Antietam, Maryland. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Major General John A. McClernand: Another View


At the outset of the U.S. Civil War, Mathew Brady dispatched a team of photographers to document the conflict. Among them was a Scottish-born immigrant named Alexander Gardner, the photographer who took this photo of Lincoln at Antietam as well as other famous wartime shots. The man to Lincoln's right is Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, whom Lincoln had as head of a personal security detail during the war. Gardner titled another shot of Pinkerton and his brother William at Antietam “The Secret Service.” Gardner photographed Lincoln on seven separate occasions, the last one on February 5, 1865, only a few weeks before Lincoln’s assassination. In 1866 he published Gardner’s Sketchbook of the War, combining plates and text, commemorating such battles as Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Petersburg, but the book was a commercial failure. Photographic historians also have suggested that Gardner staged many of his photos, moving dead bodies and using a regular prop gun to create romanticized pictorial narratives.

Last updated: April 4, 2017