Brigadier General Robert Anderson


Robert Anderson (1805–71) was a U.S. Army officer in the American Civil War who gained national fame as the major commanding the Union garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina when the Civil War began. Born near Louisville, Kentucky, he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1825. He fought in the Black Hawk (1832) and Second Seminole (1835–42) Wars. Anderson’s fluency in French and study of French artillery tactics enabled him to help develop highly mobile “flying artillery,” also called light or horse artillery, which was used widely by the army during the Mexican War (1846‒48), in which he served with distinction. In anticipation of the Civil War, he was assigned to the command of the garrison at Charleston. He moved his force of just two companies into the unfinished Fort Sumter in the middle of the harbor, where his refusal to capitulate for 34 hours while under bombardment earned him fame as a Union hero. He was promoted to brigadier general by President Abraham Lincoln and assigned to the command of the Department of Kentucky and, subsequently, to the Department of Cumberland. He was soon forced to resign his commission because of poor health. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: March 22, 2016