he painted Lincoln’s visage into his “First Reading” portrait. Writes Harold Holzer:

on a surprisingly large … number of occasions, Lincoln sat for photographers not merely to produce new likenesses that could be marketed individually but at the request of artists who often posed them to supplement life sittings in other media. For these artists, Lincoln photographs were not a final visual record but an intermediary visual resource …  Accurate as they were, photographs did little to disguise Lincoln’s sometimes vacant expression, his so-called photographer’s face.”

Lloyd Ostendorf describes Lincoln’s “photographer’s face” thusly:

Whenever Lincoln posed, a dark melancholy settled over his features. He put on what Mrs. Lincoln called his ‘photographer’s face.’ There is no camera study which shows him laughing, for such an attitude, unfortunately, was impossible when long exposures were required. A man who knew Lincoln, Dr. James Miner, commented: ‘His large bony face when in repose was unspeakably sad and as unreadable as that of a sphinx, his eyes were as expressionless as those of a dead fish; but when he smiled or laughed at one of his own stories or that of another then everything about him changed; his figure became alert, a lightning change came over his countenance, his eyes scintillated and I thought he had the most expressive features I had ever seen on the face of a man.’ “

Understanding the impulse to see Lincoln painted on canvas may be difficult for many to grasp in a day and age when digitized images of Lincoln photographs are instantly available on the internet or reproduced on or in tangible objects ranging from posters and flat-paged books to utilitarian expressions of value such as coins and stamps. Lincoln’s pictures are far better known and appreciated today than ANY of the largely forgotten paintings and sculptures of him derived from those photographic images. Those of us now willing to take a moment to study an image of Lincoln probably do so in the hope of  “seeing” beyond his “photographer’s face” to find some evidence of his genius, foibles, hopes, fears, and emotions. Simply put, most people today want to examine images of the “real” person — the “final visual record” — rather than “outdated” and stylized painted interpretations of the man.

Although Carpenter had never visited Brady’s Washington gallery, it can be presumed he chose that establishment because of the relationship he had struck up with “Brady of Broadway” in the early 1850s in New York City. But the choice of Brady’s establishment did not mean that Brady would personally take and develop the photos. Brady had stopped performing those tasks over a decade earlier due to eyesight issues and the scale of his business.  As of 1864, Brady’s role was more that of an overseer and marketer of his galleries & the cadre of men whom he underwrote to capture the history of the Civil War. Carpenter just as easily could have selected, for example, Alexander Gardner, or any of the several other accomplished photographers who had left Brady to go to work for Gardner’s gallery in Washington, D.C.

For example, on August 9, 1863, Lincoln went to Alexander Gardner’s new studio for a sitting. The President had promised Gardner to be his new gallery’s very first sitter and, thus, arrived there on the day before its official opening. This resulted in 6 poses and many  more images of Lincoln because Gardner used a four lens camera for several of the shots.  Alexander Gardner had another session with Lincoln on November 8, 1863, just 11 days before the delivery of his momentous Gettysburg Address. There were a “great many pictures taken,” in the words of John Hay, one of Lincoln’s personal assistants who also posed with Lincoln and fellow assistant John Nicolay in one of the views. It is clear, therefore, that Lincoln greatly respected and was completely comfortable with Gardner, as were members of his inner circle.

The question must be asked, why did Francis Carpenter entrust to Anthony Berger the hugely important task of creating photographs which he would use to paint Lincoln’s image on a portrait he hoped would be considered one of America’s most treasured pieces of its collective historical record? From where did such trust emanate? Why didn’t he just go to Alexander Gardner, who would have been available because the Union Army’s spring campaign of 1864 in the East was many weeks away from commencing?

Certainly there must have existed a prior relationship between Berger and Carpenter sufficient to engender such trust and that relationship necessarily dated back many years to the 1854 to 1855 time period. It also can be reasoned that Berger’s background as a formally trained painter at the Staedelehe Institute in Frankfurt, Germany and his practiced artistic eye must have attracted Carpenter to him for this assignment. The formal instruction which Berger had received as a painter outshined Carpenter’s paltry formal training. Perhaps, then, Berger was well suited to compliment and augment Carpenter’s skills. It also bears mentioning that when Carpenter later arranged for Secretary of War Stanton to visit Berger for a picture taking session some time prior to February 23rd, such was his complete trust and faith in Berger’s talents and judgment that the session was conducted in Carpenter’s absence. But given that his relationship with Lincoln as of February 9 was just then budding and because of the enormity of the task he faced in trying to get Lincoln’s countenance “just right,” there was no way that Carpenter could possibly miss being present for Lincoln’s first sitting with Berger … or, for that matter, the other two sessions which were to follow. And when Cabinet members couldn’t make themselves available to pose for Mr. Berger, Carpenter stood in for them and posed for Berger’s camera. This Carpenter did on April 26, 1864, according to Harold Holzer, by assuming “the pose he planned to paint [of] Secretary of State William H. Seward” which Berger captured on a glass plate negative now in the possession of Carpenter descendants. Thus, it can be said that Berger served as Carpenter’s “go-to” photographer for all aspects of this important project.

Perhaps, too, Anthony Berger was the cameraman responsible for capturing Lincoln in 5 poses at Brady’s D.C. gallery on January 8, 1864. Each of those views appears to have been taken by a four lens camera. Although it is not known which Brady photographer recorded those views, by virtue of Anthony Berger’s role as manager of the gallery it stands to reason that he played at least some role in their creation and likely shot them unless he was then away from Washington City.

By 3 p.m. on February 9, 1864, Lincoln’s Cabinet meeting had been adjourned and Carpenter joined Lincoln on the front portico steps of the White House to wait for a carriage to be brought up to take them, Mrs. Lincoln, and Tad Lincoln to Brady’s gallery. But after a delay, Lincoln told Carpenter, “Well, we will not wait any longer for the carriage; it won’t hurt you and me to walk down.” Carpenter recounted that the walk “of a mile or more was made very agreeable and interesting to me by a variety of stories, of which Mr. Lincoln’s mind was so prolific.”

We don’t know exactly when Lincoln’s photography session at Brady’s gallery began, who assisted Anthony Berger, or how long it took to complete the session. In fact, Carpenter’s contemporaneous reference in his diary only mentioned — “Got ambrotype of President at Brady’s this P.M.” Apparently F.B. Carpenter at that time didn’t understand the difference between the making of a positive image ambrotype and a negative on a wet-plate collodion glass plate (Berger employed the latter of the two processes). It was only later in his 1866 memoirs, Six Months at the White House, that Carpenter expanded upon the visit and identified Berger as the cameraman on February 9th.

We do know that Lincoln sat through seven poses in front of Anthony Berger’s camera that day. Lloyd Ostendorf  has labeled those views as O-88, O-89, O-90, O-91, O-92, O-93 and O-94 (See Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf, Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose, rev. ed. (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1985), pp. 190–95. We also know that the process involved in preparing a glass plate for an exposure had to occur shortly before its use and required about 5 minutes of time, followed by another 5 minutes to complete the development of each specific negative shortly thereafter.  Thus, even assuming that Berger was assisted by someone who worked on creating the plates as quickly as possible and a second person who focused solely upon their development, it is likely that Lincoln’s session lasted at least an hour by taking into account the time necessary to pose him, to evaluate the natural light filtering into the studio through the skylights, and for other related delays.

View O-88 (below) created by Anthony Berger is known as “The Famous Profile” and “is perhaps the most familiar of [all] Lincoln profiles [created by any photographer],” according to Lloyd Ostendorf.

O-89 3a25449u

The O-88 view was used in conjunction with O-89 (below), the so-called “Penny Profile,” by the artist Victor D. Brenner in 1909 to model the image of Lincoln on the Lincoln-head penny. Both views were shot with a four-lens camera.

O-89 by A Berger-01

O-90 (below) also was taken with a four-lens camera.

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O-91 (below) shows Lincoln affecting a “faint suggestion of merriment in his sparkling eyes, as though a smile were about to ignite his masklike face.” This image was adapted into an engraving currently used on the U.S. Five Dollar bill.  It also “inspired many paintings,” according to Lloyd Ostendorf.

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Wheres_George_5_Dollar_Bill

O-92 (below) also is a very well recognized image of Lincoln and is known as his “Most Satisfactory Likeness.”

O-92 Oval albumen print, 8 & 1-8 x 6 & 1-8-Bonham's Auctions

Robert Lincoln, Abraham’s eldest son who eventually became U.S. Secretary of War, and the only Lincoln child who survived into adulthood, wrote the following to Frederick Meserve some three decades after his father’s death:

I have always thought the Brady photograph of my father, of which I attach a copy, to be the most satisfactory likeness of him.”

It also was used to create an oval engraving of Lincoln which was affixed to the old Five Dollar bill printed from 1928 until 1995 (below).

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Frank Carpenter wrote the following on the back of a cabinet card print of O-92:

From a negative made in 1864, by A. Berger, partner of M.B. Brady, at Brady’s gallery.”

O-93 is my favorite image of Lincoln produced during the February 9, 1864 Lincoln sitting. Berger shot Lincoln seated in his famous “Lincoln chair” — once used by Lincoln when he was in the House of Representatives — looking at a photo album with his son Tad standing next to him peering down at the book. It represents the “only close-up of [Abraham Lincoln] wearing spectacles” and “was issued in huge quantities in many variations, with and without Brady’s permission.” In fact, after Berger left Brady’s employ, he copyrighted and began offering for sale his own retouched version of O-93 (below) shortly after Lincoln’s assassination. This he did from his 285 Fulton St. studio in Brooklyn, NY. For more on that, see “A. Berger Joint opens at 285 Fulton St., Brooklyn.”

19198uO-94 (below) is a full length standing portrait of Lincoln and is possibly the least well known of the seven February 9 views taken by Anthony Berger.O-94 by Berger Feb 9 1864_3a17893u

As noted by George Sullivan, “thanks to these images [taken by Anthony Berger on February 9, 1864] … the face of Lincoln is better known to Americans today than it was in his lifetime.”

Here’s a shout-out to each of the main participants — Anthony Berger, Francis B. Carpenter, Abraham Lincoln, and Tad Lincoln — on the 151st anniversary of the photo shoot which arguably produced our most recognizable images of Abraham Lincoln. Absent the execution of the Emancipation Proclamation, the vision of painter Francis B. Carpenter, and Anthony Berger’s work behind the lens of his camera, none of the photographic images produced at Brady’s Washington D.C. gallery on February 9, 1864 would have come into existence and the world would be a very different place than it is today.

By Craig Heberton, February 9, 2015

The 150th Anniversary of Lincoln Posing for Alexander Gardner on February 5, 1865

6 Feb

On February 5, 1865, one hundred and fifty years ago, the portrait painter Matthew Wilson induced a war-weary President Abraham Lincoln into making a visit to Alexander Gardner’s photographic gallery in Washington, D.C.  Wilson had been commissioned by Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, to create a fitting portrait of Lincoln for Welles’ private collection.  Given the President’s unwillingness and unavailability to sit motionless for hours on end over the course of several days, Wilson had to get his hands on some photographic “mug shots” in order to tackle his challenging task. Lincoln found a slight opening in his schedule a mere five days after the momentous Thirteenth Amendment had passed the House of Representatives and possibly felt he could “exhale” for a few moments at Gardner’s studio in order to satisfy Wilson’s needs. The photographic results proved to be magical.

The candid photos taken that day reveal both a fairly relaxed Lincoln and a physically haggard, aged-beyond-his-years looking Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief. Around the same time, Horace Greeley more colorfully described Lincoln’s face as looking “care-ploughed, tempest-tossed, and weatherbeaten.” Fortunately, the President’s junket to Gardner’s studio was to produce photographs far more artistic, compelling, and enduring than the painted portrait which Matthew Wilson completed only after Lincoln was assassinated and died on April 15, 1865.

To get to his appointment for picture taking, Lincoln is believed by some to have walked several blocks from the White House to Alexander Gardner’s gallery at 511 7th St. with his youngest son Tad. We know the sitting occurred on February 5th only because the painter, Matthew Wilson, recorded it in his diary. Lincoln and Tad met Wilson at Gardner’s gallery at 2 p.m. (Wilson had traveled to Washington from his home in Philadelphia a few days earlier). Perhaps the time spent in conversation with Tad on the way to Alexander Gardner’s studio relaxed the President because their visit resulted in a wonderful bounty of Lincoln images — 14 in all — including one in which Father Abraham appears with Tad, each casually leaning towards the other with one of their arms on a table.

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Although haggard looking, “Father Abraham’s” inner warmth, relatively relaxed persona, and paternalism were revealed by the lenses of two of Alexander Gardner’s cameras (Gardner used both a single lens and a four-lens camera during the shoot).  Gardner’s cameras also showed Lincoln’s careworn hands. In one memorable image, Lincoln fidgeted with the spectacles and pencil grasped between his hands, causing those objects to blur.  Surely Lincoln’s impatience to get back to work increased with the passage of time during the course of the sitting.  Notwithstanding the distractions which may have crept into Lincoln’s consciousness, many of the Gardner views seem to plumb the inner depths of the President’s mind, exposing  the thoughts of a man who knew that two very historic events were looming on the near horizon  —  the end of both the long and bloody war with the Confederacy and the institution of slavery once the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified by the required number of states.

Walt Whitman lamented that “the current [painted] portraits [of Lincoln] are all failures — most of them caricatures.” None “caught the deep, though subtle and indirect expression on the man’s face [because] there is something else there …”

As Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer has put it, “could it be that painting could not capture Lincoln — that Lincoln needed to be photographed?” Answering that question in the affirmative, I’d add that Abraham Lincoln, moreover, needed to be photographed by someone as skilled as the great Alexander Gardner and we all needed to be able to see exactly what he looked like at that moment in time 150 years ago.

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All images above are courtesy of the Library of Congress

Ancestry.com’s Leafy Depiction of Photographing the Gettysburg Address

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Have you seen the Ancestry.com commercial which “virtually recreates” the scene at the dedication of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery on November 19, 1863? It’s pretty cool. If you haven’t, CLICK HERE to watch it.

I’m sure a number of people who have seen this commercial have checked out Ancestry.com. As someone who has used that service, I can vouch for it as a powerful digital research tool for one’s family tree. With the 151st anniversary of the Gettysburg Address fast approaching, we undoubtedly will continue to see this commercial in numerous television and internet spots. As these kinds of advertisements go, Ancestry’s digital recreation of one of America’s most compelling historical events is visually stunning even though it is littered with many troubling historical inaccuracies. But why let history get in the way of making an aesthetically pleasing commercial designed to induce people to subscribe to a service?

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Having seen the commercial, you surely noticed a digitally enhanced Abraham Lincoln standing by a table on a single-level platform delivering his Gettysburg Address, surrounded on the rostrum by a sparse, numerically unimpressive group of dignitaries. The advert also depicts a large, low slung white tent, off to the side, facing the speakers’ platform. In the direction of that tent, standing on an elevated position above the ground-level spectators, is a photographer — the ancestral “star” of the commercial — who aims his tripod-mounted camera at Lincoln’s sun-illuminated side profile. The photographer’s view of his prize is completely unimpeded.

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Several seconds into the commercial, a gentle breeze whimsically blows an Ancestry.com “leaf” from the screen of a laptop held by a woman searching nearly 151 years into the past to a scene representing a portion of the battlefield where the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery was dedicated. Soon thereafter, the animated leaf loops its way towards Lincoln’s face and then away from the speakers’ platform, dragging the viewer’s perspective along with it over to the photographer and his camera positioned on top of an open wagon. The sight of the dancing leaf instantly reminded me of the dancing feather imagery used in the movie Forrest Gump — the greatest modern day depiction of a man seemingly unequipped for greatness, but who repeatedly does great deeds all the while crossing paths with the most famous people at the most historic events of his time. But I digress. Meanwhile, the Ancestry ad’s narrator melodically describes the leaf icon as a sort of metaphorical representation of a helping aid employed by Ancestry.com to guide its subscribers on a journey to their “past filled with stories that intrigue and inspire, and, in doing so, reveal the one unique, improbable, and completely remarkable path that led to YOU. [So] discover your story by searching for free now at Ancestry.com.” Soft, pleasing music accompanies the spot throughout, reminding me again of the final “feather” scene in Forrest Gump. It is just a brilliantly crafted and conceived ad!

During this narrated segment, as the viewer’s perspective pans to the right, the photographer’s head pops up from behind his camera just before he moves to the side and lifts the cap off its single lens in order to expose a presumably magnificent image of Lincoln giving his most famous oration.

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All the while, the focus upon the cameraman continues to tighten until superimposed graphics appear above his head revealing his identity and vital statistics. At the commercial’s conclusion, the photographer’s descendant is shown in the present day closing her laptop and swelling with pride after her search on Ancestry.com revealed that it was HER forefather who photographed Lincoln delivering the immortal Gettysburg Address seven score and eleven years ago. Wow! Imagine discovering it was one of your ancestor’s who did THAT!

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It was at that moment, during my first viewing of the ad in the midst of a commercial break from the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” that I moved my face closer to the television screen and squinted in order to try to make out the photographer’s superimposed name. Not only was I was extremely excited to see a Civil War era photographer depicted as an ancestor in whom one should take GREAT, GREAT PRIDE, but I wondered to myself which known photographer’s name Ancestry would choose for the advert. Would they flash on the screen “Alexander Gardner,” the Washington, D.C.-based genius whose team of photographers created the only known pictures taken anywhere remotely close to the general vicinity depicted in the commercial? Or would Ancestry select Baltimore’s “David Bachrach,” the photographer whom William Frassanito believes most likely took the only known image of Lincoln on the Gettysburg speakers’ platform? Or how about “Anthony Berger” or “David Woodbury,” the two Mathew Brady photographers whose dedication ceremony images somehow have gone missing with the passage of time? Surely Ancestry wouldn’t hit us with a dark-horse local candidate like “Peter S. Weaver,” who took at least one and maybe two long-range images of the ceremony, or one of the Tyson brothers (not the fellows with the chicken business, but the brothers who had a photography studio in Gettysburg).

When my eyes finally came into focus on the photographer’s name and his vital statistics, it read:

FREDRIC MILLER (1829-1885), husband of Susan Hutton (1833-1889).

Wait a second. Fredric Miller? Who the heck is Fredric Miller and the genealogist in me wants to know how is it that he and his wife both died at the age of 56?

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If you have used Ancestry.com’s search engine in an effort to find this “Fredric Miller,” then you are aware that no one by that name is known to have photographed the dedication ceremony, let alone Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address. Moreover, no photos of Lincoln orating or even standing on the rostrum at Gettysburg are known to exist. The brevity of Honest Abe’s speech is credited for the failure of photographers then present to capture such an image. In fact, I am not aware of the existence of any prominent or obscure professional photographer named “Frederic Miller” during the entire Civil War. If Ancestry ever proves me wrong, I’ll be quick to dole out mea culpas. But until then, I think that Snopes.com should pronounce this guy a fake.

So what did I really think of this ad? On the one hand, I learned that a company in the business of helping people find accurate information about their past has elected to market itself by making up a fake name for a photographer, placing that fellow where no photographer is known to have situated his camera, and then depicting him taking a photographic image of Lincoln orating at Gettysburg despite the fact that no such image is known to exist. I can only surmise that the Ancestry Legal Department instructed its Marketing Department that it is wiser to depict a fictitious person engaged in a fictitious act of photographing Lincoln at a very famous historic event rather than risk being sued by the descendants of a real photographer who might claim that Ancestry is unfairly profiting from the use of their ancestor’s name and image. Perhaps visions of suits by image copyright holders also served as further motivation. When in doubt, fictionalize.

On the other hand, I’m more or less at ease with Ancestry’s aesthetically pleasing commercial despite their failure to depict the scene accurately and to identify one of the REAL PHOTOGRAPHERS at the Gettysburg dedication on November 19, 1863. Although it is hard for me to ignore blatant historical inaccuracies, I have to admit that the commercial wildly succeeded in calling attention to how we should celebrate and take pride in those cameramen (many of whom still are not properly credited 150+ years later) who played critical roles in capturing historic events on glass plate negative slides during America’s bloody Civil War. Anyone lucky enough to discover family connections to the people who toiled to create the photo-historical record of Gettysburg in November 1863 have every reason to be supremely proud of their ancestor.

— Craig Heberton, October 25, 2014

 

Note: The images herein are used under the doctrine of fair use for the purpose of commentary

 

 

Saving Annie Leibovitz: Her Pilgrimage to Anthony Berger’s Lincoln

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Girl, Interrupted

The photographer Annie Leibovitz is best known for her magazine shoots of actors, rock stars, models, politicians, and other luminaries appearing on the covers of old-line vanguard publications such as Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Her many photographic successes long ago vaulted her into the same exclusive club occupied by many of her subjects — celebrityhood. In more recent years, however, Ms. Leibovitz’s life experiences have sent her veering off in dramatically different directions.

The Big Bounce (Back)

First came the publication of her deeply personal and introspective book titled A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 (2006), which Sarah Boxer describes as:

“an unholy mix of celebrity portraits and snapshots from her private life, including pictures of herself and of [Susan] Sontag without clothes, of her family members dying and being born, of the hotels she stayed in and the real estate she owned, of herself pregnant at age fifty-one and, most famously, of Sontag laid out on her deathbed in a crinkly black dress. It was a tombstone of a book, heavy, gloomy, and unsettling.”[i]

Rebounding from that controversial publication, the deaths of family members and her partner Sontag, as well as her own personal bankruptcy — all of which severely tested her — Annie Leibovitz began a long-distance pilgrimage, of sorts. Along the way she traveled to many destinations on a photo assignment for no one other than herself. As she embarked on that journey an objective came into focus: to visually capture the power of, and stories behind, historic objects and locations which resonated with her — something more akin to her September 2001 images of Ground Zero, but executed in a far more up-close and personal fashion. At times she found herself moved to tears by objects which once belonged to dynamically creative and larger-than-life figures whom she reveres (including women such as Georgia O’Keefe, Marian Anderson, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, and Louisa May Alcott).

Night (and Day) at the Museum

Her favorite and most compelling photographs of objects from her travels hither and yon were placed in a book she aptly titled Pilgrimage (2011), the text to which she wrote with the help of Sharon DeLano. Scenes taken in places such as Gettysburg, which Leibovitz first visited as a child, also are represented.

The book has spawned several exhibitions of the photographs appearing on its pages, including at several institutions known less for their works of art than their displays of historically compelling objects and images, such as the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Presently, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL is hosting an “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage” exhibition through August 31, 2014.

To Save A Life

Ms. Leibovitz’s description of her underlying motivation for the book reveals that Pilgrimage just as easily could have been christened “Salvation:”

“I NEEDED to save myself. I needed to remind myself of what I like to do, what I can do … There was a spiritual aspect to this journey at first. It didn’t stay at that level — because I began to feel better. But somehow, it saved me to go into other worlds.”[ii]

So how exactly did photographing anything other than living people “save” Annie Leibovitz and in what way did this open up new worlds to her? Leibovitz’s several interviews explain how she came to the realization that an inert object with a storyline or context connecting it to an inspirational historical figure can metaphorically “speak” to us, the living, on a very personal level. She also concluded that it was possible to photograph those objects in a way that would allow others to form their own powerful connections to them and the famous people to whom they once belonged.

Deep Impact

Ms. Leibovitz’s insights, interestingly, emerged at a time that physical objects from our nation’s past are losing much of their appeal, especially to the youngest generations of digitally-obsessed Americans. To the historically challenged, old objects merely represent “stuff” that is irrelevant to their lives and symbolically linked to a past they often care little to know. Perhaps Ms. Leibovitz’s photographs and accompanying narrative in Pilgrimage will arouse their curiosity to explore exactly why for several years a famed photographer NEEDED to focus her camera on historical objects rather than the hottest celebrity de jure. In Leibovitz’s own words:

“I had to learn to photograph objects. We don’t know [a famous person like] Thoreau, do we? We have only his work, and his things. When I first saw the cane bed he slept on, I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to deal with it … I have a bit of a feeling that I’ve had it with people. But you don’t ever get away from people, really. And these are pictures of people to me. It’s all we have left to represent them. I’m dealing with things that are going away, disappearing, crumbling. How do we hold on to stuff?”

Being There

One object which Ms. Leibovitz was drawn to photograph and feature on two pages of Pilgrimage merits special mention. Unlike nearly all of the other objects photographed for that book, Leibovitz was not attracted to it because of who once owned it or physically handled it.

Her picture of this unique object is compelling on several levels, not the least of which is that it verges on qualifying as the product of a celebrity photo shoot. In a virtual sense, Ms. Leibovitz pointed her cutting-edge digital camera directly at the visage of Abraham Lincoln. Although space-time continuum barriers sadly prevented her from photographing Lincoln in the flesh, she still managed to gain access to the National Archives to photograph what may be an original wet-plate glass negative[iii] of four images of Lincoln created when he was seated in front of a multi-lens camera operated by Anthony Berger on February 9, 1864 in Mathew Brady’s Washington, D.C. photographic gallery. To view Leibovitz’s photograph of the Lincoln plate appearing in Pilgrimage, click here.[iv] Photographing this negative offered Annie Leibovitz the closest experience to “being there” with one of the most influential American figures of all time and a man who enjoys an exalted position in the pantheon of our most famous celebrities.

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Ghost

At first blush, the four side-by-side negative images of Lincoln (backlit on a photo tray) are eerily ghost-like in appearance.

“It is this physical, and yet somehow ghostly, aspect of photography—its “spooky action at a distance” quality (to quote Einstein out of context)—that gives photography its particular aura. And this intensely interests Leibovitz.”[v]

The glass plate images might even remind some of the handiwork of William Mumler, a Boston and New York-based photographer from the mid-19th century who created expensive studio portrait photos into which he inserted apparitional figures made to resemble deceased loved ones. Mumler claimed to be able to photograph spirits which magically appeared around his paying customers in the midst of a studio session. Joining a long list of other Mumler hoax victims, Mary Todd Lincoln visited his studio in the early 1870s to pose for a photo into which Mumler inserted the extremely wispy, bleached image of something looking sort of like her dearly departed husband standing over her with both of his hands lovingly resting upon her shoulders (as well as a less detailed white figure presumably representing her departed son Willie).[vi] Although very touching and reassuring for Mrs. Lincoln — who thought the photo was legitimate because she claimed to have introduced herself to Mr. Mumler under a pseudonym — it still was a fake.

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Images of Mrs. Lincoln appeared in thousands of carte de visite prints sold both before and after her husband’s death.[vii] An example of a Brady photo of Mary Todd Lincoln copyrighted in 1862 appears below, left, and possibly another example from the same photo session, courtesy of the National Archives, to the right:

Mary Todd Lincoln taken by Brady-1862-02 Portrait 

As she mourned for her husband, much of the nation mourned with Mrs. Lincoln by placing her calling card-sized image in their respective family photo albums. Mary Todd Lincoln would have been immediately recognizable to a then-successful big city photographer like William L. Mumler, even if he had never before met her, simply because he had handled and probably sold dozens upon dozens of pirated prints of her pictures taken in other photography studios, a practice then widespread among many professional photographers.

But there is nothing fake about the item photographed by Ms. Leibovitz; it is an unadulterated object. Adding to the dramatic visual effect of Anthony Berger’s delicate glass plate negative, two of its Lincoln images are beset with bisecting cracks from which pieces of glass have broken off from the slide. The consequences of rough handling over the years have extracted their toll. If Mr. Mumler was still alive, he might insist that the missing triangular-shaped wedges of glass are shaped like opposing dagger tips which hauntingly meet one another at the top and bottom of one of Lincoln’s hands, metaphorically nailing that hand to the arm of the chair. Were these cracks symbolically created by someone from the afterlife or are their locations and shapes just a mere coincidence? The correct answer must be: “Mum-ler’s the word!”

And That’s a Wrap

On yet another level, Leibovitz’s photo represents something far more meaningful than just a picture of a 150 year-old glass negative. I suppose that the object Annie Leibovitz photographed can be thought of as Lincoln’s version of the Shroud of Turin. Considering it from that perspective, it might even be viewed  as a form of a holy relic.

The glass negative images were produced in consequence of Lincoln’s physical presence, during a few moments that particles of light bounced off of him, passed through the camera’s four optical lenses, and interacted with the chemicals on the surface of the exposed glass plate. This, in turn, imprinted his reversed image onto the plate in a negative format. In a sense, Lincoln MADE the images on the glass plate. This photo-chemical process (completed after “developing” and “fixing” chemicals were applied to the plate in a darkroom) rendered the three-dimensional Lincoln as a series of two-dimensional negative images on a thin piece of glass, harkening back to roughly how some people believe a crucified Jesus Christ  imprinted an image of himself on his wispy death shroud now said to be in Turin, Italy.

During her visit to the National Archives, Annie Leibovitz was able to see and photograph several other famous glass plate negative portraits of Abraham Lincoln taken by Anthony Berger in that same February 9, 1864 sitting, including the famous “Penny View” of Lincoln used as the basis for the image on the U.S. penny and the two Berger views used to create Lincoln’s image on the old and new $5 bills (two of those images appear below, courtesy of the National Archives; the one on the top, dubbed the “Famous Profile,” was used in conjunction with the very similar “Penny Profile” view by Victor D. Brenner for the Lincoln-head cent):

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Leibovitz’s reaction to that experience was described by Sarah Boxer in the following way:

“When speaking of the photographic plates of Lincoln that were made by Anthony Berger at Mathew Brady’s studio (which were used as templates for the five-dollar bill and the penny), [Ms. Leibovitz] described them as “very spiritual” because ‘the photons that bounced off Lincoln had once passed through’ them. It is eerie to think that Lincoln’s very body physically affected the plates that captured his image.”[viii]

The glass plate negative slides of Abraham Lincoln housed at the National Archives also are “very spiritual” simply because they reveal moments of time, 150 years ago, burned onto a tiny layer of chemical film clinging to the slides’ surface. In Boxer’s words, Lincoln’s:

“body acted on the light in such a way that the light struck the photographic plate or negative and physically changed it to form an image. Every photograph [made in this way] is an indexical trace, a brand made by its subject.”

Using even more visceral terms, Boxer described all non-digital photographs produced on negative film as like  “cattle branding: burning an impression into the cow’s hide, so that it will be forever linked to its owner.”

Jurrasic Park Meets the Nutty Professor in 3-D

Yet another metaphor borrowed from Christianity can be used to describe the inherent spirituality of Anthony Berger’s glass plate negative of Lincoln. In a sense, that object offers its viewers the chance to see a version of Lincoln resurrected from the dead and visually brought back to life into our modern spatial world of three dimensions. To achieve this result, we need only to reverse the process that converted Lincoln’s 3-D physical being into a series of 2-D negative images on a remarkably thin piece of glass. But how? What mad alchemist could possibly achieve this crazy sounding task?

Well, here’s how. The images of Lincoln were “branded” onto the glass plate by the photographer’s use of  a single camera with at least one row of four side-by-side lenses. The spacing of those lenses more-or-less mimicked the distance between a human’s eyes. Consequently, the viewer can experience a 3-D effect when a set of those image pairs are viewed stereoscopically. Seen in this manner, Lincoln is optically “brought back to life” again in all three of his glorious dimensions.

Lloyd Ostendorf, co-author of Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose, has concluded that Anthony Berger used a multi-lens camera in order to speed up the process of mass producing prints of Lincoln’s image. This means that at least the photographs of Lincoln shot with a multi-lens camera were taken — from Anthony Berger’s perspective — with the primary objective of selling a great number of prints (published by E.& H. T. Anthony & Co.) to the public. An unintended consequence of that business decision by Anthony Berger, however, was to permit future generations the ability to stereoscopically bring Abraham Lincoln “back to life” in 3-D from several moments in time on February 9, 1864.

Little Big Men

The pose struck by the Great Emancipator was choreographed and captured in a several second exposure as the result of the collaborative efforts of two men — Anthony Berger (the photographer) and Francis B. Carpenter (a painter who arranged for the session with Lincoln and helped orchestrate his poses). Mr. Carpenter convinced Mr. Lincoln to sit for this and twelve other photographic poses despite the President’s great impatience with the long, drawn-out process entailed in posing for what he called “sun pictures.” In fact, so impatient was Lincoln on the day of the February 9, 1864 photo shoot, that when his carriage was delayed, he chose to walk from the White House to Brady’s Pennsylvania Avenue studio and dragged Carpenter along with him. Carpenter quoted Lincoln as saying “I’m pretty much split up for our having had to wait like this.” It is amazing that Lincoln later was able to sit through seven poses at the studio on that day. The collodion process then used in making wet-plate negatives was lengthy and tedious both for photographers and the sitters.

Carpenter essentially was an “artist-in-residence” (in the words of Harold Holzer) at the White House for a six month period during the first half of 1864, enjoying what he described as “the freedom of [Lincoln’s] offices at almost all hours.”[ix] His interaction with Lincoln reveals both the special relationship he forged with the President and the great trust Lincoln placed in him. Carpenter obtained this level of intimate access after he pitched the following project to his President — to create a painting of Lincoln and his cabinet members in a scene entitled “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet.” Carpenter’s goal was to memorialize as historically accurately as possible what he considered to be one of the greatest moments in the history of mankind.

As far as Francis Bicknell Carpenter must have been concerned, the photos of Lincoln which he arranged for Anthony Berger to shoot were to serve a singular purpose — to provide him with positive prints of Lincoln in poses desired for use as figure studies for The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet. Any other poses struck by Lincoln and photographed by Berger, such as his “quiet family moment” view of Tad Lincoln standing next to his father while both stared at a photo album prop, would have been shot on Berger’s own initiative as they had absolutely no relevance to Carpenter’s painting of the The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet. Granted, Carpenter later used that father-son photo as the very rough basis for two separate paintings (on a much, much smaller physical scale) titled “President Abraham Lincoln and Tad,”[x] which is part of the White House collection, and “The Lincoln Family,” at The New York Historical Society; but they and other similar paintings were afterthoughts and sidelights to his main objective. From the beginning, he envisioned that his Emancipation painting would be mass-produced in the form of engravings for all to see and enjoy, making his work well known, immensely popular, and a key part of America’s cherished historical record.

It is not known how it came to pass that Anthony Berger served as the photographer of Lincoln on each and every occasion that Carpenter arranged for a presidential photo session. Three Lincoln photo shoots occurred, on February 9, April 20, and April 26, 1864, the last of which was set in Lincoln’s study/cabinet room in the White House where the Emancipation Proclamation was first read. Some unknown cameraman (perhaps Berger?) also took five views of Lincoln at Brady’s Washington studio with a four-lens camera on January 8, 1864 and Thomas Le Mere photographed Lincoln in a standing pose on about April 17, 1863 when he worked for Brady in D.C.,[xi]  demonstrating that other Brady men could answer the call to photograph the President. Carpenter also relied upon Anthony Berger to photograph at least some of the Lincoln cabinet members who were to appear in his painting, including Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.[xii] Carpenter was not present for the session with Stanton, trusting Berger to follow his prior instructions on how to pose Stanton.[xiii] On one occasion, Carpenter even posed himself in front of Berger’s camera as a stand-in for Secretary of State William Seward to create the desired figure study pose for Seward in “The First Reading.[xiv]

All of this points to the conclusion that Carpenter chose Berger to work exclusively on this several month long project and that he did so both because of their familiarity with one another and his admiration for Berger’s talents. If Francis Carpenter had preferred a man from one of the other highly-regarded studios in D.C. (such as Wenderoth & Taylor, at which Lincoln was photographed sometime in 1864, for example) or even a different Brady cameraman, he surely would have brought in someone other than Anthony Berger to help him with what he thought would become his greatest masterpiece and elevate him to the status of the exalted Gilbert Stuart or John Trumbull who famously painted George Washington.

Although Messrs. Holzer, Borritt, and Neely assign all of the credit to Francis Carpenter for how Lincoln was posed in the Berger photos, I don’t think that Berger’s formal training as a painter in Frankfurt, Germany should be discounted. Those three Lincoln scholars assert that:

“the great Lincoln photographs which became the lasting models for coins, stamps, and currency were composed under Carpenter’s eye: sittings before the same photographers did not produce equal results when Carpenter was absent.”[xv]

This conclusion ignores one point — that we only definitively know of a handful of the photos which were taken by Anthony Berger when he worked for Brady. In each such instance, that knowledge comes entirely from Carpenter’s published and unpublished writings. All of Berger’s known photographs involved Carpenter’s collaboration, perhaps with the exception of the supremely compelling photo that Berger took of Lincoln with his youngest son Tad. Thus, we don’t have a body of Berger’s work independent of Carpenter against which to compare. Granted, Carpenter “did have a keen eye for portraiture and documentary groupings,” but who is to say that Anthony Berger never took any other portrait photos without Carpenter’s involvement of equal or greater artistic merit? The Anthony Berger photographs, in the words of  David Hackett Fisher, showed Lincoln “as a wise and experienced leader, with an aura of growing strength and confidence.”[xvi] Should that  achievement be attributed solely to Carpenter, despite the fact that “there were doubts about Carpenter’s reputation even in his own day” and one modern art historian unfairly characterized him as a “very boring” artist? Or is it more likely that the combined talents of Carpenter and Berger produced photographs of Lincoln beyond either of their individual powers?

Branded (in a Good Way)

Besides creating memorable photographs “branded” onto photographic film, Annie Leibovitz has excelled at other forms of branding — in particular, linking the names of celebrities to her widely-recognized photographs of them. To think of a celebrity and then immediately conjure up in one’s mind their image from a Leibovitz photograph is a supreme achievement. Declares Sarah Boxer, “she is a genius at it.” By so succeeding, Leibovitz also has created her own brand.

The original concept of creating compelling photographic images of celebrities was most successfully executed in America first and foremost by the man who employed Anthony Berger for approximately a decade — Mathew Brady. It was Brady who created the widely recognized “Brady of Broadway,” “Brady’s National Photographic Portrait Gallery,” and “Photograph by Brady” brands. The celebrities photographed in Brady’s studios included Presidents, members of royalty, noted politicians, philosophers, religious figures, ambassadors, high-ranking military officers and heroes, actors, and even members of P.T. Barnum’s circus. These photographs of stars made Mathew Brady, in kind, a veritable rock star in his day. Few knew and hob-knobbed with as many of the rich and famous as Mathew Brady. Now, exactly 170 years after Brady opened his first studio, there are not many photographers as successful in the pursuit of ever-lasting images of celebrities as Ms. Leibovitz. At some point in her career of creating the equivalent of trademark images of stars, Annie Leibovitz has become her own brand just as Brady once did.

In the same way that Annie Leibovitz has proven herself a modern artistic genius by imprinting in our minds immediately recognizable photographs of celebrities — such as John Lennon naked and curled around Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton paired with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi as the “Blues Brothers,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” Demi Moore naked and pregnant,  etc.  — with “the props, the settings, the clothes, and even the gestures and expressions that will cling to each person’s image … linking one to the another,”[xvii] so too were Anthony Berger and Francis B. Carpenter geniuses. Their collaboration, which resulted in thirteen known poses of Lincoln, produced several which are immediately recognizable and considered iconic a full century and a half later. Yet, because those photos were linked for the better part of the last 150 years only to Mathew Brady, any fame and notoriety due to Messrs. Berger & Carpenter has gone largely missing. Their story would have a modern-day parallel if, for example, it were to be demonstrated conclusively that the crème de la crème of Annie Leibovitz’s most iconic photographs over the last several decades were not taken by her, but by an obscure younger protégé in her employ essentially unknown to the art world [Note: this is nothing more than a hypothetical used for illustrative purposes].

Excuse My Dust

In her “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts” piece, Sarah Boxer quotes part of a passage (and the title) from Walt Whitman’s 1871 elegy to Abraham Lincoln, among his “Leaves of Grass” compiled works, which Whitman began after Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865:

This dust was once the man,
Gentle, plain, just and resolute, under whose cautious hand,
Against the foulest crime in history known in any land or age,
Was saved the Union of these States

Boxer then rhetorically asks “when you hear the name Annie Leibovitz, what images spring to mind?” Answering her own question, she listed several easily recollected celebrity photos by Leibovitz. But Boxer also posits that as a result of Leibovitz’s photo of Anthony Berger’s multi-lens glass plate negative of Lincoln appearing at pp. 89-90 in Pilgrimage, “maybe the dust of Abraham Lincoln” should be added to that list.

Deservedly so, Lebovitz’s genius and artistic talent are widely known. But when most people hear the name Anthony Berger, do images of anyone, let alone Lincoln, spring to their minds? Do they realize that most, if not all, of the images of Lincoln branded into their memories from his visage on U.S. stamps, coins, currency, and countless books and advertisements were derived from Anthony Berger’s photographs? The unfortunate answer to both questions is “most certainly not.”

“When Mathew Brady and Anthony Berger first looked at the … photographs that were taken at the Brady studio that February afternoon in 1864, they surely had no idea what they had actually created. They could not have realized the countless different ways in which the images were to be used or the enormous impact they would have. But it is thanks to these images … that the face of Lincoln is better known to Americans today than it was in his lifetime.”[xviii]

Ms. Leibovitz’s picture of Anthony Berger’s photographic negative gives me hope that the time finally has come, 150 years after the fact, for us to collectively tip our hats in recognition of the brilliance of Anthony Berger and Francis B. Carpenter for so artfully collecting “the dust” of Lincoln on several glass plates.

I encourage anyone intrigued by these sentiments to make their own pilgrimage to Anthony Berger’s Lincoln images by viewing them online in high resolution at the National Archives and the Library of Congress. See, e.g., http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=lincoln%20anthony%20berger. I also highly recommend Ms. Leibovitz’s book Pilgrimage and the current and future exhibitions associated with that book.

 

By Craig Heberton, July 26, 2014, © 2014

 

To read an interesting story about  the struggle to save tangible historical objects in a digital world, see Jessica Bennett’s “Inside The New York Times Photo Morgue, a Possible New Life for Print” (May 7, 2012) at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/206643-wnyc-tumblr/

“To hold a newspaper in your hand that your great grandmother … might have read, especially in a world that is today so focused on speed, there is something very human and visceral about it.”

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Update on October 27, 2014:

Here’s another example of how knowing the history of an otherwise ordinary looking object completely changes its meaning: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365332583/

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Update on November 30, 2014:

10 Questions for Annie Leibovitz;” Ms. Leibovitz answers ten head-on questions posed to her by intervewer Sarah Luscombe on behalf of Time.com subscribers  — http://content.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,3335573001_1862545,00.html

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Update on January 6, 2015:

Read how one man’s “stuff” left sitting untouched in a room for nearly a century presents us with a real time capsule looking back to a life sacrificed in World War I and how things once were.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/12/29/world-war-i-soldiers-room-untouched-for-almost-100-years/?tid=sm_fb

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[i]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012.

[ii]  Browning, Dominque, “A Pilgrim’s Progress,” The New York Times, October 30, 2011.

[iii]  “Brady had a special process for copying glass or collodion negatives so that the duplicate plate could not be distinguished from the original.” Ostendorf, Lloyd and Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at p. 165.

[iv]  To view Leibovitz’s photo of the plate in Pilgimage, see: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/11/08/pilgrimage-annie-leibovitz/; or http://books.google.com/books?id=xwsLIRIHDj0C&q=berger#v=snippet&q=berger&f=false; or  http://victoriacullen.typepad.com/queenwithoutacountry/page/2/.

[v]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012

[vi]  “The Ghost and Mr. Mumler,” American History Magazine, February 8, 2008. http://www.historynet.com/the-ghost-and-mr-mumler.htm; Moye, David, “William H. Mumler, Spirit Photographs, Amazed Audiences with Ghostly Images,” The Huffington Post, August 22, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/spirit-photographs-_n_3795717.html.

[vii]  To see some of her photographs, visit http://rogerjnorton.com/photos/marytoddgallery.html.

[viii]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012

[ix] Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at p. 87, fn 2, quoting Carpenter, Francis B., “Personal Impressions of Mr. Lincoln,” New York Independent, April 27, 1865, p. 1.

[x]  An image of the painting can be seen at Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at p. 87. Interestingly, the relative positioning of Lincoln and Tad was swapped in this and Carpenter’s other painting, as if the underlying photograph was horizontally flipped. The part in Lincoln’s hair in the painting, on the left side of his head, is different than the way it is depicted in all of his February 9, 1864 photos, on the right side of his head. This was an anomaly, in that Lincoln’s part otherwise is on the left side of his head in all other photographs. Carpenter wrote on the back of a cabinet-sized print of the Berger photograph used as the basis for the old U.S. $5 bill: ‘From a negative made in 1864, by A. Berger, partner of M.B. Brady, at Brady Gallery ….[Lincoln’s] barber by mistake this day [February 9, 1864] for some unaccountable reason, parted his hair on the President’s right side, instead of his left.” Ostendorf, Lloyd and  Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at p. 177. This language also was quoted by Carpenter’s grandson and then owner of the cabinet card sized print, Emerson Carpenter Ives, in a letter to the editor, published in Life Magazine, March 7, 1955.

[xi]  http://peerintothepast.tumblr.com/post/65008148133/abraham-lincoln-by-smithsonian-institution-on. Ostendorf, Lloyd and  Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at pp. 128-129.

[xii]  Carpenter wrote in his diary on February 23, 1864, “Found that Berger at Brady’s had made a picture of Mr. Stanton in the position I told him to put him in …” Ostendorf, Lloyd and  Hamilton, Charles,  Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (1963),  at p. 186. In Diary of Gideon Welles: Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Volume I (1911), at p. 527, Welles writes that on February 17, 1864 he went to Brady’s studio “with Mr. Carpenter, an artist, to have a photograph taken. Mr. C. is to paint an historical picture of the President and Cabinet at the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.” Although no mention was made of whether Berger was the photographer, it is likely that he was.

[xiii] To see the sketch of Stanton which Francis B. Carpenter presumably completed from Berger’s photograph, as well as several other figure studies sketched by Carpenter of Lincoln’s cabinet members, see Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at pp. 72-73.

[xiv]  Holzer, Harold, Borritt, Gabor S., and Neely, Mark E., “Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830-1900): Painter of Abraham Lincoln and His Circle,” American Art Journal, at p. 67.

[xv]  Ibid.

[xvi]  Fisher, David H., Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas (2004), at p. 347.

[xvii]  Boxer, Sarah, “Annie Leibovitz’s Ghosts,” The New Yorker, March 19, 2012.

[xviii]  Sullivan, George, Picturing Lincoln: Famous Photographs that Popularized the President (2000), at p. 82.

A. Berger Joint Opens at 285 Fulton St., Brooklyn

15 Jul

On May 9, 1865, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that “Mr. A. Berger will conduct” a photographic business at 285 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, NY:

1865-05-09 Brooklyn Eagle-Anthony Berger-Lincoln engraving

This was not to be the first photographic gallery at that location. The Brooklyn City Directory for May 1863 to May 1864 shows the photographer George Vandorn/Van Dorn at 285 Fulton Street. An example of a carte de visite print with a Van Dorn back mark from 285 Fulton St., follows:

Van Dorn-285 Fulton

At some point in time, Van Dorn partnered with another photographer, evidenced by carte de visite sized photographs with the back mark “Van Dorn & Bennett, Photographic Artists, No. 285 Fulton St., Brooklyn.” This appears to have represented a transition phase, in that the Brooklyn City Directory for May 1864 to May 1865 lists Van Dorn’s photography business at 314 Fulton Street and the photographers Frank H. & George H. Bennett at 285 Fulton Street, operating as the Bennett Bro’s:

Bennet Bros

The Bennett Brothers were not the only entrepreneurs doing business at 285 Fulton. A few days before its grand opening, J. Weschler & Co. published notices in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that it would commence operating at 285 Fulton Street “on or about Monday, February 13, [1865] with an entire new stock of dry goods, cloaks, mantillas, & c., purchased at the recent prices, thus being enabled to offer their stocks at very advantageous terms.”  That business soon became known as the dry goods store of Weschler & Abraham. Partners Joseph Weschler and 22 year-old Abraham Abraham each contributed $5,000 to their new venture. The New York Times on May 19, 1865 reported that “the dry goods store [at] No. 285 Fulton-street [Brooklyn], was feloniously enterred [sic] yesterday morning and robbed of silks valued at $998.” Recovering from the theft, Weschler & Abrahm eventually moved elsewhere on Fulton Street and was succeeded by Abraham & Straus in 1893, which became a part of the Federated Stores in 1929, and then merged into Macy’s in 1995.

The Weschler & Abraham store at 285 Fulton was only 25 feet by 90 feet in a multi-story building on Brooklyn Height’s main commercial thoroughfare. In February of 1865, Hunter’s Commercial Academy published notices that it had removed from 285 Fulton Street to a new space on Montague Street.  Simultaneously, Weschler & Abraham advertised that it had available to let “a large front room, on first floor, suitable for business; also second floor for dwelling, at 285 Fulton street; Inquiries in the store.”

Anthony Berger undoubtedly took over the former Van Dorn/Bennett Brothers photography studio space. Perhaps, too, he sublet from Weschler & Abraham and purchased some or all of the Bennett Brothers’ equipment and supplies. A one-third page advertisement for Berger’s business in the 1865-66 Brooklyn City Directory, appears below:

1866 Brooklyn Directory-popp 27 third page adx

From all of this it can be inferred that Berger’s split with Mathew Brady and move to Brooklyn did not occur until the spring of 1865 — around the time that President Lincoln was shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865.

Then I Can Make It, (Almost) Anywhere

Why did Berger choose Brooklyn? As mentioned in Part I of “Chewing on A. Berger,”  there is evidence in the 1855 New York State Census that Anthony Berger and his family may have lived in Brooklyn shortly after he first arrived in America. If true, he would have been familiar with that city and possibly a number of its inhabitants, especially resident artists such as Francis Bicknell Carpenter. It was Carpenter who arranged for and oversaw Berger’s three photo shoots with President Lincoln. Also, at the start of the Civil War, the 1860 U.S. Census shows that Brooklyn was the 3rd most populous city in the U.S., with over 266,000 inhabitants, situated a short ferry ride away from America’s largest city and its 813,000 residents. In a sense, Brooklyn Heights, where Berger operated, was Manhattan’s first commuter suburb. Anthony Berger likely perceived that Brooklyn offered more favorable commercial and artistic opportunities than a place like Manhattan, where the competition included internationally renowned photographic heavyweights such as Brady, Gurney, Bogardus, Fredericks, Sarony, and the Anthonys. Although there was plenty of competition in Brooklyn, Berger may have felt that he stood a better chance of making a go of it there both as a professional photographer and a painter.

How did Berger wind up at 285 Fulton Street in Brooklyn? As revealed in the 1865 New York State Census returns, as of June 19, 1865 Anthony Berger (aged 34) and his wife resided in the 4th ward of Brooklyn in a brownstone residence owned by a Weschler & Abrahm partner — Abraham Abraham (listed therein as 22 year-old dry goods merchant “Abram Abrams” — see below).

1865 NY State

This suggests two things. First, the Bergers probably were in a temporary living situation and had only recently moved to Brooklyn. Second, there existed some sort of pre-existing relationship or connection between the Bergers and the Abrahams which resulted in Anthony Berger leasing space at 285 Fulton St. and presumably residing on a temporary basis with Abraham Abraham and his 17 year-old younger brother Samuel. The common thread may have been that the Abrahams were sons of a Bavarian merchant. Perhaps, too, the Bergers were Jewish like the Abrahams.

Mourning “Father Abraham” in Pictures

The short announcement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of the opening of Anthony Berger’s business was silent on Berger’s prior association with M.B. Brady. Instead, it focused upon the newspaper’s receipt of a retouched version of what was becoming a wildly popular and repeatedly plagiarized photograph taken by Anthony Berger of the recently martyred President in Brady’s Washington studio on February 9, 1864.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s description of the image was wrong on two counts; in actuality, the underlying photograph reveals a seated Lincoln peering at a Brady studio photo album (not a Bible) with his youngest son Tad (the middle son, Willie, had died in 1862). The paper’s source for the first mistake was Anthony Berger. Lloyd Ostendorf reveals that Lincoln expressed misgivings to his friend/journalist Noah Brooks that the large photo album with brass clasps might be mistaken for a Bible and that it only came to be used in the photo session when the photographer [Anthony Berger] “hit upon [it] as a good device … to bring the two sitters [father and son] together.” Having personally placed into Lincoln’s hands an album from the Brady studio to use as a prop, Berger knew full well that it was not a Bible. Nevertheless, he titled a retouched version of his own photograph as “PRESIDENT  A. LINCOLN READING THE BIBLE TO HIS SON,” had it created in a large format by the high-end New York City printer William Schaus, and copyrighted it in 1865 (see, below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). The full caption reads:

Retouched and photographed by A. Berger, 285 Fulton Street, BrooklynPRESIDENT A. LINCOLN READING THE BIBLE TO HIS SON – Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1865 by Anthony Berger in the Clerks [sic] office of the District Court of the Eastern District of New York.”

19198u

Berger’s emotionally stirring picture of Lincoln, posed to appear as if the President was enjoying a “family moment” with his youngest son, tugged upon the most sentimental heartstrings of Northerners. Many must have felt an irresistible urge to acquire a calling card sized rendering of that image (called a carte de visite) of the martyred “Father Abraham” for insertion into their cherished family photo album. Two carte de visite prints of Berger’s retouched photograph of President Lincoln & Tad appear below (top, courtesy of Walnutts Antiques – Walnutts on eBay, and bottom, courtesy of bandj.images on eBay):

Walnutts-ebay-285 Fulton-02 bandj

According to Lloyd Ostendorf, the incentive to profit from the heavy demand for this keepsake also was great:

“it was “one of the most popular Lincoln portraits [and] it is the only close-up of him wearing spectacles. It was issued in huge quantities in many variations, with and without Brady’s permission.”

The copyright laws then existing did not yet explicitly prohibit photographing someone else’s work, retouching features of it on a duplicate negative, printing copies of the altered original image, and then selling them in one’s own name with impunity. Copyright laws had not yet caught up with the reproductive powers of photography. Thus, printers and photographers quickly seized on the image’s popularity after Lincoln’s death and sought to cash in. See, for example, three different Philadelphia newspaper advertisements — one calling it “just the thing for the photograph albums of all loyal men and women” — which appeared in the April 28, 1865 Daily Evening Bulletin (top), the April 28, 1865 Philadelphia Press (middle), and the April 29, 1865 Daily Evening Bulletin (bottom):

1865-04-19_Phila Press + twojpg

Brady, likewise, didn’t miss out on selling prints of the father-son photograph taken by Anthony Berger and Harper’s Weekly used it as the basis for a cover illustration a few weeks after Lincoln’s assassination. A print of what the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described as Anthony Berger’s “India Ink drawing” appears below (middle) sandwiched between a Harper’s Weekly May 6, 1865 cover illustration (below, left) and an unretouched print by “Brady & Co.” (below, right). Harper’s, by the way, notated that its illustration was “Photographed by Brady.”

HarpersvBergervBrady

The most obvious revisions made by Anthony Berger to the original photographic image are: (1) seating Lincoln in a straight-backed chair with a flowing jacket or piece of cloth draped from its back, (2) fancy fringe hanging from the chair’s arm, (3) subtle alterations to the photo album making it appear to be a Bible, and (4) recasting the setting to resemble a room in the White House. Note, also, how the Harper’s Weekly illustration looks very similar to Berger’s retouched version in many respects despite its attribution to Brady. A major exception is that Harper’s Weekly did not depict the chair with a ramrod straight back, sticking, instead, to a tilted back more closely resembling the actual chair’s appearance.

Why did Berger alter the chair, let alone do so to such a degree? The simple answer probably is that the chair in which Lincoln sat was a very widely recognized prop in Brady’s Washington gallery, having been given by Lincoln to Mathew Brady in 1860 after Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. It had served as Abraham Lincoln’s chair in the House of Representatives and, therefore, was of a size sufficient to comfortably accommodate Lincoln’s frame. Brady and his operators also photographed many other famous people who posed in the Washington gallery seated in that very same chair, including luminaries ranging from Walt Whitman to Robert E. Lee.

If the Harper’s illustrators based their work exclusively on a print provided by Brady’s gallery, then Berger presumably altered or oversaw the retouching of the original image when employed by Brady — possibly making more than one variant form — and upon his departure took with him a duplicate plate of his handiwork. In which case, Harper’s Weekly could have based its illustration exclusively upon a Berger retouched version submitted by Brady. Although it is at first counterintuitive to think that Brady would have submitted a variant of the original photo touched up in a manner to obliterate his trademark “Brady Lincoln chair,” he may have desired simply to create the illusion that the photo was taken in the White House by altering the chair and the surroundings. Many discerning people who had been in his D.C. gallery conceivably would have recognized the chair as a studio prop, undercutting the desired effect. Thus, Harper’s might have received the retouched work from someone at Brady’s a week or two before the printing of its May 9, 1865 issue when Berger still may have worked for Brady. But what if Berger left Brady months before Lincoln’s assassination? Did Harper’s Weekly combine elements from both a print of the original photograph and a version copyrighted in Berger’s own name, relying most heavily upon Berger’s variation despite crediting Brady? Regardless of the correct answer to these questions, one way or the other, the Harper’s Weekly illustration was based on a photo taken by Berger on February 9, 1864 and likely retouched by Berger, either before or after he left Brady.

[Note: Harper’s Weekly posted a clarification in its May 13, 1865 publication that the “Portrait of Mr. Lincoln at Home” on the cover of its May 6, 1865 issue, was “copied from the admirable Photograph of Mr. A. Berger, 285 Fulton Street, Brooklyn.” This attribution to Anthony Berger, coming a week late and buried in a back page, symbolized the shadow of anonymity under which Berger had operated during his course of employment with Brady.]

1865-05-13_Harper's Weekly_291_A. Berger's Photox

Parting Company with Mathew Brady

Whatever precipitated the end of Anthony Berger’s employment with Brady might have resulted from a deal which Brady struck in September of 1864 (as discussed below). But it can be supposed, too, that factors contributing to the Brady-Berger schism paralleled Philip Kunhardt’s and Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt’s explanation for why another cameraman parted company with Brady:

“Brady was often unable to support operations in the field … David Woodbury, a young photographer who greatly admired Brady and worked diligently for him through most of the war [nevertheless was] all but abandoned [when Brady failed] to send him the supplies he required. Woodbury, like other of Brady’s battlefield photographers, finally quit in frustration and disgust.” — Sullivan, George, Mathew Brady: His Life and Photographs (1994), at p. 105.

Berger, likewise, may have been owed unpaid wages and/or unreimbursed field expenses by Brady. For example, Andrew Burgess, who also worked for Brady in Washington appears to have retained some duplicate Brady glass plate slides as compensation for unpaid wages. By 1874 he even felt entitled to advertise his photography business as a “successor” to Brady’s from the same Pennsylvania Avenue location which Brady later was forced by his creditors to close in 1872. Ironically, those glass plate negatives ultimately came to be owned by the Ansco Co., which claimed them as compensation for debts unpaid by Brady to Ansco’s predecessor, E.H. & T. Anthony & Co.  Today they are part of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery collection.

Alexander Gardner — who like Berger had managed Brady’s Washington gallery —  may have been the first to establish the “tradition” of gathering up and departing with all accessible duplicate plates of one’s own work when separating from Brady.

“When Gardner left Brady’s studio he took all the negatives from the year 1862 with him, including [the work of O’Sullivan, Barnard, and Gibson] — more than four hundred negatives in all … [T]hey certainly had been copied [and] O’Sullivan, Barnard, and Gibson soon went to work for Gardner in his new gallery.”  Robert Wilson, Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation, at p. 148.

Add to this cauldron of potential disgruntlement the inescapable conclusion that Anthony Berger must have been relieved of his position as manager of Brady’s Washington, D.C. gallery sometime shortly after September 7, 1864 when a presumably cash-strapped Mathew Brady sold a 50 percent stake in his Washington, D.C. gallery to James F. Gibson for $10,000, half in cash and the other half in promissory notes (according to Josephine Cobb). After becoming an equal partner in the D.C. gallery, Gibson — a former Brady photographer who had worked for Alexander Gardner after leaving Brady — surely took over the reins of managing the Washington gallery’s day-to-day operations, thereby displacing Berger as its manager. Josephine Cobb described James F. Gibson as “a good photographer but a man lacking business ability and personal integrity.” Her research shows that Brady had brought Berger in as the D.C. manager to oversee Gibson sometime in 1863 before Gibson defected to Alexander Gardner. In September 1864, Gibson had the opportunity to return the favor in a reversal of roles. Berger must have found the position into which he was placed in the fall of 1864 untenable. Was Berger then demoted to a level under Gibson in D.C., reassigned back to New York, fired, or simply packed his bags and quit? If he parted ways with Brady in September of 1864, where did he go and what did he do between then and May of 1865?

 

By Craig Heberton, July 15, 2014 (To be continued)

 

Photographer Anthony Berger in Gettysburg on July 15, 1863

14 Jul

Anthony Berger, David Woodbury and possibly at least one other Mathew Brady assistant photographed several of the best known scenes of the Civil War on the battlefields of Gettysburg 151 years ago. To see some of those images and to read about Anthony Berger’s role in creating them, go to:

https://abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/chewing-on-a-berger-part-i/

 

by Craig Heberton, July 14, 2014

Part III of “Chewing on A. Berger” — The Brady Boys in Hanover Junction, PA

17 May

Mathew B. Brady, Anthony Berger, David B. Woodbury, and at least one additional Brady assistant joined together in Gettysburg days after the cessation of hostilities in July of 1863. For perhaps a full week they focused their attention upon photographing the suddenly famous terrain. The public’s appetite to see what the field of battle looked like was whetted. Gettysburg’s fame had been earned as soon as the readers of the northern press digested lengthy and spell-binding accounts of the three days of fighting which culminated in a stunning defeat for Lee’s Army of Virginia. During their several days in Gettysburg, Brady’s men managed to expose 36 known photographic plates, mainly in stereoscopic format — an average of only about 6 a day. Likely a few months later in a tiny hamlet about 25 miles east of Gettysburg, some photographers took 6 outdoor scenes late in the afternoon of a single day, nearly all of which were shot in stereo. Although the location photographed was described by some unknown scribe as a “point of note during the invasion of Lee in 1863” (see below), those six hastily composed photos depict neither a battlefield, the home or birthplace of a famous person, the site of any important or infamous event, nor a place known to most Americans either then or now. Any evidence of damage wrought by Confederate cavalrymen was long gone by the time those photos were taken. Questions about why so many of those images were exposed, by whom they were taken, and what they depict have lingered and been debated for decades. Nearly a century after their creation, even the state in which the photographs were recorded remained a complete mystery to most of the National Archives curators.

William A. Frassanito writes in Early Photography at Gettysburg (1995), at p. 416, that Josephine Cobb, the former Director of the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives, shared with him several of her notes about her review of the contents of a private collection of papers written by David B. Woodbury covering some of the time period Woodbury worked for Mathew Brady. According to Mr. Frassanito, Cobb’s “notes indicate that Woodbury’s papers for July 1863 are missing, and made no specific reference to Woodbury having attended the November 1863 dedication ceremonies.” Two years later, Mr. Frassanito reiterated that “neither Brady, nor any cameramen affiliated with Brady’s firm, are known to have covered the November 1863 dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.”[1] Because the Woodbury papers remain in private hands and unavailable for research, photo-historians reached a dead end in their quest to determine if Brady or any of his assistants witnessed and attempted to photograph Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

But as revealed in “The Brady Bunch: The Case of the Missing Gettysburg Photos,” it is now known that within the David B. Woodbury private collection there is a letter from Woodbury which he penned from Washington, D.C. to his sister Eliza, dated November 23, 1863, which states in part:

I went to Gettysburg on the 19th with Mr. Burger [sic] the superintendent of the Gallery here. We made some pictures of the crowd and Procession … We found no trouble in getting both food and lodging.”

Although the owner of that letter has confirmed to me that it does not disclose much more detail about what David B. Woodbury and Anthony Berger (then the superintendent of Brady’s Washington gallery) did in Gettysburg, this correspondence establishes that Brady sent the same two ace photographers who were with him in Gettysburg in July of 1863 back to that town about 4 1/2 months later to cover the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and Lincoln’s presence there. No one, as of yet, definitively has identified any November 19, 1863 photos taken by Berger and Woodbury in Gettysburg, but those men may well have taken photographs en route to or returning from the Gettysburg cemetery dedication event.

Mr. Frassanito has described a series of at least six negatives taken at Hanover Junction, PA, located about 25 miles east of Gettysburg, which are credited in “the earliest surviving identifications” to “Brady & Co.” See examples of two of the negative jackets from the collection of the National Archives, below:

Jacket 33496v Fold3 shows jacket   jacket B-83

The oldest surviving captions from this particular series misidentified them as views of Hanover Junction, Virginia from 1864 or 1865. It is now well-established that they depict Hanover Junction, PA rather than VA. This conclusion is readily apparent when the images are compared to the surviving railroad depot in Hanover Junction, PA and what is left there of the extant tracks and rail beds. See, e.g., an article and corresponding “then and now photos” published in the Gettysburg Daily on December 3, 2008 at http://www.gettysburgdaily.com/?p=1121. Also, railcars of the North Central Railway (marked “NCRW”), which passed through Hanover Junction, PA, can be seen sitting at rest on an adjacent railroad siding in some of the photos.  See “Crowds Await Transfer to Gettysburg for Dedication of the National Cemetery in Nov. 1863″ (March 7, 2012), at http://www.yorkblog.com/cannonball/2012/03/07/crowds-await-transfer-to-gettysburg-for-dedication-of-the-national-cemetery-in-nov-1863/, by Scott L. Mingus, Sr.

According to an article in the May 2, 1953 Gettysburg Compiler, entitled “More Brady Pix Discovered,” two grand nieces of Mathew Brady “discovered  in Brady’s old studio” a book published two years before Brady’s death containing three of the Hanover Junction photos. That piece — The Memorial War Book (1894) by George F. Williams — is illustrated with dozens and dozens of photos attributed to the teams of Brady and Alexander Gardner and was the first published photo-engraved book of Civil War photography. The three Hanover Junction photos appear at p. 395 of that 1894 book, and are correctly represented under the master caption “Scenes of Hanover Junction, Pa.” Even more remarkably, they are placed in a grouping with images and text relating to the Battle of Gettysburg campaign. On June 27, 1863, Confederate forces raided Hanover Junction, cut the telegraph wires, tore up some railroad track, and burned the covered railroad bridge which spanned the adjacent Codorus Creek. They met with token resistance. By some unknown means that book’s author correctly determined where those photos were taken and used them to illustrate events in 1863 (see example, below). As revealed above, the National Archives notated in March of 1937 on the plate jacket of one of the Hanover Junction photos that the Virginia location was incorrect. But not until Josephine Cobb began the process of figuring out the correct location in about 1950 did the National Archives eventually change its descriptions for all of the views in its collection. See “Claim Photo in Times Was Abe Lincoln,” The Gettysburg Times, October 11, 1952.

The Memorial War Book_395c

Mr. Frassanito writes that “all of the available evidence, including the barren foliage, does tend to support [a] November 1863 dating” of the Hanover Junction views.[2] The manner of dress worn by the people posing in the images indicates that they were journeying to or from a formal event and points to a late fall dating. Several soldiers, young and old, can be seen with canes (in one case, a military man uses two of them like crutches), suggesting that they had sustained leg wounds and no longer were in active duty (see detail below from a gelatin silver print on a card mount, courtesy of the Library of Congress, which references the year 1863 in the item’s title). Blogger Andy Hall concurs with this assessment: http://deadconfederates.com/2013/08/03/stuck-at-hanover-junction/.

33496u people

Might they have been wounded veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg traveling to or returning from the site of that bloody engagement, explaining why they (excluding the two men preening in the left foreground) and four bonnet-wearing women were the centerpiece of this particular view? Some or all of these apparently wounded men may have been convalescing nearby at the York General Hospital, located to the north near the North Central Railway station in York, PA, and found themselves stranded in Hanover Junction with passengers from Washington who had reached that place by passing through Baltimore at the southern end of the North Central Line. In summary, the Hanover Junction photos may reveal passengers who had come on two different trains from opposite directions and been deposited at the same station awaiting transport to Gettysburg. See also detail, below, from a different Hanover Junction view in which several soldiers (marked #s 4, 5, 6, 8 & 11) pose in a forward position for the camera with two young boys:

soldiers-33495u-01a3

E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. contemporaneously published at least four of the stereo views taken at Hanover Junction in its The War for the Union series of stereocards, noting on each card’s backside that the negatives were by “Brady & Co., Washington” (See “The War for the Union, War Views” #s 2330, 2331, 2332, and 2333).  Anthony & Co. also printed and sold other Civil War photographers’ works. If an Anthony & Co. stereo card identified Brady as the supplier of the negative, it can be said with a very high degree of probability that the photo was taken by a Brady photographer. For example, the front and back images of original Anthony “War Views” cards #2332, #2333, and #2330, taken at Hanover Junction, appear below, courtesy of John Richter. As can be seen, it appears that E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. was the first to mistakenly print the erroneous location for this series of photographs, leading the National Archives to later extrapolate that known troops movements near Hanover Junction, VA placed the photos in the 1864-1865 time  period. Perhaps someone associated with the Anthony firm misread a poorly formed capital “P” as a capital “V” on a handwritten note from Brady’s D.C. gallery, thereby transforming “PA” into “VA.” Perhaps, too, that note accompanied duplicate slides of the four views to the Anthony’s place of business in New York City where they were printed and distributed as The War for the Union stereocards.

Hanover Junction02Frontm2 Hanover Junction02Backm2

Hanover Junction 2333 Front2 Hanover Junction 2333 Backm

Hanover Junction 2330 frontm Hanover Junction 2330 BackT

The Library of Congress attributes the Hanover Junction views to “Mathew B. Brady or assistant.” In summary, this information, Mr. Frassanito’s analysis, and the more recently gleaned evidence that Brady sent Berger and Woodbury to Gettysburg in November 1863, constitute substantial support for crediting the Hanover Junction series of photographs to Messrs. Berger and Woodbury.

Why might two Brady men have exposed photographic plates at, of all places, Hanover Junction? In short, all train passengers traveling from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg, and vice versa, had to go through Hanover Junction, PA. It was there that two railroads met — the North Central Line and the Hanover Branch Line, the latter of which ran westward to and ultimately terminated in Gettysburg on the Gettysburg Railroad Line. It can be presumed that both Berger and Woodbury were transported to Gettysburg from D.C. by railcar in November of 1863, twice placing them in Hanover Junction. Because Woodbury’s letter to his sister specifies that he and Berger had no trouble finding lodging in Gettysburg, it is very likely that they arrived in Gettysburg no later than on November 17, 1863 — before the most substantial crowds descended upon the town in droves. This is a reasonable supposition in light of the several accounts detailing significant train delays and a huge volume of Gettysburg-bound passenger traffic on November 18 and 19, as well as the problems those late arriving out-of-town guests had in securing lodging. A reporter for the New-York World didn’t mince any words:

The railroad facilities were very bad, especially between Hanover Junction and Gettysburg. I am informed that the best was done that was possible, but that may or may not mean anything. The passengers were compelled to crowd into dirty freight and cattle cars, and in that manner to ride a distance of some thirty miles, to their individual and universal discomfort.”

Another correspondent wrote that in Gettysburg on the night of the 18th, “hundreds slept upon the floors of the [churches,] inns and private residences, and hundreds more took a rigid repose in the [train] cars or carriages...” With only four ordinary-sized hotels and all Gettysburg-area residences overflowing, “there were many people walking the streets, unable to get any accommodations for the night.”[3]

Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s former law partner from Illinois, the President’s de facto body guard, and the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, was selected to serve as the Marshal-in-Chief for the November 19 dedication ceremonies in Gettysburg. To this end, on November 17, he made the journey from Washington to Gettysburg along with a number of judges, politicians, journalists, dignitaries, and friends, several of whom were to serve as Lamon’s aides at the National Cemetery dedication ceremonies on the 19th. The Ward Hill Lamon Papers at the Huntington Library reveal that twelve men who agreed to serve as aides signed a petition “signifying their intention of accompanying Marshal Lamon to Gettysburg tomorrow — leaving this city at the hour unnamed (undated).” Among the men accompanying Ward H. Lamon were Robert Lamon (his brother), Benjamin B. French, Judge Joseph Casey, John W. Forney, Solomon N. Pettis, John Van Riswick, Noah Brooks, and Simon P. Hanscom. One of the several journalists who accompanied Lamon on the 17th (perhaps John W. Forney) wrote the following account, published on November 18 in the Philadelphia Press and the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle:

[Mr.] Lamon and a number of his aids … left Washington this morning, at a quarter past eleven o’clock, for Gettysburg, in special cars, kindly provided  by W.P. Smith, of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. They arrived in Baltimore at one o’clock, and repaired to the Eutaw House, where a sumptuous dinner was partaken of, by the courtesy of Mr. Smith. At three P.M. the party left for Hanover Junction, in a special car furnished by the officers of the North Central Railroad. Here we are detained, no car being ready to convey the party to Gettysburg.”

Given Mathew Brady’s high profile, it is possible that Lamon invited the head of Brady’s D.C. photography studio, Anthony Berger,  and his colleague, Mr. Woodbury, to ride with him to Gettysburg — for free, no less. If Messrs. Berger and Woodbury did find themselves stuck with Lamon in Hanover Junction in the mid-to-late afternoon of the 17th with a lot of time to kill waiting for a connecting train to Gettysburg, it would explain why they had the opportunity to unload their photographic equipment and expose several plates in Hanover Junction. But it still doesn’t fully explain what motivated them to unpack and deploy their precious photographic cargo, let alone to expose six outdoor plates at a location where neither a major battle nor even a significant military skirmish between opposing forces had been fought. See, for example, detail from one of the photos (below) showing what John Richter has identified as the photographers’ portable darkroom positioned along a fence line adjoining one of the tracks.

01530udetail 01531adarkroom

The author of “Crowds Await Transfer to Gettysburg for Dedication of the National Cemetery in Nov. 1863,” noted above, estimates that a Hanover Junction photo reproduced below was taken at approximately 4:00 p.m. on November 18, 1863. If the time of day is correct, it would fit into the timetable for when the Lamon contingent was stranded in Hanover Junction waiting for a connecting train to appear on the 17th. As noted in the October 11, 1952 edition of The Gettysburg Times, “shadows indicate the time of day would be shortly before [a November] sunset.”

In one of the Hanover Junction photos, two men stand prominently atop a parked train car hitched directly behind a locomotive (see a print on a card mount in the Library of Congress collection, below; this print was cropped down from the more expansive National Archives B-83 negative). They are the most discernible people in the print and possibly the chief targets of the cameramen. Perhaps the men standing atop the train are Ward H. Lamon and his brother Robert, who performed the duties of a marshal’s aide for his older brother at the Gettysburg dedication ceremonies? Robert, who also served as a Deputy U.S. Marshal under Ward H. Lamon in Washington, was then 28 years old; his older brother was 35.

3a50436ucrop

See detail, below left, of the two men as well as detail, below right, featuring them prominently within a different Hanover Junction view taken looking towards the eastern-facing side of the depot.

possible Lamons-3a50436u 01530uLamon

Compare these men with an undated studio photograph of Ward Hill Lamon (courtesy of the Library of Congress, below left) credited to Mathew Brady and a carte de visite of Robert Lamon from about 1864:

 02903u_head crop Robert Lamon crop

Is it possible that they are the same men? Might this explain why Berger and Woodbury exposed several of their precious glass plate negative slides even before they arrived in Gettysburg? The Lamon brothers’ entries in the Washington, D.C. City Directory for 1864, below, reveal that Robert then boarded with his older brother’s family:

1864 Washington DC Directory-194

The goateed man with the bowler hat also appears in a stereo view scene depicting a railroad bridge over Codorus Creek (see below, in close-up detail, courtesy of the Library of Congress). The approximate center point of that North Central Line bridge, where the man sat, is no more than about 250 feet from the eastern side of the Hanover Junction railroad station. The camera was set up about 400 to 500 feet from the station house next to the Hanover Branch Line tracks and faced the Codorus Creek bridge looking in an east by northeasterly direction. The sunlight cast on the man illustrates that the plate was exposed late in the afternoon when the sun was low in the southwestern sky. I estimate the distance from the camera to the man on the bridge at about 325 to 375 feet. Was Ward H. Lamon the sort of man who might have walked out onto a train bridge, sat on the end of a railroad tie in the middle of the bridge, and there dangled his feet in order to pose for a stereo photograph? Would Anthony Berger or David Woodbury have asked W.H. and Robert Lamon to do such a thing, let alone climb atop a railroad car, or might Ward H. Lamon — Lincoln’s self-proclaimed bodyguard and the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia — have directed the camera operators to photograph him and his brother in several poses demonstrating their virility?

01537acrop4

Three other males joined the goateed man on the bridge. Only one of them also sat on the end of a railroad tie, but that man chose a somewhat safer spot where his feet firmly rested upon a large, squared log directly above one of the bridge’s massive stone foundations in the middle of the creek. He is the same fellow seen standing with the goateed man in the two other Hanover Junction views previously discussed and who may be Robert Lamon (see a comparison, below).

Robert Lamon compare

Is the goateed man Ward Hill Lamon, who was captured in this and two other pictures by the photographers as a form of payback for providing free transportation to Gettysburg, or is he simply a historically irrelevant figure with a goatee who prominently inserted himself (along with a younger man) into three generic Berger & Woodbury views which were taken only with the object of photographing buildings, structures, and equipment rather than specific people or groups of significant people in various scenes?

01537acrop5

Because the only other people photographed on the bridge are a boy shielding his eyes from the sun with his right hand (see above) — standing between the men who may be the brothers Lamon — and one of the interloping men preening before the camera in the view showing military men and several women on the station house platform (see a side-by-side comparison, below), it appears that the goateed man and his side-kick again were the primary human subject matter posed within a Hanover Junction photographic view taken by the Berger-Woodbury team.

preening man compare

In his book The Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery (1993), Professor Frank L. Klement describes Ward H. Lamon as “stout, most handsome, and possessed of a swashbuckling air.” Despite an apparent penchant for casually striking swashbuckling poses and the strong resemblance of his side-kick to Robert Lamon, is the goateed fellow burly enough to be Ward H. Lamon? Would Lamon have been inclined to cut his hair that short before he served as the Chief Marshal at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication event? Was Lamon clean-shaven or sporting a goatee in November 1863? Part of the difficulty in making any conclusive identification of the possible Lamon figure is that there are not, to my knowledge, any dated photos of him from 1863, let alone in the fall of 1863, to use as a basis of comparison. A hatless man with a goatee seated next to Lincoln on the Gettysburg speakers’ platform visible in the so-called David Bachrach photo taken on November 19, 1863 might be W.H. Lamon, but it is more likely that he is one of Lincoln’s personal assistants — John Nicolay — given where he is seated. Whether or not Ward H. Lamon is in the Hanover Junction views, however, is a mere sidelight to a bigger question. Again, quoting Professor Klement, he writes: “on the next day, November 18, most of Lamon’s friends and aides toured various parts of the vast battlefield [in Gettysburg].” If Messrs. Berger & Woodbury accompanied Lamon to Gettysburg on the 17th, they probably revisited portions of the Gettysburg battlefield on the 18th, perhaps even famous locations they had missed in July such as Meade’s headquarters at the Lydia Leister house or Devil’s Den. It is exciting to speculate that these men took more Gettysburg battlefield views which have yet to be discovered.

Whereas searching for the tandem of Ward Hill and Robert Lamon was not the impetus behind this review of the Hanover Junction photos, other researchers have engaged in the search for Gettysburg dedication ceremony luminaries in the Hanover Junction images for more than a half century. For a number of years particularly Thomas Norrell, a collector of old locomotive photos, and Russell Bowman, President of the Lincoln Society of Hanover Junction, argued that President Lincoln is visible in at least one of the Hanover Junction views. Their position first was made public prior to Josephine Cobb’s November 1952 disclosure of Lincoln’s visage in a Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery dedication photograph. Until then, it was “pretty well agreed [by and among Lincoln scholars] that the Great Emancipator was never photographed either at or on his way to Gettysburg, Pa.” The Gettysburg Times, October 11, 1952. The advocates of Lincoln’s presence in at least one of the Hanover Junction photos — the one depicting two men standing atop a parked train car, seen above — assert that a whiskered figure in a stovepipe hat standing largely unattended on the platform near the locomotive is President Lincoln. That same man also appears in a second stereo view clutching, again, an umbrella with a black gloved hand. He is posed in the second photo near several large trunks (see detail below, Library of Congress).

alleged lincoln00 01532anotlincoln

When originally disclosed to the media, the top photo, above, created a “buzz” as it was held out as the possible first photographic discovery of Lincoln’s image in connection with his visit to Gettysburg. After the Western Maryland Railway Company released the photo in early October 1952 “calling attention to the ‘tall man’ in the stove pipe hat … experts and amateurs alike jumped into the controversy. Art editors sent the photo throughout the country. Life Magazine pondered the problem and set the prints before its readers.”[4] One of the arguments asserted in support of the “Lincoln was photographed at Hanover Junction” theory is “the fact that the picture was made at all by the famed Brady … indicate[s] an event of some importance in Hanover Junction.” This argument actually supports dating the photographs to November 1863 in that other than traveling to and from Gettysburg, there is no other explanation for two Brady photographers being in and taking pictures at Hanover Junction. And the only two times Brady photographers are documented to have been in Gettysburg during the Civil War are in July and November 1863. When they were there in July, moreover, the Codorus Creek railway bridge was burned down and the military controlled and used the the rail service to transport supplies and the wounded between Gettysburg and, for example, the York General Hospital, to the exclusion of civilians. The passengers visible in the Hanover Junction views are a mix of soldiers and mostly civilians and the context of those photos coupled with the amount of time over which they must have been shot strongly suggest that the passengers were waiting for a Hanover Branch Line train to arrive which could ultimately get them to Gettysburg via a connection in the town of Hanover to the west.

Despite initial skepticism over — and even out-right rejection of — the claim that Lincoln was photographed at Hanover Junction expressed by notables such as Ms. Cobb, numerous Lincoln scholars, and photo-historians, The Gettysburg Times on June 17, 1953 described the photo in question as “the famed Hanover Junction picture, which many claim depicts Lincoln enroute to Gettysburg.” Nearly twenty-five years later, a March 1, 1988 Gettysburg Times headline proclaimed “Historians Still Debate if Photo is of Lincoln.”

Without now parsing through the several contextual arguments running counter to the “its Lincoln at Hanover Junction” theory, I’ll simply note that today’s high resolution digital scans reveal that the man does not look at all like Lincoln. Moreover, if Ward H. Lamon and his brother Robert are visible in several of the Hanover Junction views, then the whiskered man cannot be Lincoln simply because Lamon traveled to Gettysburg the day before Abraham Lincoln left Washington (Lamon’ role as Lincoln’s body guard and escort was filled by Provost Marshal General James B. Fry during Lincoln’s visit to Gettysburg). Which leads us back to some remaining questions — are these views merely generic scenes of the Hanover Junction railway station and surroundings taken in November 1863 which just happened to be populated with a number of stranded passengers or did the photographers compose these images purposefully and place a specific person or persons of notoriety in one or more of their stereoscopic scenes? Also, assuming that the images, in fact, were exposed around the time of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, did Anthony Berger and David Woodbury take them on the way to or back from Gettysburg? If Berger and Woodbury took these views in connection with their now documented trip to Gettysburg, what happened to the views they took in Gettysburg of “the crowd and Procession?” How is it that four of their Hanover Junction views were published by E. H. & T. Anthony & Co. but none of their Gettysburg dedication event views are known to collectors and historians? Ah, the secrets that have yet to be revealed …

By Craig Heberton, May 4, 2014 (to be continued)

 

————————————

[1] William A. Frassanito, The Gettysburg Then & Now Companion (1997), at p. 58

[2] Ibid.

[3] Timothy H. Smith, “Twenty-Five Hours at Gettysburg,” Blue & Gray Magazine, at p. 14 (Fall 2008), quoting “Dedication of National Cemetery,” Gettysburg Star and Banner, November 26, 1863 and Daniel A. Skelly, “A Boy’s Experiences During the Battle of Gettysburg” (1932) at p. 26.

[4] The Gettysburg Times, January 1, 1954.

The First Photo Op: Anthony Berger’s White House Photos of Lincoln

14 Apr

April 26, 1864, Washington, D.C. – A century and a half ago, for the first and only time, Abraham Lincoln was photographed inside the White House, thereby inaugurating, in the words of Harold Holzer, a now “routine White House occurrence — the photo opportunity.”  Francis B. Carpenter, a portrait painter, arranged for and oversaw that session in what is presently called the Lincoln Bedroom. That day he jotted in his diary: “Today Mr. [Anthony] Berger from [Mathew] Brady’s came up and took several pictures for me of Mr. Lincoln in the Cabinet room. Succeeded very well.” Carpenter then enjoyed unfettered access to the Lincolns in the White House and desired more photos of the President to use as studies for his painting that now hangs in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol – The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet (A.H. Ritchie engraving of the painting, Library of Congress, below):

3a05802v LCcrop

To that end, Lincoln posed exactly where the event which Carpenter wished to paint had occurred — by the table in his office/Cabinet Room at which he eventually presented a reworked Proclamation to his Cabinet members on September 22, 1862 before signing it. The proclamation specified that it would take effect on January 1, 1863 in any states still part of the Confederacy. Although Lincoln didn’t remember exactly when he first read the Proclamation to his cabinet – July 22, perhaps? – Carpenter chose to memorialize that event. Nevertheless, his final work product on a canvas measuring 9 feet by 14.5 feet at least represented the creative process resulting in the final document. To view images of the privately owned Lincoln White House photos (or for which rights of any use come with a fee), see:

http://www-tc.pbs.org/wnet/lookingforlincoln/files/2008/12/mes63081.jpg; Harold Holzer’s “Abraham Lincoln’s White House,” White House History No. 25 (2009) at http://www.whitehousehistory.org/history/documents/White-House-History-25-Holzer-Lincoln-White-House.pdf;  Betty C. Monkman’s “Images of the Executive Mansion, 1861-1865,” in Seale, William, The White House: Actors and Observers (2002 ), at p. 68 http://books.google.com/books?id=yqK2iJaPYKkC&q=berger#v=snippet&q=berger&f=false.

The photographer who captured these historic views of Abraham Lincoln at the White House was German-born Anthony Berger, then the 32 year-old superintendent of Mathew Brady’s Washington, D.C. gallery. He took the pictures with a four-lens camera he had carted to the Cabinet Room from Brady’s Washington gallery, along with other delicate and cumbersome equipment and chemicals. Lincoln had been photographed twice before by Anthony Berger at Brady’s 352 Pennsylvania Ave. Photographic Gallery of Art, resulting in the creation of several of our most beloved and widely known images of President Lincoln (see examples, below, courtesy of the Library of Congress & the National Archives). As noted by George Sullivan, “thanks to these images  … the face of Lincoln is better known to Americans today than it was in his lifetime.”  Picturing Lincoln: Famous Photographs that Popularized the President (2000), at p. 82. Lincoln’s eldest son, Robert, described the Anthony Berger studio portrait which was later used for the engraving on the U.S. five dollar bill (middle, below) as “the most satisfactory likeness of [my father].”

3a10739r-O-88-by Berger on Tuesday, February 9, 1864  3a07486r-O-92-Portrait used for the engraved bust of Lincoln that appeared on the United States five dollar bill for many years from 1914 to 2007 Landscape

Insufficient sunlight in the White House’s Cabinet Room made photographing Lincoln a significant technical challenge. But Berger overcame this obstacle, somehow making do with the paltry natural lighting from the outer windows. Although the conditions prohibited making photos on par with studio creations, the three Berger photos of Lincoln met, if not exceeded, Carpenter’s expectations. Berger accomplished this despite an unanticipated hiccup. It occurred when the President’s youngest son, Tad, locked Anthony Berger and his assistant out of a closet they were using as a darkroom in the midst of the photographic shoot — and then fled with the key. Abraham Lincoln arose from his chair, left the room to find his son and the key, and later returned to unlock the door. The resulting hoopla probably resulted in the smudging of Lincoln’s face in the only White House photo showing him standing. We know about this — and other events and discussions at the White House — thanks to Francis B. Carpenter’s gem of a book, Six Months at the White House With Abraham Lincoln (1866).

It is altogether fitting and proper that an engraving of Francis B. Carpenter’s The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation found its way onto the original cover of Doris Goodwin Kearns’ book A Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, from which was adapted the screenplay for  Steven Spielberg’s 2012 movie Lincoln. Just as that movie serves as a modern-day recreation of Lincoln’s push for the 13th Amendment, Anthony Berger’s White House photos of Lincoln represent our only photographic recreation of the birth of the Emancipation Proclamation, which Harold Holzer describes as “the most history-altering document ever promulgated in [the White House]” and Carpenter, the painter, called “an act unparalleled for moral grandeur in the history of mankind.”

Here’s a salute to the 150th anniversary of the first Presidential photo-op, brought to us courtesy of Anthony Berger, Francis B. Carpenter, Abraham Lincoln and son Tad, and the Emancipation Proclamation (Carpenter, below, in a Brady daguerreotype, from the Library of Congress; along with the first page of the Emancipation Proclamation, from the National Archives).

3c10148vc    514_pg01by Craig Heberton, April 26, 2014

(released a few days early due to travel plans)

John Mulvany’s Paintings and Politics by Anne Weber

21 Mar

The following piece is authored by Anne Weber and addresses John Mulvany who worked for Mathew Brady:

John Mulvany was part of Mathew Brady’s Civil War stable of young photographers and artists who later gained fame, including men such as Walter Shirlaw1 and Timothy O’Sullivan.2  Mulvany is best known as a Western Painter who painted “Custer’s Last Rally” in 1881However, there was much more to him than that. Mulvany recorded the Civil War on canvas as well as scenes of the West and he became deeply involved in the cause for Irish freedom which profoundly affected his career.  His story of fame, murder and revenge is the subject of my research.

 Mulvany was born in Diralagh, Co. Meath, Ireland in 1839 to tenant farmers.  When he immigrated to New York City in 1851 at the age of 12,3 he was old enough to have witnessed and grasped the horrors of the Irish famine.4  By the time he arrived in Washington, D.C. to work for Brady by 1863, he had acquired excellent sketching and coloring skills at the National Academy of Design5 and had worked in Chicago as a colorist.6

The time Mulvany spent working for a newspaper7 and then at Brady’s D.C. gallery, gave him first-hand experience in capturing the carnage and chaos of war.  This may be why his later Civil War paintings were praised for their realism – paintings such as Sheridan’s Ride at Winchester (unlocated), McPherson and Revenge, and Battle of Shiloh (unlocated).

It is possible Mulvany attended the First Fenian Convention held in Philadelphia in 1863; he was in the area.  He did attend the Second Fenian Brotherhood Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1865.8  This secret society recruited heavily during the Civil War and raised money and manpower for future Irish uprisings.  After three failed invasions into Canada, the Fenians floundered and reemerged as the Clan na Gael.

At the same time he engaged in political activity in the Clan na Gael and worked for Samuel B. Fassett, a leading photographer in Chicago,9 Mulvany submitted paintings to exhibitions in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.10  This was when he focused on becoming a serious painter.  Mulvany found a patron in St. Louis, Samuel B. Coale, who provided terms for him to study in Europe11 where he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Art at Munich.12  Mulvany won a medal for his efforts, and returned to Chicago in the fall of 1871 just before the devastating fire.13

Over the next five years Mulvany worked in Eldon, IA, St Louis, MO, Denver, CO, and Louisville, KY. In 1876 he exhibited “Preliminary Trial of a Horsethief” in New York City.  The painting won him national recognition and a reputation as a Western Painter.

As the country celebrated its 100th anniversary, news of General George Custer’s fatal defeat by the Sioux Indians reached the East.  Mulvany immediately recognized the significance of this event and headed west to Montana to capture it on canvas. Over the next four years, he made two trips to the battle site and set up a studio in Cincinnati, Salida, Denver and then in Kansas City. By 1881, the painting was ready.  Soon after, Mulvany’s large masterpiece, the 11ft x 20ft “Custer’s Last Rally,”, began its amazing seventeen year coast-to-coast tour of the country before Heinz took over ownership in 1898.15

Just as the Custer work was receiving great accolades in the press,16 Mulvany shifted his focus to Irish historical subjects.  This redirection of creative efforts meant he would lose his commercial artistic momentum and his hard earned reputation.  Custer was never exhibited within art circles and did not receive critical review. Mulvany hitched his star to the commission he secured from the Irish Club of Chicago to paint “The Battle of Aughrim” – a tragic loss for the Irish in 1691.  John began preliminary sketches in Ireland in 1882 and finished the piece in 1885.17

Internal differences in the Chicago Clan na Gael over financial decisions and military objectives eventually created strife and internecine fighting among the various camps and the leadership.18  Mulvany chose sides which resulted in the loss of his commission, and most of his support while Mulvany’s friend, Dr. Patrick Cronin, was murdered in 1889,19 for his accusations of financial improprieties against the Clan’s leadership.

Mulvany crisscrossed the country eight times before he finally headed East in late 1896.  He set up studios in 21 different cities, sketching, painting and moving on; often leaving finished works and at least one debt behind.  At the age of 58, he finally settled in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, NY where he remained the rest of his life.  Despite many disappointments, he continued his artistic career seeking exhibition opportunities, painting portraits, and even sketching up until two weeks before his death.20

The most intriguing work Mulvany did in this period was “The Anarchist” in 1902. It depicted six men cutting cards to determine who would commit murder.  These were the men whom, I believe, Mulvany held responsible for Dr. Cronin’s death. Friends advised him it was too dangerous to exhibit:21  powerful men in the Clan na Gael were still struggling for control of the splintered organization and would do anything to avoid more scandal as international Irish leaders urged unity in an effort to raise money. The painting is unlocated.  If found, it might be worth more than “Battle of Aughrim, which was put up for sale on eBay in 2010.22 The Gory Gallery in Ireland subsequently listed it at E240,000 and sold it to a private collector.

Mulvany died by drowning in early May 1906; when he passed away the press was not kind.23  He was 66 years old, suffering from throat cancer, vertigo and the effects of alcoholism.24

Mulvany’s contributions are several. He not only influenced William Merrit Chase25 and Frederick Remington,26 he also brought an international perspective to American Western Art. In addition, his life reflects a broader Irish immigrant experience than typically recorded.  As more of his paintings are found, his artistic career can be further evaluated and reassessed.  Locating over a dozen Civil War paintings stored somewhere in Brooklyn at the time of his death27 and the collection of Major Thomas of Louisville, KY28 would help further that goal immensely.

If anyone has questions or information about Mulvany’s life and work, please contact: weberanne3 AT gmail DOT com (just eliminate the spaces and change AT to @ and DOT to the symbol for dot – Thank you). 


1  American Art News, Vol 8, No. 12 Jan 1, 1910 and Endnote #9 in Craig Heberton’s Chewing on a. Burger.  Abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress 22 Feb. 2014  Walter Shirlaw attended the NAD and the Academy of Fine Art in Munich with Mulvany.  They stayed in contact through the years.

2  Journal of the New York Irish – Roundtable Vol. 13 Through Irish Eyes; The Civil War Photography of Timothy O’Sullivan by Brian McGinn

3  Early  information from family genealogy and Tuite’s Gaelic American 3 part series in March/April 1909

4  Cusack, Danny. The Great Famine in County Meath. Meath County Council,  Ireland, 1995

5  National Academy of Design Registry  at aaa.si.edu/collection/national-academy-design-records

6 Tuite, Gaelic American, 6 March 1909 and Lucy Deere interview Sacramento Union 1943.

7  Tuite, Gaelic American (6 March 1909) “…some of the best army sketches published during the war came from Mulvany’s pencil”

8    Proceedings of the Second national Congress of the Fenian Brotherhood held in Cincinnati, Ohio17 Jan 1865. J. Gibbons, Philadelphia 1856 Vo. 2 pg 44

9    1867 Chicago City Directory

10  NAD Exhibition Records, Philadelphia Sketch Club, ChicagoAcademy of Design Exhibition Records 1868 – Smithsonian Archives of American Art

11  Morrissey, Paintings and Painters, Gateway Magazine 1998 pg 30 and  Fuhrmeister, Kohle, Thielemans Eds. American Artists in Munich pg 85. Samuel A. Coale and Hercules Dousmann, Jr. were both possible choices for Mulvany’s future patrons (see email of 10/24/11 Mercantile librarian Julie Dunn-Morton’s dissertation).

12  htpp://matrikel.adbk.de  – academy records of the Royal Munich Academy

13 “Art in Chicago,”  Daily Alta, California 4 Nov. 1871

15  Letter to Mulvany from Goodyear Rubber Hose and Packing Co. 21 Nov, 1898 in the Alice Muldoon Garvey Collection and Stenzel, Franz & Kathryn, Research Files for Unpublished book on western art, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Don Russell includes a very similar story about the sale of Cassily Adam’s painting to Anheuser-Busch pg. 33 in ‘Custer’s Last’.

16  Walt Whitman  15 August, 1881 New York Times

17 Dublin University Review August 1885

18 Tuite, Gaelic American series  1909.  Chicago Clan leadership was secretly carrying out terrorist bombings in London (The Dynamite Wars) and John barely escaped an English prison.

19 Hunt, Henry M, The Crime of the Century or The Assassination of Dr. Patrick Henry Cronin.  H.L. & D.H. Kochersperger, 1889    The Dynamite Wars

20  Alcie Muldoon Garvey Collection, and  working catalogue raisonne

21 Letter from Mulvany to McBeth gallery

22 O’Sullivan, Niamh, ‘Battle of Aughrim’, Irish Times,2 October 2010, ‘Lost Painting’.

23 “‘Eccentric Artist a Suicide’, New York Sun, 23 May 1906,  Painter of ‘Last Rally’ drowned in East River’, New York Times, 23 May 1906. “…a waif…suicide…a drunken derelict”

24 Alice Muldoon Garvey Collection

25 Roff, K. Metcalf, The Life and Art of William Merrit Chase, New York 1917

26  “Kansas City, Cradle of Remington’s Art”, Kansas City Star, 3 May 1925.

27  New York Sun ,23 May 1906

28 Pennington, Lessons in Likeness; Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.  2011

Identification of Brady Views of Lincoln’s Funeral Hearse in New York on April 25, 1865

20 Mar

Paul Taylor of Columbia, MD believes that he has discovered a historic photographic scene — hiding in plain sight until now — within the National Archives photograph collection. It is a four lens camera image apparently taken from an elevated window in Mathew Brady’s New York City gallery then located on Broadway and Tenth Street, showing a huge crowd gathered outside New York’s Grace Church and an enormous horse-drawn hearse appearing as a blurred image due to the lengthy exposure time of the wet-plate collodion image.  The image, below, is from the National Archives, at: http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=526373&jScript=true:

Landscape

There are clues within these images, as well as in another four lens image of the same scene taken some time prior to the arrival of the hearse, pointing to the conclusion that they were taken on the afternoon of April 25, 1865, 10 days after Lincoln’s death, and show Lincoln’s funeral cortege leaving New York City and continuing on its ultimate journey to Springfield, IL.

Michael E. Ruane’s article about the discovery appears in the March 19, 2014 edition of the Washington Post at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/maryland-man-may-have-found-two-forgotten-photos-of-lincolns-funeral-procession/2014/03/19/8f5f5fa6-ade6-11e3-96dc-d6ea14c099f9_allComments.html

Richard E. Sloan, author of “Abraham Lincoln’s New York City Funeral” which appears as a chapter in The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and Memory (2010), is well “convinced that the pictures show the [Lincoln] funeral scenes. According to Mr. Sloan, “[t]here’s no doubt about it.”

Don’t miss reading the COMMENTS section of the Washington Post article, as folks have started to weigh in with their own analysis of Mr. Taylor’s exciting new discovery. If you have any comments you would like to post to this blog, please feel free to do so! Over time, this article may be updated to serve as a repository for the reactions of noted experts and amateur researchers to this discovery, so check back in frequently for further updates.

By Craig Heberton, March 20, 2014

———–> March 23, 2014 update by Craig Heberton:

(1) LOCATION: It is clear that NYC’s Grace Church (which still stands) is visible in the images and, therefore, the funeral hearse was heading north on Broadway (moving from right to left) after passing Tenth Street. This matches the route taken by Lincoln’s funeral procession on April 25, 1865 when his casket was in the process of leaving Manhattan in order to proceed onto the next leg of its journey to Albany.

(2) POSITION OF THE CAMERA: The angle at which the images were taken and the fact that Broadway significantly re-orients itself in a more northerly direction after crossing Tenth Street on its way towards Union Square constitute substantial evidence that the four lens camera was located on an upper floor of MATHEW B. BRADY’s photographic studio and gallery at 785 Broadway (Brady leased space there from sometime in early 1860 until about 1873). The camera probably was pointed out of a window on the Tenth Street side of the building or was situated on the roof. Therefore, it is almost a certainty that Brady’s camera operators exposed the images taken from this camera position. I believe that the camera was over 100 feet from the hearse at the time of the exposure, which conforms with an estimated range of distances resulting from placement of a camera on the Tenth St. side of Brady’s gallery determined by using Google Map’s Measurement Tool.

There had to have been something VERY BIG going on because Brady’s photographers tried to capture a particular but unpredictable moment in time rather than merely a fixed static scene of their choosing. This was challenging because the photographers couldn’t predict exactly when and under what sunlight conditions they would have to expose the glass plate. Rather, they were forced to estimate several minutes in advance when the hearse would come into view, whether it would stop or be in motion throughout, and under what degree of sunlight it would be visible. Glass plates had to be prepared shortly before their use and if the “film” created on them dried out before they were exposed , they could not record an image of acceptable quality. Thus, Brady’s photographers had to try to precisely time the shot and be wary of the possibility that, for example, the sun might dip behind some clouds at the last second, changing all of their prior calculations of how long to expose the plate, which waterman stops should be used, etc. Because they were trying to record the passage of a hearse to capture a moment of HISTORY they had to try to prepare for a number of different scenarios. The highly blurred horse-drawn hearse is a product of the multi-second exposure time required of wet-plate collodion photography. Unless the cameramen expected the hearse to come to a complete stop directly across from Grace Church, they would have known that their chances of capturing a clear image of the moving hearse was a long-shot. Nevertheless, these unknown Brady camera operators seemingly gave it a try because the magnitude of the historical moment demanded such.

(3) TIME OF YEAR: A flowering tree — perhaps a dogwood, magnolia tree, or an azalea bush — is visible in the foreground. The deciduous trees on the other side of Broadway are leafless but may have been adorned with spring buds which cannot be readily seen. According to the Azalea Society of America, the earliest blooming azaleas in New York City on average begin in early April.  Flowering dogwood trees typically are in bloom in April. Even cherry trees are apt to bloom in mid-April. Mary Finn notes that the saucer magnolia begins to blossom in New York City in late March or early April and is “seen in the neatly-manicured gardens of every houseproud owner in the borough and in adjacent Queens.” Other types of magnolias also are a possibility. See http://voices.yahoo.com/the-magnificent-magnolias-york-city-5766766.html. The dress of the spectators suggests that many had arrived earlier in the day to stake out their spots when there was still a chill in the air and that they stood waiting for some time in order to witness a historic event. Richard E. Sloan writes in his chapter entitled “Abraham Lincoln’s New York City Funeral,” that “[a]t the intersection of Canal and Spring streets, the sun beat down unmercifully on the tremendous grieving throng that had waited patiently for hours to glimpse the hearse.”

(4) TIME OF DAY: The sun shines brightly both on Grace Church and the enormous crowd standing adjacent to it on the opposite side of Broadway, establishing that the sun was beginning its descent to the west in the afternoon. Numerous opened umbrellas and parasols are visible and were deployed to protect its handlers from the descending sun. The earlier exposed view, taken when a portion of a large contingent of about 150 police officers [correction: soldiers] stood on and off to the side of Broadway, illustrates that the sun was significantly higher in the sky at that time because some of the policemen standing on the street cast a southerly shadow onto its pavement. In the later National Archives images, the passing hearse appears not to cast ANY southerly shadows behind it. The distance between City Hall and Tenth St. on Broadway today is about 22 blocks (1.45 miles). The procession was supposed to leave City Hall at 1 p.m. on April 25th and Lincoln’s casket was to be out of the city by 4:15 p.m. The actual time his catafalque began moving down Broadway and reached its terminus in Manhattan may have been different if the newspaper reports are accurate — for example, the April 26, 1865 edition of the New York Tribune reported that “precisely at two o’clock, the vast Cortege began to move from City Hall, and without any delay worth mentioning continued until 4:10 o’clock, when the end passed through the Park, the Procession, exclusive of the military, thus occupying two hours and ten minutes in passing.” Nevertheless, it can be estimated that Lincoln’s hearse could have passed by Brady’s photographic gallery anywhere between 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

(5) REACTION OF THE CROWD: The people on the opposite side of the street battled a mid-to-late afternoon sun. Along with the ladies hiding under their parasols, a few men can be seen holding their hats in front of their faces and angling them in order to shield their eyes from the sun as the hearse passed. Most of the men positioned closest to the hearse just as it passed by them in front of Grace Church are hatless. A majority of the men back towards Tenth Street who presumably had doffed their hats as the hearse moved by them a few seconds earlier had replaced their hats on their heads.

(6) FEATURES OF THE HEARSE: One of the more curious details is the fact that the camera operators of the National Archives four lens images exposed the glass plate only after the hearse had moved from the sunlit portion of the pavement into a heavily shaded area + when the hearse and accompanying soldiers were moving rather than stopped. Compare this to an image of Lincoln’s hearse captured at a standstill at a different location within a Library of Congress stereo view which probably was taken opposite of a building located at 688 Broadway, about 6 blocks south of Brady’s photographic establishment. A poster with the handle “mmoretti” has written that a boot maker named Samuel Acton was then at 688 Broadway, matching the “Maker” sign visible behind the catafalque and above the address “688.” (Note: Samuel Acton, maker of boots, is listed at 698 Broadway in the 1864-1865 Trow’s New York City Directory at p.24). See detail of that image below from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008680246/:

19422u cropbw

It is possible that the Brady cameramen expected the hearse to stop after crossing Tenth so that they could capture it motionless in full sunlight. But the resulting image probably reflects the vagaries of both expectations or hopes unmet and the difficulty of precisely timing a collodion wet-plate photograph (given the several minutes of preparatory time required to adjust the optical focus, set waterman stops, and prepare the glass plate for use by “flowing it with collodion, soaking it in a chemical bath, drying it, placing it in a light-proof holder, and inserting the holder and plate into the back of the camera, etc.). Consequently, the hearse was captured when it was moving + within very dark shadows cast by a building on the other side of Tenth opposite Brady’s building possibly at either 787 or 789 Broadway. The dark shadows falling on the hearse and the soldiers marching in accompaniment at the sides of and behind the hearse coupled with their movement throughout the exposure make it extremely difficult to analyze details relating to the hearse or the soldiers. Four dark feathered bundles of giant ostrich plumes encircling Lincoln’s casket appear to be visible as a blurry mess in the images. Other readily observed features include a wavy garland of white flowers and light-colored fringe at the base of the hearse’s dark cloth enclosing its bottom-most portion, both of which are visible in other Lincoln hearse images. What is not visible atop the catafalque is a miniature version of the Temple of Liberty which is discernible in other Lincoln funeral procession photos and sketches. Perhaps it was removed when the casket was publicly displayed at City Hall on the prior day and not put back on the hearse. A more likely explanation, however, is that it cannot be seen simply because of the distorting and “ghosting” effects of motion.

Someone posted a valuable visual tool at: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/40868975/LincolnFuneralProcession-HearseInset.jpg. The unknown creator of that .jpg superimposed within one of the four National Archives images a cut-out of a confirmed image of Lincoln’s funeral cortege in New York City from the Library of Congress stereo view mentioned above, thereby creating a side-by-side comparison within the National Archives image. Even though the Library of Congress picture was taken from atop an apparent fire-escape balcony at a much lower elevation (note: such a balcony is affixed to that building today about 20 to 25 feet above the street level) which afforded a significantly closer and lower angled view of the Lincoln hearse than the National Archives four lens images, it does facilitate helpful photo-analysis despite its different perspective. As can be seen below, by placing the snipped Library of Congress hearse directly behind the mystery hearse, the modified image allows us to make a far easier comparison between the images and illustrates that the two hearses and the accompanying honor guard of six soldiers marching along their near sides can be pronounced a highly possible match to one another:

526373a LincolnFuneralProcession-HearseInset

(7) MARCHING HOLLOW SQUARE OF SOLDIERS: Other photos and sketches reveal that a hollow square formation of 7th Regiment soldiers in a double line column marched along with and framed the Lincoln hearse. See below, for example, detail from a Library of Congress collection image at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008680150/:

1s01778u (1) larger crop

See also a Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper sketch of the procession on April 25, 1865, revealing the same, from the Library of Congress collection at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/98507327/:

3c20338u detail

A few hollow square formation soldiers are visible at the bottom of the Library of Congress stereo view, three or four of whom can be seen with the butts of their rifles pointed upwards in a “reverse arms” position, as pointed out by “M.E. Wolf” at http://civilwartalk.com/threads/lincolns-hearse-at-new-york-april-24-25-1865.77942/. See detail, below:

19422udetail

A drawing of the arrangement of soldiers and honor guard around the funeral hearse as it appeared in the April 26, 1865 edition of the New York Tribune:

1865-04-26 NY Tribune chart2

The National Archives four lens image appears to show a double column of soldiers on the far side of Broadway flanking and trailing behind the hearse (note the pairs of soldiers’ trouser bottoms and boots visible within darkened detail on the upper eastern side of Broadway):

Landscape

There is evidence that a similar column of soldiers flanked the hearse on the western (nearer) side of Broadway too. Their upper torsos were largely obliterated by their movement during the exposure, as occurred with respect to the soldiers on the east side of the street, leaving only exceedingly faint and blurred “ghost” traces of their presence overlaying the cobblestones. Compare the soldiers’ optical impact upon the cobblestones on the west side of Broadway with the clearly defined joints visible within the cobblestones situated in the middle of the street. Finally, the group of soldiers immediately trailing the hearse and the four or five men trailing behind at a close distance in the cropped detail from Library of Congress image, above, also seem to be trailing the mystery hearse in the National Archives  images at a similar distance.

(8) THE DOUBTERS: The blurred hearse, horses, and soldiers do not allow for an easy identification of the hearse as Lincoln’s funeral cortege.  Skeptics are able to point to the absence of specific details (including the previously mentioned miniature version of the Temple of Liberty) as evidence that this is not Lincoln’s hearse. The aforementioned poster “mmoretti” maintains that the shadows seen in the Library of Congress stereo view taken on the same day across from 688 Broadway about 6 blocks to the south of Brady’s gallery sometime shortly before the hearse’s arrival at Grace Church — were pointing roughly northward, contrary to the shadows seen in the National Archives’ views. However, if that stereo view was taken at 688 Broadway, the angle of the shadows cast actually pointed eastward (because of the northeast by southwest orientation of Broadway at that point), mirroring the shadowing from the buildings seen in the National Archives images.

One gentlemen who is investigating the possibility that the hearse was used in a Union Day celebration or to mark the death of another famous person is Robert McNamara @history1800s. See his article on this topic at: http://history1800s.about.com/b/2014/03/20/possible-photo-of-lincolns-funeral-found.htm. Mr. McNamara raises excellent questions such as “why is there no mourning crepe hanging on Grace Church?” He notes that the New York Tribune reported that “Trinity Church — the other fashionable Episcopal church in the city — was draped in black and also had a sign expressing grief in front.” No ready explanation comes to mind other than the congregation at Grace Church may have elected not to adorn the facade facing Broadway with anything on the 25th.  Likewise, other New York churches and synagogues might have been a mixed bag, with some placing visible expressions of mourning on their buildings and others not. But it is certainly possible that Grace Church was adorned with black crepe or similar physical expressions of grief on much higher levels of its Broadway facade — such as its top bell tower — which were outside the framed space captured by the National Archives images. Perhaps, too, the dark object marked within detail below represented some dark mourning cloth draped from the church:

526367adm2

Someone whom I am quite sure was not laid out to rest in that casket is Ulysses S. Grant. By the time of Grant’s funeral procession in New York City on August 8, 1885, much faster speed dry-plate photography was in vogue,  telegraph, telephone and electrical poles and lines littered the major streets of New York City, the leaves on trees would have been at their collective peaks, and the crowd would not have been dressed as they appear in the National Archives images. Nevertheless, in expressing his skepticism that the images show Lincoln’s funeral procession, Mr. Natanson of the National Archives is not alone as there are a number of researchers investigating whether they can show that the National Archives images represent the funeral procession of someone other than Abraham Lincoln.

Stay tuned for future updates.

 

———–> March 25, 2014 update by Craig Heberton:

Since the last update, some insightful commentary particularly relating to the miniature Temple of Liberty crowning the top of Lincoln’s catafalque has been received from two gentlemen. The first, Mr. John Woodman, has written an excellent piece about his own analysis of the images at:  http://www.springfieldcomputerguy.com/analysis-brady-photos-president-abraham-lincolns-funeral/#comment-509. I recommend that anyone with an interest in this subject matter take a look at John’s work, especially his side-by-side comparison of the hearses marked with numbered specific details shared by each. He also raises the point that if you, likewise, conclude that the hearses are a match, then another point merits consideration. The Lincoln funeral hearse designed by Charles Mettam, an architect, and built by Peter Releyea, an undertaker, was unique as it was commissioned for this specific event and only used on April 24-25, 1865 and for several re-enactments staged in conjunction with Fourth of July celebrations in New York before its ultimate retirement. As Mr. Woodman points out, it can be easily concluded that the scene depicted in the National Archives images was not taken on July 4 of any year in which wet-plate photography was still in vogue. Noting that the Lincoln funeral car used in Philadelphia, for example, did not resemble the Mettam/Releyea funeral car, Mr. Woodman concludes it is highly unlikely that any other hearses were trotted out in New York City during the age of collodion wet-plate photography which would have precisely mimicked this one.  Relative to the Temple of Liberty ornament, Mr. Woodman writes: “A white blur is visible corresponding to the top ornament. This is more visible at bottom than at top, although in one adjustment of the photo I was able to see it at top as well.” All of this adds up to further powerful photo-analysis supporting Mr. Paul Taylor’s conclusion that the images depict Lincoln’s hearse.

Speaking of Mr. Paul Taylor, he also has graciously posted a comment at this https://abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com/ blog. His comment addresses the oh-so-hard-to-see miniature Temple of Liberty. Mr. Taylor writes —  “that was the toughest thing for me to find. To get a brand new perspective, I did a top/down (just using one side of the quad) instead of the usual left/right (sideways) red/cyan anaglyph and rotated it 90 degrees so I didn’t have to twist my neck to orient it the same direction as my red/cyan glasses and saw it. After that I saw it in every view – I circled it on my flickr posting.”  With that helpful comment in mind, I looked at a red/cyan anaglyph created from the National Archives images which was shared with me by a noted Civil War photo-historian colleague. I was able to make out five or six images of the miniature Temple of Liberty within the shadows. The multiple images are the result of  the hearse’s movement throughout the exposure. As Mr. Woodman notes, seeing the base of the Temple was easier than seeing the top portion. But after acclimating my eyes to the 3-D effect created by the blue/cyan glasses, both the top and bottom portions of the miniature Temple became visible. Thank you Mr. Woodman and especially Mr. Taylor!

The final comment I’ll offer relates to Mr. Woodman’s estimate of a 10 second exposure time. Although I agree that the white wavy lines created by reflective items on individual members of the honor guard — and even the end-to-end spacing of the multiple images of the Temple of Liberty — are good markers of how far objects moved during the exposure, I don’t believe that the exposure time was as much as ten seconds. Given the amount of bright sunlight and the fact that the Brady cameramen probably would have used both their “fastest speed” batch of collodion on the glass plate and done everything they could in setting up the shot to minimize the overall exposure time, I’d guess that the overall exposure was no more than five, six, or even seven seconds. If so, the procession might have been shown speeding up a bit after first slowing at Tenth Street due to the narrowing of Broadway noted by Mr. Woodman. Because we don’t know exactly how fast the procession was moving during the exposure, reliance upon the estimated speed of the hearse pulled by sixteen horses and the surrounding foot soldiers can only offer us a range of estimated exposure times.

 

———–> March 26, 2014 update by Craig Heberton:

Searching for National Archives digital photographs using NARA’s Online Public Access (OPA) can be very frustrating and does not always yield results in the same manner as the wonderful Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Only yesterday did I finally discover the location of the National Archives’ full-size copy of the first of the two four-lens images showing Grace Church. I needed a fellow researcher to direct me to where it was hiding. With that four-lens image loaded on my hard-drive, I was then able to come to the conclusion that the large contingent of uniformed men whom I previously assumed were police officers are probably all soldiers. Noticing new details, I was struck by a great contrast in the behavior of the crowd in the two four-lens images. In the image showing Lincoln’s hearse, I cannot find a single person looking up towards the position of the Brady cameramen. But in the first image, I count at least 57 spectators and soldiers looking up at and/or posing for Brady’s camera (see marked image below) — behavior which stands in marked contrast to the intense level of attention later directed towards Lincoln’s hearse and the rest of the procession of soldiers and dignitaries trailing immediately behind it.

1st view detail3

That there were so many soldiers situated in advance at just one street corner is additional proof that the individual in the casket carried in the later-arriving hearse wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill dignitary.

———–> March 27, 2014 update by Craig Heberton:

The April 2014 edition of Battlefield Photographer (The Newsletter of the Center for Civil War Photography) just arrived! At pp. 16-18, it features an article by Bob Zeller about Paul Taylor’s discovery. “A Major Brady-Lincoln Photo Discovery” explores the story behind Mr. Taylor’s detective work in even greater depth and more fully lays out the reactions of members of the National Archives. Not to be missed!

How does one obtain a copy of the article? All that is needed is to submit an online application for membership with the Center for Civil War Photography (CCWP) and the magazine — which also contains several other fascinating articles relating to Mathew B. Brady — can be yours along with all of the other goodies that go along with being a paid member. See: http://shop.civilwarphotography.org/Memberships/. Also, Paul Taylor has posted a number of marked or enhanced images of the April 25, 1865 New York City hearse photos at his flickr page which better reveal his analysis at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/110677094@N05/.  Be sure to check them out and don’t miss the other 3D images he has created as anaglyphs, including from the surface of Mars, planetary images of Saturn and its moons, Teddy Roosevelt, and various Civil War photographs. Just don’t forget your red/blue 3D glasses before you visit his flickr page. If you don’t own any cyan/blue glasses, you needn’t worry, because you can receive a pair from the CCWP after becoming a member.

————> October 15, 2014 update by Craig Heberton

Paul Taylor has let me know that the National Archives has notated his discovery as follows:

  • Although the official caption received by NARA from the Army Signal Corps, and appearing as well in the 1897 War Department Library Catalogue, is generic, an investigation carried out by researcher Paul Taylor in early 2014 pointed out evidence suggesting that the event being observed by the crowd in this photograph, as well as in the related 111-B-2172 (NARA Identifier 526367), is the Lincoln funeral procession in New York City, on April 25, 1865. Examining digital reproductions of both images, and drawing on various external sources, Taylor built his case for such rare photographic subject-matter around the following: the match between the church in both images and known views of New York City’s Grace Church at Broadway and 10th Street; contemporary newspaper accounts of the procession route, clearly taking it past Grace Church; biographical sources placing Mathew Brady’s New York photographic studio across the street from Grace; the notable size, and apparent solemnity, of the crowd in these images; the springtime tree blossoms evident in these images; and significant points of correspondence when comparing the size, shape, and discernible features of the large blurred object seen at the left in 111-B-2178, with characteristics in a known photograph of the specially designed Lincoln hearse, or catafalque, used in the New York City procession. Taylor’s findings, which he reported to NARA, received widespread media publicity, and were subsequently endorsed by Center for Civil War Photography President Bob Zeller, Lincoln funeral scholar Richard Sloan, and others, including another researcher, John Woodman, who reported results of his own independent analysis to NARA. A full account of the Taylor research can be found in the April 2014 issue of the Center for Civil War Photography Newsletter, Battlefield Photographer.

Official Army Signal Corps captions and 1897 War Department catalogue entries often are overly generic and can be replete with errors. Even Civil War photographer’s or publishers’ captions & catalogue entries are prone to both minor and major mistakes and omissions. Thus, the careful study of what can be seen in a Civil War era image often is far more reliable on the topic of “who, what, when, and where.” Congratulations especially to Paul Taylor and John Woodman for the deserved recognition they have received.

Paul Taylor also has pointed me to a markup he created based upon the work of our fellow CCWP member, Steve Wolf, in April 2014. That markup shows many soldiers standing on Broadway Ave. in front of Mathew Brady’s gallery wearing mourning bands. Just another piece of evidence supporting the overwhelming conclusion of what the view depicts!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/110677094@N05/14977153225/

14977153225_0f82431a18_o Continue reading

Chewing on “A. Berger”

22 Feb 0a detail

(Part I)

  • Whose studio photographs of President Abraham Lincoln have graced both the U.S. penny and the $5 bill?
  • Who took more known photographs of Lincoln other than a former colleague?
  • Who photographed Lincoln to obtain studies used for a painting that hangs in the U.S. Congress?
  • Who photographed Lincoln in the White House where he allegedly fell prey to a prank pulled by Lincoln’s son Tad?
  • Who was in Gettysburg on two separate occasions in 1863 taking photographs with David Woodbury?

It is fair to say that Americans who hold themselves out even as average students of American history are sure to recognize the name “Mathew Brady” as well as one or more iconic photographs produced under his nameplate. For many, “Brady” is the only recognizable name within the genre of mid-to-late 19th century photography. So if you answered “Brady” in response to the five bulleted questions above, count yourself among those with a failing grade and chalk up your misguided response to the fact that the vast majority of real “Brady” Civil War-era photographs, although a product of Mathew Brady’s creative genius and visionary thinking, were taken and developed by men who worked for him. As noted by a journalist in 1851, a full decade before the outbreak of the American Civil War, the New York City daguerrean artist:

“M.B. Brady, of 205 and 207 Broadway, corner of Fulton, has, however, after all, the largest and most fashionable establishment in the city. His enterprise is proverbial, and his gallery of the members of Congress, noted military, naval, and civil officers, perhaps cannot be equaled. Brady is not an operator himself, a failing eyesight precluding the possibility of his using the camera with any certainty, but he is an excellent artist, nevertheless — understands his business so perfectly, and gathers around him the first talent to be found.”[1]

Roy Meredith, the author of the book Mr. Lincoln’s Camera Man, Mathew B. Brady (1946), asserts that although Mathew Brady left “the routine work of the gallery to his operators” throughout the Civil War and for several years thereafter, his prestige demanded that he personally handle “the most prominent of his sitters, and any celebrity who wanted a ‘Brady Photograph,’ naturally expected to be photographed by him and not by one of his operators.”[2] Providing personal attention to his most prestigious sitters in either his New York or Washington studios might have been a frequent Brady rule, but it was not without exceptions — even when President Lincoln walked through his studio door for a sitting. That is why one of the men of “first talent” who toiled behind the camera for Brady — ANTHONY BERGER —  is the correct answer to all five of the questions posed above. Yet, virtually nothing biographical has been published about Mr. Berger. He is for all intents and purposes a veritable historical man of mystery. He isn’t even listed as a notable person at a Wikipedia site dedicated to his surname.  James D. Horan, in Mathew Brady: A Historian with a Camera (1953), writes that in 1858:

“The eyesight of the prince of photographers was fading worse than ever. The long nights in the darkroom were extracting their toll. The lenses of his spectacles were now blue and even thicker. [Mathew B.] Brady could still be found behind the camera, but on rare occasions. He was still attracting the great men of America and the world to his busy galleries in New York … but other men were now doing most of the actual photography work. One was an Englishman named A. Berger — or Burger.”

Mr. Horan speculates that Anthony Berger was from England because the name “A. Berger” appears in London photography stories reprinted in the American publication Humphrey’s Journal. Noting that one piece[3] mentions that “A. Berger” was “on his way to New York,” Mr. Horan extrapolates that he probably is the same fellow who eventually ended up in Brady’s New York studio. Efforts, thus far, to locate “A. Berger” within Humphrey’s Journal have proven unsuccessful. Nevertheless, while digging for those references it came to light that several authors of letters and articles published or republished in that journal maintained their anonymity under the cloak of fictitious names such as “A. Subscriber,” “A. Stranger,” “A. Victim,” “A. Fault-Finder,” etc., suggesting that “A. Berger” could have been “A. Pseudonym.” Because Anthony Berger eventually worked for Mathew Brady and New York City is where Brady originally based his operations, the island of Manhattan is the most logical place to begin any search for Anthony Berger in America. The first references in a New York City Directory to a promising candidate for Anthony Berger appear on page 297 of  Wilson’s Business Directory for New York City, published in 1855, under an occupational listing for “Painters, Landscape:”

“Berger, Anton, 251 Bowery”

and in the 1856 Trow’s New York City Directory, published in 1855 for the period of May 1855 to May 1856:

“Berger, Anton, artist[4], 359 Broadway, h 251 Bowery”[5]

Armed with the knowledge that Mathew Brady’s establishment was then listed at 205 and 359 Broadway Avenue, the Trow’s New York City Directory entry establishes that Anthony Berger (aka “Anton Berger”) was working for Mathew Brady in New York by sometime in 1855.  The 359 Broadway location, described as “the showplace of the city’s [photographic] galleries,”[6] opened in 1853 and covered several floors atop Thompson’s saloon: “gazing down at the luxurious rooms from the frames of gold and rosewood are the kings, statesmen, emperors, and American leaders, living and dead … [The rooms have] the very best equipment. There is nothing in Brady’s apparatus of second quality … [it is] a prince of a gallery.”[7] By comparing his first five appearances in Trow’s New York City Directory with the last four, we discover that Anthony Berger’s given name was “Anton” which, with the passage of five years, morphed into the less Germanic sounding “Anthony”:

1855-1856: Berger, Anton, artist, 359 Broadway, h 251 Bowery

1856-1857: Berger, Anton, artist, 359 Broadway, h 251 Bowery

1857-1858: Berger, Andon [presumably a typo], painter, h 155 Forsyth

1858-1859: Berger, Anton, artist, h 55 W. 18th

1859-1860: Berger, Anton, artist, h 55 W. 18th

1860-1861: Berger, Anthony, artist, B’way c Tenth [8], h 55 W. 18th

1861-1862: Berger, Anthony, artist, h 55 W. 18th

1862-1863: Berger, Anthony, artist, 806 B’way, h 55 W. 18th [9]

1863-1864: Berger, Anthony, artist, h 55 W. 18th

Miss Josephine Cobb, former director of the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives, notes that “ANTON BERGER” was one of the artists employed by Brady to finish studio camera portraits “in oil [paint] on canvas or paper” which were “beautifully framed in gold” and sold for $750 a piece to wealthy clients. Essentially, they were oil paintings created by projecting the photographic image from a large glass plate negative onto paper or canvas, thereupon outlining the person’s face and any distinguishable features, and then finishing the imperial piece with oil paint.  Other artists such as George Story and Henry Ulke, like Berger, performed the same services early in their professional photography careers. See Congressional Record – Appendix, March 11, 1965. Consequently, one of the skill sets either learned or further refined by Anton/Anthony Berger during his years of service with Brady included portrait oil painting, explaining his occupational listing as a “painter” in the 1857-1858 Trow’s New York City Directory. The beginning of Berger’s tenure with Brady coincided with Brady’s migration away from daguerreotypes to wet-plate collodion photography, the speed of which surely accelerated upon the arrival of Alexander Gardner at Brady’s New York studio in 1856.

 

The absence of anyone appearing in the New York City directories predating 1855-1856 with both the correct name and occupation of “artist,” “photographer,” “daguerreotypist,” “painter,” or a similar occupation, is evidence that Anthony Berger was not working or perhaps even living in New York City prior to 1855. This draws some support from a May 20, 1861 naturalization certificate issued by a New York Court of Common Pleas for “Anthony Berger” who then resided at 55. W. 18th Street, New York City, matching his home address in that year’s city directory. This naturalization record reveals that Anthony Berger the “artist” was from Germany — answering at least one question about his origins. The naturalization laws then in effect required a minimum of five years continuous residence in the United States (also, within that time period, two years had to pass between one’s initial declaration and later filing of a petition for citizenship) before citizenship could be attained. It was not unusual even for diligent aliens who immediately declared and petitioned for citizenship to experience delays in the processing of their petitions before finally being granted their citizenship after the five year period expired. A further search of the records also turned up Anthony Berger’s filing of a Declaration of Intention to Become a Citizen with the N.Y. Court of Common Pleas on December 13, 1854. In that document he renounced “all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatever, and particularly to the Free City of Frankfurt.” So if the former Frankfurt, Germany resident moved as swiftly as possible to gain citizenship from his local New York County Court of Common Pleas, he arrived in America sometime in 1854. Anton/Anthony Berger was among the approximately one million Germans who left their homeland for America between 1850 and 1860 because of economic. political, regulatory, and military hardships. To gain an insight into the catalyst behind this German migration, I highly recommend reading The Last of the Blacksmiths (2014) by Claire Gebben. At least for the time being, what specifically drove Anthony Berger to come to America remains a time shrouded mystery. (To be continued) By Craig Heberton IV, published February 21, 2014

(Part II)

Anthony Berger’s naturalization record contains the necessary clues to determine when and where he was born as well as other significant biographical information.  On June 12, 1897, an “Anthony Berger” was issued a United States Passport. Within his application, Mr. Berger indicated that he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on the 20th of May 1861 and listed his occupation as “artist.” That information clinches any debate, establishing him as the correct Anthony Berger. See The National Archives, Passport Applications, 1795 – 1905, Roll 0490, Volume 851, Year 1897, in Fold3 (2008). Berger’s signature on his Oath of Allegiance submitted with his passport application follows: Passport application_signatureThis passport application reveals that Anthony Berger was born on February 9 (or 18), 1832 at “the free city of Frankfort on the Main,” Germany (aka Frankfurt am Main in the state of Hesse, now known simply as Frankfurt); he emigrated to the United States on board a ship from London on about February 8, 1854; his wife — Albertine — was born at Bockenheim, Germany (now a city district west of central Frankfurt) on March 26, 1831; he lived continuously for 43 years in the United States; as of 1897 he lived in New York City; and he intended to return with his wife to the United States “after a visit to Europe.” He was described as 65 years of age, a little under 5 feet 8 inches tall, gray eyed, possessed of a “full-round” nose and a “small pointed” chin,  with a healthy complexion “inclined to be florid,”  and “light brown” hair. Knowing that Anthony Berger arrived in America from London either a day before or a few days following his 22nd birthday — two different birth dates appear on different pages of his application papers — revives the possibility that he spent time in England, as suggested by Mr. Horan, where he might have been exposed to the photographic arts. But for now his life in Europe and possible training there as an oil painter, sketcher, water colorist, and/or photographer before coming to the U.S., is nothing more than a blank canvas. The only clue found to date — his listing as a landscape painter in the 1855 Wilson’s Business Directory for New York City — strongly suggests that he was formally trained in landscape oil painting or water coloring somewhere in Europe prior to his arrival in New York City.

Can any more information about Anthony Berger be teased out of the 1855 New York State and 1860 Federal census returns? The relative ease by which Anthony Berger is identified in the annual Trow’s New York City directories, however, does not carry over in the quest to locate him in those two census returns. The 1855 New York Census lists a 23 year-old “Mr. Burger” living in the 10th Ward of Brooklyn with a wife (identified only as “Mrs. Burger”) and a one year-old boy named David. Mr. Burger’s given place of birth is Germany and occupation is “painter.” This Mr. Burger, whose estimated birth year is 1832, purportedly had resided in Brooklyn for five years and was still an alien. Mrs. Burger, also 23 years-old, had been a resident for 3 years.  Although his age, alien status, and occupation, as well as his wife’s age, are evidence that he is Anthony Berger the artist, other evidence suggests to the contrary. For example, Anthony Berger the artist listed his home address as 251 Bowery, New York City in the 1855-1856 and 1856-1857 New York City Directories. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that after the taking of the state census in July of 1855, “Mr. Burger the painter,” having previously secured employment with Mathew Brady, moved his residence from Brooklyn to 251 Bowery, New York City in order to be closer to his workplace. This could have occurred some time before the Trow’s directory canvassers showed up at his new doorstep. By listing them merely as Mr. & Mrs. Burger, the census taker betrayed that the information he received likely was communicated to him by someone else on behalf of the Burgers possibly because one or both of the couple’s English speaking skills were poor. If the indicated time that Mr. & Mrs. Burger lived in Brooklyn was misunderstood, improperly translated, or erroneously given, Anthony Berger the artist may have lived first in Brooklyn for as much as a year and a half and fathered a son there.

The index for the 1860 Federal Census reveals only one Anthony (or Anton) Berger (or Burger) in the greater New York City area — an “Anthony Berger” in the 9th Ward of New York City. He is described as a 32 year-old German-born locksmith living with his wife Dora, aged 31, and son Louis, aged 5. This is not the correct Anthony Berger, as he also is listed  in the 1855 New York State Census as residing in the 9th Ward of New York City and described as a “machinist” born in Germany in about 1826  who had lived in the city for 7 years with his wife Doretha — evidence that he emigrated to America no later than 1848.  In the 1855-1856 Trow’s New York City Directory he is identified as a “smith” living at 237 Bleecker St. (which was then within the 9th Ward of NYC); in numerous subsequent city directories he is listed as a “locksmith.”  A faulty or nonexistent index listing in the 1860 Federal Census may prevent us from ever finding the correct Anthony Berger.

The day after his naturalization as an American citizen, Anthony Berger applied for a U.S. Passport on May 21, 1861. That application notes that he was born in Frankfort on February 18, 1832 and his vital statistics were 5 foot and 7 and one-half inches tall, grey eyes, full nose, small pointed chin, light brown hair, fair complexion, and a face characterized as “nothing vile looking.” Theo Murray Squires, his notary and agent, placed Mr. Berger’s papers in an envelope addressed to Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Sec. of State, and requested the return of “the same with all economical speed you will oblige.” It is not clear whether the passport was issued but it likely was denied by the State Department due to the outbreak of the Civil War during the prior month. Berger probably waited until after he was naturalized to seek a passport because citizens stood a better chance of being granted one on a rush basis and need not fear being readmitted upon their return. Squires’ cover letter which requested expedited handling, coupled with an indication in the application that Mrs. Berger would accompany her husband to Europe, suggest that the Bergers were in a hurry to return to Germany because of the outbreak of war or to address a pressing event such as a serious family illness or the death of a loved one. After working approximately 9 years in New York City for Mathew Brady, the next rite of passage in Anthony Berger’s professional career demonstrates that by 1863 he had earned Brady’s deep respect for his talents both as an artist as well as an office manager. We pick up his trail again in the 1863-1864 Boyd’s Washington [D.C.] and Georgetown Directory at “Brady’s photographic gallery, 352 Penn ave.” An advertisement in that directory identifies him as the gallery’s manager (see below): Berger manager-1864 Boyd's Directory-Wash DC-001 MB Brady at 288c

We also know that Anthony Berger traveled to Gettysburg with David Woodbury, another Brady assistant, a few days after the battle ended there on July 3, 1863. The evidence points to the conclusion that Berger and Woodbury reached Gettysburg from Washington, D.C. and Mathew Brady later joined them from New York City by July 15. Alexander Gardner sent an undated telegram sometime shortly after July 9, 1863 addressed to Timothy O’Sullivan “[at] Head Quarters, Army of the Potomac” — anticipating that O’Sullivan had caught up with Meade’s forces as they cautiously “pursued” Lee’s army after the Battle of Gettysburg. Like Gardner, O’Sullivan was a highly skilled cameraman and a former Brady employee. Gardner’s telegram states:

I have just got back [presumably to Washington, D.C.] from Gettysburg … [David] Woodbury & [Anthony] Berger were there. If they come your length I hope you will give them every attention. tell Jim [Gibson] that McGraw is dead. I will write.” See William A. Frassanito’s seminal book Early Photography at Gettysburg (1995) at pp. 22-25.

Robert Wilson, author of Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation (2013), at p. 157, speculates that Gardner’s message reflects either his desire to maintain good relations with Berger and Woodbury, with an eye towards possibly recruiting them away from Brady, or a simple admonition to “keep an eye on the competition” should they join the Army of the Potomac to take pictures of the aftermath of what President Lincoln hoped would prove to be a decisive and war-ending Union victory — a result which didn’t happen. Although the latter inference makes the most sense, Gardner likely wanted O’Sullivan to try to achieve both objectives given the fact that Woodbury and Berger were then among Brady’s most talented men whom Gardner knew well from his many years working for Brady.

We don’t know which “Brady” photographic plates were prepared, taken, or developed by Anthony Berger in July of 1863 at Gettysburg. But it is very possible that some of the most famous Brady Gettysburg images were Berger’s creations or the product of his handiwork:

“Because Brady, unlike Gardner, did not credit each photograph with a name of a photographer, it is virtually impossible to identify his assistant cameraman … It is fairly certain, however, that none of the [Gettysburg] views was personally taken by Brady … [rendering] the famous photographer’s role at Gettysburg … essentially that of a supervisor. Of some significance is the varying presence of at least one of three men in most of the Brady views. The three consist of Brady and two men who were no doubt his assistants, one wearing a dark vest, the other a white shirt occasionally covered by a white duster. A view taken near Little Round Top [see detail below, right] shows all three men together, which indicates the presence of another companion operating the camera. Whether or not this third assistant took most or all of the photographs cannot be determined.”  William A. Frassanito, Gettysburg: A Journey in Time (1975), at p. 38.

Assuming that Mr. Frassanito is correct, two of Brady’s assistants (rather than local guides) are visible in some of his Gettysburg views — sometimes solo, sometimes together, and occasionally (one or both) with Brady. He also points out that when all three men appear together, it is revealed that a third Brady assistant took the view. Robert Wilson speculates that this third assistant accompanied Brady from New York. For some inexplicable reason, the third assistant never seems to appear in any of the views, unless he is the man pictured in detail from a photograph taken at the Bryan House in Gettysburg (discussed below). If only Berger, Woodbury, and the third assistant were with Brady in Gettysburg AND the two men pictured were, in fact, Brady photographers, then either Berger or Woodbury MUST be visible in some of those views. And if the assistant who took the photographs showing both of the other two Brady assistants was the unidentified assistant from New York, then BOTH Berger and Woodbury must be visible in those views. With this in mind, let’s explore specific details within some of Brady’s Gettysburg photographs.

The cropped images, below, are from two different but similar Brady views taken in the “Valley of Death” near the base of Little Round Top (courtesy of the Library of Congress). They appear to have been shot consecutively.

Base of Little Round Top cf

Narrower focused image detail is marked below to identify the presence of Brady and his two assistants. In both instances, Mathew Brady is the man under a blue arrow.

Journey in Time V-1b

In the likely first-in-time image on the left, above, Brady sits in a horse-drawn cart; in the latter, taken from a slightly different perspective resulting from moving the camera a distance to the right, he got out of the cart after it moved away from the camera and braced himself with his left hand extended straight out to the trunk of a tree in a contemplative pose. He was replaced in the cart by the man seen in repose on the ground in the prior exposure near where the cart was then halted. That person, whom Mr. Frassanito labels as “no doubt” a Brady assistant — wore a light-colored shirt  and a nice looking pair of high boots. He is hatless and boxed in red within detail, above, in the left marked image and beneath the red arrow in the right image. The man whom Mr. Frassanito describes as the Brady assistant “wearing a dark vest” is visible in both views under a yellow arrow in the marked detail, above.

It is not clear whether Brady wanted the assistant in the light-colored shirt to be imperceptible in the first picture (which he nearly is) or if he intended that this man would be both discernible to the viewer and interpreted as a dead soldier. If Brady’s goal was the latter, he failed miserably because that man qualifies as a “Where’s Waldo?” contestant by blending in with the rocks and fence posts flanking him. The best clue alerting us to his presence is the fact that Brady and his cart companion are seen in active poses facing towards and staring directly at “the corpse” as if they just had made the startling discovery of his dead body.

01656a detailexpandedTo better study this man’s appearance, see the zoomed detail, below:

01656a detail3 32842u detailman1Unlike Alexander Gardner, Brady posed himself in several of his sweeping Gettysburg views either to create enhanced stereoscopic visual perspective, add context or emotion to the scene, and/or simply to insert himself into the pictorial record of history he was creating. Robert Wilson notes that Brady’s appearance in scenes also served as “proof” that the image was an honest-to-goodness Brady created photo. This achieved at least two goals. First, it served to foil competitors inclined to try to profit from Brady images by photographing them and then passing off copies of slightly retouched prints as their own original work. Second, it allowed the viewer, in a sense, to be escorted to that particular place in the company of the famous “Brady of Broadway” — an effect greatly enhanced when the view was shot in stereoscopic 3-D. Perhaps that is among the reasons why more than two-thirds of Brady’s output at Gettysburg was stereo views. Stereo images visually transported viewers to famous battlefield locations described by newspaper accounts in great detail and certainly aroused reactions such as — “so THAT is how it would have looked had I walked the grounds in the company of the great war photographer Brady!”

The Brady assistant wearing the dark vest and dark hat appears in several other Gettysburg views. See below, for example, detail from two images taken at Gettysburg’s Lutheran Theological Seminary (left) and John Burns’ home (right), courtesy of the Library of Congress. Support for the conclusion that he was a Brady photographer is at its strongest in the photo in which he is seated with Mathew Brady on the back steps of John Burn’s home near a portable darkroom on a tripod — presumably the darkroom to which that image’s photographic plate was rushed for development immediately after it was exposed. John Richter was the first to describe these details in 2004.

dark vest man2That man also is visible in an image seated alone at John Burns’ house (see image detail below left, courtesy of the National Archives) and with the man in the light-colored shirt and duster on Culp’s Hill in a Brady War Views stereo card captioned on the verso “Breastworks on the Left Wing, Battle of Gettysburgh, No. 2424” (in detail, below right, courtesy of John Richter). To read about a young researcher’s modern day visit to the exact spot where the Culp’s Hill stereo view was taken and to see her recreation of the Brady view, visit http://civilwarsallie.blogspot.com/2009/11/csi-gettysburg-part-1.html:

compare dark vest RichterCompare the images of the man wearing the dark vest with detail (below) from a photo depicting a heavily bearded David Woodbury (left) in the field near Petersburg, VA in 1864, courtesy of the Library of Congress, and another image of Woodbury from an October 1862 photo (right). It is difficult to discern whether the dark vest man was lightly bearded or completely clean-shaven. Regardless, does his long nose suggest that he could be David Woodbury? Unfortunately, the poor quality of the detail within the Gettysburg images does not allow for a satisfactory comparison, leaving open the possibility that the dark vest man could be someone else, perhaps even Anthony Berger.

Not Gettysburg 33170u DBWoodbury 1862-10-28 New Berlin MD CCWP-detailWoodbury

Alternatively, if the dark vest man traveled from New York with Brady, he might be a different long-nosed Brady assistant — Edward T. Whitney — seen in detail from an October 1862 photo, below right, next to zoomed detail showing the dark vest man, below left:

War Views 2424 Detail_John Richter-detail 1862-10-28 New Berlin MD CCWP-detailWhitneyWhitney, however, never mentioned being in Gettysburg in July of 1863 in a short published article of his reminiscences of working with David Woodbury in the field on behalf of Brady during the Civil War. A side-by-side comparison of the E.T. Whitney image (right, below) with another from Blackburn’s Ford, near Manassas, VA in about August of 1862, probably also reveals Whitney (courtesy of the Library of Congress):

compare

A striking feature of the 1864 photo of David Woodbury is that his white duster and shirt collar resemble the same seen on the man described by Mr. Frassanito in the Brady Gettysburg views as wearing “a white shirt occasionally covered by a white duster.” Perhaps his shirt and boots do as well. That man is visible, without a duster, at the base of Little Round Top in the two photographs discussed above. He also is seen sporting a goatee in detail from several other Gettysburg views, including one taken in front of the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse (below, left) and another on Culp’s Hill (below, right), courtesy of the Library of Congress. Surprisingly, his goatee in the image on the right appears longer than in the one on the left. Nevertheless, the boots, dark rolled cuff pants, white duster, and shirt collar indicate that he is the same man. Is he Anthony Berger, who was then 31 years old, or a 24 year-old David Woodbury?

Goateed man2

This same man probably appears sans duster within detail of a view taken at the summit of Little Round Top , below left, and laying on the ground and presumably “playing dead” at Culp’s Hill, below right, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

01638u detail 01645a detail

The positioning of his left arm and hand are used as illustrative tools in two other poignant Gettysburg photos. In the first, captioned “Scene of General Reynold’s Death” (below, left), he points as if directing Brady to the exact spot where Reynolds was struck dead. In another, he sits on a Little Round Top tree stump shading his eyes as he seemingly contemplates the acts of heroism performed there a few days earlier (below, right).  The detail below is courtesy of the Library of Congress. Reynolds fell Round Top

The manner of dress of this man is reminiscent of the get-up sported by Mathew Brady (below, courtesy of the Library of Congress) in a pose he purportedly assumed on July 22, 1861 after returning to his Washington studio following the First Battle of Bull Run. Perhaps Anthony Berger, who by July of 1863 was the supervisor of Brady’s D.C. gallery (as discussed below), intentionally emulated his boss’ flair for wearing dashing garb in the field:

4a40924r

Some details in the 1864 photo of David Woodbury, mentioned above, suggest that he is the man with the goatee wearing a white duster. But that evidence is based less upon physical appearance and more upon clothing similarities which may be nothing more than a coincidence. Woodbury’s dark hair color doesn’t appear to match the lighter brown color of the man with the goatee. Moreover, the face of the goateed man with the duster standing in front of the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse doesn’t look to be shaped like Woodbury’s or possessed of a similar nose, leaving open the possibility that he is Anthony Berger. Woodbury’s lengthy nose might appear on the face of the dark vested assistant, but that assistant is without the sort of significant beard seen on Woodbury in the 1862 and 1864 views, above. The image detail from the Gettysburg photos also doesn’t allow for an easy comparison between the two assistants and the description of Berger’s appearance in his 1897 passport application — a little under 5 feet 8 inches tall, gray eyed, possessed of a “full-round” nose and a “small pointed” chin, with a healthy complexion “inclined to be florid,”  and “light brown” hair.

Therefore, it is a challenge to pronounce either of the two Gettysburg assistants as Anthony Berger. The white duster man’s lighter facial complexion suggests that he spent most of his time working indoors, perhaps in Brady’s New York studio or managing the D.C. gallery. This observation suggests that Berger is more likely the white duster assistant than the dark vested one. But Berger’s complexion which was described as “florid” in his passport application, better matches the ruddy facial appearance of the dark vest assistant. Before “chewing” on any other pieces of evidence in the quest to find Anthony Berger in the Gettysburg images, I direct the reader’s attention to a print of an October 1862  photo appearing in Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War (Hack Collection No. 2) at the Chrysler Museum of Art titled “Harper’s Ferry (Mathew Brady by pole).” See http://collection.chrysler.org/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/search$0040/1/title-asc?t:state:flow=bf7ed803-0120-4f17-b6d6-7d32749ad90c. The photo is attributed to David Woodbury and depicts a scene shot at Harper’s Ferry with Mathew Brady standing, a young boy gazing at Brady, a seated woman cradling a baby, a soldier on a railroad tie, and a dark vested man in a three-piece suit standing in profile. The latter man’s facial profile is similar to the dark vest assistant’s profile observed at Culp’s Hill. Likewise, his hat appears to be a match.  Because we know that Woodbury and Berger worked together in the field on two separate occasions in 1863, including in one instance with Brady, it is likely that they worked together on other occasions as well. So if  the dark vest assistant at Gettysburg appears with Brady in the Woodbury photo taken along the Potomac River at Harper’s Ferry in October 1862, then it constitutes evidence supporting the conclusion that Anthony Berger is the dark vest assistant at Gettysburg, the light-colored duster assistant is the unknown man who accompanied Brady from New York, and Woodbury never posed in any of the Gettysburg views.

Likewise, the dark vest man may well be the man wearing the identical hat with a similar facial profile seen in a Brady plate taken at City Point, VA (circa fall of 1864) in a photo from the National Archive’s collection titled  “Hospital ambulance and corral near City Point, Va” (see detail, below). Because it is known that Brady’s assistants David Woodbury and Anthony Berger were in City Point off and on during that period of time, this may well constitute further support for the argument that the dark vest man could be Anthony Berger.

Landscape

Over the course of the several days that Brady was in Gettysburg, his team recorded 36 known plates according to Bob Zeller. Brady placed himself in 9 of the views. The assistant with the dark vest appears in at least 6 of them. But the assistant with the light-colored shirt and duster (both on or off) is counted in a whopping 15 photographs. In as many as 4 of those views, it can be interpreted that the light-colored shirt assistant was posed laying on his back stretched out on the ground or leaning in a rigor-mortis induced position against an object on the ground in order to portray a dead soldier. When digitally zoomed in upon, the poses appear to the modern eye as lame attempts to mimic soldiers, let alone Confederate corpses (see three examples below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). But Brady must have envisioned that he would achieve the desired effect because the details of his “corpses” would not be readily apparent to his customers and, therefore, could not betray his staged recreations. I like to think of this in 1860’s terms as Brady exercising some “artistic license” in order to compose an emotionally compelling and potentially more commercially appealing scene. Landscape painters frequently did the same and do the same today.

dead man3

Brady also must have adjudged this man to be possessed of the necessary young Rebel soldier “look” as well as dramatic and artistic flare, because he never posed the dark vest assistant as a dead man. One of the three photos taken at the Bryan/Brian House reveals that the carcass of a dead and partially mummified horse or mule rested nearby. The stench from that dead animal must have been significant, suggesting that the assistant in the light-colored shirt who posed in two of the Bryan House views only a few yards away from the decaying animal was the lowest person in the pecking order within Brady’s group.

In only one of the Gettysburg views appears a man who is neither Mathew Brady nor dressed like either the dark vest assistant or the light-colored shirt/white duster assistant. Even though he wears a soldier’s jacket — which probably was scavenged from the battlefield — it is quite possible that he is the so-called third assistant not otherwise visible in any other Brady Gettysburg views. He can be seen posing in a single photographic view exposed at the Abraham Bryan/Brian House (which Brady and his men mistook for General Meade’s headquarters) along with the light-colored shirt assistant (detail below left, courtesy of the Library of Congress). Is he a Brady assistant dressed up to look like a soldier and, if so, is he the dark vest assistant wearing very different garb or the third assistant making a cameo appearance? He certainly may be Berger because his nose is “full [and] round,” his chin is “small [and] pointed,” and his forehead is “broad,” matching the description of Berger’s facial characteristics in his passport applications. Compare his face to the face of a man within detail of a photograph taken at City Point, VA which is attributed to Mathew Brady (courtesy of the National Archives), below right. They could well be the same man:

3d assistant   3d assistant B-657

Despite the difficulty in conclusively identifying Anthony Berger in the “Brady” photographs taken at Gettysburg or pinpointing which images he created, it is clear that he had a substantial overall impact on Brady’s post-battle portfolio at Gettysburg. For starters, Bob Zeller notes that: “Before Brady arrived, Woodbury and Berger had plenty of time to scout … where fighting occurred in Gettysburg, and they were probably the ones who located and identified the area of fighting on the first day of the battle [as well as] Culp’s Hill, a prime location for photography. [Alexander] Gardner had missed both areas.” In addition to their work behind the camera, Berger & Woodbury would have contributed to the Gettysburg photographic results by preparing and developing glass plates. Development and “fixing” of the plates required a skilled hand and substantial darkroom experience in order to create a properly exposed image sporting both a depth of contrast and uniform clarity in scenes rich with many details.

If Anthony Berger is neither of the two apparent assistants in the Brady Gettysburg views, then it increases the likelihood that he stood behind the camera and exposed many of Brady’s iconic Gettysburg images. If, for example, he appears in only 6 of them as the dark vest assistant, it is likely that he exposed at least a few of the views. By waiting until the corpses and dead animals had been buried or removed from the battlefield, Brady, Berger and Woodbury missed the opportunity to photograph the obscene horrors of Gettysburg captured by Alexander Gardner’s team a few days earlier. Yet, while waiting for Brady, “Woodbury and Berger evidently made good use of their days in Gettysburg … familiarizing themselves with the town, the battlefield, and the reports of the battle … [gathering] local knowledge,” resulting in photographs adjudged by Robert Wilson to be “far superior to Gardner’s.” Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation, at 159. In the words of Bob Zeller, “Brady’s photographs exude their own style — not gritty and graphic, but expansive and contemplative. Many were sizable landscapes or panoramas with a strategically placed observer or two, sometimes Brady himself, to encourage the viewer of the photograph to form a personal vision of what the battle must have been like.” Whereas Gardner’s photographers were “the quintessential news reporters” who captured the horrors of the battlefield, [Brady, sporting the eye of a] portrait and landscape artist, produced with his assistants [scenes such as] ‘Three Rebel Prisoners'” (detail below, courtesy of the Library of Congress). Bob Zeller, The Blue and Gray in Black and White (2005), at p. 104.

Anthony Berger’s background as a landscape painter, first documented in a New York City directory in 1855, undoubtedly played a large role in Brady’s achievement in capturing expansive scenes of the Gettysburg battlefield, further bringing to life the exhaustively read newspaper accounts of the fighting at locations such as Culp’s Hill, Little Round Top, and even the very spot on Seminary Ridge where Major General John F. Reynolds [purportedly] had fallen. At the very least, Anthony Berger deserves substantial credit for Brady’s cumulative photographic output at Gettysburg.

01450a detail

The Enrollment Act, which went into effect on March 3, 1863, required nearly every able-bodied and mentally fit male citizen and immigrant seeking to be naturalized between the ages of 20 and 45 to enroll for possible military service. When Provost Marshal General James B. Fry and his assistants determined quotas for various draft districts in the respective states, lotteries were held to pick the names of the men to be conscripted for service. Thanks to this law, it can be ascertained that by the first of July in 1863, Anthony Berger may have been acting as Brady’s gallery manager in Washington in that he appears on a July 1, 1863 Consolidated List of Class I men subject to perform military service within the 3rd Sub-District of the District of Columbia :

Resided Name Age Profession Marital Birthplace
359 S St. Burger, Anthony 33 Artist Married Germany

He also appears in a July 25, 1863 Consolidated List for the 4th Sub-District of Washington City, under his business address, which identifies him as the Superintendent of Brady’s Gallery at 352 Pennsylvania Avenue:

Resided Name Age Profession Marital Birthplace
352 Pa. Ave Berger, Anthony 33 Supt. Brady’s Gallery Married Germany

David B. Woodbury’s November 23, 1863 letter to his sister — described in  Craig Heberton’s “The Brady Bunch: The Case of the Missing Gettysburg Photos” — affirmatively states that Anthony Berger was managing Brady’s D.C. studio at that time.  Because Anthony Berger is not listed either in the 1860 or 1862 Boyd’s Washington and Georgetown Directories but appears in the 1863-1864 Trow’s New York City Directory, it can be concluded that he neither was the gallery manager for nor was situated at Brady’s Washington, D.C. gallery any earlier than 1863. This nearly dovetails with Alexander Gardner’s tenure as the gallery manager of Brady’s D.C. studio which lasted either until Gardner traveled away from the studio for an extended period of time as a member of the U.S. Topographical Service for the Union Army in 1862 or whenever he formally left Brady’s employment which, according to D. Mark Katz, occurred sometime late in 1862 or early in 1863. For some unknown period of time after Gardner’s departure, James F. Gibson apparently managed Brady’s D.C. gallery until he was replaced by Berger. According to Don Nardo, “shortly after Gardner left, Gibson left Brady as well and went to work for Gardner.” Mathew Brady: The Camera is the Eye of History (2009), at p. 82.

What challenges might Anthony Berger have faced serving as the manager of Mathew Brady’s Photographic Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.? According to Josephine Cobb:

“Feeling some anxiety about the failure of the Washington Gallery to show a profit, Brady sent one of his best New York operators to look into the mode of operation of James F. Gibson. The new man was Anthony Berger, an excellent photographer. Gibson resented the interference and complained bitterly that there was no demand for war views and card photographs; he found it difficult to obtain apprentice photographers to replace those who had gone elsewhere …”

In addition to grappling with what James F. Gibson claimed to be slackening demand for Brady’s War Views stereocards and employee recruitment and retention issues, the Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft,  1861-1865 offers some additional insights. Taft worked in the Patent Office in Washington City during much of the Civil War and recorded in his diary, now at the Library of Congress, the following entry excerpt for Tuesday, April 1, 1862:

“A fine pleasant day. Went down to the Ave in the morning, got Draft of $20, sent to Mrs Barnes Phila. Called at McClees Photograph Rooms. He told me that he had mounted 2300 pictures the day before. The call for Photographs by Army officers has been unprecedented the past six months.” (See The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft,  1861-1865. Volume 1, January 1, 1861-April 11, 1862, (http://www.loc.gov/resource/mtaft.mtaft1/).

McClees was one of Brady’s main competitors in Washington, D.C.  Taft’s discussion with Mr. McClees illustrates the huge volume of work performed by the top Washington photographic studios at least early in the war as a result of the influx of soldiers in, and other visitors to, the city. Brady, likewise, experienced significant customer traffic in his New York locations:

“Lights burned late in Brady’s gallery as his operators prepared thousands of the cardboard pictures. Sometimes, when a new ‘issue’ was announced, crowds would flock to Fulton Street, push their way up the stairs to the gallery and clean out Brady’s stock within a matter of hours. At one time, the Anthony’s [who printed Brady’s war photographs] later recalled that they were printing as many as 3,600 cards a day.” (Horan, Mathew Brady: A Historian with a Camera, at p. 22).

Mr. Taft also visited Brady’s Washington City studio, writing on March 6, 1863 that: “… I went down on to the Ave, droped [sic] into Bradys Photograph Gallery which is one of the Institutions of Washington.  Genl Sumner of the Army was there and I was introduced to him by my friend the Artist Mulvaney and had some conversation with him.” (See Volume 2 of Taft’s Diary). On March 10, 1864, Taft wrote of taking his daughter Julia to “Bradys ” last week where she sat for her picture which we shall soon have. The Artist who is to touch them up with his pencil came to see her last evening.” (http://www.loc.gov/resource/mtaft.mtaft2/seq-40#seq-67). by Craig Heberton IV, published March 8, 2014  (To be continued).

(Part II, supplemental update)

American Art Annual 1898 (1899), edited by Florence N. Levy, contains a compiled list of over 3,000 American artists. Within a directory of “Painters” in that book, at p. 426, appears a listing for “BERGER, ANTHONY.” It reveals that Anthony Berger had been a “pupil [at the] Staedelehe Institute” in Frankfurt, Germany (several other sources confirm the same).  I assume that the “Staedelehe Institute” reference is an old description or slightly perverted spelling of the Staedelsches Kunstinstitut or the Städelschule/ Staedelschule, an international institute of fine arts in Frankfurt which was created from a foundation established in 1815 by Frankfurt banker and spice merchant Johann Friedrich Städel.  Mr. Städel collected hundreds of paintings, etchings, and drawings during his lifetime and desired to create both a museum for his collection and a school (schule) for artists. After Städel’s death, legal proceedings tied up the settlement of his estate for many years until 1829. Today the school is considered one of the finest art academies in Europe and the associated museum gallery is rated as one of Europe’s best. Unfortunately the archival records relating to the time period when Anthony Berger would have been a pupil there were destroyed during World War II. This school must have been where Anthony Berger’ artistic talents first were cultivated.

The year before he changed his first name to “Anthony” to coincide with his naturalization in 1861, Anton Berger exhibited one of his paintings which he called “The Rendezvous” at the National Academy of Design (now known as the National Academy). Mary Bartlett Cowdrey (comp.), National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 1826-1860, Volume I (1943), at p. 32. The exhibition probably was shown in a building then occupied by the Academy at Broadway and Leonard Street or 663 Broadway, New York City. Thus far, efforts to track down that painting have proven unsuccessful.

by Craig Heberton, published April 30, 2014 (To be continued).

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(Part III – Hanover Junction, PA)
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Mathew B. Brady, Anthony Berger, David B. Woodbury, and at least one additional Brady assistant joined together in Gettysburg days after the cessation of hostilities in July of 1863. For perhaps a full week they focused their attention upon photographing the suddenly famous terrain. The public’s appetite to see what the field of battle looked like was whetted. Gettysburg’s fame had been earned as soon as the readers of the northern press digested lengthy and spell-binding accounts of the three days of fighting which culminated in a stunning defeat for Lee’s Army of Virginia. During their several days in Gettysburg, Brady’s men managed to expose 36 known photographic plates, mainly in stereoscopic format — an average of only about 6 a day. Likely a few months later in a tiny hamlet about 25 miles east of Gettysburg, some photographers took 6 outdoor scenes late in the afternoon of a single day, nearly all of which were shot in stereo. Although the location photographed was described by some unknown scribe as a “point of note during the invasion of Lee in 1863″ (see below), those six hastily composed photos depict neither a battlefield, the home or birthplace of a famous person, the site of any important or infamous event, nor a place known to most Americans either then or now. Any evidence of damage wrought by Confederate cavalrymen was long gone by the time those photos were taken. Questions about why so many of those images were exposed, by whom they were taken, and what they depict have lingered and been debated for decades. Nearly a century after their creation, even the state in which the photographs were recorded remained a complete mystery to most of the National Archives curators.
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William A. Frassanito writes in Early Photography at Gettysburg (1995), at p. 416, that Josephine Cobb, the former Director of the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives, shared with him several of her notes about her review of the contents of a private collection of papers written by David B. Woodbury covering some of the time period Woodbury worked for Mathew Brady. According to Mr. Frassanito, Cobb’s “notes indicate that Woodbury’s papers for July 1863 are missing, and made no specific reference to Woodbury having attended the November 1863 dedication ceremonies.” Two years later, Mr. Frassanito reiterated that “neither Brady, nor any cameramen affiliated with Brady’s firm, are known to have covered the November 1863 dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.”[1] Because the Woodbury papers remain in private hands and unavailable for research, photo-historians reached a dead end in their quest to determine if Brady or any of his assistants witnessed and attempted to photograph Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
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But as revealed in “The Brady Bunch: The Case of the Missing Gettysburg Photos,” it is now known that within the David B. Woodbury private collection there is a letter from Woodbury which he penned from Washington, D.C. to his sister Eliza, dated November 23, 1863, which states in part: “I went to Gettysburg on the 19th with Mr. Burger [sic] the superintendent of the Gallery here. We made some pictures of the crowd and Procession … We found no trouble in getting both food and lodging.” Although the owner of that letter has confirmed to me that it does not disclose much more detail about what Messrs. Woodbury and Berger did in Gettysburg, this correspondence establishes that Brady sent the same two ace photographers who were with him in Gettysburg in July of 1863 back to that town about 4 1/2 months later to cover the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and Lincoln’s presence there. No one, as of yet, has definitively identified any November 19, 1863 photos taken by Berger and Woodbury in Gettysburg, but those men may well have taken photographs en route to or from the Gettysburg cemetery dedication event.
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Mr. Frassanito has described a series of at least six negatives taken at Hanover Junction, PA, located about 25 miles east of Gettysburg, which are credited in “the earliest surviving identifications” to “Brady & Co.” See examples of two of the jackets from the National Archives, below:
Jacket 33496v Fold3 shows jacket  jacket B-83
The oldest surviving captions from this particular series misidentified them as views of Hanover Junction, Virginia from 1864 or 1865. It is now well-established that they depict Hanover Junction, PA rather than VA. This conclusion is readily apparent when the images are compared to the surviving railroad depot in Hanover Junction, PA and what is left there of the extant tracks and rail beds. See, e.g., an article and corresponding “then and now photos” published in the Gettysburg Daily on December 3, 2008 at http://www.gettysburgdaily.com/?p=1121. Also, railcars of the North Central Railway (marked “NCRW”), which passed through Hanover Junction, PA, can be seen sitting at rest on an adjacent railroad siding in some of the photos.  See “Crowds Await Transfer to Gettysburg for Dedication of the National Cemetery in Nov. 1863” (March 7, 2012), at  http://www.yorkblog.com/cannonball/2012/03/07/crowds-await-transfer-to-gettysburg-for-dedication-of-the-national-cemetery-in-nov-1863/, by Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
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According to an article in the May 2, 1953 Gettysburg Compiler, entitled “More Brady Pix Discovered,” two grand nieces of Mathew Brady “discovered  in Brady’s old studio” a book published two years before Brady’s death containing three of the Hanover Junction photos. That piece — The Memorial War Book (1894) by George F. Williams — contains numerous photos attributed to the teams of Brady and Alexander Gardner and was the first published photo-engraved book of Civil War photography. The three Hanover Junction photos appear at p. 395 of that book, and are correctly represented under the master caption “Scenes of Hanover Junction, Pa.” Even more remarkably, they are placed in a grouping with images and text relating to the Battle of Gettysburg campaign. On June 27, 1863, Confederate forces raided Hanover Junction, cut the telegraph wires, and burned the covered railroad bridge which spanned the adjacent Codorus Creek. By some unknown means that book’s author correctly determined where those photos were taken and used them to illustrate events in 1863 (see example, below). As revealed above, the National Archives apparently notated on the plate jacket belonging to at least one of the photos in March of 1937 that the Virginia location was incorrect. But not until Josephine Cobb figured out the mistaken location in about 1950 did the National Archives finally change its descriptions for all of the views in its collection. See “Claim Photo in Times Was Abe Lincoln,” The Gettysburg Times, October 11, 1952.
The Memorial War Book_395c
Mr. Frassanito writes that “all of the available evidence, including the barren foliage, does tend to support [a] November 1863 dating” of the Hanover Junction views.  The Gettysburg Then & Now Companion, at p. 58. The manner of dress worn by the people posing in the images indicates that they were journeying to or from a formal event and supports a late fall dating. Several soldiers, young and old, can be seen with canes (in one case, a military man uses two of them like crutches) suggesting that they had sustained leg wounds and no longer were in active duty (see detail below from a gelatin silver print on a card mount, courtesy of the Library of Congress).
33496u peopleMight they have been wounded veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg traveling to or returning from the site of that bloody engagement, explaining why they (excluding the two men preening in the left foreground) and four bonnet-wearing women were the centerpiece of this particular view? These apparently wounded men may have been convalescing nearby at the York General Hospital, located to the north near the North Central Railway station in York, PA, and found themselves stranded in Hanover Junction with passengers from Washington who had reached that place by passing through Baltimore at the southern end of the North Central Line. In short, the Hanover Junction photos may reveal passengers who had come on two different trains from opposite directions and been deposited at the same station awaiting transport to Gettysburg. See also detail, below, from a different Hanover Junction view in which several soldiers (marked #s 4, 5, 6, 8 & 11) pose in a forward position:
soldiers-33495u-01a3
E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. contemporaneously published at least four of the stereo views taken at Hanover Junction in its The War for the Union series of stereocards, noting on each card’s verso that the negatives were by “Brady & Co., Washington” (See “The War for the Union, War Views” #s 2330, 2331, 2332, and 2333).  Anthony & Co. also printed and sold other Civil War photographers’ works. If one of the Anthony & Co.  stereo cards designated Brady as the supplier of the negative, it can be said with a very high degree of probability that the photo was taken by a Brady photographer. For example, the front and back images of an original Anthony “War Views” card #2332, taken at Hanover Junction, appear below, courtesy of John Richter:
Hanover Junction02Frontm2Hanover Junction02Backm2
The Library of Congress attributes the Hanover Junction views to “Mathew B. Brady or assistant.” In summary, this information, Mr. Frassanito’s analysis, and the more recently gleaned evidence that Brady sent Berger and Woodbury to Gettysburg in November 1863, constitute substantial support for crediting the Hanover Junction series of photographs to Messrs. Berger and Woodbury.
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Why might two Brady men have exposed photographic plates at, of all places, Hanover Junction? In short, all train passengers traveling from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg, and vice-versa, had to go through Hanover Junction, PA. It was there that two railroads met — the North Central Line and the Hanover Branch Line, the latter of which ran westward to and ultimately terminated in Gettysburg on the Gettysburg Railroad. It is reasonable to presume that both Berger and Woodbury were transported to Gettysburg from D.C. by railcar in November of 1863, twice placing them in Hanover Junction. Because Woodbury’s letter to his sister specifies that he and Berger had no trouble finding lodging in Gettysburg, it is very likely that they arrived in Gettysburg no later than on November 17, 1863 — before the most substantial crowds descended upon the town in droves. This is a reasonable supposition in light of the several accounts detailing significant train delays and the huge volume of Gettysburg-bound passenger traffic on November 18 and 19, as well as the problems those late arriving out-of-town guests had in securing lodging. A reporter for the New-York World didn’t mince any words: “The railroad facilities were very bad, especially between Hanover Junction and Gettysburg. I am informed that the best was done that was possible, but that may or may not mean anything. The passengers were compelled to crowd into dirty freight and cattle cars, and in that manner to ride a distance of some thirty miles, to their individual and universal discomfort.”  Another correspondent wrote that in Gettysburg on the night of the 18th, “hundreds slept upon the floors of the [churches,] inns and private residences, and hundreds more took a rigid repose in the [train] cars or carriages...” With only four ordinary-sized hotels and all Gettysburg-area residences overflowing, “there were many people walking the streets, unable to get any accommodations for the night.” Tim Smith, “Twenty-Five Hours at Gettysburg,” Blue & Gray Magazine, at p. 14 (Fall 2008), quoting “Dedication of National Cemetery,” Gettysburg Star and Banner, November 26, 1863 and Daniel A. Skelly, “A Boy’s Experiences During the Battle of Gettysburg” (1932) at p. 26.
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Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s former law partner from Illinois, the President’s de facto body guard, and the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, was selected to serve as the Marshal-in-Chief for the November 19 dedication ceremonies in Gettysburg. To this end, on November 17, he made the journey from Washington to Gettysburg along with a number of judges, politicians, journalists, dignitaries, and friends, several of whom were to serve as Lamon’s aides at the National Cemetery dedication ceremonies on the 19th. The Ward Hill Lamon Papers at the Huntington Library reveal that twelve men who agreed to serve as aides signed a petition “signifying their intention of accompanying Marshal Lamon to Gettysburg tomorrow — leaving this city at the hour unnamed (undated).” Among the men accompanying Lamon were Benjamin B. French, Judge Joseph Casey, John W. Forney, Solomon N. Pettis, and John Van Risiwick. A journalist who accompanied Lamon on the 17th (perhaps John W. Forney) wrote the following account, published on November 18 in the Philadelphia Press and the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle:
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[Mr.] Lamon and a number of his aids … left Washington this morning, at a quarter past eleven o’clock, for Gettysburg, in special cars, kindly provided  by W.P. Smith, of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. They arrived in Baltimore at one o’clock, and repaired to the Eutaw House, where a sumptuous dinner was partaken of, by the courtesy of Mr. Smith. At three P.M. the party left for Hanover Junction, in a special car furnished by the officers of the North Central Railroad. Here we are detained, no car being ready to convey the party to Gettysburg.”
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Given Mathew Brady’s high profile, it is possible that Lamon invited the head of Brady’s D.C. photography studio and his colleague, Mr. Woodbury, to  ride with him to Gettysburg — for free, no less. If so, Messrs. Berger and Woodbury would have found themselves stuck with Lamon in Hanover Junction in the mid-to-late afternoon of the 17th with a lot of time to kill waiting for a connecting train to Gettysburg, explaining why they might have unloaded their photographic equipment and exposed several plates in Hanover Junction.  See, for example, detail from one of the photos (below) showing the photographers’ portable darkroom deployed along a fence line adjoining one of the tracks.
01530udetail 01531adarkroom
The author of “Crowds Await Transfer to Gettysburg for Dedication of the National Cemetery in Nov. 1863,” noted above, estimates that a Hanover Junction photo reproduced below was taken at approximately 4:00 p.m. on November 18, 1863. If the time of day is correct, it would fit into the timetable for when the Lamon contingent was stranded in Hanover Junction waiting for a connecting train to appear on the 17th. As noted in the October 11, 1952 edition of The Gettysburg Times, “shadows indicate the time of day would be shortly before [a November] sunset.” Thomas Norrell took Hanover Junction photographs “in mid-November of 1953 at 3:30 p.m. which [he claimed] have exactly the same shadows.” The Gettysburg Times, January 1, 1954.
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In one of the Hanover Junction photos, two men stand prominently atop a parked train car hitched directly behind a locomotive (see a print on a card mount in the Library of Congress collection, below, which was cropped down from the more expansive National Archives B-83 negative). They are the most discernible people in the print and possibly the chief targets of the cameramen. Perhaps the men standing atop the train are Ward H. Lamon and his brother Robert, who served as an aide for his older brother at the Gettysburg dedication ceremonies? Robert, who also served as an Assistant U.S. Marshal under Ward H. Lamon in Washington, was then 28 years old; his older brother was 35.

3a50436ucrop

See detail, below left, of the two men as well as detail, below right, featuring them prominently within a different Hanover Junction view taken looking towards the eastern-facing side of the depot.

possible Lamons-3a50436u01530uLamonCompare these men with a studio photograph of Ward Hill Lamon (courtesy of the Library of Congress) credited to Mathew Brady and a carte de visite of Robert Lamon from about 1864:

02903u_head crop Robert Lamon crop
Is it possible that they are the same men? Might this explain why Berger and Woodbury possibly exposed several of their precious glass plate negative slides even before they arrived in Gettysburg?
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The goateed man with the bowler hat also appears in a stereo view scene depicting a railroad bridge over Codorus Creek (see below, in close-up detail, courtesy of the Library of Congress). The approximate center point of that North Central Line bridge, where the man sat, is no more than about 250 feet from the eastern side of the Hanover Junction railroad station. The camera was set up about 400 to 500 feet from the station house next to the Hanover Branch Line tracks and faced the Codorus Creek bridge looking in an east by northeasterly direction. The sunlight cast on the man illustrates that the plate was exposed late in the afternoon when the sun was low in the southwestern sky. I estimate the distance from the camera to the man on the bridge at about 325 to 375 feet. Was Ward H. Lamon the sort of man who might have walked out onto a train bridge, sat on the end of a railroad tie in the middle of the bridge, and there dangled his feet in order to pose for a stereo photograph? Would Anthony Berger or David Woodbury have asked W.H. and Robert Lamon to do such a thing, let alone climb atop a railroad car, or might Ward H. Lamon — Lincoln’s self-proclaimed bodyguard and the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia — have directed the camera operators to photograph him and his brother in several poses demonstrating their virility?
01537acrop4
Three other males joined the goateed man on the bridge. Only one of them also sat on the end of a railroad tie, but that man chose a somewhat safer spot where his feet firmly rested upon a large, squared log directly above one of the bridge’s massive stone foundations in the middle of the creek. He is the same fellow seen standing with the goateed man in the two other Hanover Junction views previously discussed and who may be Robert Lamon (see a comparison, below).
Robert Lamon compare
Is the goateed man Ward Hill Lamon, who was captured in this and two other pictures by the photographers as a form of payback for providing free transportation to Gettysburg, or is he simply a historically irrelevant figure with a goatee who prominently inserted himself (along with a younger man) into three generic Berger & Woodbury views which were taken only with the object of photographing buildings and structures rather than specific people or groups of significant people in various scenes?
01537acrop5
Because the only other people photographed on the bridge are a boy shielding his eyes from the sun with his right hand (see above) — standing between the men who may be the brothers Lamon — and one of the interloping men preening before the camera in the view showing military men and several women on the station house platform (see a side-by-side comparison, below), it appears that the goateed man and his side-kick again were the primary human subject matter posed within in a Hanover Junction photographic view taken by the Berger-Woodbury team.
preening man compare
In his book The Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery (1993), Professor Frank L. Klement describes Ward H. Lamon as “stout, most handsome, and possessed of a swashbuckling air.” Despite an apparent penchant for striking swashbuckling poses and the resemblance of his younger side-kick to Robert Lamon, is the goateed fellow burly enough or even tall enough to be Ward H. Lamon? Would Lamon have been inclined to cut his hair that short before he served as the Chief Marshal at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication event? Was Lamon clean-shaven or sporting a goatee in November 1863? Part of the difficulty in making any conclusive identification of the possible Lamon figure is that there are not, to my knowledge, any dated photos of him from 1863, let alone in the fall of 1863, to use as a base of comparison. A hatless man with a goatee seated next to Lincoln on the Gettysburg speakers’ platform visible in the so-called David Bachrach photo taken on November 19, 1863 might by W.H. Lamon, but it is more likely that he is one of Lincoln’s personal assistants, John Nicolay, especially given where he is seated. Whether or not Ward H. Lamon is in the Hanover Junction views, however, is a mere sidelight to a bigger question. Again, quoting Professor Klement, he writes: “on the next day, November 18, most of Lamon’s friends and aides toured various parts of the vast battlefield [in Gettysburg].” If Messrs. Berger & Woodbury accompanied Lamon to Gettysburg on the 17th, they probably revisited portions of the Gettysburg battlefield on the 18th, perhaps even famous locations they had missed in July such as Meade’s headquarters at the Lydia Leister house, Devil’s Den, and John Burns’ home. It is exciting to speculate that these men took more Gettysburg battlefield views which have yet to be discovered.
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Whereas searching for the tandem of Ward Hill and Robert Lamon was not the impetus behind this review of the Hanover Junction photos, other researchers have engaged in the search for Gettysburg dedication ceremony luminaries in the Hanover Junction images for more than a half century. For a number of years particularly Thomas Norrell, a collector of old locomotive photos, and Russell Bowman, President of the Lincoln Society of Hanover Junction, argued that President Lincoln is visible in at least one of the Hanover Junction views. Their position first was made public prior to Josephine Cobb’s November 1952 disclosure of Lincoln’s visage in a Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery dedication photograph. Until then, it was “pretty well agreed [by and among Lincoln scholars] that the Great Emancipator was never photographed either at or on his way to Gettysburg, Pa.” The Gettysburg Times, October 11, 1952. The advocates of Lincoln’s presence in a Hanover Junction photo — the one depicting two men standing atop a parked train car, seen above — assert that a whiskered figure in a stovepipe hat standing largely unattended on the platform near the locomotive is President Lincoln (see detail below, Library of Congress).
alleged lincoln00
When originally disclosed to the media, this photo created a “buzz” as it was held out as the possible first photographic discovery of Lincoln’s image in connection with his visit to Gettysburg. After the Western Maryland Railway Company released the photo in early October 1952 “calling attention to the ‘tall man’ in the stove pipe hat … experts and amateurs alike jumped into the controversy. Art editors sent the photo throughout the country. Life Magazine pondered the problem and set the prints before its readers.” The Gettysburg Times, January 1, 1954. One of the arguments asserted in support of the “Lincoln was photographed at Hanover Junction” theory is “the fact that the picture was made at all by the famed Brady … indicate[s] an event of some importance in Hanover Junction.” Despite initial skepticism over — and even out-right rejection of — the claim that Lincoln was photographed at Hanover Junction expressed by notables such as Ms. Cobb, numerous Lincoln scholars, and photo-historians, The Gettysburg Times  on June 17, 1953 described the photo in question as “the famed Hanover Junction picture, which many claim depicts Lincoln enroute to Gettysburg.”
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Without now parsing through the several contextual arguments running counter to the “its Lincoln at Hanover Junction” theory, I’ll simply note that today’s high resolution digital scans reveal that the man does not look at all like Lincoln. Moreover, if Ward H. Lamon and his brother Robert are visible in several of the Hanover Junction views, then the whiskered man cannot be Lincoln because Lamon traveled to Gettysburg the day before Abraham Lincoln left Washington. Which leads us back to some remaining questions — are these views merely generic scenes of the Hanover Junction railway station and surroundings taken in November 1863 which just happened to be populated with a number of stranded passengers or did the photographers compose these images purposefully and place a specific person or persons of notoriety in one or more of their stereoscopic scenes? Also, assuming that the images, in fact, were exposed around the time of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, did Anthony Berger and David Woodbury take them on the way to or back from Gettysburg? If Berger and Woodbury took these views in connection with their now documented trip to Gettysburg, what happened to the views they took in Gettysburg of “the crowd and Procession?” How is it that four of their Hanover Junction views were published by E. H. & T. Anthony & Co. but none of their Gettysburg dedication event views are known to collectors and historians? Ah, the secrets that have yet to be revealed …
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By Craig Heberton, May 4, 2014 (to be continued)
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[1] “The Daguerrean Art – Its Origin and Present State,” Photographic Art-Journal, March 1851, Vol. I No. 3, at p. 138.

[2] Meredith, Roy, Mr. Lincoln’s Camera Man, Mathew B. Brady (1974), at p. 79.

[3] Possibly in Humphrey’s Journal of the Daguerreotype and Photographic Arts, Vol. V (1853).

[4] The term “artist” was a common manner by which early photographers described themselves. Some of the earliest daguerreotypists and collodion photographers, like Samuel F. B. Morse, migrated from portrait painting into the complimentary and emerging art of portrait or landscape photography. This leap was made possible if the painter had the capacity to learn and apply the scientific elements of early photography or could partner with or work for someone who did. An article entitled “The Dignity of Our Art” published in the April 1852 edition of the Photographic Art-Journal, Volume 3 No. 4, at pp. 230-232, explains the overlapping principles necessary to paint a person’s likeness and to capture it in a photograph: “Every art and science have had their votaries, consecrating themselves to the great worth, and the peculiar beauties existing in them. Art has had its Fulton, Science its Newton, and Daguerreotyping its Daguerre, and with the latter, the morning of the new art dawned with a light as pure, as brilliant and far penetrating into the chaste and beautiful as ever radiated on earth from the old arts and sciences …The painter draws with his pencil, while the daguerrean draws with the camera, and each instrument in unartistic hands will undoubtedly produce abortions; for if the painter is without the knowledge of the general rules of perspective we may expect faulty productions with their distorted proportions and bad lines, no matter how good the coloring may be or how effective the arrangement of lights and shades, and it will be disagreeable to look upon. The same rule holds good in daguerreotyping, as the correctness and pleasing lines depend entirely on the proper position of the camera towards the object to be taken … Another evidence of the relativeness of photography to pure art is, that the operator must observe all of the identical rules necessary for the production of a work of merit that a painter or sculptor would follow to secure the graceful position, proper distribution and degree of light and shade, also tone of picture …” The author of that article, Gabriel Harrison, who opened “an elegant gallery on Fulton Street Brooklyn,” was touted by the Photographic and Fine-Art Journal both as an accomplished “painter and daguerreotyper.” But “despite defects the camera portrait had one great advantage over the skilled painter, who could betray truth and make his subject as likeable as he wished. The camera’s eye was brutally realistic. As the critic H.H. Snelling remarked in 1857: ‘The colored [photographic] portrait has an advantage over the best works of the best art masters, for the latter cannot rival the former in truth.'” Vanity required that some of the “truth” be touched up by the application of an artists’ brush or a colorist’s crayon. Photographers were all too willing to oblige human vanity by hiring painters and colorists to add finishing touches to their work in exchange for higher fees.

[5] Wilson, Henry (comp), Trow’s New York City Directory for the Year Ending May 1, 1856 (1855), at p. 71.

[6] Horan, James D., Mathew Brady, Historian with a Camera (1955), at p. 23.

[7] Ibid., at p. 24.

[8] In 1860 M.B. Brady opened his “fourth and last New York studio at 785 Broadway” located at or near the corner of 10th Street. “Matthew Brady’s World: a Biographical Timeline,” National Portrait Gallery, http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/brady/timeline/timeli2.htm. See also, Grier, Edward F. (ed), The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman, Volume II Washington (1984), at p. 825. Perhaps Anthony Berger was assigned to manage that location.

[9] Although M. B. Brady’s address listed in the 1862-1863 New York City directory is “785 B’way,” he may also have done business at 806 Broadway in that several other people identified as “artists” also listed that address as their place of business in the 1862-1863 directory: Amelia Browne, Loyal Moss Ives, Robert Newman, Walter Shirlaw and Rufus Wright. Loyal Moss Ives is listed as an “artist” at 806 Broadway in each year up through the 1870-1871 New York City directory. He had been an accomplished daguerrean who had partnered with John W. Black in Boston. Walter Shirlaw, known for his later paintings, just so happens to have hailed from Paisley, Scotland, the place where Alexander Gardner was born. Like Shirlaw, Rufus Wright is known for his post-Civil War paintings. A resident of Brooklyn even as of 1863, he also is listed as an “artist” at 806 Broadway in the 1863-1864 directory. Perhaps these people were Brady employees who did retouching work on his negatives, carte de visites, and albumen prints.

Men in (High) Hats: the Tyson Brothers of Gettysburg

23 Jan

This is an update to a prior post: “Finding Photographers and Their Equipment in Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery Photos”

Within a photographic print attributed by William A. Frassanito to Peter S. Weaver taken on November 19, 1863 from the 2nd floor window of the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse are two men facing in a direction away from the camera and hauling what appears to be a long ladder probably for use as a photographic platform (see detail below from file 32845u.tif, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Tysons32845uautoadjusted7

Might these be the late arriving Tyson Brothers on their way to a position for photograph taking on or very near the border between the grounds of the Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery and the private Evergreen Cemetery? These Tyson Brothers candidates are highlighted within a circle in the image above; a red arrow indicates the direction in which they appear to be proceeding.

Tysons32845uautoadjusted7e

The lead figure (#1, above), wearing a dark coat and a tall stovepipe hat, appears to have crested over a small rise — mimicking a topographical feature existing today near the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse — because the lower half of his horse is obscured. The trailing figure (#2, above) also wears a tall formal topper but is bedecked in a very light-colored coat. He appears to be managing a tall ladder over his right shoulder (perhaps he drew the shorter straw?). It isn’t clear if he is walking or also riding a horse. At some distance in front of him is the partially blocked image of a man or boy (#3) who appears to be considerably shorter than #1 either because he is on foot and/or not nearly as tall as #1. The male designated #3 is cradling a square or rectangular object in his right arm against his side. That object may be a case containing glass plate slides or photographic chemicals. The rider designated #1 appears to be turned in his saddle facing in the direction of and looking down towards #3.

We get enough of a view of individual #1 to see that he has long dark hair tumbling out beneath the back of is hat and a dark sideburn running into a beard, features bearing a considerable resemblance to the same seen in a photograph of Charles J. Tyson at page 29 of William A. Frassanito’s seminal book, Early Photography in Gettysburg (1995). Mr. Frassanito dates that photograph to 1860. Isaac G. Tyson, who looked much like his brother, is pictured sporting a goatee in a c. 1863 photo both at page 29 of Mr. Frassanito’s aforementioned book as well as at: http://pacivilwar150.com/ThroughPeople/Civilians/GettysburgPhotographers/PhotoGallery. The more diminutive fellow, #3, may well be the Tyson Brothers’ assistant, William H. Tipton, who was then just 13 years-old and in later years took over the Tysons’ photography business in Gettysburg.

The fact that there are two men wearing high hats proceeding together with photographic equipment further suggests that they are the Tyson Brothers. It reasons that local photographers would be far more likely to dress in formal attire — especially stovepipe hats — then out-of-town photographers who had to lug their gear and chemicals by rail or horse and wagon to Gettysburg. This would explain why of all of the candidates for photographers visible within this view, they are the only ones wearing tall, formal top hats. The other visible photographers wore far more comfortable and practical headgear. It also is no coincidence that the Gettysburg dedication scene sketch drawn by Frank Leslie’s artist Joseph Becker probably depicts the Tyson Brothers in tall hats (see the discussion of this topic in my book —  Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photos:

http://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Lincoln-Gettysburg-Craig-Heberton-ebook/dp/B00AEY2HWQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390455093&sr=8-1&keywords=craig+heberton

 If these are the Tyson Brothers, it appears that they are on their way to a spot where a ladder already has been deployed (boxed in yellow, below). Perhaps their objective was to set up two ladders side-by-side to create a photographic platform. It is not clear why the backside of the deployed ladder appears to be backed by a dark triangular-shaped piece of cloth with a straight-lined bottom horizontal to or laying on the ground. Although the purpose of this feature is not fully understood — perhaps it had to do with a portable darkroom setup — it does support the conclusion that what we see are not stacked arms, but, rather, a tall folding step ladder observed from a side angle.

Tysons32845uautoadjusted7f

On the apparent ladder already in place, boxed in yellow, stands a man (marked #4) a rung or two off the ground. He is facing in a direction more-or-less opposite to the speakers’ platform with his right arm extended gripping the leg of the ladder or something reflective on the ladder. He might be assisted by a man marked as #5 facing the camera and another possibly standing on the opposite side on an even higher rung facing roughly towards the speakers’ platform, marked #6. However, it is just as likely that #6 is a man standing in the background, in which case only one or possibly two men had gone out in advance of the Tyson Brothers candidates to begin the process of erecting their photographic platform outside of the crowd gathered on the dedication grounds.

The third Alexander Gardner stereo view may well show the Tysons in their tall dark toppers — one in a light-colored coat, the other in a dark one — standing side-by-side on their two ladders hovering above the crowd (circled in red, see below):

Hauling Ladder Photographers2

If so, we can deduce that the photo taken possibly by Peter S. Weaver and his father from the 2nd floor window of the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse was created well before the third and final Alexander Gardner stereo view was exposed. The location of those two men in Gardner’s third view comports with the positioning of the already deployed ladder boxed in yellow, above, giving further weight to the conclusion that they are the same men seen in the photo attributed by Bill Frassanito to Peter S. Weaver. Neither of those men are visible in that location in Gardner’s first two stereo views, illustrating the considerable time gap between Gardner’s second and third views.

I tip my hat to Charles J. and Isaac G. Tyson for the three surviving procession photos they took in Gettysburg on November 19 (see detail from one of them, below, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

32849u-cropped

But I must remove my hat to scratch my head in puzzlement over what happened to any photographic exposures they made from their elevated platform at the cemetery — were any of them ever printed? Hopefully what became of those cemetery views will be “uncovered” some day soon. Should they be discovered, those images could represent the Tyson Brothers “crowning” photographic achievement.

All of the text and marked images contained in this blog are copyrighted; all images are derived from the photographic collection of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

— Craig Heberton IV, January 23, 2014

The Brady Bunch: The Case of the Missing Gettysburg Photos

11 Jan

David B. Woodbury was a Civil War battlefield photographer who worked for Mathew B. Brady. According to Frederic E. Ray, Woodbury probably is the man seated on the left, below, in detail from an 1864 image at the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Division (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012649238/):

DBWoodbury33170uLC2

A recent online auction offered for sale a collection of manuscripts — including a diary, notes, and letters — written by or belonging to David B. Woodbury (the “David B. Woodbury Collection”). The owner of the David B. Woodbury Collection noted in that auction that the diary and pertinent letters were enthusiastically reviewed in 1970 by Josephine Cobb, a pioneer in Civil War photography scholarship who worked for years at the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives and first identified Lincoln seated on the speakers’ platform in a Gettysburg photograph in 1952 (the “Bachrach photo”). Unlike a number of his colleagues, David B. Woodbury continued to work for Mathew Brady in Washington, D.C. even after Alexander Gardner struck out on his own. He is described by Frederic E. Ray as “arguably the best of the artists who stayed with Brady throughout the war.”

The 1860 Federal Census reveals that 21 year-old David B. Woodbury then lived in Norwalk, CT with the family of photographer and former jeweler & daguerreotypist — Edward T. Whitney.  After learning wet-plate photography from Boston’s famed photographer J.W. Black, Whitney moved to Norwalk, CT in 1859 from Rochester, NY.

1855 Humphrey's Journal of Photography  vol 07 n04_05 June 15, 1855 adAd in June 15, 1855 Humphrey’s Journal of Photography  Vol. 07, n0. 4.

It is very likely that David B. Woodbury first met and worked for Edward T. Whitney in Rochester because the Woodbury family relocated from Vermont to Rochester after 1850 but sometime prior to the taking of the 1855 New York State Census when David was 16 years old. Consequently, David probably moved to Norwalk with Whitney in 1859.

Detailing some of his professional and wartime experiences, Edward T. Whitney reminisced in 1884 that:

[ I must allude] to the valuable aid and instruction I received from Mr. A. W. Paradise [in New York City in the late 1840s], who was Mr. Brady’s right-hand man so many years, and who afterward became my partner in business. Also to the courtesy extended to me by Brady and Gurney, in whose galleries I was accorded access … In 1859, my health becoming impaired by use of cyanide, causing constant headache and weak eyes, I went to Norwalk, Conn., to recruit. In three weeks I recovered my health and decided to sell out in Rochester. Leaving a successful business, I returned to New York, opened a gallery at 585 Broadway with Mr. A. W. Paradise, also one in Norwalk, Conn.

1865 Trow's NY Register_p975 069 Whitney & Paradise

Business card in 1865 Trow’s New York City Directory

When the war broke out, Mr. Brady asked me to take my operator, Mr. Woodbury, and go into the field and make photographs for the Government of the scenes of the war. We went. Our first pictures were taken after the battle of Bull Run. We had a large covered wagon with two horses, and a heavy load of glass, apparatus, chemicals, and provisions  …  We spent the winter taking views of the fortifications around Washington and places of interest for the Government. But time will not allow me to go into detail of views taken at Yorktown, Williamsburgh, White House, Gaines Hill, Chickahominy, Seven Pines. During the seven days’ retreat from before Richmond to Harrison’s Landing, photographs were taken of James River from a balloon. At some other time, if desired, I may try to do justice to those times and scenes. Mr. Woodbury and myself were not the only ones connected with Brady in getting pictures of the war scenes … We endured the hardships of the camp, the difficulties of getting transportation, the sickening sights of the dead and dying, the danger of capture—and for what? To perpetuate for history the scenes of war, refusing to stop by the way to make portraits for money, which many were doing.

Mr. Whitney’s account gives us a nice general overview of some of David B. Woodbury’s Civil War experiences for the period of 1861 through part of 1862. But what of the rest of the war?

As a sort of “teaser,” the owner of the David B. Woodbury Collection posted at his auction site a low resolution image of the first page of a letter written by David B. Woodbury to his sister, Eliza, dated November 23, 1863. Here is what I was able to decipher within that image:

Washington

Nov 23, 1863

Dear Sister

I received yours of the 4th some time ago and was very glad to hear that you were doing so well and that Father and Mother … ??? … health. I was very sorry to hear of [Father?] being sick … wish to presume he is about well by this time. I went to Gettysburg on the 19th with Mr. Burger the superintendent of the Gallery here. We made some pictures of the crowd and Procession. We took our blankets and provisions with us expecting the crowd would be so great that not more than half would find lodgings. We found no trouble in getting both food and lodging.

The “Mr. Burger” who accompanied Woodbury to Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 undoubtedly is Anthony Berger who had journeyed with Woodbury to Gettysburg from Washington, D.C. in July of 1863 shortly after the conclusion of the great battle [Berger is best known for a number of photographs he took of Lincoln at Brady’s Washington, D.C. studio, the most recognizable of which graces the U.S. Five Dollar bill].

Berger manager-1864 Boyd's Directory-Wash DC-001 MB Brady at 288c

1864 Boyd’s Washington [D.C.] and Georgetown Directory (1863), p. 288 

After several days of familiarizing themselves with the Gettysburg battlefield terrain, they were joined in mid-July by their boss, Mathew B. Brady, whereupon they recorded a number of photographic views.  Thus, Messrs. Woodbury and Berger were quite familiar with Gettysburg and some of its inhabitants from their extended visit to that place a mere four months earlier.

Of the nine known photographs taken in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, none are attributed by modern day scholars or photo-historians to David B. Woodbury, Anthony Berger, Mathew B. Brady, or anyone else who then worked or freelanced for Brady. The first page of David B. Woodbury’s letter to his sister Eliza reveals that he was in Gettysburg on the 19th of November and took photographs there “of the crowd and Procession” with another Brady man, Anthony Berger. It leaves us wondering what other nuggets of information are inscribed in Woodbury’s November 23 letter, including descriptions of the events of the day and whether he and Berger took any photographs on the cemetery grounds. This single letter may or may not contain extraordinary information previously hidden from historians (other than Ms. Cobb) about both the dedication event and the photographs that these two men created.

Detail (below) from a photograph (LC) taken looking out over the Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery grounds on November 19, 1863 shows a photographer on a ladder above his assistant, to the right, who is standing next to an apparent portable darkroom on a tripod. The view of them is slightly impaired by some leafless tree branches but there is no doubt that these men were photographers. Might they be David B. Woodbury manning the camera while perched atop the ladder and Anthony Berger standing next to the portable darkroom?

32845u-auto adjusted5

Some other questions have to be asked out loud — is it possible that Woodbury and Berger created any of the known Gettysburg images, such as, for example, the photo taken from a second floor window of the Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse attributed by William A. Frassanito to Peter S. Weaver (which would rule out them appearing in the above detail) or even the famous photo depicting Lincoln which Mr. Frassanito and others credit to David Bachrach? Might some or all of the Woodbury Gettysburg photos still await discovery in a dusty attic or a long-ago sealed box? Or were all of the glass plate exposures created by those men in Gettysburg on the 19th of November destroyed or placed somewhere forever out of our collective reach? Irrespective of the answers to these questions, the David B. Woodbury Collection may well constitute a gold mine for research into one photographer’s actions and experiences in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 as well as at different times and places during the war.

Alexander Gardner mentioned in passing in his Sketchbook that he “attended the consecration of the Gettysburg Cemetery, and again visited the ‘Sharpshooter’s Home.'” David Bachrach commented briefly on his Gettysburg experience in a 1916 article, noting that he “did the technical work of photographing the crowd, not with the best results with wet plates, while Mr. Everett was speaking” and was then displeased with the 8″ x 10” “negatives” he took. Peter S. Weaver’s father wrote on November 26, 1863 that he “assisted Peter of getting a Negative of the large assembly on the Semetary [sic] ground, which I think is very fine, we have not as yet printed any Phot. of the Negative …” But it remains to be seen whether David B. Woodbury wrote in even greater detail elsewhere in his letter to his sister, some other letters, or within his diary about what he did and experienced in Gettysburg. Let’s hope that someday sooner rather than later the David B. Woodbury Collection is made available for scholarly review and analysis so that some of these questions can be answered and other new ones can be asked. In the mean time, the names of Messrs. David B. Woodbury and Anthony Berger appear to merit being added to the short and exclusive list of known Gettysburg dedication ceremony photographers.

— Craig Heberton IV, January 10, 2014

The cropped images in this post are all courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division