Photo Gallery: Casualties of the Civil War

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The American Civil War was the first major conflict that was photographed extensively, bringing shocking and often horrific images to the front pages and into people's living rooms. Photography was extremely popular in the US at the time, and many photographers did not hold back from snapping even the most graphic of post-battle images to illustrate the horrors of war. Original captions were often scrawled below or on the backs of photos - you can read a few here in quotes.

Several of the images in this gallery are graphic in nature and may be disturbing.

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After the Battle of Antietam, 1862. A soldier looks upon a Union grave, while the Confederate corpse remains unburied where it fell.

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"The Horrors of War. A Union soldier killed by a shell at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. His arm was torn off, and can be seen on the ground near his musket, and entirely separated form his body. The shell also completely disemboweled the poor fellow, and killed him so quick that he never knew what struck him. Think of a battlefield covering nearly 25 square miles, and covered with thousands of dead, many of them mangled even worse than this one and you can have a faint idea of Gettysburg in the early days of July, 1863."

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Dead Confederate soldiers in "the devil's den" after the Battle of Gettysburg. July 1-3, 1863.

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"Incidents of the war: A harvest of death." The three days of conflict at Gettysburg resulted in 51,000 casualties, making it the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

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Many of the dead went unidentified and were buried in mass graves. Here, Confederate soldiers lie in unfinished graves near the center of the battlefield at Gettysburg.

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Two of the 900 Confederate soldiers killed during Lt. General Richard Ewell's engagement at Harris Farm, part of the 13-day Battle of the Spotsylvania Court House. May 19, 1864.

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African American troops were often assigned the least desirable duties. These soldiers collected bones from the field, nearly a year after Battles of Cold Harbor and Gaines' Mill. April 1865.

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A dead Confederate soldier where he fell in a trench in Petersburg,VA, April 3, 1865. Twenty-three miles to the North, Union forces take the rebel capital of Richmond.

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With a growing need to ship soldiers' bodies back to their families, embalming became a more common practice. Precise date and place unknown.

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Soldiers graves near Richmond, VA. April 1865. After the war, seven National Cemeteries were built in the Richmond vicinity to accommodate the tens of thousands of dead.

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Burial of Federal dead, Fredericksburg, VA. The Civil War cost the country 2.5 percent of its population -- today that would be more than 7 million Americans.

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"Fallen of the mighty Conflict -- graves of Confederate soldiers, Charleston, S. Carolina." The more than $4 million in Federal funding for National Cemeteries went towards burying Union soldiers. Today, many southern cities have separate Confederate cemeteries.

|Library of Congress

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • DIG: Nordblom Family Foundation, Gretchen Stone Cook Charitable Foundation (owens, death)
  • Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
  • NEH