Mathew Brady, the Story of the Man Who Photographed the Civil War

The Battle of Antietam and Mathew Brady's Legacy

Brady's big break came in 1862, when he opened an exhibition titled The Dead of Antietam. These graphic images, which showed bodies strewn across the battle field at Antietam were a shock to the American public. Previously, images of war had been limited to artistic renderings. Instead, Brady's photographs showed the graphic reality of the American Civil War.

The New York Times stated in an October 1862 article, “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along the streets, he has done something very like it…”

mathew brady civil war photography

Scene showing deserted camp and wounded soldier. (Zouave) (Image via U.S. National Archives)

Brady's haunting imagery was a stark reminder that the casualties of war were very real. Today, in a time where photojournalists often enter the war zone, the contemporary public has perhaps become numb to war imagery. But it's important to remember that this professional is partially built on Brady's legacy.

Thanks to the U.S. National Archives, which has uploaded over 6,000 of Brady's images to Flickr, we're able to gain even further insight into the riches of his Civil War Photography.

Mathew Brady American Civil War Photography

Dead Ready for Burial, at Fredericksburg, VA.
c. 1863. (Image via U.S. National Archives)

Mathew Brady Civil War Photos

Dead soldier in the trenches before Petersburg. c. 1863. (Image via U.S. National Archives)

Mathew Brady American Civil War Photography

Soldier's grave. c. 1863. (Image via U.S. National Archives)

Mathew Brady American Civil War Photography

Ambulance of 6th Corps. c. 1863. (Image via U.S. National Archives)

Mathew Brady Civil War Photos

Wounded soldiers in hospital. c. 1863. (Image via U.S. National Archives)

Related Articles:

Rare Ambrotype Portraits Give Us a Peek into Souls Living During the American Civil War

Three-Dimensional Moving Photos from the Civil War

Rare Images Depicting American Life in the 19th Century

Spectacular Colorized B&W Photos of Historical Icons

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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