George N. Barnard in Georgia
Barnard opened a studio in Syracuse, New York, in 1854, but a poor economy forced its closure. Finding employment with Edward Anthony's studio in 1859, Barnard worked in New York City on stereoscopes (a double photograph that, when seen through a special viewer, becomes fused into a single image with a three-dimensional quality). Matthew Brady, a famous daguerreotypist with studios in New York and Washington, D.C., hired Barnard as a portrait photographer and sent him to Washington to photograph Abraham Lincoln's 1861 inauguration as president of the United States.
By the late 1850s the daguerreotype had given way to the new collodion process, which required the near proximity of a darkroom, where negatives could be developed on the spot. (Called the "wet plate" process, glass plates coated with a collodion and halide salt mixture were dipped in a silver-nitrate
When the Civil War broke out, Brady formed a crew of cameramen, "Brady's Photographic Corps," to document the conflict and the men who fought in it. In 1862, using a tent or wagon as his darkroom, Barnard produced the earliest known collodion photographs at the site of the Bull Run battle in Virginia.
In December 1863 the veteran photographer returned to the battlefield, this time as the official photographer for the Military Division of the Mississippi, with headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. Barnard's main function, as an employee of the Topographic Branch of the Department of Engineers, was to duplicate maps and documents and to photograph fortifications and bridges. During
Barnard traveled to the Atlanta front on September 11, 1864, after Sherman had captured the city. Over the next two months he photographed Confederate fortifications, railroad yards, private homes, and city streets. Sherman's troops departed Atlanta in November and marched toward the coast. Barnard took no photographs during the march until he reached Fort McAllister, near Savannah, which Union forces captured in December. He remained in Savannah, duplicating maps of the march route, until late January.
One of these photographs depicts the death site of Union general James B. McPherson. While surveying the Union lines along the outskirts of Atlanta on July 22, 1864, McPherson, surprised by several Confederate troops, ignored their call to surrender. Attempting to escape on horseback into the trees, he was struck in the back by a rifle bullet, dying within minutes.
By 1869 Barnard had established a new studio in Chicago, Illinois, but it was destroyed in the great fire of 1871. Using borrowed equipment, he then recorded the process of rebuilding the city in a series of photographs that recall his Civil War scenes. He went on to promote the new gelatin dry process in collaboration with George Eastman in New York and later opened a studio in Painesville, Ohio, in 1884. Barnard died at his daughter's home in New York, on February 4, 1902, not far from his first studio.
George N. Barnard, Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign (New York: Dover, 1977).
Keith F. Davis, George N. Barnard: Photographer of Sherman's Campaign (Kansas City, Mo.: Hallmark Cards, 1990).
Cindy Schmid, University of Georgia
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