Photo Essay: "Life Studies of the Great Army"

 At the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibit of 1876, Edwin Forbes, renowned for his work during the Civil War as a "special artist" for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, displayed a collection of copper etchings based on his wartime illustrations of the Army of the Potomac. Forbes had spent the immediate postwar years completing the drawings and transferring them to copper plates. The resulting series, which Forbes titled "Life Studies of the Great Army," was received enthusiastically, especially by veterans of the conflict. As former Union general William W. Averell remarked, "Any soldier living who was familiar with those scenes will at a glance appreciate the fidelity of these pictures.... As a contribution to the graphic history of our late war, they are simply invaluable."

Samples from "Life Studies," accompanied by Forbes' original descriptions, are below. For more, see the article "Sketches of War" in the Spring 2012 (Vol. 2, No. 1) issue of The Civil War Monitor.

 The commissary's quarters in winter camp. The commissary sergeant is seen in the foreground weighing out rations of meat for the company cook. The structure on the left is an improvised stable built of pine boughs. (Source for this and all subsequent images: Library of Congress.)

  Through the Wilderness. A battery of artillery dragged through the mud during a spring rain-storm.

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