Rare Historical Civil War Photos

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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.

Evergreen Cemetery

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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.

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  • The Myth of the Rat King

    haltonwildlife.ca

    If you are eating right now, you might want to save this article for later. Despite the cute picture and the cartoonish-sounding title, rat kings are not adorable pet rats in fancy dress. On the contrary, what we know of rat kings is the stuff of nightmares. A rat king is group of rats whose...

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  • That Mona Lisa Smile

    cocupo.com

    Thousands of tourists file past Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the “Mona Lisa,” in the Louvre museum in Paris every day. Aside from the fact that this is a masterful artwork, people are also fascinated by the enigmatic facial expression on the face of the painting’s subject. Is she smiling? Or is she smirking or frowning?...

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  • The Strange Pets of Famous People in History

    adelaidezoo.com.au

    Many famous historical figures have had well-known animal companions. President Franklin Roosevelt’s dog Fala was so important to him that there is a statue of him at his Washington, D.C. memorial. Many of us know about the current Queen Elizabeth’s Corgis. The Roman Emperor Caligula loved his horse, Incitatus, so much that he may have...

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  • Rome’s Deadly Hitwoman

    assets.rbl.ms

    When we think of hitmen today, we usually imagine some shady character out of a Godfather movie, planting a bomb in a car or surprising his target in his home. But the role of hitman goes back much further than 20th century America. Politicians have been hiring assassins for thousands of years, and private citizens...

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  • The Great Molasses Flood of 1919

    cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com

    Just after noon on January 15, 1919, something went very wrong at the Purity Distilling Company in Boston’s North End. It was at that time that a storage tank, filled to the brim with 26 million pounds of molasses, ripped open. Before anyone could register what had happened, a 15-foot wave of sticky syrup was...

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