Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories

Overview

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 ...

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Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories

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Overview

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.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Indiana Magazine of History - Deborah Willis

In developing parallels between the control of one's image in narratives and the use of the photograph as biography, Coddington makes a compelling argument for the reader to rethink the place of photography in telling history. His use of photographs as visual text allows the reader to reimagine history through the photographer's leans. This book maps new methodologies for researching and writing about photographs and plumbs the hidden history of the Civil War narrative.

Weekly Standard

An engaging and human portrait of the Civil War.

Indianapolis Star

77 brilliantly researched stories about the lives of Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Times Union
Faces of the Civil War is one of those rare prizes that has multiple entry points.

— C.D. Myers

Military Collector & Historian
Faces of the Civil War is well worth purchasing and placing in a Civil War library... My copy will always be on a handy shelf.

— Michael J. McAfee

Journal of Southern History
These are haunting stories—and so are their pictures.

— Harold Holzer, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Civil War Times Illustrated
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.

— Heidi Campbell-Shoaf

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

— C. D. Myers

Civil War Book News
This is a well-written, well-documented and interesting little book.

— Michael J. Winey

Berkshire Eagle
I recommend this book to all the Civil War buffs out there.

— Daniel Caplice Lynch

Journal of Military History
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.

— Lisa M. Brady

Civil War Monitor
It was not a "good war," and these faces tell that tale all too well.

— Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Monitor - Allen C. Guelzo

It was not a 'good war,' and these faces tell that tale all too well.

Knight Ridder Newspapers - C. D. Myers

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

Civil War Times Illustrated - Heidi Campbell-Shoaf

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.

Civil War Book News - Michael J. Winey

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

Journal of Military History - Lisa M. Brady

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.

Berkshire Eagle - Daniel Caplice Lynch

I recommend this book to all the Civil War buffs out there.

Times Union - C.D. Myers

Faces of the Civil War is one of those rare prizes that has multiple entry points.

Military Collector & Historian - Michael J. McAfee

Faces of the Civil War is well worth purchasing and placing in a Civil War library... My copy will always be on a handy shelf.

Journal of Southern History - Harold Holzer

These are haunting stories—and so are their pictures.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801878763
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2004
  • Edition description: 20
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,155,215
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Coddington is a visual journalist whose work has appeared in USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the San Jose Mercury News. He currently writes a monthly column, "Faces of War," for The Civil War News. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Anne.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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