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Cover image of Faces of the Civil War
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Faces of the Civil War

An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories

Ronald S. Coddington
with a Foreword by Michael Fellman

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Archival images and biographical sketches of Union soldiers tell the stories of their lives during and after the Civil War.

Before going off to fight in the Civil War, many soldiers on both sides of the conflict posed for a carte de visite, or visiting card, to give to their families, friends, or sweethearts. Invented in 1854 by a French photographer, the carte de visite was a small photographic print roughly the size of a modern trading card. The format arrived in America on the eve of the Civil War, which fueled intense demand for the convenient and affordable keepsakes. Considerable numbers…

Archival images and biographical sketches of Union soldiers tell the stories of their lives during and after the Civil War.

Before going off to fight in the Civil War, many soldiers on both sides of the conflict posed for a carte de visite, or visiting card, to give to their families, friends, or sweethearts. Invented in 1854 by a French photographer, the carte de visite was a small photographic print roughly the size of a modern trading card. The format arrived in America on the eve of the Civil War, which fueled intense demand for the convenient and affordable keepsakes. Considerable numbers of these portrait cards of Civil War soldiers survive today, but the experiences—and often the names—of the individuals portrayed have been lost to time. A passionate collector of Civil War–era photography, Ron Coddington became intrigued by these anonymous faces and began to research the history behind them in military records, pension files, and other public and personal documents.

In Faces of the Civil War, Coddington presents 77 cartes de visite of Union soldiers from his collection and tells the stories of their lives during and after the war. The soldiers portrayed were wealthy and poor, educated and unschooled, native-born and immigrant, urban and rural. All were volunteers. Their personal stories reveal a tremendous diversity in their experience of war: many served with distinction, some were captured, some never saw combat while others saw little else. The lives of those who survived the war were even more disparate. While some made successful transitions back to civilian life, others suffered permanent physical and mental disabilities, which too often wrecked their families and careers. In compelling words and haunting pictures, Faces of the Civil War offers a unique perspective on the most dramatic and wrenching period in American history.

Reviews

Reviews

An engaging and human portrait of the Civil War.

Faces of the Civil War not only exhibits Coddington's appreciation and understanding of Civil War history but also his passion for early photography.

The book helps to humanize the men who volunteered for 'Father Abraham's' army and illustrates that some of the war's experiences have changed little over the last century and a half.

This is a well-written, well-documented and interesting little book.

A fascinating window into the war's impact on the individual soldier... well researched and engagingly written. Any teacher of the Civil War would do well to consult this volume and incorporate some of the captivating tales into lectures and readings.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
280
ISBN
9781421410395
Illustration Description
77 halftones
Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael Fellman
Preface
Cartes de Visite
Notes
References
Acknowledgments
Index

Author Bios
Ronald S. Coddington
Featured Contributor

Ronald S. Coddington, B.F.A.

Ronald S. Coddington is assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. His work has appeared in USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News. He is a contributing writer to the New York Times Disunion series and writes a monthly column for The Civil War News. He is the author of Faces of the Confederacy and Faces of the Civil War, both published by...
Featured Contributor

Michael Fellman

Ronald S. Coddington is a visual journalist whose work has appeared in USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News. He writes a monthly column, "Faces of War," for The Civil War News and is the author of Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories, also published by Johns Hopkins.
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