Charles Edmund Vetter and Gary Dillard Joiner
The Civil War left behind a visual legacy that continues to fascinate both scholars and casual students. Traditional methods of depicting activities were used-- drawings, etchings, paintings, and maps--and photography, a revolutionary means of recording war, was employed as well. Although still in its infancy, photography brought to its viewer not simply an artist's impression of a battle but the battle itself and, more dramatically, the aftermath of battle.
The visual record of the war can be cataloged by type of medium: photographs; sketches, etched plates, and paintings; maps; and modern illustrated histories and paintings. With the exception of modern illustrated histories and paintings, these materials can be grouped into two broad areas: publicly owned and privately owned collections. Publicly owned materials consist of collections and individual documents in federal, state, or municipal agencies and are available through libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. Privately owned collections are also available to the researcher and are easily accessible. The Bettmann Archives is an example of an excellent privately owned collection.
The largest number of Civil War images are owned by the U.S. government. The great repositories are the National Archives and the Library of Congress (both in Washington, D.C.), the United States Army Military Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, and the Naval Historical Center at the Washington