Tag Archives: Alexander Gardner

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

18 Nov

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.



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).

19389v 34112v

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).


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.


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

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

10 Feb


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):

3a05802v LCcrop

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):


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.

NARA 530206a-positive


NARA 530206a-sepia2

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.



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).


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

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

25 Oct

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?

Leaf 02

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.

Leaf 00

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.

leaf 10

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!

leaf 09

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?

Leaf 07

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



Chewing on “A. Berger”

22 Feb

(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):


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:


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.


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).


(Part III – Hanover Junction, PA)
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
[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 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.
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.


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?
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?
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?
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.
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.”
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 …
By Craig Heberton, May 4, 2014 (to be continued)

[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.

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/):


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:


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

The Big Picture: Where Would Lincoln Be? Heberton Reveals His Findings

29 Oct
Gardner1stphoto 178 Lincoln DS

See the evidence – click here

In 2010, Craig Heberton and his associate began to review within the Library of Congress’ collection several hi-resolution digital images of three stereographic photographs by Alexander Gardner taken on November 19, 1863 at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication ceremony – two of which reveal the image of Abraham Lincoln at the scene of the Gettysburg Address – or so Heberton believed and set out to prove. Heberton published his findings in an eBook in 2012: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photographs. The book (published by WMI Books and available on Amazon) broke new ground in the identification of individuals surrounding Lincoln and the events of that important day at Gettysburg.

On September 24, 2013, the SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE released an article  in their October 2013 issue titled: “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?”.  The article announces a photographic discovery by Civil War expert, Christopher Oakley, that places Abraham Lincoln in an Alexander Gardner photograph as well – but Oakley’s figure is different from Heberton’s.  In fact,  Heberton and Oakley make a case for two different figures as the true Lincoln.   A link to the SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE article is below:


But before reading more, take a look at the big picture yourself in the photo above.  Enlarge it and take in the scene. What do you see? What do you feel?

Alexander Gardner captured a moment here during the four- hour consecration ceremony of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg , on November 19, 1863.   The crowd that was estimated at 15,000, gathered near a hill and a low platform where President Abraham Lincoln and other dignitaries were seated.  Lincoln was to give a short consecration speech — a simple address — following the 2-hour oration by the featured speaker, the Hon. Edward Everett.   Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address took under three minutes to deliver, but what he said continues to ripple across human consciousness today.  Could that be why we yearn to see yet one more photograph of this moment, especially if it would reveal Lincoln in 3-D?

Links for Gettysburg Address and the event in 1863:



Now, follow along as Craig Heberton, author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG: A REVIEW OF ALEXANDER GARDNER’S STEREOSCOPIC PHOTOS,  dissects the big picture and elaborates on his findings that place Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg possibly in two stereoscopic photographs in a location which disagrees with the findings of Professor Oakley. Both explanations are compelling, but who is right?  Read the following and decide for yourself:

(1) When Lincoln approached the elevated speakers’ stand he was “the observed of all observers” in the words of one journalist. Oakley’s Lincoln is  “the completely unobserved of all observers” (with apologies to Shakespeare’s Hamlet).  No one nearby pays him any attention whatsoever even though he is supposed to be beginning his ascent up steps to the speakers’ platform unaccompanied by other members of his entourage (such as his Secretaries Usher and Blair, members of Lincoln’s Cabinet, who like Secretary of State William Seward accompanied Lincoln to the platform). Prof. Oakley asserts that Secretary Seward is visible in the first Gardner photo seated on the speakers’ platform as many as 10 minutes before his Lincoln magically appears — for the very first time — and then begins his ascent up steps to the platform, ignored and unaccompanied by anyone.  Heberton’s Lincoln, on the other hand, is the center of attention for the entire visible crowd on the speakers’ platform. Unlike Oakley’s Lincoln, he is positioned in front of the speakers’ platform on his horse near a presidential-looking eagle finial topped banner. He also is trailed by Lincoln’s “special escort” from the War Department — Provost Marshal General James B. Fry. In his capacity as Lincoln’s special escort, Fry picked up Lincoln at the White House in a carriage, took him to the train station, accompanied him to Gettysburg, and rode behind his President in the procession to the cemetery. Fry later stood near Lincoln on the rostrum. One of Fry’s subordinates was the Gettysburg cemetery dedication event’s Marshal-in-chief — Ward H. Lamon, whose real job was U.S. Marshal for D.C. Lamon believed that his most important job was to keep his former law partner, Abraham Lincoln, safe. Pinpointing Fry on horseback in the first Gardner photo assures us that — as is Heberton’s Lincoln — the real Lincoln is close by.

(2) No men removed or doffed their hats near Oakley’s Lincoln (neither men standing on the ground oriented towards Oakley’s Lincoln nor anyone on the platform) removed their hats in the 2nd Gardner photo in a showing of respect for Oakley’s Lincoln. Journalists described most men removing or doffing their hats in a show of respect as Lincoln approached the speaker’s platform. Two military men staring directly down upon Heberton’s Lincoln (who faces away from them) from atop the speakers’ platform in the first Gardner photo were hatless; by the time the 2nd photo was taken, they had replaced their kepis on their heads.

(3) Oakley’s alleged Seward is seated in the absolutely wrong location despite Prof. Oakley’s claim that his students “triangulated the location of the speakers’ stand from four photos … [and] his Lincoln appeared in precisely the right spot.” Oakley places Secretary of State William Seward at the far right end of the platform, dangling upon it’s edge, and sitting adjacent to alleged stairs. He identifies no other men of distinction near his Seward in Gardner’s first photo. Also, Oakley’s Seward is not in the front row of chairs on the speakers’ platform, rather he is situated several rows behind other men seated with their backs to him. The restrictive view offered by Gardner’s obtuse camera angle and obstructing men mounted on horseback does not reveal fully how many rows deep sat Oakley’s Seward from the front row on the platform. Bachrach’s photo, on the other hand, shows Seward seated next to Lincoln centered in the middle of the first row of the most important dignitaries with an unimpeded view of the crowd. Scholars agree with that alignment. The Bachrach photo shows that no stairs were to Seward’s left; instead, there were — in the following order — Edward Everett then standing, two of Chief Marshal Ward H. Lamon’s aides (standing), Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin and one of his sons, New York Gov. Seymour, and Ohio Gov. Tod. Those three governors represented the states of the Union which had lost the most men at the Battle of Gettysburg — other governors and ex-governors also attended. Several distinctive men visible in the Bachrach photo near the far right side of the platform also are visible in the Gardner photos. They give us the perspective necessary to understand the different views that each of Alexander Gardner and David Bachrach had of the speakers’ platform. Despite Seward’s importance, in the first Gardner photo, Oakley’s Seward is guarded by two little boys standing directly behind him; in the second photo, one of the two boys remained standing behind Oakley’s Steward and Lincoln — two very unexpected platform attendants for two of the three most powerful men in Washington, D.C. Seward is Prof. Oakley’s lynchpin argument for his Lincoln. If his Seward is wrong, then he is left with no one who should have been near the President when he walked up onto the platform and his Lincoln theory is undercut. The mere fact that Oakley’s Seward is seated in the wrong place in the first and second photos and as many as ten minutes ahead of Oakley’s Lincoln means that he cannot be William Seward. [Note: it bears mentioning that Alexander Gardner’s photographic platform was not lined up facing the front of the speakers’ platform; his camera platform was at an obtuse angle to the rostrum and because of that angle, obstructing men mounted on their horses, and members of the crowd standing upon the speakers’ platform, the front row of the speakers’ platform was not visible to Gardner’s camera].

(4) A thick white emulsion crack runs horizontally across a side view of Oakley’s Seward in Gardner’s first photo and his entire facial profile is blurred, preventing an evaluation of his eyes or eyebrows. Oakley acknowledges that his Seward appears as a “gray blur.” The white crack runs horizontally from the lower portion of his nose across his face, preventing any determination of the shape of the tip of that man’s nose. Prof. Oakley claims that in Gardner’s second photo his Seward’s head is “slightly away from [the] camera …[but] in perfect profile.” A review of that photo shows that Oakley’s Seward is not in “perfect profile” and turned so far away from the camera that only the tip of his nose is visible. His chin is distorted by damage to the plate and his eyes and eyebrows (again) are not discernible. In Bachrach’s photo, Seward appears to be seated wearing a topcoat which completely obscures his shirt collar. The entire shirt collar on Oakley’s Seward in the Alexander Gardner photos, however, is fully exposed and he does not appear to be wearing a topcoat over his formal jacket. A blurred man not seated in the proper place does not make for a good candidate to use for overlaying studio photos of Seward.

(5) Prof. Oakley’s claim that his alleged Lincoln is visible only in Gardner’s second photo appears to be wrong. Oakley asserts that his Lincoln appears in Gardner’s second photo by “accident” because he was “standing below the platform” and just then “preparing to mount the steps” to the speakers’ platform. The visual evidence points to a more probable scenario — that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated in the first photo in the exact spot where Oakley places him in the second photo, sporting a tall hat in the identical location and tilted forward in an extremely similar orientation. In this instance, Oakley’s Lincoln’s face cannot be seen, probably because it was turned toward Oakley’s alleged Seward — whose face happened to be turned more towards the alleged Lincoln. Perhaps these gentlemen exchanged a remark about their inability to see what was going on in front of the rostrum. If Oakley’s Lincoln is visible in both photos it means that he was seated at the extreme far end of the speaker’s platform several rows deep from the front of the platform. Otherwise, if his Lincoln was standing in both photos he would have stood rooted in one spot between the shooting of the first and second photos (which, according to Prof. Oakley, was “as much as ten minutes”). Accepting, for the sake of argument that Oakley’s Gardner is visible only in the second photo, Oakley offers no explanation for his whereabouts in the first photo. A review of the positioning of the same people who were moving between the first and second photos reveals that no more than about two minutes (and probably less) passed between those exposures. Oakley’s Lincoln (and his entourage) should be visible somewhere on horseback or on foot within a huge wide open area unimpeded by mounted riders behind his second photo location. However, he is not visible anywhere in the first photo. The best explanation for that is because he was seated on the speakers’ platform next to the alleged Seward.

compare 07

6. If Oakley’s Lincoln was “preparing to mount steps” as he approached the platform on foot then he was in motion rather than stationary. Since he was in motion throughout some or all of the second photo’s time of exposure it must be asked how Gardner’s camera managed to capture an image of him sufficiently clear to reveal all of the minute facial details which Oakley claims renders his candidate a perfect match to a studio photo taken by the same photographer at a distance of a few feet as opposed to 80 to 90 yards at Gettysburg? The answer is that such a feat was impossible given the limitations of 1863 camera and photographic technology. Furthermore, if Oakley’s Lincoln was approaching steps in the second photo he would have appeared either as a series of blurred, twinned, or ghost images. For example, a boy visible in the foreground a few feet from Gardner’s camera moved during some of the exposure resulting in a series of FOUR images of him within the photo. One of those images was clear enough to reveal that he had stood in one of his four spots for about four to five seconds. Each of the other three images of the boy are faint ghost images attesting to his movement. All of this evidence, and more, establishes that Oakley’s Lincoln was stationary and relatively motionless throughout the exposure of the second photo. This further establishes that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated in the second photo at the very edge of the platform to the left of Oakley’s Seward just as he had been in the first photo. But as Prof.  Oakley has acknowledged, Lincoln sat to Seward’s right on the platform, not to his left.

(7) Prof. Oakley’s assertion that ten minutes could have passed between the exposure of the first and second photo is not supported; moreover, it is disproved by his claim that Seward is visible in both photos. One of Prof. Oakley’s current backers, William Frassanito, stated in early 2008 that three to five minutes passed between the first two Gardner exposures.  John Richter has estimated the gap at a minute or two. According to journalists’ reports, Lincoln immediately trailed his cabinet members (including Seward) when he surmounted steps to the platform. If Oakley is correct in his identification of Seward in both Gardner photos, then the time gap between the first and the second Gardner photo had to have been no more than a few seconds or possibly even a minute and we should be able to see the other attending members of Lincoln’s cabinet accompanying him — Secretaries Usher and Blair. But, we do not. Also, as mentioned above, if the time gap between photos #1 and #2 was a minute or less, Oakley’s Lincoln should be just as visible somewhere in the first Gardner photo.

Prof. Oakley’s work on his Virtual Lincoln Project is to be greatly respected, but based upon what has been published, his identification of Lincoln appears to be off the mark.

Join the conversation online.  Follow ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG on Facebook and Twitter:



Questions and inquiries?  amy@wcabooks.com

The original photographic digital images used in this blog are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., Civil War glass negative collection

10/3/13 Press Release: Should Oakley’s Lincoln Sit Down?

3 Oct



Judy Ault

WMI Books







CROZET, VA – In 2010, Craig Heberton and his associate began to review within the Library of Congress’ collection several hi-resolution digital images of three stereographic photographs by Alexander Gardner taken on November 19, 1863 at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication ceremony – two of which reveal the image of Abraham Lincoln at the scene of the Gettysburg Address – or so Heberton believed and set out to prove. Heberton published his findings in an eBook in 2012: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photographs. The book (published by WMI Books and available on Amazon) broke new ground in the identification of individuals surrounding Lincoln and the events of that important day at Gettysburg.

On September 24, 2013, the SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE released an article in the October 2013 issue titled: “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?”  The article announced a photographic discovery by Lincoln devotee and UNCA Professor, Christopher Oakley, that places Abraham Lincoln in one of the Alexander Gardner photographs. Heberton’s photographic discovery points to a much more likely figure of Lincoln.  Heberton and Oakley make a case for two entirely different figures as the true Lincoln — but who is right and why?

What makes the Heberton Lincoln a more compelling choice? The pictures tell the real story, along with over two years of research to back it up. To make his case, Heberton has created a blog https://abrahamlincolnatgettysburg.wordpress.com/ that sheds light on the differences between Oakley’s Lincoln and his own – compelling research data that raises serious doubts about Oakley’s conclusions.  Read the blog (and the book) and view the photographs for yourself.

Here are some highlights:

Why Oakley’s Lincoln is wrong:

Oakley’s Lincoln is completely ignored by the crowd whereas Lincoln was the center of attention on his arrival;

No dignitaries are on their feet to greet Oakley’s Lincoln when he alone begins mounting steps to the platform;

Oakley’s Lincoln is unaccompanied by the three attending members of Lincoln’s Cabinet (Seward, Blair, and Usher); accounts state that Lincoln immediately followed them onto the platform;

Oakley doesn’t place his Lincoln on the platform until ten minutes after Sec. of State Seward is seated;

No men in the crowd removed their hats in a show of respect for Oakley’s Lincoln;

The nose on Oakley’s Lincoln is “hawk-shaped” and does not match Lincoln’s nose;

The alleged beard on the chin of Oakley’s Lincoln is tucked downwards into his shirt and is so much darker than his other facial hair, suggesting it is a large bow tie rather than a beard;

Oakley’s Lincoln is on the far right of the platform buried several rows back; all accounts and photos place Lincoln in the front and center of the speakers stand.

Why Heberton’s Lincoln makes more sense:

His Lincoln is the center of focused attention from nearly all visible platform spectators in two photos while atop his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform;

Some men on the platform doffed their hats for his Lincoln;

His Lincoln is positioned near a presidential-appearing eagle finial topped staff;

Lincoln wore white gauntlets over his extremely large hands and was preoccupied with the children at Gettysburg, patting their heads & bestowing kisses;

His Lincoln extends a large white gloved hand in front of a boy’s face seated on the front of his saddle;

His Lincoln precedes Lincoln’s special escort sent by Sec. of War Stanton to safeguard the President, consistent with an account that the escort rode behind Lincoln in the procession;

Within the shadows is revealed a distinctive bearded chin and a large ear and long nose, appearing like Lincoln’s;

A line of contrast in darkness on his Lincoln’s hat betrays the presence of a hat band which Lincoln wore in honor of his deceased son Willie; and

Movement by his possible Lincoln throughout the 2nd exposure created a long and narrow opalescent ghost-image face, smiling at the camera, which appears to have a bearded small chin.

To learn more about Heberton’s photographic discovery of Lincoln and the latest in the Lincoln at Gettysburg photographic debate, please join us online at Facebook and Twitter and follow the book’s blog:


Facebook and Twitter:



Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg:

A Review of Alexander Gardner’s Stereoscopic Photos:


October 2013 Smithsonian Magazine Article:



Where is Lincoln? Heberton Takes on the Flaws in Oakley’s Case

27 Sep
Gardner1stphoto 178 Lincoln DS
Where is Lincoln? Read what Heberton reveals in the ebook: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTSYBURG
Gardner #1

Gardner #1 photo detail

Detail of Lincoln’s face under his stovepipe hat in Gardner #1 photo

17807u glove2
Detail of Lincoln’s white-gloved hand (boxed) in Gardner #1 photo

Gardner #2

Gardner #2 photo (right stereo) detail

Gardner #3

Gardner #2 photo (left stereo) detail

Bachrach #4

Bachrach photo detail

In September 2013, the Smithsonian Magazine published an online article which is to appear in their October issue about a new photographic discovery of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Craig Heberton, author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN AT GETTYBURG, made his own discoveries on the same topic and published his ebook well before the Smithsonian piece. His findings differ from Professor Oakley’s in several significant respects, including his identification of President Lincoln in Alexander Gardner’s stereoscopic plates. Working independently of Prof. Oakley and all of the men whom the professor has named as his co-collaborators, Mr. Heberton offers a fresh “outsiders” perspective on the Gardner Gettysburg views.

Here is a link to the Smithsonian Magazine article:


If Heberton is correct, he has uncovered a poignant scene of Lincoln stationed atop his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform which he would later surmount to give his Gettysburg Address.  Heberton has concluded that a young boy is seated on the front of Lincoln’s saddle in the first Gardner photo.  Here he describes his discovery:

In an emotionally evocative scene, Lincoln paternalistically gazes down upon the boy from behind, with his head tilted to the side, while thrusting one of his large white gloved hands out towards the thousands of spectators standing before him as if to say to the boy — “what do you think about all of this?” To put this into context, at that moment Lincoln’s 10 year- old son, Tad, was back at the White House battling a potentially fatal case of smallpox. The boy on Lincoln’s saddle looked the part of a boy Tad’s age — a form of a stand-in for his missing son. This was not what I expected to see when I began to study Gardner’s stereoscopic slides three years ago — a journey which began when a colleague called one day and said, “I’m e-mailing you a photo and I want you to tell me where it was taken, when it was taken, what it represents … and if you see Lincoln anywhere in it. OK?”

When Heberton first saw the Smithsonian article he was impressed with the technical skills applied by Professor Oakley in his research as described in the article. But he was greatly disappointed by the identity and location of Oakley’s candidate for Lincoln. Maybe even more disappointing was Oakley’s claim that Lincoln “accidentally” appeared in one of Gardner’s photographic efforts essentially because Alexander Gardner had photographed Lincoln before. Here Heberton describes his reaction to Oakley’s revelations:

Professor Oakley claims that Alexander Gardner had taken plenty of posed photos of Lincoln on prior occasions and had no use for any images of Lincoln upon the former Gettysburg battlefield among the thousands who gathered to honor the dead Union soldiers and to dedicate the new cemetery in an event described by the media as the greatest gathering of famous dignitaries perhaps since Lincoln’s inauguration, if not in that century. According to Oakley, Gardner was more interested in creating a stereoscopic slide of himself posing in front of soldiers and spectators on the cemetery grounds (taken by his assistants) than he was of trying to capture Lincoln. The professor maintains that perhaps his greatest discovery was finding a man whom he identifies in the foreground as Gardner in the same photograph in which his Lincoln “accidentally” appears in the background — sort of a modern day version of clicking a photo of yourself on your mobile phone standing in front of the White House and later discovering to your surprise that President Obama accidentally appears in the background hunched over in your digital image while standing next to his seated Secretary of State Kerry, unaccompanied by any security, and completely ignored by a throng of visiting dignitaries and foreign ambassadors who are standing with their backs to him! What would be the odds of that?

They say that the devil is in the details and here Heberton addresses some of his disagreements with the Lincoln identification made by Civil War historian and animation wizard Christopher Oakley:

Why Oakley’s Lincoln is wrong.

  • His Lincoln commands no attention from the crowd
  • No dignitaries are on their feet preparing to greet his Lincoln
  • Men in the crowd have not removed their hats in a show of respect
  • The nose on his Lincoln is “hawk-shaped”
  • The “beard” on his Lincoln’s chin is tucked into his shirt and many shades darker than the rest of his facial hair
  • His Lincoln’s “beard” is just as likely a bow tie
  • His Lincoln is on the far right of the platform seated behind other people when all accounts and the Bachrach photo place Lincoln in the front row and center of the stand


Why Heberton’s Lincoln makes more sense:

  • His Lincoln is the center of focused attention from nearly all visible platform spectators
  • Some men on the platform doffed their hats for his Lincoln
  • His Lincoln is positioned near a presidential-appearing eagle-finial topped staff
  • Lincoln wore white gauntlets over his extremely large hands at Gettysburg
  • His Lincoln extends a large white gloved hand in front of a boy’s face seated atop his horse
  • Accounts note that Lincoln was preoccupied with the children at Gettysburg, patting their heads & bestowing kisses
  • His Lincoln is in front of Lincoln’s special escort sent by Sec. of War Stanton to safeguard him, and who rode behind Lincoln in the procession to the cemetery from the center of town
  • Within the shadows of his wide brimmed stovepipe hat is revealed Lincoln’s distinctive bearded chin and a large ear and long nose in the first photo
  • A line of contrast in darkness on his Lincoln’s hat betrays the presence of a hat band which Lincoln wore in honor of his deceased son Willie
  • His Lincoln’s movement throughout the 2nd exposure created an opalescent ghost-image smiling at the camera which is possibly a distorted representation of the long and narrow face of Lincoln with a small bearded chin

Follow Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg on Facebook and Twitter:


The original photographic digital images used in this blog are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., Civil War glass negative collection


The Photos of Lincoln at Gettysburg Under Debate – Which is Lincoln?

27 Sep

Pictures tell the story here and the experts differ on their interpretation of the photographs in determining which figure is Lincoln. There are tantalizing observations supporting why each of their picks for Lincoln, either in one or two of the Alexander Gardner stereoscopic scenes, is more credible. Evidence within the historical record and the context of what can be seen, however, are contrary to Professor Oakley’s position but supportive of Heberton’s. Take a look at the photographic evidence for yourself and then read some of the detailed research Heberton has compiled in support of his findings and compare it with that of animation expert Oakley and the opinions of the Civil War photography experts featured in the October 2013 issue of SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE:


01 Gardner1stsphoto 17807uLincolnIDs-1

1st Gardner photo detail: Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; position of Oakley’s Lincoln in green; from about a 150 degree angle to the front of the speakers’ platform.

01aGardner1stphotodetail - 17807u-lincoln3-1

Zoomed detail from 1st photo showing Heberton’s Lincoln’s face within shadows cast by brim of his stovepipe hat;
he is on his horse directly in front of the speakers’ platform with a boy appearing to be about 10 years old on the front of his saddle; he is facing away from the platform generally in the direction of a tall eagle finial topped staff; this photo probably depicts a brief solemn ceremony performed upon Lincoln’s arrival within the procession near the front of the platform

17807udetail2ib 17807udetail6 17807u glove2
Detail from 1st Gardner photo shows Lincoln’s outlined face and boxed white gloved hand

02 Gardner2dphoto17806 image 4-1

2nd Gardner photo detail (right stereo): Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; Oakley’s in green; both remain in same positions as the 1st Gardner photo

03 Gardner2dphotoleft st crop 07

2nd Gardner photo detail (left stereo): Heberton’s Lincoln boxed in red; Oakley’s in green

02 Gardner2dphoto17806 Image 5

Zoomed detail from 2nd Gardner photo (right stereo) showing “ghost image” possibly of Heberton’s Lincoln’s face in a long exposure photo in which several other people also are represented by multiple images

02 Gardner2dphoto17806

Zoomed detail from 2nd Gardner photo (right stereo) showing “ghost image” possibly of Heberton’s Lincoln’s face in a long exposure photo in which several other people also are represented by multiple images
Direct view of stand

Detail from photo attributed to David Bachrach taken at about a 65 degree angle to speakers platform; Lincoln was discovered seated in the center of the front row of the platform in 1952 with his head tilted to his right; compare positions of several people marked in this photo with their positions marked in detail from the Gardner photos, below:

Oakley vs. Heberton Lincoln Comparison Photo

Comparison of the 1st (above) and 2nd (below) Gardner photos showing the static positioning of several key people, including Oakley’s candidates for Lincoln (boxed in red) and Seward (boxed in yellow) on the extreme far right end of the platform seated behind several men; note particularly the positioning of the Cowlick aide in the Bachrach photo and the Gardner photos to get a sense of the relative perspectives of the two photographers and how out of place Oakley’s Lincoln is to Lincoln’s seating in the Bachrach photo

Experts differ on what these photos reveal and where Lincoln is located.  Can you find him?  Heberton’s research and analysis explains why Oakley’s Lincoln cannot possibly be Lincoln based upon WHERE the professor has located him (about to be seated at the far right end of the platform) in only the 2nd Gardner photo and WHAT Oakley claims he was then doing (climbing steps leading to the lowest level of the platform):

First, go to the Bachrach photo and find Sec. of State Seward and President Lincoln seated in the center of the front row upon the lowest level of the platform. Then within the same photograph find the Cowlick aide (one of Chief Marshal Lamon’s ceremonial aides) — who is facing towards Seward and Lincoln — as well as the Dark hat man (behind the Cowlick aide) and the Beard Man (behind Gov. Tod). From right to left, the people visible in the front row on the speaker’s platform are — Gov. Tod, Gov. Seymour, Gov. Curtin, Gov. Curtin’s son, the Cowlick aide (standing), Judge Casey (another white sashed marshal’s aide who is standing), Provost Marshal General James B. Fry who was Lincoln’s special escort (standing – he probably is a step back from the front row), Edward Everett (standing probably while orating), Lincoln, and Ward Hill Lamon (then occupying the seat for Edward Everett), etc. Notice too where Italian Minister Bertinatti is seated and that he and the men around him are at an odd angle vis-a-vis the three governors in the front row. If this photo detail extended further to the right, you would come to the area where Oakley claims his Seward is seated and his Lincoln will be seated several rows BEHIND the front row. This area is best pinpointed by locating the Cowlick aide particularly in the 1st Gardner photo (with his distinctive cowlick sticking out from the left side of his head like a horn).  His back is to Gardner’s camera in both the 1st and 2nd Gardner photos. Whereas the Cowlick aide faces Lincoln in the Bachrach photo, it clearly can be seen that Oakley’s Lincoln was seated several rows BEHIND the Cowlick aide in the Gardner photos and, therefore, cannot possibly be Lincoln because he should be seated beyond and on the OTHER side of the Cowlick aide. Oakley’s Lincoln and Seward are located nowhere near the real Lincoln and Seward.

Gardner’s first stereo view – aka 652 – (First, second, third, fourth & fifth photos, above):

This detail is from the left stereo, file 17807u.if, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.00652/

Gardner’s second stereo view – aka 673 – right stereo (sixth, eighth & ninth photos, above):

This detail is from the RIGHT stereo, file 17806a.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.17806/

Gardner’s second stereo view – aka 673 – left stereo (Seventh photo, above):

This is detail from the LEFT stereo, file 04063.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.04063/

David Bachrach’s photo (Tenth photo, above):

This detail is from Bachrach’s photo, file 07639.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.07639/

Comparison between detail in Gardner’s 1st stereo view and his 2nd stereo view (Eleventh photo above):

This detail in the top image is taken from the left stereo of Gardner’s 1st photo, file 17807u.if, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.00652/

The detail in the bottom image is taken from the left stereo of Gardner’s 2nd photo, file 04063.tif, at LC’s: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ds.04063/

Follow along on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abraham-Lincoln-at-Gettysburg/338089372973741?ref=hlhttps://twitter.com/WMIbooks

The original photographic digital images used in this blog are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C., Civil War glass negative collection