Stone Wall, Rear or Fredericksburg, with Rebel Dead, May 3rd, 1863
Photography came of age with the United States, developing in time to play a central role in forming national memory of the Civil War. It was utilized early in the war as a documentary source for Union war efforts, but was quickly recognized as a way to widely commemorate the war and memorialize the dead. Russell was one of the major photographers who documented the Civil War. The death and destruction wrought by the conflict dominated the American psyche for decades and photography was the main medium that communicated the horrors of modern warfare. Aligning with the particularly American notion of facticity in art, Russell’s photographs gave the impression of reportorial truth despite evidence his battlefield scenes were often altered for dramatic effect. The Civil War was never completely resolved in the nation’s consciousness with lingering tensions and trauma over race, citizenship and violence.