Remains of Union soldiers killed at Cold Harbour, Virginia, in June 1862, (c 1864).
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Albumen print by from a negative by J Reekie, from the album asembled by John Downes Rochfort. Rochfort visited all the major American Civil War sites in 1867 and some of the photographs he purchased en route have since become some of that war's best known images. Up to this date war had been portrayed as a series of heroic tableaux; these photographs revealed the realities of war for the first time. In the spring of 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac under the command of General George McLellan attempted to take Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy. The ensuing series of battles, known collectively as the Peninsular Campaign, resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, but ended in stalemate with Richmond still in rebel hands.