Top 10 Most Popular Historic Photos of 2013

top-10-flickr-2013A carte de visite of four Union amputees was the most popular photograph posted to my Flickr photostream this year. A review of the data in Flickr’s interestingness feature revealed that it led the next most popular image, a photographer with his camera, by more than a two-to-one margin.

Eight of the ten most popular were portraits of Civil War soldiers or sailors, or 80 percent. Yet Civil War military men composed only half the images posted in 2013 (36 of 72). The other half features civilians and other non-military subjects from the 1840s through the end of the 1860s, and includes daguerreotypes, tintypes and cartes de visite.

The Top 10 of 2013:

1. Union Comrades, Fellow Amputees
Carte de visite by Burnite & Weldon of Harrisburg, Pa. Four federal officers pose with their swords, and carry the visible effects of the human cost of war. Three of the men have suffered the amputation of the right arm, and the fourth the loss of a finger or fingers.
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2. A Civil War Photographer
Carte de visite by Jos. Longaker of Attica, Ind. A photographer stands next to his bellows style, wet plate camera equipped with a Petzval style lens. The lens cap sits atop the camera.
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3. Elderly Woman Wearing Glasses
Daguerreotype by unidentified photographer. A woman wearing glasses and a bonnet sits for the camera operator in this circa 1850 portrait. Her hair is streaked with gray, and the fine age lines on her face suggest a senior citizen. Resting upon a small round table covered by a blue-tinted cloth is her age-spotted hand, and the well-worn and possibly arthritic fingers of a hard-working seamstress or gardener.
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4. Seven Times Wounded at Gettysburg
Carte de visite of James Brownlee by Haines & Wickes of Albany, N.Y. Irish-born Brownlee served in the 134th New York Infantry, which at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg belonged to a brigade commanded by Col. Charles R. Coster. During the afternoon of the first day of the battle, Coster’s Brigade was ordered to support the crumbling federal right on the northern edge of Gettysburg. Soon after the brigade formed, the Confederate juggernaut descended on Coster’s men. The 134th was overwhelmed by advancing rebels on the front, flank and rear. More than half the regiment became casualties, including Brownlee, who suffered wounds from four bullets and three buckshot.
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5. A Union Sergeant Stands Front and Off Center
Quarter plate tintype by an unidentified photographer. A bearded federal sergeant wearing a four button sack coat over a dark shirt with no collar and knee-high boots is pictured in front of an elaborate backdrop. He holds a forage cap in his left hand and grasps the edge of his jacket with the other. He stands off center in the frame of this image, leaving the viewer with the impression that it may have been intentional. The empty space to his left may represent a missed loved one or friend, or a fallen comrade. The space may also have been the work of the photographer, who may have artfully posed the sergeant between the tents and foliage pictured in the backdrop. Or perhaps this soldier first posed with another individual before having this image made of only himself, and the photographer failed to adjust the camera or the soldier.
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6. A New Hampshire Mountaineer Wounded at Gettysburg
Samuel Bean Noyes by Kimball & Sons of Concord, N.H. Noyes (1842-1870) started his Civil War service in 1862 as a private in the Twelfth New Hampshire Infantry, a regiment popularly known as the “New Hampshire Mountaineers” for the sturdy, rugged soldiers in its ranks. Noyes had his baptism under fire at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. He and his Mountaineers, along with the rest of their corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, moved a half-mile ahead of the rest of the Union frontline and were attacked by alert Confederates. Noyes suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder during the rebel assault.
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7. A Minnesota Colonel With Table Top Stereoscope
Carte de visite of William Crooks by Martin’s Gallery of St. Paul, Minn. William Crooks (1832-1907), the colonel and commander of the Sixth Minnesota Infantry, stands next to a table top stereoscope, likely made by Alexander Beckers, a pioneer photographer, artist, inventor and businessman in New York City. Beckers, a friend and competitor of photographer Edward Anthony, received ten patents for the stereoscope. Stereoview photographs could be viewed in 3-D using devices like the one pictured here.
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8. Full Dress Zouave
Carte de visite by J.B. Smith of Utica, N.Y. A Union soldier dressed in the elaborate Zouave style. It is possible that this unidentified man served in the 146th New York Infantry, which was raised in Utica and other towns in Oneida County, N.Y. The regiment wore Zouave uniforms during part of their enlistment.
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9. On “The Noxious Institution of Slavery”
Carte de visite of James F. O’Brien by McPherson & Oliver of Baton Rouge, La. Born in County Tipperary, Ireland, O’Brien came to America as a young man and settled in Charlestown, Mass., which was then a hot bed of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment. After the start of the Civil War, O’Brien began to organize an all-Irish regiment, but his plans were dashed when the U.S. War Department combined the six companies he raised with four non-Irish companies to form the Forty-eighth Massachusetts Infantry. O’Brien received an accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel and second-in-command of the regiment.
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10. A Navy Man with Gumption
Carte de visite of Benjamin Franklin Wood by unidentified photographer. Wood (1836-1910) had a long career in the U.S. navy. His obituary, which appeared in the November 1910 issue of Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, tells his story.
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Images of the Civil War: A Panel Discussion with Kevin Levin and Rick Britton

Images of the Civil WarI was fortunate to participate on a panel, Images of the Civil War, with author Kevin Levin and moderated by cartographer and author Rick Britton at the Virginia Festival of the Book, which was held in Charlottesville, Va., on March 22, 2013. Video of the hour-long discussion is now available.