The Civil War was by far the deadliest war in United States history, resulting in over one million casualties between soldiers, collateral damage, and those who perished due to disease. More than 5,000 battles took place throughout a significant portion of the country — spanning across more than twenty states — from 1861-1865.
The war broke out around twenty years after photography was introduced, but the concept of using the medium to document events did not yet exist. These rare historical Civil War photos were believed to be the first attempt at photojournalism.
In 1943 the Library of Congress purchased a collection of over 7,000 of these rare photographs for archival purposes, many of which recently became digitally available on their website. This is a collection of some of our favorites from the archive.