Arts & Culture

Sketching the Civil War

Before the war photographer came the war illustrator

Throughout the Civil War, artists armed with pencils and sketch pads embedded with troops on both sides of the conflict. They could depict scenes of battle and movement in a way photographers of the era—still limited by lengthy exposure times and the need for fixed subjects—couldn’t, and their work was seen by millions in newspapers across the country. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the war’s end, an exhibition of more than 85 of these firsthand drawings is now on display at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson through April 19. Below is a selection of drawings from the exhibition. All images courtesy of the Becker Collection.

Battle Two Miles West of Atlanta, July 30, 1864. John F.E. Hillen.

Scene on the Levee at Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Contrabands Discharge the Ammunition From the U.S. Transport North Star, 1863. Francis H. Schell.

Confederate Soldiers Taking the Oath of Allegiance, 1864. Edward F. Mullen.

Evening Amusement of the Coloured Servants and Contrabands During the Siege of Petersburg, 1864. Joseph Becker.

Distributing Thanksgiving Favors to the Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac During the Siege of Petersburg, November 24, 1864. Joseph Becker.

Camp Lily: Fremont’s Headquarters at Jefferson City, Missouri, October 5, 1861. Henri Lovie.

Siege of Petersburg: A Night Attack, March 31, 1865. Andrew McCallum.

Dinner Time: Twenty-Second Regiment, January 1, 1862. Arthur Lumley.

Battle of Grand Coteau, Louisiana: Furious Attack of the Rebels, November 4, 1863. Charles E.H. Bonwill.

Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee: Left Wing Near the Peach Orchard, 1862. Henri Lovie.

General Asboth and Staff on Horseback, December 10, 1861. Henri Lovie.