156 years later, rare, eerie photos show life during the Civil War

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Artillery Team, One soldier holds the sponge by a large mobile cannon.

Artillery Team, One soldier holds the sponge by a large mobile cannon.

Photo: Getty Images

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Rare, eerie photos of the Civil War: The Civil War through the lenses of Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

Rare, eerie photos of the Civil War: The Civil War through the lenses of Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner.

Photo: Alexander Gardner, Alexander Gardner/AP

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This 1862 photo made available by the Library of Congress shows soldiers next to a lone grave after the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md. When dawn broke along Antietam Creek on Sept. 17, 1862, cannon volleys launched a Civil War battle that would leave 23,000 casualties on the single bloodiest day in U.S. history and mark a crucial pivot point in the war. And yet it might never have occurred – if not for what a historian calls a “freakish” twist of fate. Days earlier, a copy of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s detailed invasion orders, wrapped around a few cigars, accidentally fell in a farm field and were discovered by Union infantrymen who passed their stunning find up the chain of command, spurring action. less
This 1862 photo made available by the Library of Congress shows soldiers next to a lone grave after the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md. When dawn broke along Antietam Creek on Sept. 17, 1862, cannon … more

Photo: Alexander Gardner, AP

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Slain rebel sharpshooter slumped down in his ineffective hideout, w. his rifle still perched against rocks, at end of Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.

Slain rebel sharpshooter slumped down in his ineffective hideout, w. his rifle still perched against rocks, at end of Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.

Photo: The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett

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Mortar battery No. 4, near Yorktown, Virginia, during the American Civil War, May 1862. From ‘Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War’ by Alexander Gardner, Volume 1, Plate 14.

Mortar battery No. 4, near Yorktown, Virginia, during the American Civil War, May 1862. From ‘Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War’ by Alexander Gardner, Volume 1, Plate 14.

Photo: Getty Images

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Portrait of the crew on monitor USS ‘Saugus,’ James River, Virginia, 1863.

Portrait of the crew on monitor USS ‘Saugus,’ James River, Virginia, 1863.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Cavalry were forces that fought principally on horseback, armed with carbines, pistols, and especially sabers. Only a small percentage of Civil War forces met this definition primarily Union mounted forces in the Eastern Theater during the first half of the war. Confederate forces in the East generally carried neither carbines nor sabers. A few Confederate regiments in the Western Theater carried shotguns, especially early in the war. less
Cavalry were forces that fought principally on horseback, armed with carbines, pistols, and especially sabers. Only a small percentage of Civil War forces met this definition primarily Union mounted forces in … more

Photo: Getty Images

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A horseman rides near a pontoon bridge spanning the Potomac River in Berlin (now Brunswick), Maryland, 1861.

A horseman rides near a pontoon bridge spanning the Potomac River in Berlin (now Brunswick), Maryland, 1861.

Photo: Getty Images

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Officers of the 3th Infantry. In 1861, the 4th Infantry became part of the garrison to protect DC. The first Civil War engagement was in the Siege of Yorktown. At the Battle of Gaines Mill in June 1862, the Regulars saved Wood’s and Tidball’s artillery batteries from capture by Confederate infantry. It participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run and then at the Battle of Antietam, the regulars held the Middle Bridge over Antietam Creek, guarding the vital passage. At Gettysburg it pushed back Confederate infantry near Devil’s Den and the Wheatfield. On 22 June 1864, with less than 150 men left, they reported to City Point, Virginia, to become Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters guard. The greatly reduced regiment was present at Appomattox Courthouse for Robert E. Lee’s surrender. less
Officers of the 3th Infantry. In 1861, the 4th Infantry became part of the garrison to protect DC. The first Civil War engagement was in the Siege of Yorktown. At the Battle of Gaines Mill in June 1862, the … more

Photo: Getty Images

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President Abraham Lincoln.

President Abraham Lincoln.

Photo: Getty Images

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Edward Paul Doherty was an American Civil War officer who formed and led the detachment of soldiers that captured and killed John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of United States President Abraham Lincoln, in a Virginia barn on April 26, 1865, twelve days after Lincoln was fatally shot. less
Edward Paul Doherty was an American Civil War officer who formed and led the detachment of soldiers that captured and killed John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of United States President Abraham Lincoln, in a … more

Photo: Getty Images

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View of a Confederate caisson and eight dead horses destroyed by a 32 pound shell, Maryre’s Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1863.

View of a Confederate caisson and eight dead horses destroyed by a 32 pound shell, Maryre’s Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1863.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Tad Lincoln, son of President Lincoln, dons the uniform of a Union Soldier.

Tad Lincoln, son of President Lincoln, dons the uniform of a Union Soldier.

Photo: Getty Images

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General Ambrose Burnside: After weeks of preparation, the Federals exploded a mine in Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s IX Corps sector, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, Virginia. From this propitious beginning, everything deteriorated rapidly for the Union attackers. Unit after unit charged into and around the crater, where soldiers milled in confusion. Grant considered the assault ‘the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war.’ The Confederates quickly recovered and launched several counterattacks led by Brig. Gen. William Mahone. The breach was sealed off, and the Federals were repulsed with severe casualties. Brig. Gen. Edward Ferrero’ s division of black soldiers was badly mauled. This may have been Grant’s best chance to end the Siege of Petersburg. Instead, the soldiers settled in for another eight months of trench warfare. Burnside was relieved of command for the last time for his role in the debacle, and he was never again returned to command. less
General Ambrose Burnside: After weeks of preparation, the Federals exploded a mine in Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside’s IX Corps sector, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses of Petersburg, Virginia. From … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Sailors relax on the Deck of the Gunboat Hunchback.

Sailors relax on the Deck of the Gunboat Hunchback.

Photo: Getty Images

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An artillery crew pose beside their gun at Fort Totten (also known as Fort Gaines), Washington, D.C., 1860s.

An artillery crew pose beside their gun at Fort Totten (also known as Fort Gaines), Washington, D.C., 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Effect of a shell on a Confederate soldier at battle of Gettysburg, emains of a dead soldier on the battlefield. 

Effect of a shell on a Confederate soldier at battle of Gettysburg, emains of a dead soldier on the battlefield. 

Photo: UIG Via Getty Images

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Crew of the Mendota assembles on Deck.

Crew of the Mendota assembles on Deck.

Photo: Getty Images

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View of the paddle steamer ‘Wenonah,’ and a several barges, at a wharf on the Pamunkey River, Virginia, 1860s.

View of the paddle steamer ‘Wenonah,’ and a several barges, at a wharf on the Pamunkey River, Virginia, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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View of a ‘hot’ shot furnace inside the Confederate Army’s Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, 1860s. Heated, or hot, shot was effective in setting fire to enemy targets.

View of a ‘hot’ shot furnace inside the Confederate Army’s Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, 1860s. Heated, or hot, shot was effective in setting fire to enemy targets.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Dead soldier lying in the road at Fredericksburg, Virginia, American Civil War, 3 May 1863.

Dead soldier lying in the road at Fredericksburg, Virginia, American Civil War, 3 May 1863.

Photo: Print Collector/Getty Images

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Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren headed the Union Navy’s ordnance department during the War and designed several different kinds of guns and cannons that were considered part of the reason the Union won the war. For these achievements, Dahlgren became known as the ‘father of American naval ordnance.’ less
Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren headed the Union Navy’s ordnance department during the War and designed several different kinds of guns and cannons that were considered part of the reason the Union won … more

Photo: Getty Images

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About 2.75 million soldiers fought in the Civil War — 2 million for the North and 750,000 for the South.

About 2.75 million soldiers fought in the Civil War — 2 million for the North and 750,000 for the South.

Photo: Getty Images

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James Blair Steedman was an American soldier, printer, and politician. He also served during the American Civil War as a general in the Union Army, most noted for his performances at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863 and the Battle of Nashville in 1864. less
James Blair Steedman was an American soldier, printer, and politician. He also served during the American Civil War as a general in the Union Army, most noted for his performances at the Battle of Chickamauga … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Reading the Philadelphia Newspapers, members of 8th Pennsylvania Infantry.

Reading the Philadelphia Newspapers, members of 8th Pennsylvania Infantry.

Photo: Getty Images

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Transport Steamer ‘Bridgeport’ on the Tennessee River.

Transport Steamer ‘Bridgeport’ on the Tennessee River.

Photo: Getty Images

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Soldiers of the 4th Michigan Infantry who were organized at Adrian, Michigan and mustered into Federal service for a three year enlistment on June 20, 1861. The regiment suffered 12 officers and 177 enlisted men who were killed in action or mortally wounded and 1 officer and 107 enlisted men who died of disease, for a total of 297 fatalities. less
Soldiers of the 4th Michigan Infantry who were organized at Adrian, Michigan and mustered into Federal service for a three year enlistment on June 20, 1861. The regiment suffered 12 officers and 177 enlisted … more

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Sergeant F. Sturgis, a non-commissioned officer.

Sergeant F. Sturgis, a non-commissioned officer.

Photo: Getty Images

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Fighting at Manassas the regiment lost 180 killed, wounded or missing, out of, 379 engaged, of whom 46 were killed or mortally wounded, or over 12 per cent. of 24 officers present, 19 were killed or wounded, 9 mortally. It was engaged at Antietam, with heavy losses and participated in the battle of Fredericksburg. less
Fighting at Manassas the regiment lost 180 killed, wounded or missing, out of, 379 engaged, of whom 46 were killed or mortally wounded, or over 12 per cent. of 24 officers present, 19 were killed or wounded, 9 … more

Photo: Getty Images

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The Infantry in the American Civil War comprised foot-soldiers who fought primarily with small arms, and they carried the brunt of the fighting on battlefields across the United States. As the Civil War progressed, battlefield tactics soon changed in response to the new form of warfare being waged in America. The use of military balloons, rifled muskets, repeating rifles, and fortified entrenchments contributed to the death of many men. Generals and other officers, many professionally trained in tactics from the Napoleonic Wars, were often slow to develop changes in tactics in response. less
The Infantry in the American Civil War comprised foot-soldiers who fought primarily with small arms, and they carried the brunt of the fighting on battlefields across the United States. As the Civil War … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Winter quarters of log cabins with a Main Street of the encampment.

Winter quarters of log cabins with a Main Street of the encampment.

Photo: Getty Images

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The 6th Maine Infantry was organized in Portland, Maine and mustered in for a three year enlistment on July 15, 1861.

The 6th Maine Infantry was organized in Portland, Maine and mustered in for a three year enlistment on July 15, 1861.

Photo: Getty Images

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A soldier holds the sponge by a large mobile cannon.

A soldier holds the sponge by a large mobile cannon.

Photo: Getty Images

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Field Band of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry; Music played a big part on both sides of the conflict: On the battlefield, different instruments – bugles, drums, and fifes were played to issue marching orders or sometimes simply to boost the morale. Soldiers of both sides often engaged in recreation with musical instruments, and when the opposing armies were near each other, sometimes the bands from both sides of the conflict played against each other on the night before a battle. less
Field Band of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry; Music played a big part on both sides of the conflict: On the battlefield, different instruments – bugles, drums, and fifes were played to issue marching orders or … more

Photo: Getty Images

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In the Union army, 80 percent of the men were in the infantry, 14 percent in the cavalry, and 6 percent in artillery. In the Confederate army, 75 percent of the men served in the infantry, 20 percent in the cavalry, and 5 percent in artillery. less
In the Union army, 80 percent of the men were in the infantry, 14 percent in the cavalry, and 6 percent in artillery. In the Confederate army, 75 percent of the men served in the infantry, 20 percent in the … more

Photo: Getty Images

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H.H. Robin Junior, The Civil War common soldier, the average Yank or Reb was a ‘white, native-born, farmer, protestant, single, between 18 and 29.’ He stood about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed about 143 pounds. Most soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 39 with an average age just under 26.. less
H.H. Robin Junior, The Civil War common soldier, the average Yank or Reb was a ‘white, native-born, farmer, protestant, single, between 18 and 29.’ He stood about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed about 143 … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Gen. Ulysses S. Grant & staff.

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant & staff.

Photo: Getty Images

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Known as the ‘Black Knights’ the regiment went to Carlisle Barracks, where the officers and men loyal to the South left the regiment to serve in the Confederacy. In the summer of 1861, all regular mounted regiments were re-designated as ‘cavalry’, and being last in seniority among the existing regiments, the regiment was re-designated as the 5th United States Cavalry. During the Civil War, the troopers of the 5th Cavalry made a gallant charge at Gaines’ Mill in 1862, saving the Union artillery from annihilation. less
Known as the ‘Black Knights’ the regiment went to Carlisle Barracks, where the officers and men loyal to the South left the regiment to serve in the Confederacy. In the summer of 1861, all regular mounted … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Sergeant Hallerman; The majority of soldiers North and South had been farmers before the war. Union rosters contained references to more than 300 different careers, including accountant, surveyor, locksmith, teacher, carpenter, shoemaker, black- smith, painter, mason, teamster, and mechanic. Southerners who had not farmed included carpenters, mechanics, merchants, machinists, lawyers, teachers, blacksmiths, and dentists. less
Sergeant Hallerman; The majority of soldiers North and South had been farmers before the war. Union rosters contained references to more than 300 different careers, including accountant, surveyor, locksmith, … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Carcass of beef hangs in tent of the commissary department.

Carcass of beef hangs in tent of the commissary department.

Photo: Getty Images

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Quartermaster officer sits on Boxes of hardtack.

Quartermaster officer sits on Boxes of hardtack.

Photo: Getty Images

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The Union waited till the shooting started to take steps toward creating an espionage establishment. Its first secret-service bureau was set up in mid-1861 by Allan Pinkerton, founder of the famous Chicago detective agency. While serving Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan in the Department of the Ohio during the wars first summer, Pinkerton, acting alone, penetrated the Confederacy as far as Jackson, Miss., before returning north with information on Southern war preparations. Following McClellan to Washington, Pinkerton almost single handedly broke up Greenhow’s spy ring. As military intelligence experts, however, Pinkerton and his band of agents were out of their depth. In 1862, as secret-service chief for McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, Pinkerton sent his employer outlandish estimates of enemy strength and dispositions, hindering rather than facilitating McClellan’s operations. less
The Union waited till the shooting started to take steps toward creating an espionage establishment. Its first secret-service bureau was set up in mid-1861 by Allan Pinkerton, founder of the famous Chicago … more

Photo: Library Of Congress, Getty Images

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An African American pivate stands guard at the entrance to the log cabins in the Winter Quarters of Fort Brady, Virginia.

An African American pivate stands guard at the entrance to the log cabins in the Winter Quarters of Fort Brady, Virginia.

Photo: Getty Images

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Corcoran Guard; Corcoran Zouaves; Seventh Regiment, Irish Legion; Third Regiment, Corcoran’s Irish Brigade; Buffalo Irish Regiment.

Corcoran Guard; Corcoran Zouaves; Seventh Regiment, Irish Legion; Third Regiment, Corcoran’s Irish Brigade; Buffalo Irish Regiment.

Photo: Getty Images

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Two Union Soldiers in heavy coats converse outside of the log hut, Virginia Peninsula, 1863.

Two Union Soldiers in heavy coats converse outside of the log hut, Virginia Peninsula, 1863.

Photo: Getty Images

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In North Cambridge and West Somerville, Massachusetts, on the Somerville and Cambridge line, in the area of Cameron Avenue, was a camp of rendezvous and instruction called Camp Cameron. From June 13, 1861 through late January 1863, thousands of recruits went through Camp Cameron on their way to the war. less
In North Cambridge and West Somerville, Massachusetts, on the Somerville and Cambridge line, in the area of Cameron Avenue, was a camp of rendezvous and instruction called Camp Cameron. From June 13, 1861 … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Secret Service Department Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, Antietam, October 1862. Directed by Allan Pinkerton the ranks for the composition of his force. Whenever these men were captured they were hanged as spies. less
Secret Service Department Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, Antietam, October 1862. Directed by Allan Pinkerton the ranks for the composition of his force. Whenever these men were captured they were hanged as … more

Photo: Getty Images

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Portrait of Joseph Hooker, a career United States Army officer, who achieved the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, 1863.

Portrait of Joseph Hooker, a career United States Army officer, who achieved the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, 1863.

Photo: Getty Images

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Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln, Major General John A McClernand (left) and Allan Pinkerton, the chief of the Secret Service, at the site of the Battle of Antietam, taken by Mathew Brady, the father of photojournalism, circa October 1862. This battle was the bloodiest single-day conflict in American history with an estimated 23,000 casualties on both sides.  less
Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln, Major General John A McClernand (left) and Allan Pinkerton, the chief of the Secret Service, at the site of the Battle of Antietam, taken by Mathew Brady, the father of … more

Photo: Popperfoto, Popperfoto/Getty Images

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View of the monitor USS ‘Casco’ on the James River, 1863.

View of the monitor USS ‘Casco’ on the James River, 1863.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Portrait of two unidentified men, swords at their side, as they pose on either side of a cannon on the deck of the sidewheeler gunboat ‘Hunchback,’, 1860s.

Portrait of two unidentified men, swords at their side, as they pose on either side of a cannon on the deck of the sidewheeler gunboat ‘Hunchback,’, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Group portrait of officers seated on the deck of an unidentified Union monitor warship, 1860s.

Group portrait of officers seated on the deck of an unidentified Union monitor warship, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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View of a trestle bridge, Whiteside, Tennessee, 1860s.

View of a trestle bridge, Whiteside, Tennessee, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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An artillery crew load a shell during drill on the deck of an unidentified monitor warship 1860s.

An artillery crew load a shell during drill on the deck of an unidentified monitor warship 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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View along a canal shows ruins caused during the American Civil War, Richmond, Virginia, 1865., Richmond, Virginia, 1865.

View along a canal shows ruins caused during the American Civil War, Richmond, Virginia, 1865., Richmond, Virginia, 1865.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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A Union Army artillery squad prepares to fire their cannon during a drill, Virginia, 1860s.

A Union Army artillery squad prepares to fire their cannon during a drill, Virginia, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Group portrait of the crew of the gunboat USS ‘Agawam’ as they pose on the deck, 1860s. The ‘Agawam’ patrolled on the James River in Virginia.

Group portrait of the crew of the gunboat USS ‘Agawam’ as they pose on the deck, 1860s. The ‘Agawam’ patrolled on the James River in Virginia.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Group portrait of the crew, and a mortar gun, of an unidentified Union gunboat in port, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s.

Group portrait of the crew, and a mortar gun, of an unidentified Union gunboat in port, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Workers build fortifications and barricades, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s.

Workers build fortifications and barricades, Alexandria, Virginia, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Group portrait features Union Major General David B Birney (1825 – 1864) (seated, center left) and his staff, 1860s.

Group portrait features Union Major General David B Birney (1825 – 1864) (seated, center left) and his staff, 1860s.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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View of a Confederate arsenal in ruins, Richmond, Virginia, 1865.

View of a Confederate arsenal in ruins, Richmond, Virginia, 1865.

Photo: Buyenlarge, Getty Images

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Mathew Brady photograph of soldiers resting in trenches after the fighting at Petersburg during the American Civil War, Petersburg, Virginia, 1865.

Mathew Brady photograph of soldiers resting in trenches after the fighting at Petersburg during the American Civil War, Petersburg, Virginia, 1865.

Photo: Afro Newspaper/Gado, Getty Images

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