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Image of Chattanooga Valley from Lookout Mountain No. 2

George N. Barnard , (Dec 23, 1819–Feb 4, 1902)

Chattanooga Valley from Lookout Mountain No. 2

1864-1866
10 in. x 14 3/16 in. (25.4 cm x 36.04 cm)

Medium and Support: Albumen print
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Accession Number: 1981.5

Commentary

Photographs of the Civil War commonly depict scenes of preparation for
battle or its aftermath, not the battle itself. The complexity of photography’s
wet-plate process, requiring heavy equipment, fragile glass plate negatives,
and makeshift darkrooms in tents or wagons, made it impossible to
photograph actual fighting. As an official Army photographer with the
Military Division of the Mississippi from 1863 to 1865, George Barnard
retraced General William Sherman’s decisive campaign, which led Union
soldiers from Chattanooga to Atlanta and on to the famous “march to the
sea” across Georgia, then north to the Carolinas in 1864. Barnard’s sixtyone
images captured battlefields, shipyards, bridges, and ruins, which he
later privately published with a thirty-two page booklet in the portfolio
Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign (1866), providing the most
detailed views of the heavily forested terrain covered by Sherman. While
suggestions of the war’s destruction are visible, the eerily quiet and stark
pictures are void of active warfare.

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